Thursday, 27 October 2011

Wee Beefy's beer bites at home and out round Sheffield and Derbyshire

Hello, here are some bibulous updates for you.

Beefy's UK and continental beer tasting

I recently met up with Davefromtshop for a few pints in town, a bite to eat and a beer tasting at mine. Instead of doing stuffy old paper notes we recorded videos of us reviewing each beer in turn so that we could, to an extent at least, be sure what we had been saying!

The line up was (i.e in order of when tasted, not preference):

1. Brinks Rethymnian Organic Blonde, Rethymno, Crete
2. Purple Moose Snowdonia Ale, 3.5% Porthmadog, Wales
3. Bath Ales Gem, Bath.
4. Thornbridge Jaipur, Derbyshire,
5. Fullers Bengal Lancer IPA, London bottle conditioned (BCA)
6. Chiltern Lord Lieutenants Porter, Terrick, Buckinghamshire (BCA)
7. Kernel India Porter, London (BCA)
8. Achouffe brewery N'ichouffe, Belgium 2007 (BCA)

General thoughts were that the Bengal Lancer was particularly disappointing, with marmalade and biscuit flavours replacing any anticipated, and essential hops. The Brinks stood up well in the context of it being brewed in Crete to satisfy a hot climate market, but was a welcome catch since its not for sale in the UK, the Gem was a nice malty and orangey beer providing a contrast to the usual pale Northern beer styles, and the  two porters were equally good with the Kernel maybe edging it for being less carbonated.

The Top 3 were :

3. Jaipur - initially seemed lacking in hops but they came up to surprise you mid drink;
2. Snowdonia Ale - due to its incredible amounts of flavour packed into such a low gravity brew;
1. N'ichouffe - a reliable classic, 10%, 750 ml bottle conditioned matured strong Belgian ale with tons of flavour and a soporific after effect.

Video evidence of me and Davefromtshop in a state of mild inebriation, to make its way onto Facebook soon, in the meantime, using the new edit settings on my blog, here is (or might be), a video summary of the winner, 3 out of the 4 times we attempted to reach this conclusion, the N'ichouffe. (note, opinions expressed in this video are those of two drunk people, and should not be afforded any credibility whatsoever).

White Lion Heeley Oktoberfest 2011

Last weekend saw 2 days (possiby more?) of music and beer, a fab mix of treats, in which the redoubtable multiroomed Heeley classic The White Lion held a beer festival with microbrewery beers and one or two regionals from round the UK. From a range of 20 the highlights for me were Enville Gothic, Hambleton Nightmare Porter, and my final and most oft ordered pint, the amazing Blue Monkey BG Sips pale ale. Had I been more than once I would have found time and room for an RCH Firebox, Moorhouses Blonde Witch, Thornbridge Jaipur, Absolution or Ossett Silver King. Overall a fantastc event which shows how a pub festival should be run.

Derbyshire real ale yomp

On Sunday I fitted in a somewhat arduously long walk based loosely on the Monsal trail. Starting in Hassop we walked up to and along Longstone edge, down into Little Longstone and visited the Packhorse. There wer 5 ales on here, including 4 from Thornbridge, and two real fires - we both had pints of Lord Marples. Up the road we felt compelled to pop in the Stables bar and I was pleased to see an excellent choice - Moor Top and Stables Ale from Buxton, and  Sir Phillip and Undertaker from Wincle. This is the first time I have been able to find their beers on tap anywhere and I wasn't disappointed.

Down into the dale next we followed the path all the way along to the Anglers Rest in Millers Dale. The beer range was the same as last time so we both had pints of the Storm Silk of Amnesia. From here we clambered up onto the trail and walked to Thornbridge Station and into Great Longstone. We visited the Crispin, which has a range of 4 or 5 Robinsons beers on, including excellent Hatters Dark and their seasonal offering, Black Beauty porter. We walked into Hassop next and had a pint of the Peak Ales Swift Nick in the Eyre Arms - alas we had already missed the bus so extended our walk along Church lane into Baslow to catch the 240 home. We still had time to pop in the Rutland, a drab pastel colour fest food pub with 1 real ale available, an average Jennings Cumberland of which I had a half. Still, a fantastic walk and some great pubs and beer were encountered along the way.

