Saturday, 26 May 2012

Friday night out in the valley of beer

Good day,

    last night I was fortunate to be carried away to a bibulous nirvana, set adrift on a raft of refreshments in a river of beery bibacity, when I went out to sample the wares of the valley of beer.

I hadn't expected to be going anywhere to be perfectly honest - a quick call to the bank earlier that day had revealed a distinct lack of funds and I had resigned myself to an evening of sobriety and drear, until I got a surprise call from Wee Keefy. He asked if I wanted to meet him at the Gardeners Rest for a pint. I explained my monetary predicament and he offered to buy me one, so, despite obviously feeling quite sick at the heinous suggestion of free beer, I reluctantly agreed...

The 1854

Before then however there were 2 hours to fill in, so I gritted my teeth and stayed working as long as I could bare before leaving the office and walking up to Harrisons 1854. Arriving like a heaving, perspiring beetroot, I committed the cardinal sin of buying some beer using plastic. Surely, the express way to destruction, but on a hot day, a very welcome way of paying for a thirst quenching pint.

This was Farmers Blonde, of which I had two, sat at the bar chatting to Barkeep Barraharri and planning a beer trip later in the year. It would have been nice to have taken advantage of the sunshine by sitting outside but I knew I had a walk to the Gardeners ahead so preferred a cool rest. Suitably chilled, I soon headed off for the bounty of the Upper Don Valley, the valley of beer, no less...


Soon I was away down the side of Netherthorpe road, then along Meadow Street and down to the tram stop.  Here, using the last real money I had, I stopped for a quick half in the Wellington. Myk was at the bar filling me in on details of pubs that I had missed or forgotten, whilst I supped a half of a Little Ale Cart beer called Simon. Obviously I was certain I'd remember its full title (it was 4.0%) but having scoured the tinterweb for details I'd suggest its quite new because I can't find out the beer's surname...

Still, it was another very drinkable and fairly delicious ale cart offering, which its a shame I didn't have more time to enjoy. Because all too soon I was Gardeners bound. Just after leaving the pub, heading along the old Penistone Road, I received a text from Wee Keefy - he was going to be late so I needn't rush. Good. I was ten minutes away at best, was dieing for the loo, and had 20 pence.

Still, I gamely forged on, seeking out the jennel and walkway at the side of the river which I used to consider a useful shortcut for many years but then inexplicably stopped using, and finally arrived at the Gardeners, with companions nowhere to be seen, to set about waiting across the road.

Gardeners Relief

At 10 to 8 Wee keefy and Jambon arrived and we went inside to firstly attend to a need, and then rejoice at finding another redoubtable range of beers on the bar. So vast was the range (and so uncertain the promise of further ale) I had two halves instead of a pint - half of the Llangorse Brewery Dark Side, and half of the Brodies Old Street.

Regarding the Llangorse, I know I could have asked, but I really thought it was going to be dark. It wasn't. It was light brown, and tasted OK, but nothing to get excited about. There was a strange aftertaste that I couldn't pin down, and as soon as  I tasted Keefy's Old School Brewery Blackboard I knew I would have preferred that.

The Brodies on the other hand was a totally different scenario. Absolutely masses of hops, fizzing on the tongue and receding to a dry citrussy aftertaste, all packed into what I thought was a low gravity beer, but is in fact 5.3%, (which to be fair is much more the strength it tasted). I was now officially really glad that I had gone out for a pint, even if I was relying on brotherly generosity. Not just the brother though...

Next Jambon declared he would buy a round, Carlos had joined us by this time, he went with his favoured Guinness and me and Jambon pints of the Brodies, which simply got hoppier the more we drank, but without ever becoming ascorbic or harsh, just citrus hops and smiles all the way down the pint.

Our final pint in here was more Guinness for Carlos and a pint of the Navigation Stout, which is another Navigation beer that didn't quite match the exellence of the first one I tried at the beginning of the month in Shakespeares, but was still very good none the less. This had a very dry roast bitterness before finishing with a more creamy malt led finish, and in fact it rather grew on me as I ontinued drinking.


Off next to the Ship since neither Jambon or Wee Keefy had ever visited, and as usual we weren't disappointed by the beer range - we all had (except for Carlos!) pints of the Spire Sovereign, which went down well with those who tried it, as did the pub. I am pleased to announce two more converts to my list of new found Ship Inn fans. That the atmosphere and overall experience of visiting is every bit as reliable as the beers makes this an excellent stop off whilst in the area.


Our final stop was without notes. It was late, I don't think we got there til 23.00, and although I know I only had one pint, I concede I have absolutely no idea what it was. Being Shakespeares I bet there's a good chance it was the an SWB or Revolutions brew, but I couldn't say. All I know is we ended up sat outside in the smoking garage (?!) slowly sipping our pints, before I had to run away and catch the night bus home.

A fab night with friends and family, with impeccable beer and pubs. I really can't think of anything better.

Wee Beefy

Monday, 21 May 2012

Shefield pub news and a far away festival.


    here is some info based on recent events, nights out and discoveries.


it seems the Da's have lost their minds completely and only gone and put on two guests from their allocation of four handpumps. Oakham Ales JHB, and the excellent Dark Star Pale Ale where the offerings to complement the Thornbridge Brock, and the thingemabob. James advises that Oakham Citra will be on soon as well - this is one of my favourite Oakham offerings, mores the shame that a sudden scarcity of funds means I may miss tasting it.


Is continuing to offer excellent in house brewery beers and, on my last two visits, a guest from the excellent West Berkshire Brewery. Prices are also very competitive, especially for the Little Ale Cart beers, and they continue to provide at least one dark beer, so its well worth a visit.

Rutland Arms

Tonight was to be the night I wrote about the recent revelations about the Rutland, and the impact on the pub, its regulars, and its "community". My main point was going to focus firmly on the lack of any statement from the pub. Happily this situation has now changed.

As befits a pub which places itself firmly in the social media spectrum, a statement has been made on the Rutland's Facebook Wall (I haven't checked Twitter yet, although, being limited to 140 characters one assumes only a link to Facebook....) There may be a catch in that you have to "Like" them, (ironic!) but its there.

It was vital a statement was made to highlight the pub and pub company's stance concerning what had happened and the wider issue of "banter" and sexual harrassment at work. Whether you think they took too long over it, or even that it makes no difference, I personally think its a positive development. I read the story in three different papers and got conflicting details, (and really only one side) so clarification is beneficial, and ultimately something the regulars deserve.

Crucially, the Blue Bee Turned Out Mild and their excellent Red White and Blue were in impeccable form when I visited on Saturday, especially the latter. It starts with the beer ....

The Hop

The Hop continues to showcase covers bands and opens that little bit later on a weekend than some of the more traditional pubs nearby. They have also continued to stock a non-Ossett/Ossett acquired brewery guest real ale. On Saturday night the excellent Milestone Traditional Mild was on good form, and formed part of a decent range of pale and dark beers on offer.

And finally....

Far away festival

Years ago in days of yore this blog was rather "catchily" called Wee Beefy's unspoilt pubs and Cretan kafenions. This was very a reflection of my soft spot for Crete (there are some posts from there from 2010 in the post list) and regular visits to it.

Very slowly Crete is starting to make beer. Its own beer. Not Henninger or Carlsberg or Amstel brewed under license (and am not sure that is even still done in Crete itself, more likely the Greek mainland), but actual Cretan beer. Albeit even then the first brewery to be set up commercially in Crete, possibly since the inter war years or longer, was set up by an enterprising German, there are very very small signs of interest in beers brewed in Crete.

At present, to the best of my not very up to date knowledge, there are two breweries actually in Crete - Brinks Rethymnian, an organic brewery making unpasteurised bottled beer, and Charma, a brewery based in or around Chania producing a lager and a dark ale (Charma Black). Mythos, Alfa and the excellent Craft Brewery from Greece are also notable, more so Craft for its excellent Pilsner.

