after a few days ensconced at home, albeit enjoying some of my Christmas bottled beers, I have finally broken free from the constraints of the domicile and recklessly ran about in town for a bit. Here are some of the details of that jaunt.
My first Sheffield centre wander of 2012.
After a long boring day at work, myself and Protest (for it is he) decided that we ought to be able to reward our sorry selves with a drink. So we made the short hop to the Harlequin, which, I concede, I haven't been to for a while now.
We were only stopping for one so chose carefully. Protest ordered, accidentally as it turns out, a pint of Budvar Dark (always read the label!) and myself, a delicious Spire 1909 Porter which was a nice heavy brew that I thought I'd still finish before lager boy Protest had chewed his way through the fizzy Budvar. In the end we finished at the same time, pleased and sate with our choice. Not sure for definite about the Spire beer identity by the way - it ended in the word 1909 but haven't been able to substantiate this using the tinterweb.....
Protest later abandoned me in a retail monstrosity and I grabbed some crap food and headed into town for a sit down on a windy bench to cram the substance in my mouth whilst waiting for my drinking partners - Chala, and Thangor the Motherinlaw. I was to meet them in the 3 Cranes, where I popped in for an OK pint of Blue Bee Lustin for Stout - the bitterness was there but none of that lovely balancing creaminess. Tiring of the company of a swearing addicted football cretin howling abuse at the TV I opted to meet the ladies outside. This plan was somwehat scuppered however because Thangor didn't want to wander down to the next pub, so we did pop back in for one - Thangor reckoned it was her first visit in 40 years. Chala had Birra Moretti and me a half of the Camerons Strongarm. It makes an interesting change but wilted in the face of the Blue Bee, owing mainly to a distinct over reliance on malt.
Thangor was only stopping out for one, so under my expert tutelage headed off through the back streets to arrive opposite Shakespeares on Gibraltar Street. Having bought a refreshing pint of Summer Wine Brewery erm, something pale (the only dark on offer was Copthorne and I find their beer isn't to my taste), and Chala having opted for a Peroni, we went in search of a seat - and found a brewer into the bargain.
Rich from Blue Bee was in the "school room" (not depicted in the pic) round the back with his friend Rhys, and it soon materialised that as well as merciful confirmations of Rich and his dearests good health, his friend was a bit of an expert on National Inventory pubs. Luckily, Chala and Rich know each other well which is good, as I think I discussed my specialist subject with Rhys, an amiable and incredibly knowledgeable Welsh enthusiast of all that's good about pubs, for about an hour! So much hot air was expelled that I didn't even venture towards a second ale, and that was probably one of the slowest dispatched pints of 2012 (admittedly there haven't been many). Alas, time waits for no man so we decided to head off to a nearby hostelry for a catch up and a pint.
The Venerable Cat
A welcome return for Chala, (and even I haven't been in for ages), we enjoyed our visit to the Cat all the more after I led us through several lake sized puddles dotted around the car park between the KIT and the Cat. Stephen was in, and so was Diane, so it was exactly what we had hoped for, and we soon got on with the important business of chatting and securing our drinks. Chala opted for a fairly heavy Framboise, and I had a pint of Welbeck Abbey Portland Black - which is weird, because that's the pint I had on my last visit...
Chala was busy meticulously planning her 40th birthday which is well over 500 days away, I meanwhile was enjoying my 3rd dark pint of the night and summarising the late license options for drinking back towards the city centre.
We walked back past the Cranes and the D&P and Grapes to enable Chala to have her first visit to Dada. Curiously, except for some of the loudest men on earth (football fans, quel surprise) taking advantage of the echoey design to crassly amplify their nonsensical views through the whole pub, it was pretty much dead. This enabled us to make an observation about the cavernous acoustics of the venue.
Whilst mega echo might be a godsend for any bands that they eventually put on (I think I saw Hummingbirds advertised, but at a fiver?) it seems very strange to have employed an interior designer with a love of metal furniture. With our backs to the entrance in the seating area to the right before the bar, it sounded like the staff were chucking a filing cabinet down a multistorey car park stairwell. Surely if you want to create a cool relaxed vibe, the screeching and crashing of unwieldy metal artefact's isn't going to achieve that? Most puzzling, but not necessarily a good puzzle...
Beers wise I had a half of the Thornbridge Lord Marples and their Yule, which is 7.2% I think. Chala had a half of their Versa, which I thought was an excellent beer - refreshing, malty wheat but with enough bitterness to make it well balanced, like a pilsner with wheat malt. The Marples was alas very disappointing, clearly on its last legs and warm, the beer was afforded none of the support it needs to shine on the bar.
What with it having just been Christmas, I was hoping the cheer would have survived into 2012 and they would have gone back to two Thornbridge and two guest real ales, but the guest was still Holly Days. Also, the 7% plus Yule was £3.40 a pint - and came with a price warning! Surely if the staff at Dada caution customers about the cost, but justify that £3.40 isn't bad for a beer of that strength, there is some serious differences in opinion across the complicated to understand Thornbridge estate. I mentioned the infamous Brachia, which I was assured was excellent and had been matured for a couple of years, but there still seems to be a discrepancy when the extra 2.3% of beer weighs in at over £6.00! Even the shit witted knee jerk ploy of HSBD can't surely have taken the price of Brachia out of the stratosphere, can it?
The grand ol 1854
Our last stop, which we somewhat hurried to in recognition of how late it had become, was Harrisons 1854 on Regent Terrace. The crowds were dwindling when we arrived and we were able to get one of the better seats after a quick chat with fellow beer explorer Dave Barraharri. I only had half of the Farmers Blonde from the Range of three that included Moonshine and Deception, owing to being a trifle full after my Yule experiment, but I also had a refreshing glass of Hugo Cassanova Sauvignon Blanc.
Chala opted for a glass of wine as well, always a sensible finisher since it doesn't bloat you, and we stayed until throwing out time enjoying our drinks and talking music and pubs. Although we were reluctant to leave, our timing was impeccable as soon after walking round the corner the night bus turned up, saving us significant taxi fares in the process.
Start the year as you mean to continue they say - looks like I have set my stall out to drink good beer (and the occasional fine wine) in an eclectic mix of modern and traditional pubs and bars, so I think all bodes well!