Rumour Mill

Two wildly unlikely guesses this time. Firstly, an ongoing impossible to quash rumour that Ossett brewery are to open a real ale outlet in one of the empty units at West One. This is actually old news so don't be surprised if nothing happens anytime soon! And, I hear that maybe a Walkley real ale pub may potentially reopen, hopefully once again serving a decent pint. You heard it hear first! And probably never again...

Optimistically Early Advance Notice

Just to let you know that Cropton beer festival will take place at the brewery's pub, the New Inn at Cropton,  in the last weekend of November - camping available! Well worth a trip I am told, more details to follow.

Take care, stay thirsty and Cheers!

 Wee Beefy.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Wee Beefy's beer bites - for every good pub news story there's a bad one....

The three cranes soar high whilst Pubco dogs savage the Partridge.....

First, the good news - Three Cranes official reopening night

Well after a week or so practising the Three Cranes Queen Street Sheffield finally officially reopened on Friday 14th October. (see if you have access to Facebook) Having assumed that this would be well attended I made the effort and got there about 17.30 to secure seats, as a few people were hoping to join me for drinks and to listen to the evenings entertainment.

Clearly everyone else had the same idea and we initially found only a small inconveniently placed table, for me Chala, Maureen and Rox, but luckily Middlemarch and Jones (sounds like a solicitors!?...) had secured seating in the right hand side and we moved into the space when they left. So now to relax and imbibe.

As promised there were 6 real ales available - Stones Bitter, Sharps Doom Bar, Abbeydale Moonshine, Blue Bee Bee's Knees Bitter and Nectar Pale Ale and Camerons Strongarm, along with a real cider and some decent bottled continental beers. Alas the Birra Moretti draught did not make the starting line and it was only through the much appreciated kindness of the staff that we secured snacks, but that aside everything was in working order.

Entertainment came courtesy of Jack of Harps around 8pm, but to be fair we didn't hear a lot from our far corner, and besides we had a lot of catching up to do, so all worked out well. With the Nectar on imperious form I had a good 6 pints (you know, just to make sure it was OK) as the evening rolled merrily by. Overall this promises to be an exciting new addition and crucially, the pub is only 5 minutes walk from work so I hope to be spending a lot more time in there now its open again. The only downside? How to fit it in my expanding roster of favourite pubs......

Harrisons beer

Harrisons 1854 have lost control of their minds and added a third beer (although this may be a temporary addition in place of Moonshine, which means its still two - watch this space, or better still, go and see for yourself ). Sheffield Brewing Co Blanco Blonde was the new arrival on Thursday night when I popped in, hopefully this beer can be as popular as the Abbeydale Deception, which, I concede, is always my first choice beer in the 1854...

The Wick at Both Ends

Two recent visits have seen Thornbridge Sequoia on handpump, sometimes with a friend down the bar for company, in addition to the decent range of continental draught and bottled offerings. A mercifully good music selection on Friday meant an enjoyable visit, although I can confirm officially that I shouldn't have been headbanging, at my age.

Fat Cat special ale

I am reliably informed that the Kelham Island Brewery have brewed a special ale to celebrate the recent contesting of the Anglo Galician Cup. The ale was aparrently on the bar at the Fat Cat on Saturday, along with a plaque presented by the Galicians. I report all of this story in the style of repeating rumours because, having accidentally drank at least 9 pints and had nowt to eat on Friday night, the very last thing I could stomach on Saturday was a trip to the pub. Thanks to my friend Maureen for his nod ahead of the event, hopefully he tried said ale and took a photo....

And now the bad news PUB UNDER THREAT

Since the Flynn's decamped to the Grapes, where I was on Thursday enjoying a pint of Absolution in the snug, things have gone rapidly downhill in the Dog and Partridge, Trippet Lane. New licensees took over and created an initial interest with bands and other events and even had the rare treat of serving a guest ale before the pubco got wind and pissed in that souffle. Their tenure soon came to an end and the pubco, always mindful no doubt of how many thousands it had to take each week to consider not selling it for redevelopment or turn it into offices, installed a manager to oversee the day to day running until a solution could be found, a term nicely used to avoid saying closure.

On Thursday night, even though the nearby Trippets bar was closed for a refurb, and despite the recent influx of students, there was just me in the Dog at about 20.30. And I only stayed for a half - it was only Tetleys, and only average Tetley at that.

