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...
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.
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.