Saturday, 30 June 2012

Dangerously drinkable


  this is just a quick mention of a few pints I had last night, showing two contrasting beers, but both eminently drinkable, and excellent examples of their styles.

Not a Shakey Start

Starting at Shakespeares I was dallying with having a Raw Solstice pale, or having a reliable and slightly less expensive pint of Deception, until I noticed, to my delight, that Dark Star Saison was on. Having been my clear winner of the beer of the festival at Three Valleys (no mean feat in the face of some of the Raw, Buxton and Ashover offerings), I was chuffed to see it, and despite the cantankerous weather Gods serving up wind, hail and sunshine all at once it was still relatively warm, so Saison was the ideal choice.

To liven up the experience I should really have bought a bottle of Saison de Silly to compare - instead, putting my droughty gullet before hard research I just bought another half of the Saison and a typically Belgian delicacy, of a pork pie and some Beefy crisps. A tremendously Flemish approach to refreshment I'm sure you'll agree....

I had bought another half because I was conscious of the fact that the Saison would not linger long in my glass. I was right. Pint number one barely passed a five minute lifetime. More was required. So I had a further two pints of this nectar before moving on, once again leaving Shakespeares having had a memorable drinking experience. Full marks.


Up next to the Cranes, as per Beer matters now leased by Rick and Luke and featuring Blue Bee as usual and more Vale. Initially I was stopping only for a half, and had the Welbeck Abbey Portland Black. A terrific super dark roasted malt tribute of a beer, that tasted far too fantastic to fanny about having only a half. So I had another.

The fact that I only stopped for one more half was down to a desire to get myself home like a good boy and cook tea instead of getting hammered, however had I not had so pious a calling I think I would have been in there for a good few more, such was the excellence of the Portland Black.

Am off out later and really really hope both beers are still on. And Rick tells me that they are going to try and stay open late on Friday and Saturday nights when, surprisingly, its actually quiet, so maybe I'll get the chance of another Portland Black at least.


Wee Beefy

What next for frontier brewers?

Ay oop,

     I was talking with a friend recently about the next big thing to hit real ale and beer in general. Obviously circumnavigating any assessment of where mega conglomerates and fizz packers would strike next, I focused on the smaller brewers, so often, even if not exclusively, at the forefront of beer innovation and trends.

Ten or fifteen years ago, in my experience, beers were still brown and malty. Some admittedly strayed into paler territory, in fact of course, Stones in Sheffield was always pale, but largely the output was mid brown to dark brown, plus a stout or two. The only noticeably hoppy stuff was from Burton Bridge (Empire) Freeminer (Trafalgar IPA), White Shield, and Whim, Hartington bitter, perhaps.

It turns out, unbeknown to me, and seemingly the rest of the larger percentage of British brewers at the time, that American brewers were putting huge amounts of hops into their beers years ago, and pushing the boundaries of what particular styles should be like, and experimenting with producing styles not native to their continent, or even their nearest ally, the UK.

Assuming then that we have spent the last decade in the UK catching up with the USA in terms of hop quantities especially, I consider that we are getting ever nearer to matching our Atlantic cousins in terms of bite. However, I wonder, will we continue to chase them, or pursue another countries style, or more intriguingly, forge our own way?

I mean, even the stoic world of stouts and old ales has been Yankified - for the better?

At present, where hops are concerned it seems that IKE is the start of the beginning of the end for producing equally hop forward beers. Reaching ever dizzying heights of IBU is impressive but ultimately I want to be seduced rather than hospitalised by a beer. Don't get me wrong, Steel City 666 is still a matchlessly hoppy and delicious beer. And I realise that the folks at SCB see other characteristics in their IKE touched beer other than hop induced pain.... 

 Overall though , after near on a decade of hop heavy dry bitter beers, I can see a desire for something a bit more rounded, or maybe at the opposite end of the flavour spectrum, or put another way, new. 

Of course trends have already emerged, but even then a scarcity of good knowledge of American beer styles prevents me from identifying where Black IPA and Red Hop/Rye ales originated, but its clear we are catching up, even if not quickly, rather than leading. IKE can take us to the eye watering heights of some overseas beers but it has to be in a magnificently complex beer to make it palatable.