The Dog looks like it has somehow lurched from profitable venerable Sheffield institution to forgotten failure in less than a year. Depending on who you listen to (and how well, i.e not dreadfully so, I recall my chat with the manager ), it would seem the pub company have absolutely no interest in continuing to keep the pub open and are set on closing it in the next few months.

What, and I'm going to swear here, a fucking travesty. Honestly. Which planet do pubco's live on? What can't they see in terms of potential for this fine original Gilmours fronted, large multi-roomed Victorian classic boozer one wonders?

The Flynn's ran it very successfully and to great acclaim for decades, but the greedy pubco decided that the only way to get what they wanted was to punish them for their success and hike the rent up (I heard doubled - yet to be confirmed). Naturally, the Flynn's didn't need to lose all their profit in one fell swoop having worked hard to build up a fantastic business, so, given that they owned the Grapes, rightly dismissed the punitive and derisory reward from their megalomaniac building owners and moved out.

Mindful of the sudden earth shattering change this would entail, surely the pubco would have taken a step back, offered a reduced rent and given any new tenants longer than usual to start rebuilding trade. As I said myself at the time, the transition was breathtaking, even though, in essence, only the decor had gone from the physical building, the pub seemed completely different and devoid of its soul and character. But of course it did - its incumbents of many decades had moved up the road and in effect created the Dog and Partridge all over again in the Grapes. So it needed a massive input and stoic belief to return the pub to anything like its former glory.

Cue shortsightedness in the extreme form the pernicious blight of the British pub the pubco. It would appear that they expected the pub to turn its fortunes around despite all of the above in a matter of months. When that didn't work out, they simply placed a temporary manager in charge, likely with no remit and am sure no ability to get something interesting in for punters to drink, and then sat back and waited for the inevitable stagnation so that they could close down a historic city centre pub without having made the slightest effort to allow it to come back to life.

If whichever faceless foreign bank owned accountant breeding pool of a pubco owns the Dog and Partridge aren't interested in making it work, it should be sold, at a realistic price. Or, failing that, a plan should be put in place to temporarily close the pub whilst a proven, experienced tenant with a realistic remit is found to be put in charge and start the slow process of bringing the business back to life.

And just how realistic is that prospect? Well just look at pubco's track record around the UK and see what you think they will decide. If its not to be apartments it will be offices. The lazy business template for disinterested, immoral and unsuitable landlords of period properties all over the country. How terrifically sad, yet despairingly prominent, this story is. A pathetic waste of a pub to please shareholders. Shame on them.

So, that wraps up a good cop bad cop story of Sheffield pubs for now. Drink well, stay active and sign or better still start, a petition to save the Dog.

Wee Beefy.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Breaking beer bite news!

Just a quick extravasation of pulsing beer facts tonight.....

The Three Cranes, Queen Street, Sheffield, Reopens!

(Rumour Mill win....)

Its official launch night is still 48 hours away but as of Monday 10th October 2011 the 3 Cranes was open and serving a range of real ales and most other drinks (snacks en route ) accompanied by a decent selection of piped music ( so often dreadful but, as demonstrated by the Red Deer, potentially brilliant) to test customer interest and levels of trade.

Inside there doesn't appear to have been radical change, likely just a clean up, but the island bar has been retained, and flyers are available now proclaiming this new addition to the real ale scene in Sheffield, in an area sparse on choice, despite obvious bibulous choices Fagans and the Three Tuns being nearby.

Friday i am told promises live music and a full selection of real ales and draught continental beers and crucially snacks. For this visit, it was notable that nearly all the handpumps were in use, dispensing : Stones Bitter (£2.55 a pint ), Westons Old Rosie, Sharps Doom Bar (possibly not yet on ) Abbeydale Moonshine, Blue Bee Bees Knees bitter (pending) and an excellent pint of Blue Bee Nectar Pale Ale (£2.70 a pint).

Although its not strictly in the city centre, the prices bode well, since previously, despite the efforts of numerous licensees, the strangulating policies of the pubco's made beer expensive, and even as long ago as 1995 I considered the Three Cranes the most expensive pint in Sheffield, long ago breaching the £3.00 a pint mark for real ale. The recent sensible pricing policy will hopefully entice customers back to this venerable paradise quarter venue.