Its not an exaggeration to say that before these two Cretan brewers started and before Craft became available (albeit in small pockets, mainly on the South coast), beer in Crete was dismal. If you didn't like Amstel or Heineken it was useless. Mythos provided some respite, and Alfa is quite palatable, but it was only if you paid over the odds for export Guinness or found a bottle of Amstel Bock hiding at the back of a fridge or Supermarket shelf, that you could ever get anything darker to sup.

In a surprise but welcome development, I can report that this year Crete will hold its first beer festival. It runs from the 13th to the 22nd of July, and is taking place in Platanias, a touristy area outside one of the major cities, Chania. There is a link here but the details are almost all as above, and the link to the exhibition centre, if you translate it, is really for advertisers, sponsors, or, I dunno, brewers?

The logo's on the Exhibition centre advert mysteriously mention neither of the two Cretan breweries so this could all be a cynical exercise in appealing to the more, how shall we say, beer loving nations that swarm to the island every year, but we'll have to see. There is also one which seems to say "I'm Backing The Pub" which despite its apparent Englishness I think I have seen before on a beer mat in Chania.

If I hear anything else I'll let you know, but if you happen to find yourself on the island in the second week of July, I would recommend a visit, if nothing else to find out what Troegs Craft brewers decide to sell, and how popular the Smithwicks and Macfarland brands turn out...

More news and stuff soon.

Wee Beefy

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Gardeners Rest last orders beer festival

Now then,

 I realise that the festival is still on and they are adding more beers as they settle (Navigation Blonde for example) but I only get to go once and last night was that visit. Here are some details of my latest pub beer festival.

I got there a little later than planned having popped in the Rutland Arms for a beer or two and Dada, details to follow later. I think the walk from The Rutland to the Gardeners probably did me a bit of good, but mainly made me really hungry. Luckily there was food at the festival - always a good sign, nothing worse than grumpy hungry punters.

The beer list was long, being day 3 some had run out and one or two weren't on. The list included Andrews Ales, Ashover, Eden, Alechemy, Front Row, Truefitt, Tryst and TSA to name but a few. I decided to start mild and keep the gravity low in the first few beers, so that I could "save myself" for some of the stronger ones later, and if needs be, go for a late one in town.

A slightly unpromising start was the first beer - not that it wasn't nice, but I asked for a mild, a half of Front Row Touch was suggested, and given that I hadn't looked at the list or pumpclips yet I agreed. A pale bitter arrived (although I tried to pretend it was a light mild), just after paying for which I spotted a Wild Mild pumpclip. Still eh.

I settled down in the conservatory and set about finding a handy list that I could refer to instead of squinting at the one on the wall next to the bar. Although of course that was up to date, so you kind of needed both. One thing I noticed were the prices, with some guests being between £2.30 - £2.40 a pint. And as you know, the Sheffield Brewing Company beers are always good value in here.

My next two halves were better, the Truefitt Ironopolis porter and TSA Wild Mild. I tasted the mild, which was nicely balanced, and it complemented the Front Row quite well. I left the Ironopolis for a bit, since I knew it was quite strong. Milds finished I sought info about food and got a friend for the Ironopolis. The Alechemy Cairnpapple was my second favourite beer of the night, along with the Ironopolis.The contrast of the grassy light malt and dry bitterness in the Cairnpapple nicely enhanced the glorious roasted malt bitterness in the porter. Truefitt are clearly a brewery to watch.

I got a sausage sandwich from outside which filled a hole perfectly before trying the other Alechemy offering, the Five Sisters. I didn't rate this as much as the Cairn but it was still a tasty and quaffable Scottish ale and, I erroneously thought, named after the spectacular Five Sisters of Kintail - the brewery helpfully explain what its really named after here.

Next it was time for a couple of finishers and to move into the main room to catch some of the music. This was more like a folk session with many guitarists and other instrumentalists, and plenty of people willing to stand up and sing. I had the Bottlebrook Rapture, a 5.9% beer which I remember as being blonde rather than pale (I think some notes would have helped) and the Andrew Ales Tinfast, which was described as a porter, and was, sort of.

Both of these finished my festival trip off nicely, and I think of the last two the Tinfast probably edged it, but my beer of the festival was the Ironopolis. The only beer downside was that the Brodies Old Street, which would have been an ideal starter, hadn't cleared by last night, and I can't see me getting down in the next week to try it.

Hopefully I will have plenty of chances to visit during the next couple of months before Eddie and Pat move on to waters new, but for now, that is my last taste of one of their beer festivals.

An early "all the best" to them both.

Wee Beefy 

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Hop Studio Launch

Evening all,

    despite having to fanny around "at work" I did find time to visit the Sheffield Tap and to sample some new beers from a new brewery.

Hop Studio brewery, I am assured by my most reliable barkeep at the Sheffield Tap, are based in York, very near to the Pivovar warehouse. No surprise then that they chose the Pivovar family to showcase the first of their new beers.

Hop Studio brewery have just started production and launched at the York Tap, with the head brewer there I understand, and simultaneously the Euston and Sheffield Taps. I found many links to their launch, alas no brewery site, but have chosen to send you to the Trembling Madness link, a place I like, without ever having been there! Link.

Today I tried three of their beers, the Gold, XS and Pilsner, the three of which in halves came to £4.65. The barkeep insisted that the irony was that they weren't hoppy - on my ponderous wobbly amble to a seat I thought gleefully about a malty Hop Studio beer and all the pedantic, supercilious furore this would cause(probably from me I concede), but when I tried them, it was clear that this was not the whole story.

The keg Pilsner started well, like a Czech pilsner, but soon wained in the glass and ended up lame, failing to match the follow through of the better Czech offerings. The Gold, the weakest of the 3, was admittedly not that hoppy, more noticeably dry. I wasn't taken by this initially but it grew on me through the drink and had a strange if intriguing malt flavour at the forefront, which showed bitter-dry in the aftertaste.

By far the best offering was the XS, which really did have some hops at the front, carrying off the characteristics of a slightly astringent (and admirable for being really well rounded) dry premium bitter, bursting with hops, malt and a balance and depth which belied its beer infancy.

Its either amusing or misleading that they are called Hop Studio, yet aren't a predominantly hop forward producer, but that's irrelevant really. You should try the beers based on their merits as individual brands (and I'm sure you will) and let the name of the brewery perform its tacitly unidentifiable semantic role without worrying about the prevalence, or not, of Simcoe.

All in all this is an assured start. Lets hope to see more!

Wee Beefy

Thursday, 17 May 2012

A crawl of some new pubs, and a new angle on Keykeg beers


       me and Davefromtshop met up to sample a few more beers in pubs that either he has never been to here in sunny Sheffield, or hasn't been in for ages. Measuring your last visit in decades in a city where almost no pub remains unspoilt means you may as well have never been in! So both of the above meet the criteria for our pub crawl (and we finished in some classics, for beer reasons). Here are the details of our trip out.

Bath! And the thirst is gone (sorry)...

We started in the "new" Bath Hotel and Dave had beaten me too it. He was already on the Allgates Napoleon's Retreat. I should really have tried it having not really got on with it first time, but I had my eye on the Thornbridge Frank as Apollo, brewed for the Nicholsons pub chain. This was a very pleasant bitter and seemed a little more balanced, by which I mean a smidgen less hoppy, perhaps to suit those delicate London palates?

We also had time for a half each of the Dark Star Revelation, which seemed to be running out unfortunately. This was every bit as good as I remembered it and Dave was I thought, suitably impressed.


On leaving it suddenly seemed as monsoon like as our last crawl so we decided that our next stop would be the Bowery. They started selling real ale last year, I thought maybe for the Tramlines festival only, but either way it was on now. Here we had two halves of Moonshine (£2.80 a pint) in a virtually empty venue. This is interesting for me because I'd never even seen the floor on my last couple of visits.

The Moonshine was a little cold but enjoyable enough, and as we were to find out quite a lot, it and other Abbeydale beers noticeable resilience once connected up was probably a deciding factor in just how many times we saw it throughout the night. There are also a decent range of bottled beers, and depending on your outlook, now and again some decent tunes.