So as for new trends, alas, the UK seems alone in striving for great flavour in sub 3% beers and doesn't seem to have a NEW specific identifably British style, or direction. Since the USA has only been brewing  the better smaller brewer and innovative output for 20 or 30 years, its surely time to set a divergent and desirably unique beer direction in the UK, so that we can match, rather than follow US beers.

And, that of course does not even have to mean matching their ascorbic, dry, bitter, Belgian IPA, smoked whatever and red ingredient output. To be really good, the UK needs to keep up with the USA whilst also defining itself, not based on what has been UK beer for a century, but what is and can be UK beer now.

In terms of future styles and developments, I personally think a combination of cask, KeyKeg and Bottle conditioned (yep, that;s right, BCA, but really (hopefully) only produced by competent bottlers) output is the future, but giving equal stall to each medium. I don't think one of the three will outstrip the other as gradually, well informed punters come to equally appreciate and part money for the benefits of each style of dispense.

What I do foresee is, whilst carrying on with hop forward ales, assertive dark brews, remarkable lagers and steadfastly traditional bitters, the UK will find its feet pushing uniquely British unfiltered beers. Unfiltered KeyKeg starts to plugs the divide between cask and KK to some extent, unfiltered cask is a revelation, if only in the early stages (Waen spring to mind, yummy!) and unfiltered bottles have been around in Europe and in some small way the UK for years. Tasting Williams Bros Grozet from the conditioning tanks years ago at Strathaven was a highlight of my drinking years I can assure you. And the clamour for unfiltered Pilsner Urquell was legendary.

But do you agree?

And if not, what do you think will be the future direction of British brewed beer, be it in cask, KeyKeg, or bottle?

Wee Beefy.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Sunshine pints


    I have to report that a sudden surprise sunburst has sent persons scampering to the public house here in Sheff. Luckily, your faithful reporter was there to record the phenomenon...

Uni Arms

 After fannying around at the hospital for important stuff I was walking down Western Bank, spotting the outdoor Special Brew enthusiasts hatefully arguing near the bus stop, before I ventured in the University Arms for beer and stuff.

Managing to make the pub
seem fearsome...
Here I tried pints of Pot Belly Hop Trotter, their Ambrosia and Acorn Bullion IPA. The Hop Trotter was a feindishly tasty refreshing beer with a moreish bite that meant I required two pints. The Acorn was heavily hopped and stood up well. The Pot Belly Ambrosia, alas, was a disjointed affair with toffee and malt and hops. leading to a harsh ascorbic finish followed by a vegetable aftertaste. Like Frog and Parrot full mash with hops thrown in after.


Moving on next I popped into Dada, obviously frightened by the steaming ball in the sky, I desired a shady joint to spend my time in. Good conversatio was on hand and this was a great accompaniement to halves of Black Harry, Bath Gem and Thornbridge Jaipur. The Thornbridge Jaipur was still not back in my favourites stable but still a decent drop as was the Black Harry, but the Gem lived up to its name with a zesty fruity balance of malt and hops.


Final resting place was Shakespeares, where it was stronger ones to finish, sat in the beer garden. A half of Revolutions Identity XSB, 6.0%, and a pint of the excellent Raw Anubis Porter was my tiring menu. Whether a trick of the heat and fatigue or not I wasn't sold on the C60 offering but the porter was all I had hoped for. A cool and comfortable end to a short night out in the (often unfindable) sun!

More news soon....

Wee Beefy

Monday, 25 June 2012

Torch shines on the path to beers

Orw waaaaarh,

    today marks the day that I summoned up what little pride I had and fannied about in Parson Cross and Southey to watch a family friend carry the olympic torch to, er, the end of the road.

Getting there in the first place was purgatory - every twat boarding the bus seemed incapable of assuming that they may need to alter their route - having been blessed with thinking, we waited until we knew we were near Yew Lane (having checked the timetable earlier) and asked the driver, once, quickly, when we were nearby, how far he would go, which as he had exasperatedly explained to many other morons, he didn't know, and we'd have to wait and see where the route was closed when we were near (like what we were).