And in other news....

Anglers Rest Millers Dale

Omitted from my last essay was news of the Anglers Rest Millers Dale. Out on a Monsal trail amble appreciating the tunnels recently, I forgot to mention that I visited the Anglers for a mid walk pint. On the bar were 3 real ales, including Adnams Southwold and local brewery Storm Silk of Amnesia, at below £3.00 a pint. This proves that you can get decent local ale from within 50 miles in a traditional pub and not pay bistro prices. Looking forward to visiting again in the next few months.

Wee Beefy.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Wee Beefy's beer bites

Now then browsers,

A few more spoonfuls of wholesome beer news to digest and maintain a healthy diet of bibulous information, in no particular order.

The Railway Wadsley Bridge.

The inimitable Jean continues to single handedly steer this previously neglected ship along the treacherous waterways of the beer and pubs business, seemingly with consummate ease. On my recent visit there were only two beers on, Bradfield Blonde and Acorn Barnsley Bitter, and a decent number of punters in. I would have preferred a stronger beer option but I have to say that the Acorn was in cracking nick, and duly warranted a second pint. This pub has restricted opening hours of Friday Saturday and Sunday only, with the pub open all day Sunday and on the other two from 5 onwards, so ringing ahead may be advisable if making a trip, but its well worth a look.


Recent ales seen on the bar include an incredibly bitter Three Swords from Kirkstall, Blue Bee Lustin For Stout (the brewery of which now have their own website at ), a couple of underwhelming Geeves Brewery offerings (alas not found a good one yet!) Summer Wine Brewery Dark Mild, and 2 from Hornbeam brewery Manchester. On a recent visit one of theirs that i tried, the White Swan, was very, very strange, even though I should have read the description on the board (although poor eyesight makes this near impossible), I was really unhappy with the bubble bath taste.

I returned to the bar and asked if, given that i knew that the beer was not off, they would be kind enough to replace it anyhow since it was so affrontingly vile. They duly did, cautioning that no-one else had complained and replaced it with the Hornbeam bitter which was a much better beer altogether. Well done to Shakespeares for their admirable focus on customer satisfaction.

Ship Inn Shalesmoor

You know how it is, you don't know what it is you've missed until its gone. I have had that dread feeling many times and often rued my decision making and priorities in not getting to visit pubs that have been swallowed up by progress or disappeared altogether. Luckily, this has not happened to me regarding a pub I have passed many times without popping in, the Ship at Shalesmoor.

You can't miss it. Every time you drive from West bar past the Shakespeare (erm, you probably can't do this in a car any more, but you get my drift ), or swing round the corner to Shalesmoor tram stop on the tram, you can see this fine tiled building, proclaimimg proudly its Truswells Ales, standing steadfastly on its own on a road previously blessed with at least 5 pubs, I am told.

Its not like I haven't been in either. I went in with Chala years ago, and took a handpicked selection of the Gloystarne lads there on an epic chrisrtmas pub crawl in the late nineties, amongst other visits. The problem is, I was never totally sold on Kimberly ales, and then when the pub and Kimberly brand became owned by Greene King, I kind of lost my inspiration to go, and missed the chance to appreciate what a refreshingly traditional local this was.

I tried to pop in a couple of Sundays ago but alas it closes during the day Sunday I think, but remedied this on Friday night. Inside to my surprise there wasn't a Grim King beer in site, instead 3 guest beers, Bradfield Blonde, Thornbridge Sequoia, and the one I had, Spire Dark Side of the Moon, at £2.60 a pint. I picked a table near the door with a draught repelling snob screen to my right and sat down to take in the hub of conversation and the stream of regulars (based on their being addressed by name) to the bar to order beer.

It dawned on me that Grim King through their objectionable megalomania had previously deprived me of a great pub experience. So now I have the opportunity to make up for lost time, I strongly recommend you do the same, and give the Ship a try.

P.S - don't forget the 50p a go pool!

Double H

Earlier that same evening I had been in the Hillsborough Hotel. Always a handy stop after a slake in the Blake, especially since they serve food til 21.00. Alas I chose the wrong night for a visit. Unfortunately the manager had been in an accident and wasn't in and, whether related or not, there was only a third of the cheffing staff and it seemed, an occurrence of beermageddon.