Green Room

This was my second visit this month and once again I ended up with Moonshine, seemingly more reliable than the guests they have had on. Last time Abbeydale Resurrection was beyond being so, this time Kelham Island Riders on the Storm came out the colour of rainclouds, with a piquant olfactory bite to match. A shame, because i rate the beer, but it had to be swapped for Moonshine, on at £3.00 a pint.

This visit on a rainy Tuesday was also an opportunity to get to see the interior of the Green Room. Not least because of my strange battle of wills with them over the last 18 months (almost resolutely always missing the cask!) and also because last time I was in I had too little time to stop for a look around.

I was surprised just how spacious it was and with many different seating areas. They told me they have just started opening during the day, and they serve food during the day as well.

May be a great time to get in and have a look round, and enjoy a pint of the real stuff of course. Hopefully they can continue with the real ales and there will be another decent late night venue that you can go in and not be expected to part with cash for bland UK brewed copy lagers you don't want.

Wick at Both Ends

To give you a last visit timescale here, last time Dave was in it was the Mail Coach. So nothings changed then....

There was only one real ale on here so we both had halves of Deception, at £3.20 a pint. We found a table without school chairs and sat down for a chat listening to a decent selection of tunes. The Deception was on very good form, and although not trying them side by side, I can say quite certainly that I much prefer this beer to Moonshine. Hoppy, citrussy and with a little fruit, a perfect pale session ale.

Bungalows and Bears, of Sheffield and Liverpool fame

Our next stop was not actually a first for Dave. He had visited the Division Street Fire Station many many years ago. Once again, little had changed...

On the bar was Moonshine or Deception (sorry, can't recall, it seems equally likely to have been either) and the Robinsons Elbow beer, unlikely to be called that, but brewed by one of the blokes in the band Elbow (a popular beat combo from the North West I understand) who may also have a connection to the Hop Franchise. We found ourselves a table and set about reading the beer bottle menu, slightly less choice then the Bowery (and the Wick ,which is very good) and watching different people repeatedly make the erroneous decision to walk up some stairs to a barrier, then back down again. Little things...


Next we walked down towards the Rutland and along the way dallied with the idea of a visit to Henry's. Instead though we ended up in the Roebuck, which its a fair few years since I've been in, and longer than you need know for Dave.  Here we sat in what was a very quiet pub, which alas somewhat accentuated the vastness of the premises, and supped a decent half of Kelham Island Pale Rider (£3.20) from a choice of 2, on four handpumps.


Our penultimate stop was the Rutland, where it was possible to get a table this time, which was good because we were tiring by now. We each had a pint of the Blue Bee Turned out Mild Again, which Dave seemed very taken by. I also snaffled him some Phoenix Brewery beer mats (a tegestological treasure no doubt) and set about snacking and supping. Its probably about that time that elsewhere in the UK editors were putting the finishing touches to articles reporting the employment tribunal involving the Rutland. Without expanding on any details here, its clear that many people will have some soul searching to carry out in terms of how they and the Rutland continue. Enough said for now I think.

The Sheffield Tap

Our final port of cal was carefully organised so that we had time to try a few beers rather than rushing in before last orders and buying too many halves. Here initially we had a pint (for me) and a half of the truly excellent tempest Cresta, and a half of the Phoenix Black Bee. This honey porter was not really a hit with either us am afraid, it just started with honey and malt and then got sweeter.

Better though were our next round of beers. We had half each of the excellent super hoppy Summer Wine Brewery Kahuna 6.0%, a Camden Hells, and a half of the Magic Rock Brewery Rapture. I think this all came to £7.20, which with a keykeg or two thrown in and given the strength of the Kahuna isn't bad.

The real star of this was the unfiltered, unpasteurised (as written in pen I think on the font label!) Rapture . Gloriously cloudy, and with an amazing array of complimentary flavours that showcased the red hops brilliantly (although I wondered if there was red malt that was coming through?). Either way this was possibly the best keykeg beer I've ever had - the other contender also being from Magic Rock, their Magic 8Ball.

I confess that if there was to be any minor fault, it was a little bit too cold for me. That's one of the infuriating features of keykeg dispense it seems, in my admittedly limited experience. However, putting that aside, far and away the most incredible thing about this beer was the easy drinking quaffable nature afforded by its unfiltered and unpasteurised condition. Normally, as well as being let down slightly by chill, I find keykeg can also be a trifle over carbonated. This wasn't.

I can honestly say that this was a revelation - an easy drinking keykeg beer, and made all the better by the way its flavours burst through. It may be the case that some flavours are lost by colder or more carbonated serving, so the amazing array of malty and hoppy notes, pepping up in the drink intermittently like pogo-ing punks, bringing waves of fabulous flavour across the palate, was a dreamy surprise.

I came away thinking that if keykeg could become popular in this unfiltered form, it would be a much more appealling prospect for the real ale drinker. It would certainley be of equal interest for  me to taste an unfiltered and unpasteurised keykeg offering along with the finest cask beers. I just hope that Magic Rock and other breweries are interested enough to do more of the same.

This was a fitting end to a brilliant night, featuring three or four of the best beers I've tried this year.

Now for a much needed rest from imbibing, in preparation for a visit to the Gardeners Rest beer festival on Saturday.

Wee Beefy.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Good times, Sad times

Hello again,

  this is just a very quick update. No, honestly. I have three snippets of news for you.

First lets start with some positive gen. The Sheffield Tap is, between it and their York and Euston siblings, having a brewery launch night on Thursday 17th May, AKA tomorrow. The Hop Studio are launching with 4 cask ales across session to premium strength, and as far as I can tell the beers will be on sale at the Sheffield Tap. See here for more info.

Secondly, don't forget that its Eddie and Pat's last orders beer festival at the Gardeners Rest also starting tomorrow. I haven't had any info about the beers but am fully intending to get down, either Thursday or Saturday, numerous caveats permitting. This will be a chance to wish them both all the very best in their new semi aquatic existence (note that this description applies to their accommodation, not them. They are not, I repeat not, partially amphibious.). Should be a great festival if you can get down.

And finally the sad news. Its been announced today that Dave Wickett, of Fat cat and Kelham Island Brewery fame, has died. Whilst I never knew him, I know Chala used to work at the Fat cat for a few years, and met Dave many times, and I'm sure there will be lots of people in the Sheffield pubs and real ale scene who will remember him fondly. Reaction from the postcode gazette and the Fat Cat can be found here.

Wee Beefy

Monday night ale tour


    what with a bit of leave at my disposal and my mate Christingpher being back from the far East (near Hull) it seemed like a great idea to go out for a few beers. Here are the details of that escapade.