So, degree in understanding basic facts attained, we waited until Chaucer Avenue and then enquired if we could embark on a trip up Yew Lane, which we did, disembarking at what was alas the end of our friends route but still not too far to be problematic. Minutes later we were with family and friends enjoying the bustling vision of unified and respectful celebration carried out by masses of people as our friend carried the torch at some speed down towards Deerpark Road. An impressive and humbling community led spectacle.

After this admirable melee we headed off on foot to the car and Wee Keefy and Carlos and Chala and I visited the Cow and Calf, Skew Hill Lane, Grenoside, eschewing the limited allure of the Clan rally emporium of racism which is the Norfolk Arms (or was last year, May 2011).

The Cow and Calf was surprisingly quiet for a warm sunny June evening and we were soon enjoying pints of inexpensive tasty beer all round. Wee Keefy and I had a pint of the Bitter each, Chala a half and Carlos a pint of the Sam Smiths Taddy lager. My pint of bitter and half a lager came to £2.85. Which was nice.

We sat outside in the courtyard, some of us having been regulars in the 1980's as kids, and a good time was had by all.

Back into (towards...) town Wee Keefy dropped us at the Hallamshire House. Here Chala had a half of Versa and myself a pint of the excellent Pollards Milk Stout.Wee Keefy joined us and had a pint of the Thornbridge Black Harry which I had a pint of with an excellent half of Galaxia. Our final round included a half of Tzara for Chala and a pint of Black Harry for me.

the Galaxia was a lot better than I recall it in the Tap, having a lovely fruity flavour which took off the bite of the hops perfectly. The Chiron however, which I tasted before opting for the Galaxia, was grim. Odd dry fruitless hop and a herby aftertaste. Perhaps not.

We had to escape after this but these two visits were a welcome finish to a great day out celebrating Sheffield, and a couple of its pubs.


Wee Beefy

Friday, 22 June 2012

Wee Beefys June beer bites


    here are a few bits of beery info from the last week.


Once again offering a good range of local and further afield real ales, I had two incredibly good beers during the week. The first was Entertainment, a Polish lager from Revolutions brewery,  perhaps one of the best cask lagers I've tried (it didn't have that odd aftertaste that other offerings seem to have), the other was Espresso stout from Dark Star brewery, which seemed even punchier and coffee heavy than I remember. More Dark Star and Revolutions brewery offerings coming soon.

Three Cranes

More Blue Bee on the bar at the Cranes (and the football on the telly)  along with another game of two halves, the beer A game of Two Halves from Vale Brewery, which was a very nice drop. They have a cask of Blue Bee's new beer Light Blue in the cellar, likely to be on this weekend. Shakespeares, The Gardeners Rest and The Rutland will also be selling this new ale.


After the magnificence of the mighty Revelation pale, Dark Star Summer Solstice was on the bar along with three Thornbridge beers. I wasn't sure if this was the one that I hadn't enjoyed at the Coach and Horses, but it didn't matter since this was a very nice pint indeed. The Jaipur was also in good form.

Sheffield Tap

The Bearded Lady was still on, as was the excellent Odell/Thornbridge Pond Hopper, along with a good cask range including 3 from St Peters, of which the mild was probably the pick. For those that are interested, upcoming KeyKeg beers include Weihenstephaner St Vitus, Maui Big Swell, Thornbridge General Sherman and Puja, Magic Rock Cannonball, St Peters Cream Stout and Mikkeller Weizenbock.

That's all the news for now, got to get off and continue prepping for a hopefully dry BBQ (with real ale from Archer Road Beer Stop, where else?) tomorrow.

Wee Beefy

Thursday, 21 June 2012

I really loved a KeyKeg beer - should I kill myself now?

Now then,

      I posted a few days ago about one of the best beers I've ever had, Magic Rock Bourbon cask Bearded Lady, on KeyKeg. Since that day, as well as dreaming about finding myself back there drinking it, I have been puzzling over my relationship with the weird expensive cold stuff. Why did I like a beer so much that was served by a method of dispense I don't rate, and crucially, would the beer have tasted as good in cask?

Before I answer that I should point out that me and cask go way back. I started drinking around 1991 and apart from parties, or occasional pubs with no cask when I defaulted to Guinness, I always drank real ale. Its brilliant. Gravity, hand pump, air pressure, electric font but from cask, I love it all. And this statement is still true, even after Saturdays eye opener.