My first pint the Crown HPA was on its last legs, but not enough that i would take it back. I knew there was a wait for food so decided to drink it quickly and move onto my favourite, the Stannington Stout. Alas, this had run out so I had a try of the Cottage - I can't recall its name, but it wasn't Golden Arrow, and to be fair their beers are usually very samey - i.e all incredibly poor. It was true to form so I got a pint of Blue Bee Bees Knees. Not my favourite Blue Bee beer, but it sufficed.

I toyed after this with the idea of a Crown bitter but after trying another grim offering I had a half of the Derby 30 hop which went off straight after, and then a half of the Cottage Golden Arrow, mainly in desperation at the lack of available options. The HPA soon disappeared and it was quite late into the evening before any beers were replaced.

I have been going to the Double H for yonks so won't be making plans to avoid it on this showing when there was a clear explanation - and significant sympathy and apologies from the staff - for this poor display. It just means I'll have to go back sometime when all is working well again and secure a pint of the fantastic Stannington Stout.

Harrisons 1854

Just a quick note about the above, to remind you if nothing else that they continue to sell two real ales from Abbeydale, at £3.00 a pint which is reasonable for West Street. Make sure you pop in for one of their DJ nights or other events - find them on Facebook (I am told this is a public page! - please ignore the Harrisons link posted yesterday, twas raang am afraid, sorry for any confusion.)

Ay up duck! A pub crawl with a difference

On a recent trip out with Mr Ashman, I happened across a great new idea that is being promoted in fairest Sheffield. A local artist is (with the agreement of the premises involved!) spray painting pictures of ducks on a number of Sheffield's best hostelries from the City Centre right out to the fringes of the city.

The idea is that participants will strive to find pubs emblazoned with the painted canards (the Latin name for the genus duck is Anas, so I have helpfully sidestepped that for the French instead......) and visit them to sample their unique atmosphere, appearance, music, beer garden, or hopefully decent ale, (although am not sure that everyone is guaranteed to be a real ale stockist). Each duck will carry an archetypal Sheffield phrase, and participants are encouraged to visit as many as possible to get the best drinking and pub experiences, as well as scoring points along the way.

The anticipation is that "duck hunters" will find their way to all of the duck emblazoned hostelries, and in doing so, drink some Sheffield beer and discover some pubs they may not have done before. There are prizes on offer to those who visit every venue and for other achievements in the field. To find out more details, visit Facebook and search Ay up ducks (spelling important) or follow the link (note, i am unsure if this is public) on Facebook at!/ayupducks .

On the Slake in S6

The above meeting happened at my regular after work destination the Blake at Walkley. As ever the pub strives to provide a range of excellent beers on its 6 hand pulls, along with real cider and an impressive range of continental draught and bottled beers. Not forgetting of course, the fabulous pork pies. On my last visit a notable choice available on the bar was an excellent West Coast Brewery California Pale Ale. This is a beer from a new brewery from North Wales who I understand are brewing using the Conwy brewery kit at present. For (not much more) info see .

This news serves as an introduction to a recent trip round Walkley to see how the ever changing scene there is progressing. Across the park from the Blake both the Firwood and Belle Vue appear to still be trading. Try as I might, I have never been tempted to go in the Vue but note changes afoot at the Cottage.

On South Road the Freedom House has just reopened its doors, its first night was Friday 7th October. On my visit I found there was no real ale but was assured it was being delivered Tuesday and would be on by Friday. I seem to recall its only Bombadier (which I subconsiously just mis-spelled as Bombadire) but its a start, and hopefully this will be the nub of a revival. The Firwood connection is that according to Beer Matters, the new licensee is a former Firwood Cottage landlord, although am not sure if they have moved directly from there.

Further down towards Hillsborough, and on Walkley Bank the Florist had no real ale on when I visited, but I was told that they usually do, and that the Farmers Blonde was being substituted by the Bitter.

37th Sheffield Beer Festival

This year I was at two sessions of the fest, alas this is a rather expensive way of doing things, but I had hoped to see some people there on the Friday. Normally I would never go Friday, instead Saturday all day only, or maybe Thursday as well at a push. Much as I enjoyed the festival overall, I think I'd have rather used my normal plan.