We met early afternoon in the Sheffield Tap, and despite him having an early blip by accidentally buying a cider (A Gwynt Yr Draig Dog Dancer, not that bad I thought) we quickly got on to the fantastic beers, and sat outside in the sunshine.
We both had a few pints of the excellent Tempest Brewery Cresta Black 4 grain oat stout. This 4.1% stout packed in loads of flavour, and despite concerns about the potential price (their previous beer in the Tap was really pricey) it was £3.00, which isn't that bad really. "Unfortunately" we had to have many pints of this because it was so damned tasty. We did also however try a couple of key kegs, and the price of these didn't frighten us either.
By now ensconced inside, Christingpher had half of the Camden Dark Lager and me the Brew Dog Growler. I understand the BrewDog was either rare/limited release, or exclusive to the Tap, either way it was enjoyable, if not amazing. The Camden packed a lot of flavour in just like the Cresta, and was reminiscent of, well, I was going to say a Schwartzbier, but then isn't that essentially what it is?
All too soon however it was time to move on so we took the natural step of walking to the Rutland Arms. Here it was quite packed what with the association football teams upcoming fixture, and on the bar it was Blue Bee a go go. I had intended to snaffle one of their fab butties but there was nowhere to sit apart from perching in the window near the bar. There were also, crisis piled upon crisis, some reserved tables. Rigorous scientific fact finding comprising of asking a man in the toilets why the seats were reserved offered up no explanation for this blot on their copy books. Turns out it was some sort of film society. Below right is a picture which singularly fails to demonstrate how busy the pub was. So well done me.....
Anyway we started on the very palatable and delicious Blue Bee Turned out Mild, a robustly flavoured mild, if that's not an oxymoron, and sensibly priced at £2.60 a pint. The pub was showing no signs of getting quieter and I admit that after thoroughly enjoying my mild I was itching to go somewhere quiet, but Christingpher insisted we stay. This inevitably meant further libation was required, so we had a pint  each of the also excellent Raw Brewery Dark Peak Stout which was 4.5%, £2.80 a pint and surprisingly easy to drink. 
We retired to our corner encampment and set about trying to subtly and carefully enjoy the myriad of roasted malt and bitter hoppy flavours, however instead we ended up blazing through the pint far quicker than it was entirely necessary to, which elongated preamble forms the basis of my excuse for remembering precisely nothing else about it.
Window on the World
Next stop was current CAMRA squeeze Henry's Cafe bar. From the usual wide range of ales on offer we had halves of Roosters Y.B and Hopback Odyssey. The Hopback had a flavour not to my friend's liking so I ended up with more of it than planned along with the very quaffable Roosters beer, which I thought had a few less hops than normal.
We undertook this experience looking out of one of the huge windows at the junction of Cambridge Street and Cross Burgess Street. There is nothing finer than sitting at the window edge of your table watching the world in their glad rags wandering by, self consciously trying to ignore the gaping space of the viewing gallery on their way past. That Henry's sells such great beer and at such a good price nicely and indeed perfectly tops off the experience of the drinker.
Next we headed to Betty's for some much needed fuel (fishcake butties, what else?) and then onto the Bath Hotel. The last time me and Christingpher were in the pub it was not long after Brian had restored it and we sat in the back room, as we did now, witnessing a really quite frightening event. A man with obvious behavioural problems was in with what I would have to describe as his carer. They were having a polite conversation which suddenly and inexplicably turned violent, with the huge man punching his warder and then hurling abuse and glasses around the room.
This event shook off the younger ones across from us, but either through gall or stupidity, when asked by the staff  if we were staying, we said we were. We picked the broken shards of glass out of our pints and off the table and seats and waited for all to return to normal. All did not in the end, and we had to leave, not before a ninja like member of staff ran in and grabbed the empty pint pots virtually from our hands even before they had touched the table. Brian must have been wondering what he'd let himself in for.
The details of our 2012 reprise, a much safer visit, are summarised in my post from yesterday.
Surprise Supplies
Back to 2012 and a walk to our last pub occasioned a visit to Harrisons 1854. I am sure Bob and Linda must have mentioned to me many times that Harrisons opens on a Monday, albeit late on, if the band are practising upstairs. Presumably, much like Bart in the Simpsons when he can't listen to anyone talk for more than a minute, I must have filed this info as blah. Sorry Harrisons!
Still, this gave us a chance to partake of a half of Deception and have a quick chat whilst Christingpher fretted (on behalf of his Dad he claimed) over the footy score, and Bob and Linda studiously filled the shelves fridges and crisp basket with stock. I really must try and remember that its open Mondays in future.....
Our final stop was in the, ahem "refined exclusivity" (i.e it was empty) of Dada. Here I had a pint of the excellent Beadecas Well and Chris the delicious "not written down" which may have transpired to be Marples. I don't know, basically. We settled down in the comfy leather chairs and had a long enjoyable chat about plans, hopes and concerns and generally set straight the ills of the world as best we could through a disorientating miasma of drunken steam.
That's making it sound grim to be honest - it wasn't at all. Instead it was a fab end to a tremendous night out. The only thing left to do was plan to go out again Tuesday, lest the magic be lost in the passing of time.
Wee Beefy 

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Three visits in, what do we know about the Bath Hotel?


    yesterday I had one of my now thankfully not that rare catch ups with illustrator extraordinaire Christingpher. Coming up in the next post are the details of our wander, but I want to tell you some more about the Bath Hotel. This is the 3rd time I've been since Thornbridge started running it and I wanted to provide a further update on what changes have taken place, and how its settling in to the comfortable seat that was the Bath under Brian.

Ba'th Humbug

Firstly I think there may be a new sign. The thing about visiting a pub loads of times, given that you know where it is and which building it is, you don't really look at the sign. So maybe its just repainted? Either way it looks good - I wonder if the coat of arms depicted is that on the mirror in the back room?.

Inside I have now found the price list - its tucked away in the small drinking corridor in the top right corner above the hatch. Its a weird place to put it because there's usually someone stood at that hatch so you are unlikely to be served there. Perhaps they were saving the newly unencumbered view of the woodwork on the front bar.

That its difficult to spot is surprising because it shows that contrary to concerns the standard regular Thornbridge beers are inexpensive for town. I am sure Moonshine used to be over £3.00 in the Bath but Brother Rabbit, a similar strength (not the same) beer is on at £2.80, with the weaker Wild Swan at £2.60. Its good to see affordable session ale in the city centre - with the exception of the Bee Hive you pay over £3.00 a pint everywhere in the area, regardless of whether its a sub 4% beer. Also, the standard Bernard lager is £3.20.  Can't really compare this with the price of Carlsberg as I never touched it but it doesn't seem too expensive. The guests are not too expensive either, although I have only had two different ones - more on that later.

I got into the back room and I think its unchanged, apart from maybe a repaint. Its still the best place in the pub for a chat, and you can get service at the hatch which is good. There was also some space reserved in the main room for the musicians. It appears free music is still available, although a low turn out last night was suggested by the performer to be because they'd put the prices up, which isn't true.

So to the beer. I finally got to try Dark Star Brewery's  Revelation IPA, a monstrously dry hoppy pale beer at 5.7% and £3.10 a pint (I think, notes unclear....). This magnificent citrussy beast had, as promised by the lady behind the bar, a very dry finish, but that balances out the pineapple, marmalade, apricot and grapefruit flavours that jump out of the initial mouthfeel. I'm really glad to have had the opportunity to finally sample this, but I have to say, at the mid point of our crawl that night it wasn't one for a session. More of a well deserved last beer of the night.

So far the guests are mainly from Allgates, Phoenix and Dark Star, which are all good breweries, although some other guests, even from the Thornbridge brewing friends, would be welcome. And it would seem that selling beer hasn't been a problem - I was told that the Kipling they'd put on was a Kilderkin. if you can sell 18 gallons of beer before it goes off (albeit Kipling is quite strong) then that suggests good turnover. I don't know of any other pubs in the area using 18's.

So, it seems to have settled in nicely, being reasonably busy on my 3 visits (less last night, but that was a Monday). And I am taking Davefromtshop their tonight so hopefully I will have the opportunity to delve in to the citrus delights of a Dark Star Revelation once more.

Wee Beefy

The Anglers Rest, Richmond Park Road, Sheffield

Good Morning,

as promised last week I have been doing a little research on the Anglers Rest pub. I popped in yesterday for a pint, hoping to get some concrete factual information from the staff, such as when it was built, however this was not a successful venture, but I did get talking to a couple of regulars in the Tap Room, and between them and a friend of theirs here's what we guesstimembered...

The pub was built prior to the houses on the other side of the road and presumably about the same time as the rest of the estate. Curmudgeon had suggested a fifties build and this seemed to be the opinion here. It seems that Wards Brewery built the pub and owned it right up until their closure in 1999 (it is presently owned by Barracuda Group, which is a bit of a surprise since they are more about bars like Varsity, it has variously been or indeed is a Smith and Jones pub, and perhaps a Barnwells ?).

The pub was enlarged in the eighties - we think the snooker area in the right hand room (which is partitioned and entered through a very wide doorway), was added then. The room on the right used to be a small panelled bar , which suggests the panelling around the fireplace is original. The fireplace looks like a reclaim so its unclear when that was put in. This supports my initial suspicion that the panelling in the other room on the left may also be original - that room too has been extended further back.