However, over the last few years I've had a few beers on KeyKeg. I still haven't had chance to compare the cask version and the KK version side by side but in most cases I have had both versions at different times, which is a start, at least, in making a comparison.

Like Thornbridge Kipling and Jaipur  I didn't like the Kipling on KK because it lacked the depth of the cask and the hops were prominent, but in a way that just made the aftertaste bitter instead of lending citrus flavours to the whole taste. I didn't like Jaipur for similar reasons on KK (and it seemed to take away some of the sweeter balancing flavours, leaving it harsh).

Clearly, these are strong bitter pale beers, and they don't seem to be suited to KK. So these are examples of beers that would have tasted as good, indeed better, in cask.

I have also tried High Wire, Dark Arts, Rapture, Magic 8 Ball and Bearded Lady from Magic Rock on KK. I wasn't mad keen on the High Wire, but that was late in the evening at the Grove for the brewery launch night, the Dark Arts was alright on KK, but the Rapture was the unfiltered version and was brilliant, the Magic 8 Ball was fantastic and the Bearded Lady was unparallelled.

So, these are also stronger beers but mainly darker and the last three that I had have been really good. And heres the contentious bit : I actually don't think the Bearded Lady would have been as good on cask,
because it was too damned heavy and strong and wouldn't have retained sufficient condition in the time it took to drink it.

Yet the 8 Ball and Rapture would be, and in the case of Rapture are better on cask, and definitely so the Dark Arts....

So do I now have a proven formula which will guarantee the KeyKeg beer I'm buying is as good as the cask? No. All this demonstrates is that whilst the old style 1970's and 1980's keg beers were crap because the beer itself was crap, KeyKeg proves that really good beer can taste equally crap or excellent in that format.

I dunno, this KeyKeg stuff is as inconsitent as real ale.....

Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Euro drinking - British beers


   Friday night was my official Birthday night out from work so I gathered together a troupe of close friends and took them on a pub crawl near to where we work. Here's what we found.

We started at the Harlequin, since its the nearest venue, and with the exception of Maureen who had recklessly started his evening;s drinking with a Budvar Dark, we all started low. I had a pint of the Great Heck brewery Yorkshire Navigator as it was at a quaffable strength. Suzie Wish, Crusher, J9, Stevo, Mr Robbery and Roy Crumb all started as they meant to continue. My second pint in here was the Brew Company Blackout Stout, which was very nice, but probably the start of my decline, as I had plenty more strong beers afterwards.

As soon as Wee keefy had arrived and had a swift one we were off to Shakespeares. A freak storm had scuppered all Orange and other telecommunications so I was unable to find out if folks were coming, or they to find out where I was. Luckily we got to the Pub before Miss M had given up waiting, gawd love her.

In here I had a pint of the Copthorne Mild and A.N.Other pale beer, which me and Wee Keefy contrived to mix up. Mr Protest joined us in here, but Maureen had to leave cos he had a "car" the big wuss. Soon it was 19.00. I had declared that we were not going to pander to the masses who wanted to watch football. I was happy to stay in Shakespeares for the night since they were also taking this admirable sportless stance,  but too many people craved Ingurrlearned action so we headed up to the Three Cranes.

Much good beer to choose from in here, although the Nectar wasn't quite ready so I started on Welbeck Abbey Brewery Red Feather, which was a fantastic pint in really good form.

As the match progressed, obviously entirely and solely due to my concentrating on that and not because of any other factors, it seem that after having a pint of Blue Bee Lustin for Stout my memories started to become unclear. To be fair, I wasn't intending to write this up, so I am doing all of this from memory. Christ, it shows.

Several  more pints, one presumes of Lustin for stout later, the match had finished and those stragglers left headed up to Dada. Here the excellent Dark Star Revelation Pale, 5.7% was on, so it seemed rude not to order a pint. Alas, a quarter of  a pint, maybe less if accusations are to be believed, into the lovely broth, my body succumbed to the excessive amount of emotion involved in the evening and I had to go home like a big girls blouse.