Friday was a very hot day as you all know, so its important to note how impossible it would have been to predict the record breaking temperatures that week. That said, the sports hall at Ponds Forge was boiling. The beer was warmer at the cider bar end than the other (cooler beer stopped around the letter H?) and no one seemed to have thought of opening a door at each end of the hall to create a through draught, like they do in Crete for example.

That said the Hummingbirds were good, if a little quiet for such a large space, and there were some notably good beers on. Saturday was less sweaty and being a quieter session it was easier to get sat down, and near to a door at that. The quiz was as tough as always (I failed miserably again) but it was nice being there for the afternoon and still able to sample a decent range of beers, with plenty available when I left at 18.30.

The only puzzle not solved was the prices. Some lower gravity beers were well above town prices - for example a half of the Blackedge Pike which is a 3.8% session beer was £1.70. One member of the bar staff alluded to the fact that some casks had come by courier, and I also heard that some beers were as low as £2.20 a pint (Acorn perhaps?), but there were far too many beers that should have been affordable at sensible strengths that topped £3.20 a pint and some of the stronger ones, which are naturally more expensive, were over £4.00 and thus a pound more than nearby pubs. In summary - a welcome return indoors, the venue size and location are perfect, but sort out the prices!

Forum 3 - or the York at Broomhill.

Now kids, don't get all up in arms, am not sure for definite that the forum own the York and the Old House, but if they do, then visiting the three establishments shows an interesting transition, from hit and miss beer to beer heaven, but without a traditional boozer in sight.

Have not been in the forum for a couple of month but noted a reduced emphasis on the real stuff, and a friend informed me that last week there was no ale to be had at all. Up the road the Old House is also one I have missed of late but last time I went it was still serving decent beer and great food. The York, all the way out at Broomhill, is an interesting addition. The pub interior boasts a mish mash of classic and modern pub interior styles, with emphasis on food, and a good range of beer, including the Anvil Porter brewed for them by brew Company. The interior is warm and comforting and the bar is reassuringly classic looking.

Having only been on a Sunday I haven't had chance to see what the food side entails regarding seating. The impression I get is that the right hand seating is for drinkers and the left and to the back is for diners. I don't mind this per se - its no doubt essential to have dining as part of the set up given the money laid out in its transformation (the bar has moved a third time since the early nineties) but I would like to think that the drinking area is not encroached when it gets busy - I will have to come back soon and see for myself.

Drinks wise, there are 5 or 6 real ale pumps including the porter, and one or two used for real cider and perry, along with a decent range of continental bottled beers (too few darks though!) and a very impressive wine list, coupled with cocktails, softails, spirits and even speciality teas. So do give it a try, preferably to compare and contrast it with the Old house and Forum.....

Aaagh! Not the Nottingham House....

I was to have had a third trip to the above featured pub, the York, but en route my mate Carlos told me it was rammed and so we decamped to the Notty House. What a travesty this turned out to be! The pub was quiet for a Saturday night, and the plain white walls hinted at the fact that it may only have just reopened. On the bar were four handpumps, with none serving real ale. The staff were inattentive and seemingly inexperienced, more interested in the fact that me and my mate both had soft drinks (as he was taking it easy and there was no decent beer) than anything else.

I made a trip to the loo and found 7 empty toilet roll holders and some piles of hopefully unused bog roll on the floor, away from the cubicle there were no hand towels with the holders left open (assumedly by desperate blokes in the cubicles?) and along with the lack of hot water, I also had no opportunity to make my hands clean as there was also no soap or handwash.

I found Carlos in the beer garden where we paused very briefly to drink our soft drinks before heading off for a professional and enjoyable pub experience down the road at the University Arms. I don't normally rate a pub on toilet cleanliness alone, and am not going to now, but i have to say the Notty House was memorable for just how gross its facilities were, coupled with its apparent lack of management and of anything worth drinking. The fact that anyone was drinking in there at all I think says a lot about its former qualities and maybe a little about the fact that some students it seems will drink anywhere. 1 out of 10 - for having an outside space.

So that ends a beer bites that was really a beer 3 courses, hope to to be back soon with some more info and details of trips away from sunny Sheff.

Wee Beefy.