In the tap room next to fireplace in the right  corner was the entrance to the ladies with the gents to the left - both are accessed in the middle now, and this further suggests that the fireplace location if nothing else is original. Behind the bar is interesting as their is a thirties style arrangement of three doors side on to the bar for the cellar, kitchen and accommodation.

The off sales hatch is still open but rarely used, but I still think its used for convenience in Summer when people are sat outside. The sign has changed as well - it now depicts an angler, perhaps walking through reeds - it always used to be three crossed fishing rods. Apparently there were three fishponds in the area, of which only one survives, at Richmond.

The beers were Morland Original at £1.79 a pint, which was well kept, and the Jennings Cumberland at £1.99 a pint which might have edged by being a bit less lively. It looks like the next of the Golden Ales guest  list to appear will be Waggle Dance .

I found out very little info on the modern day pub on the Internet but I reckon I have worked out which pub it replaced with a lot of help from the Sheffield History website (you can search the pub section and find details on both pubs on the site via the link) I had heard that the Anglers replaced (albeit in a different location) a pub called the Anglers Rest on South Lane near the bottom of London Road which was bombed in the war. It looks like the most plausible candidate is the Anglers rest at Dobson Street, formerly New George Street, just off the bottom of London Road.

Apparently this closed in 1948, and may have been a beer retailer before then - its pure conjecture but I wonder if after it was bombed, adjoining or surviving premises were retained as a retail business. The final thing I found out was that the modern pub is built on the wrong side of the road! Perhaps rumours of subsidence over the road prove this to be a sensible decision.

So, there's the gen I have, am afraid this is my first attempt at researching a pub (as is probably blindingly obvious) but if nothing else, I've enjoyed my little bit of sleuthing, and my long discussion with the three blokes in the Anglers yesterday.

Lets hope I am back in soon enjoying a decent pint of real ale ale at a very reasonable price.

Wee Beefy

Monday, 14 May 2012

The end is nigh


   this is more a note than a blog post (you may be relieved to discover) which serves only to tell you that I have done something that I am not proud of. Lots of bloggers have done it, it seems, most of them appear to have escaped unscathed. I just hope I will not be the first to suffer.

I joined Twitter. As Wee Beefy, as it happens.

No doubt this will be tremendous fun (especially the character limit) and, having no mobile internet access, it will be great for finding out about stuff many hours after its happened, finished being discussed, been posted, tweeted, re-tweeted, or indeed anything affording it any semblance of use or need. So much like now really, when I rarely get on the Internet until 22.00....

Here's to finding stuff out.

Wee Beefy

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Friday feeling

Now then,

      I have made the sensible decision to take a few days off work lately. Not because I necessarily have anything on, (although I do now) but because its sometimes easier to catch up on stuff (research) with no school next morning. Also, I wondered whether some surprise beery event might appear on my radar last minute so I wanted to be primed for such a happenstance. As it was I had a wander around Sheffield and enjoyed some great pints along the way.

I started the day at the Anglers Rest as I mentioned yesterday, and then after dinner headed into town and oop Ecclesall road way. I dallied with the idea of popping into the Ecclesall, formerly the Pomona, but it didn't tempt. Instead, based on the excellent beers on my last visit (and those advertised as coming soon) I headed up to the Lescar.


I was in around dinner and it was pleasingly quiet. With diners creating an olfactory distraction in the front I went to sit in the back looking at the bar, taking my pint and essential crisps with me. I say essential because, at approximately £1..20 a bag (60p at my local shop, nice mark up!) they would have to be pretty damned good. Instead they were OK - but this is interesting, because although the Lescar has hardly been cheap (or often sure if its own prices), the beer hasn't really gone up since last summer. I know its difficult to compare when you are almost always on guests but in general it seems to be £3.05 - 3.10 a pint. No more galling than usual.

The beer I had was the excellent Windsor and Eton brewery Knight of the Garter, a 3.8% golden ale with a pleasing malt and subtle balancing hoppinesss. I would have stayed on this all day but I had my eye on two others in a range of six (or seven, if Moonshine is back and front bar), including Brew Company Blackout stout, which having just seen the ingredients on the tinterweb I wished I had tried.

The reason I didn't was that I was smitten instead with the Moor Brewing Company Somerland Gold, a refreshing 5.0% golden beer that I had tasted in bottle back in March (funnily enough it was bottle conditioned). This was a delightfully rounded, dry bitter beer which went down very well. Too well, as is the technical term. The addition of wheat malt was noticeable (although I kind of remembered it from the beer tasting as well), and this probably made it that little bit extra tasty.

Kitkat circle

All too soon I had to leave and as you know from my earlier post I was in Shakespeares next with my dear friend Middlemarch. After she had left, I quickly finished up and headed for the Cat for a pork pie. Not only a pork pie you understand, that would be weird. I also had a pint of Pennine Brewery mild, the actual identity of which is proving very difficult since my notes say just that, and stupid arse Internet Explorer is playing silly buggers. Out of interest, following some confusion regarding the former Porter Brewery, it appears this Pennine is newly formed in 2012 and based near Batley, not in Haslingden like Porter (Pennine) - hope that's clear!

Never mind though it was very enjoyable and despite suddenly becoming nesh I sat outside near a heated light with a couple (until that point!) enjoying an evening of imbibing in the beer garden. I had wanted to stand inside but it was so packed that even standing was too much of an ask, so I braved it for a bit, before giving in on finishing my pint and going to stand behind beer legend Martin at the bar.

Here I had a chat about the Bath Hotel with Martin and a former regular, and had a very nice half of Navigation Pale to finish off my super busy Cat visit. The pale was refreshing but lacked the oomph and quality of their dark beers at Shakespeares.


My last port of call was the Kelham Island Tavern where I started very sensibly with a half of the Derby Brewing Co Penny's Porter, a very enjoyable luscious dark brew as recommended by Mr W. I also had chance to nibble a much needed sandwich and relax, before I felt compelled to see what else was on offer.

So it was that my last of the night was a pint of the excellent Banks and Taylors Edwin Taylors Extra Stout, one of my long tome favourite dark beers which did not disappoint. This was a fantastic end to a long day of great beer and great company in some of Sheffield's best pubs.


Wee Beefy.

Telling them straight?

Lunchtime greetings,

    I noticed a lot of "blog" has been uploaded about the thorny issue of naming and shaming brewers of crap beer. Boak and Bailey (for it is them) kindly recapped some of the responses from the blogosphere in this post and it seems everyone has their own approach. The impetus for this debate was some Bottle Conditioned Ales (BCA's) of vinegrous qualities.

I can assure you that waving goodbye to a foaming mass of BCA isn't unusual. I have been picking up BCA's in pubs or shops since about 1993 and I have yet to find a corner of the country that hasn't spawned a hideous swamp ale, with too many breweries to remember being involved. In terms of identifying them, I, almost always, name and shame. However that's not to say there isn't an alternative.

Lets just make it clear that I love good, well made BCA's. They bring a whole new angle to the taste of the beer as it matures and often refines its character in the bottle. Having been lucky enough to drink a few vintages of Eldridge Pope Thomas Hardy Ale I can assure you that the wonder of in-bottle fermentation is quite real, and can be truly awe inspiring.

When its crap though, I am unhappy. I feel let down. And now I have a blog, I find myself bitching about it on here. Which is fine, blogs are after all solely the embodiment of the authors comment and opinion, but before I had this mouthpiece I used to write to the brewer and express my dismay.

Actually, this is wheat beer, very good wheat beer...

I wonder if, as I have commented on the Boak and Bailey post, doing so might remove the thorny question of whether one names or shames? I know that blogging, and more so Twatter, is meant to be up to date and virtually instantaneous, but if you correspond with said producer (this applies more to BCA's than cask) and they reply you can decide then whether or not to mention it. If they are unapologetic or indeed don't reply at all, you can present a fuller picture. Better still, if they take on board your comments, then I would suggest that is a full story with a positive ending. Positivity on blogs! Whatever next...