Despite this, I had a fab time, and it's a good sign that despite not every one being a devout real ale drinker like me, we still found venues to suit everyone's taste, and managed to watch an entire football match together without meeting any idiots. Well, just one at the beginning, and luckily he set the bar high so that some of my less admirable episodes seemed insignificant...

More details of pubs and beer coming soon.

Wee Beefy

Monday, 18 June 2012

Live Blog - De Dolle Stille Nacht 2010

Now Then,

this is my first live blog. So as not to disappoint those veterans of innovative media, I must confirm that its only really live in the sense that it is being written as I drink. Instead of afterwards, like it usually is....

So, this is my only bottle of the Stille Nacht from the dark days when the brew date wasn't on the label anymore. I still have a bottle of the 2006 in my stash. I imagine that will be fecking absurd to be brutally honest. This is silly enough.

Brewery : De Dolle (says Oer bier on side, probably from Esen, but label is more interpretive than factual.
Name : Stille Nacht, brewed October 2010
Strength : 12.0%
BCA/none BCA? : Erm...unfiltered maybe?.
Purchased : Archer Road Beer Stop Sheffield.

Colour : Gold, light chestnut, a little like Retsina, but without the cloudiness since yeast in bottle for now for initial taste.

Carbonation/Pouring : Silent insurgence from the bottle but with retained head and bubbles carrying on their ascent long after opening..

Aroma : Alcohol! Sweet malt and fruit, lots of peach, orange, lemon, brandy, perhaps cherry, currants, raisins and somehow, peat..

Taste : this is a very silly beer. Its crammed full of intense sweet alcohol notes, with a jammy fruit preserve in the back of the mouth before alcoholic flavours wash over to reveal spiky sweet malt, that distinctive Belgian yeast, and and some sort of sour marmalade, the fruit of which might be quince (I realise there's only really a few marmalade fruits....). I'm going to add the yeast now.

After adding the extra but vital matter there is a loud fizz and a flurry of detritus in the bottom of the glass riding the new wave of carbonation, quite large chunks of yeast swirl up and fall like the contents of a stood Alka Seltzer. Intriguingly they don't all drop, they are still there in the glass reminding me that this is an evolving brew.

The first apres yeast taste is a little more mellow but with a slight ascorbic edge, but there's more of that dry alcoholic fruit and some surprising bitterness fighting its way through to the forefront of this distinctly and thankfully uncompromising and unsubtle adventure into alcohol. Like a Barley wine but with more finesse it fizzes on the tongue with that ever present alcoholic citrus and dry fruit taste lingering. Its been chilled for 45 minutes and tastes like it it could live with another hour. Like I said, its daft.

Continuing down the glass the flavour splits a little - the dryish fruit and alochol linger but the more subtle malts and hints of bitterness disperse. Also, I notice that this is perhaps the cloudiest and most claggy ale I have ever drank - the yeast sediment neither dissipates nor sinks, it just hangs in sharp vinous stasis waiting to assault the tastebuds. I don't really know what to make of this. If I had poured this first off I might have been seriously worried that this was from Shropshire, but it doesn't necessarily impact on the flavour, except a half thought idea that older vintages had more proportionate yeast deposits and melded the physical matter and taste a little better.

Head retention - not bad, there's still an identifiable white/grey crown on the top as I near the end. .

WBrating : 7.2.
This low score may be a reflection of my unease at the pond water cloudiness f the beer, and also that the sheer intensity f the beer makes any kind of expeditious tasting impossible. And the drink warms it becomes cloying, and the yeast flavours niggle. Its a stupendous beer in terms of overall taste, incredibly fruity to begin with, but the slip in marks reflects the loss of those vibrant fruits as the beer goes on..
More birthday sups to come this week!

Wee Beefy

Hardwick Inn, Hardwick Hall Nr Bolsover Derbyshire


  tonight I have been out for Fathers Day. Yes, I know, its not fathers Day. But Wee Fatha is as curmudgeonly and impatient as myself, hence, swarms of overly tense hyper expectant non realists makes fr a shit Fathers day n the world of pubs. Much netter than to go the day after, and more specifically to somewhere we know well.