Well, perhaps this idea of consumer/producer interaction may already be underway. The Pub Curmudgeon has set an interesting challenge on his blog here. The BCA challenge is a request to brewers to send him a bottle of their BCA which he promises to nurture and look after properly in the prime of conditions and then open, drink (hopefully) and review. I haven't seen any reviews yet, so I must drop him an email to find out how things are going, but if we assume no or very few brewers are interested, this poses an interesting question.

Why are so few brewers willing to put their BCA's up for close inspection or review?

As I commented on Boak and Bailey before, there seems a deafening silence from the smaller producers (although some welcome comments on this post ) about BCA, so one wonders if this is a tacit acceptance that their products aren't up to scratch?

Perhaps the best solution is if producers and consumers are equally vocal - with each other. Then everyone knows where they stand.

Wee Beefy

A night with Mallinsons, Kirkstall, Abbeydale, Blue Bee, and Acorn


  here are some details of my thirsty Thursday of beers culture and food....


Thursday I was having two nights out, one after the other. After a very brief pint with Mr H I was in harrisons 1854 for a very agreeable couple of pints of Deception, as well as to find out about the round and round it goes art festival they are holding. Rather than remember from Thursday I'll link you to the following Forum post for more details here.  It may even have finished by the way, but still worth a look at the idea if nothing else I reckon.

It was nice to be stood at the bar with the constant hubbub of coming and going artists, and the occasional musical interlude form the brass band upstairs, but unfortunately despite the lure of the Deception I was off to meet Mr L at the Sheffield Tap.


Mr L is from Ooop North even more than Sheffield could be considered so, and it may have been this credential that led him down the crazy avenue of thinking we should sit outside (actually, that was my bright idea), but more specifically for him to be in short sleeves and seemingly unmoved. Its a few years since I was immune to cold, despite a substantial investment in a flesh fleece, yet despite this I battled manfully on in the sunless trap of the forecourt.....

Here we enjoyed a fantastic pint of the Mallinsons Centennial Single hop ale. This is now the 3rd Mallinsons single hop beer I've had and I have to say they have all been brilliant. Its funny but for some reason I never really rated Mallinsons much before, possibly a conspiracy of beer line ups meant I always ended up with something brown or golden with a Yorkshire square flavour. Conveniently I can't remember a single one of those beers so I have instead to tell you that you should definitely try a Mallinsons beer when you see one ( In Sheffield the Tap and the Rutland seem to stock them).

On getting back in from the cold, there was an empty pump or two, and perhaps because I was temporarily confused by the heady buzz of warmth, in a moment of pondering I suggested we went to the Rutland for a pint or two instead.

Rutland of the butties

Here Paultous and Stu(ew)art were manning the bar and there was a goodly choice of dark beers to be had. Eschewing the wild unpredictability of different pints per round we both had a pint of the Blue Bee Lustin for Stout which was on fine form. It was quiz night so we were aware that eventually it might be time to move on, but not before we'd had a pint of the Acorn Darkness as well.

Meanwhile, noting a slight sense of "tiredness" creeping upon me I ordered again the fantastic bacon butty, and it didn't disappoint. I think that having a sarnie in here is going to be a part of my essential beer plan from now on, its pretty damn filling so mops up any excess alcohol that you may have accidentally consumed. After this Mr L opted to join his native friends and I headed off for an unspecified event at an unspecified place.

Red Lion

Luckily I have a mobile phone with a camera on and a pen and paper, or else I might never have properly remembered my visit to the Red Lion on Charles Street. It was very quiet and I got a seat and a table to myself at which to enjoy my half of Abbeydale Deception, whilst also getting a pic or two  of the red Lion interior, thereby increasing my stash of Red Lion pics by 100%...

The Hop

I had actually walked up Division and then Devonshire Street to go and get another wonderful bit of food since I was feeling hungry again, even after my fantastic butty. On arriving at the chip shop I found that no Yorkshire fishcakes were to be had - if I wanted Yorkshire Fishcake butty, I'd have to wait. I boldly took up the challenge and went in the Hop to fill in 15 minutes.

The pub wasn't too busy and to my delight there was a genuine guest on, in the form of Kirskstall Pale. Not only is Kirkstall brewery not owned by Ossett (as far as I know) but also its one of my favourite breweries, so this was a no brainer. Better still my half of their pale ale only cost £1.20 - I'd suggest £2.40 is a pretty good price for any pint of real ale in the city centre, and it was a very pleasant drink as well (this is sot-speak for "I know I liked it, but that's all I know").

Note of discombobulation

Now, on my notes, where I had diligently recorded, in varying degrees of legibility, all the events of the evening, I made a worrying discovery. I know that I got my long desired butty in the end, and that it was boiling hot having just been cooked, and that it took me a while wandering around to eat it - the cool night air just wasn't cool enough to chill the crispy beast sufficiently. I didn't recall going anywhere else but home though...

So imagine my horror when my notes advised  "FCB - Bettys £1.60". Shit I thought, how drunk must I have been to have gone in to the Forum Cafe Bar, on my own, and besides which, who brews Bettys?

I searched Beermad, Quaffale and Google, found a brewery in Maidstone via Facebookcalled Betty's which didn't really seem to exist, and a few beers which came from breweries with the initials F or B. I also thought about Fat Cat Brewery, but to no avail, no plausible (i.e not skinners Betty Stogs) Betty beer was to be found in the UK. There was a hole in my memory and a magical beer named after a tea shop was in its place. I was ashamed.

Unitil I remebered I bought my Fish Cake Butty from - Betty's!

My new favourite chippy. Well, I say new, I've never had a favourite chippy before. So Betty's must be extra special. Its not a brewery though....

Wee beefy.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Shakespeares snifter

Hello again,

    it seems I have wound up in (or maybe been washed up in) Shakespeares quite a lot of late. The benefit of which has been some very nice beer and company, and friendly helpful service from the staff.

I was in briefly on Wednesday on a gloriously quiet afternoon enjoying a surprisingly nice pint of Bartrams Galena, a quaffable 3.8% blonde beer with plenty  of hops and on at a decent price of £2.50, making oit probably the cheapest of the guests. I have always had reservations about Bartrams, not least because I have one or two dreadful beers of theirs, and because I am always concerned about small breweries who bottle condition their beers (they may not do now, am not sure). They used to brew a range of about thirty beers and they seemed very samey and not very good.

The Galena however, although retaining the Bartrams flavour (is this the yeast?) was a much better offering than anything I'd had before. Almost yellow gold and really easy to drink, but all the time with that pleasing hoppy fizz in the aftertaste rounding the beer off very well.

I also tried a half of the Salamander Practical Pipsqueak Porter, 4.8% and £2.70 a pint. This was everything I wanted it to be, with characteristic roast malt bitterness, and was, thankfully after some reddy dark brown finds recently, as black as sin. One thing you can say about Salamander's output is that they are brilliant at dark beers.

I was in again last night with Middlemarch and had a whole session on the Galena, I even got my fruit fancier drinking partner to try Abbeydale Deception, which she stuck on for the duration. The Galena was still on and on good form, and I finished with a really nice half of the Revolutions Brewery Esca bitter. I remember hearing a band of the same name on John Peel in the early nineties, with a track called Trucking and Paving. I never knew if it was Eska or Esca - given Revolutions musical interests I wonder if this beer is named after the band?

Its great to work near to and regularly have chance to visit a classic boozer, with probably Sheffield's cheapest sandwiches on the bar, real cider, 8 real ales, a changing keykeg guest, lager wheat and fruit beer on draught, and a great range of whiskies and bottle beers.

We really are spoilt here in Sheffield it seems.

Wee Beefy

Handsworth real ale gain

Now then,

   the gain of the title is not the new build pub near Asda off Richmond Park Road (seemingly not a Wetherspoons after all, seems my reliable source was misinformed) but one not too far away from there either.

I have been walking in Bowden woods on both sides of the Parkway for ten years now and often I come out at the shops on Richmond Park Road and walk past the Anglers Rest. On my one previous visit about 5 years ago, there was a lone handpump and no real ale. I got the distinct impression it was a bar feature, indicative if a long term absence of the fine drink, so never bothered going in again.

Yesterday, I walked past it twice on a circular walk and in the first instance mused over how convenient it would be if the pub sold real ale. On my second wander past I noticed a sign (not the main one) on the side of the pub advertising cask ales. So I went in for a look.

The pub places emphasis on food but more importantly (!) sells two real ales at very good prices. I was in the left hand bar, the handpumps are in the right, but there is a small blackboard at the right hand end of the bar showing the two real ales that are on. These were Morland Original, and Jennings Cumberland. I had a half of the Cumberland, and considering this was probably only half an hour after they opened, it was clearly not a drink that had slept all night in the lines. It was clear, and poured to perfection  with just enough head. Difficult to do in a half pint glass.

Interestingly, that the pub sells real ale is not exactly news - in the sense that, as with all Sleepy Beefy "exclusives", they have been doing so for six months. In some ways that makes the news all the better - it suggests there is a market for it, and that its worth them continuing.

I sat down in the window and there was a small sign advertising the real ales coming on, which I understand change every month. This includes the new Greene King IPA Gold, and Old Golden Hen along with Ringwood Boondoggle, to name but a few. Its clearly a pubco list comprising mainly Greedy King and Marstons/Banks empire, but its a tied house, and from what is likely a restricted choice for them, I think there are some decent enough beers (I had the Boondoggle in bottle last week and it was really nice).

The main feature though is the prices - my half of Cumberland cost a pound, but the board on the bar showed the Morland on at £1.79 a pint. "Its our best seller" advised the lady behind the bar - I'm not surprised at that price. And its kept as well as the Jennings then that's all the better.

The pub is a "new" estate pub build, but I think new maybe a little misleading  - I understand it was named after a pub of the same name on South street at Moorfoot that was bombed in the war, but I'll have to look into that. The local estate that I live on is mainly 1930 and 40's houses so it maybe that the same applies to the areas that this pub serves, making it a venerable 70 years old.

The inside comprises two large rooms with a central bar, and as you enter there is an open hatch for service - I don't know if its in use but it looks very much like an off sales - if the pub was a 1950's build that would be interesting, because I'd have though it wasn't long after this that off sales hatches fell out of use. Its placement in the entrance lobby reminds me a little of  the interior layout of the Crown and Glove in Stannington. Inside, there is some panelling to the left hand end, but its unclear whether this survives from the original build, or is part of successive later makeovers - I'll investigate next time.

So overall this is great news, a community pub within walking distance with very competitively priced real ales on. Just what every community should have.

Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Home is where I'm harshest?


    I was interested in a comment on the write up of my Cheshire pubs visit on Bank Holiday Sunday. I have been going to the Swan With Two Nicks at Little Bollington for about as long as Dunham Massey brewery have been going (since 2007 I understand) and had never really given any of its credentials, other than the beer range, a second thought.

This is weird for me, because usually I am keen on the whole picture - the interior layout, the fixtures, the historical integrity (rarely relevant alas) the type of pub, the mix of clientele. And yet someone local to the pub mentioned it was a bit expensive and foody.

It was interesting to read this from Curmudgeon, because myself and Mudgie are two of the only bloggers I know of interested in unspoilt pubs and specifically  the CAMRA/English Heritage National Inventory of Unspoilt Pub Interiors. By extension, we both therefore prefer more basic, traditional pubs.

I still like the Swan just as much of course, but when I thought about it, the pub is quite foody actually. And am not sure the beer is particularly inexpensive either. And, its been extended so many times as to be internally at least, no doubt radically different to 40 or 50 years ago when my Dad would have first started going in. So how come I didn't notice?

Because I only visit on holiday or on a day out. And the minute I leave Sheffield beer prices behind, I adjust my expectation of what I will be charged to allow myself to be paying what I would consider unreasonable at home. A £3.60 pint in Aberdeenshire? No problem. A £3.40 pint in Dundee? No surprise. An average round of a pint and two halves in Kent for £7.50? Unexceptional. And I reckon I also drop my expectation of other pub credentials, thus accepting my own arbitrarily set higher food prices, and even ignoring the fact that very occasionally, the pub I am visiting, if transplanted to the Peak District or Sheffield, would not be my pub of choice.

I was fairly surprised to reach this conclusion, not least because I thought I always applied strict criteria to whether or not I would or did enjoy a visit to a pub, irrespective of where it was. And also because, turning this theory on its head, am I therefore unnecessarily harsh on pubs that don't qualify for these concessions?

Maybe this is simply a demonstration that I'm getting older, becoming more willing (or maybe able) to spend money on pub meals, and being rendered blind by the grass is always greener wanderlust of the pub lover.

Either way, as highlighted over the last week, I'm clearly not enjoying pubs any less as a result...

Wee Beefy

Monday, 7 May 2012

Wee Beefy's Thursday through Saturday celebrations....

Oh aye,

  well mercifully this is the last week of wobbling post for tonight, as am tired and need to relax before going back to work to, well, sit in front of a better computer. So here are the details of Friday and Saturday.

Once again I had to meet Chala after work, this time I had to go to the bank first before hot footing it to the Bath Hotel for my first visit after it reopened. Arriving at 5PM I admit I have already described the finer points to you (well, all but one of you it seems) so I'll skip onto venue 2....


As it was actually Chala's birthday (and despite my having something to celebrate which I can assure you I managed on Saturday), we started in the Forum. This time I dallied with the idea of a half but in the end opted for some waaarn, which is apparently supposed to demonstrate maturity.

We got to our meal destination in good time and more wine flowed, but unfortunately, despite a planned continuation of ale celebration, the whole event cost us so much that we went home early with no beer consumed.......

Saturday - Sheffield Tap

Having left Chala to fanny about in shops with Thangor I headed off on a quest to avoid hearing any football scores, whilst also drinking to keep the thoughts at bay. Choice one, at midday, didn't herald any scores but did at least prove a poor idea in terms of avoiding Football details.

The bar at the Tap was perhaps best described as a scrum. The door policy seemed to be basically if you are wearing a football shirt keep it hidden but it was a sea of Wednesday everywhere you turned. Worse still beers were going off (running out) left right and centre.

Despite this I got a delicious pint of the Mallinsons Nelson Sauvin. They are making a determined bid for my 2012 top ten, having been a kind of begrudging choice in the past, whether by fault or accident. The Nelson Sauvin was a great chance to separate the flavour of the hop, which I was now clear didn't have the acidic, chemical bite of Simcoe.

In the room at the back there were many fans, made up with a contingent of French Owls. This rather incongruous mix was a breath of fresh air though in a busy, tense venue that was by beer 2 slightly thinning out. Just before I headed back to the bar a throng of lasses appeared en route to somewhere far away (based on their absurd amounts of stowage, and thats not a euphemism) and this perhaps proved important in the bigger scheme of things.

Meanwhile I quickly got served again and had a half of the Magic Rock High Wire IPA and Curious. The Curious was better even than it had been at Dada, with a brilliant burnt toffee flavour that mellowed into the aftertaste perfectly, making this the beer of the day so far. Alas, I cut short my visit, since the other visitors had sought to arrive with those annoying streamer things which you blow and they make a crap noise? Even with beer and reading matter to distract me, 4 people hooting at once is just annoying! So I ran away, and everything.


As you know I was at the Rutland first, which was documented in a post earlier so I shall give details of my next stop, at Shakespeares on Gibraltar Street instead. Here I had a pint of Navigation brewery stout from a new concern based in Nottingham, which was a fantastic beer. Initially I thought it was an Elland beer based on the info on the board. I had this along with an essential pack of crisps and finished on a really enjoyable Dark Star Six Hop IPA, £3.20 a pint, and 6.2% ( I misread as 6.5). Despite the threat of citric and ascorbic meltdown this was a brilliant blend of hops to create a satisfying strong pale ale.

Kelham Island Tavern

My first visit for a while and I opted for old reliable -  a pint of the Thwaites Nutty Black. This was a brief visit, chatting to the guy I saw in Shakespeares about football (the results of which I now knew) and beers here in Sheffield. It was nice to slow down and enjoy another dark pint of beer and a chat, but with celebration on my mind I opted to go for a last one in the Cat round the corner....

Fat Cat

Fatty's, as it can be known (L'Chappelle) was busy as you'd expect and I got only a half in here which in the melee of rejoicing and slight cider invoked tiredness I negated to record. Still, what better way to finish my beer travels on a wonderful day (I should point out that I got promoted Friday, so this was a multi layered celebration, including the achievements of Beefy family club, in that someone once played for them, Hyde United) than with a beer at the pub where, virtually, my love of real ale began.

From here I wended my way home via the shops to spend an evening with Chala and to have a fabulous surprise meal. Overall a fantastic day of highs, and almost no lows. Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Wee Beefy's Wednesdays wander.

Ay up,

    This didn't take place in two days time. Oh no, much more down to earth drinking experiences for me. This was something that is, as part of my week of imbibition, the second update on my revelry over the period of celebration just passed, starting with a few choice chalices on Wednesday.

I was to meet Chala after work for night one of her birthday celebrations. I found myself a little spare time and headed for a couple of halves prior to meeting up. I started at an old stalwart from my youth.

West End

The West End seems to be in a kaleidoscope of fuzzy and misfiled memories from my past - for a start, I always call it the Hallamshire, even though the two names don't sound the same, and the Hallamshire was in fact the boozer I migrated to a year after I gave up on the West End for being grim.

Visiting now it doesn't look radically different on the outside. But then things change. For reasons not immediately (or, really, ever) obvious to me, the interior is currently done out in a sort of faux medieval style. There is a dark wood bar with abbey style window shapes behind it, and fake castle or abbey wood ceilings, and other thematic nods to the era. Its odd, yes, but I reckon when I used to drink in here aged 17 and 18 it would have suited me quite well then and crucially gone unnoticed.

On the bar were three ales in direct opposition to current beer styles, Theakstons Lightfoot, Greedy King OSH, and Old Peculier, which, had it not been en route, I might have stayed to try. As it was I felt sensible and had a half of the Lightfoot. It was OK, cost £1.45 and was so inoffensive as to be strange, but one assumes the owners or managers have an idea what sells and if this is what does then so be it.

University Arms

I popped in for a quick half and found a plethora of tasty choices - such is life, when you have time for a session there is little to tempt, when you have ten minutes everything seems great. As it was I opted for a half of the Stroud Brewery Teasle, 4.3 % and £1.35 a half. This was a fantastic beer,  my first Stroud offering, and one which I particularly enjoyed.

Sat in the beer garden it was nice to take advantage of a rare spell of vaguely clement weather to enjoy my beer, but as was the flavour of the evening, I was all too soon off elsewhere.

Old House

I met Chala in here for a pint or two. She had already chosen a cocktail and after a taster or two I opted for a pint of my "usual" Bradfield Farmers Stout. This was quite nice, but all too soon Chala was out of Birthday drinks so I fetched a cocktail or summat and a half of Pale Rider for a change, plus a half of the Bradfield Plum Bitter. The plum wasn't that bad, but I wouldn't have a session on it, and the Pale Rider made a pleasant change. I also bought a bottle of Saison Silly, since it appears that everyone on the Internet likes Saison. It was also enjoyable, though hardly a defining moment in my beer tastes.


Having booked our table for a meal elsewhere we had a bit of time to kill so went to the Forum for a change. Here the Brew Co/Forum Group/True North First Born was on (and drinkable) so I had a pint of that. The decor has changed slightly and the wine list isn't as good but at least the beer was orate....

Rutland Arms

After our meal I persuaded Chala that the best place to sample a good jukebox and for us both to drink something we liked was the 11 minute walk away Rutland Arms. We made it in 12, but I was still broadly correct. Here I had a pint of one of the excellent Mallinsons single hop beers Amarillo 11, a fantastic and hugely quaffable bitter ale with all the best flavours afforded by amarillo hops.

Chala meanwhile commandeered the jukebox and we met up with a couple who were doing the same, Neil and , erm, oops, in the passage of time she has become Mrs Neil. Sorry both!

Time passed enjoyably and we both had another beer, before Neil very kindly bought us a drink, seeing as it was Chala's birthday. She had another Leffe (perhaps a Leffe too many?) and me a half of the mild. You know, the mild. Which was on. From er, you know. Thingy.

All in all this was a fantastic night out with great company and due to a certain somebody being a trifle refreshed we were home just after 22.00 and I had time for some food to erase any ill effects. A great night out.

Wee Beefy

Wee Beefy's Tuesday tipples


    in the last week there has been a payday and many reasons to celebrate. So, I am afraid I have to admit, I have spent quite a few occasions in the last 7 days partaking of a fine and tasty beverage in a good pub. Here are some details of my excursion into Tuesday temulency.

Gardeners Rest

Myself and Mr P started our evening in the Gardeners Rest. The river level had mercifully dropped by now, and I wondered whether the extensive work done towards Lady's Bridge which included dredging the river bed had kept the pub dry in the last fortnight of horrific inundation. Luckily all was fine.

There were quite a few people in for a Tuesday, and a good selection of beers to choose from. I started with a pint of the Reedley Hallows Old Laund Bitter, 3.6% and Mr P the Scarborough Moody's Mild at 4.1. Reedley Hallows is perhaps the best name of any of the current crop of Microbreweries, so I was drawn to it right away, but also because it was quite a low gravity beer to start on. Its based in Burnley and has some link to Moorhouses. The beer was very much of its locale, but still had quite a bit of flavour, if not a tremendous amount of hops.

For our second pint we swapped beers and I got to taste the Moody's Mild, which was a dry and bitter drink, perfectly black and likewise very drinkable. I also had time to have a half of the Sheffield Brewing Co Chocolate Cascade, perhaps suffering slightly from being named after a euphemism, but tasting very nice despite its sweet dairy ingredient. Overall a very good quota of ales.


Off next to Shalesmoor and the Ship where there were 3 real ales on as usual. Mr P had a pint of the Abbeydale Daily Bread and me the excellent Spire Coal Porter.

We had a goodly time in here sat down trying to decipher how Mr P had managed to change his smart new phone's language setting to Greek, and supping the beer. All too quickly I had finished the Porter but unfortunately so had it - luckily I was able to fit in a half of the excellent Dark Side of the Moon from Spire which replaced it. Another excellent session in the Ship.


Myself and Mr P parted ways here as I headed off West Street way under the flimsy premise of seeing if the Bath was yet reopened. I missed a tram so decided that the only solution, rather than wait for my next one, was to go in the Cask and Welly for a half.

This time I triumphed in having one of their beers, only to not chuffing write down what it was - it was about 4.2 to 4.5% and was stronger than, erm , another of theirs (and was a very enjoyable tipple). Whilst in here I was pleased to bump into a few people I have known for years, such as Dave S and Mark and Wendy. It was great to catch up, albeit briefly. 

The Old 54

I jumped off the tram at the University stop and headed down to the Bath to see if it was open, but as we all now know it wasn't, though teasingly the lights were on. So I popped in Betty's for a fishcake butty (my evening meal) before heading up to Harrisons 1854.  Here the Deception was back on form so I had  a pint or two of that and caught up with Barraharri before I made the rash decision to go and get some late tipples at Dada.


The pub was quite empty but there were a couple of blokes at the bar enjoying a pint and a discussion with James who runs the place. I had a pint of the Thornbridge Pica Pica and soon got into discussing, quite pertinently, Thornbridge Brewery (a popular recent subject of mine) and beers. Seeing that last orders had passed and that we were in the mood for further "ale hard talk(?!) and beer we headed up to The Wick at Both Ends for a late one. In here I am certain that I had a Thornbridge beer but I didn't note it down and also made sure I made it last so as to reduce the impact on me for the next day, before escaping home in a taxi.

This was a good Tuesday crawl featuring some great beers, and was the ideal warm up to a week of reckless excess and rejoicing, the details of which will be coming over the next couple of days.

Wee Beefy