The Hardwick Inn can hardly be called a pub in the traditional sense. The floor size of the bar is insignificant to the warren of rooms large and small for eating in but somehow that doesn't matter. Maybe if we went for just a drink this may be galling but I can't think of an occasion on which we have only gone for booze. its nearly always for a meal, and tonight was another of those occasions.

Hardwick Inn is also an anomaly in the Beefy Household because we seem only to go once a year pr twice maximum, despite having never had a bad meal or pint there. It isn't really even that long a journey from Wee Fatha's near Mosborough, so its puzzling why we don;t go more fem, apart from the fact that it usually warrants a celebration of some kind.

Tonight we found a space to sit in one of the far rooms near the kitchen and were served relatively fast considering the bar was heaving. Notable was the presence of a lot of people with sickening joviality stood around blocking access to the bar wearing suits. Or bellends, as I believe the anthropological term is - a nuisance of suits, is the group identification term.

Our annoyance was lightened when we spotted the bar - its never been a haven of small brewery excellence n here but the (perhaps now gone) Youngers signage shows you it used to be all Scottish and Newcastle, and irrespective f who now or during its numerous incarnations owned the pub it was a surprise tonight to find not one but two independent Locale's on the bar. There are five handpumps to choose from, although one appears to be a strange Black Sheep one suggesting keg through a swan neck? I shudder to think, and given that itg was the oft abused Sheep, I ignored it.

Better though was the range of Theakstons XB and Old Peculier, Bess of Hardwick Best Bitter from Brampton, and the excellent Chatsworth Gold from peak Ales.

We all started on the Chatsworth Gold and it was in fantastic nick, perhaps the best pint of their beer I have had. Alas this emant another jaunt back to the bar, picking our way through th ignorant forest of the thinking bypassed suits, to get more delicious golden ale supplies.

The meals are not too expensive and generously proportioned, and come relatively quickly - am not saying there can't be a suggestion of any reheating but if there is its incredibly well disguised because all three of our meals were tremendously tasty and entirely satisfying, which warranted further Chatsworth Gold. I had the pork steak with black pudding and Stilton and mushroom sauce with chips salad and veg. The black pudding was memorably tender and full flavoured and the pork was cooked to a tea, with a slightly smokey flavour.

After eating Wee Fatha was treated to a dram of Glen Scotia single malt from a lengthy and exemplary whisky list, before I ordered a half each of the Brampton and Peak Ales, along with another half for WF and Wee Keefy. Finishers were coffee and a pint of the Old Peculier for me.

This is a pub we never tire of visiting and despite its food emphasis, its always worth a look - especially now not every beer seems to have to come from a regional brewer. The Peak Ales Chatsworth Gold was fantastic. If you pop in after 21.30 its much more pub like and given the notable vintage of the building (16th century I understand) its well worth a visit.


Wee Beefy 

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Best beer of 2012 spotted in Sheffield Tap

Now Then,

    after watching the Docfest films about pubs in the past I decided to go and make my own artistic contribution to the enjoyment of ale. I popped into the Sheffield Tap to partake in a live installation of a man drinking beer, and to simultaneously see what they had to offer.

A couple of real ales caught my eye, not least the excellent Dark Arts from Magic Rock, but it felt early (it was actually about 12.15) so I opted for two halves of sensibly moderate strength beers to begin my worship at the altar of ale.

First up was a half of the St Peters Bitter, along with a half of Brewsters Hophead. I drank the St Peters first as I was convinced that despite a noticeable harshness in bottle it was going to be maltier and sweeter than the Brewster's. It was, but that wasn't to its detriment, it was the perfect starter, a refreshing mellow lightly hopped bitter. The Hophead was an altogether different affair.

Despite being weaker, it packed in a dramatic sackful of dry sharply bitter hops, the prominent flavour was one that I recognised - I have tasted it in Brass Monkey and Grafton Brewery beers to name but a few, and its not my favourite, but I was impressed by the amount of sheer bitter flavour crammed into a beer of this strength.

Aloha to the bank manager

Next things became a but weird, and very expensive. I had a half of the Maui Coconut Porter, 6.0% and £3.30 a half. I understand the cans, which caused a bit of a buzz when they were first spotted over here, retail for a fiver. All this is tremendously silly in terms of cost to the consumer versus cost to the manufacturer, but it was worryingly easy, especially buying halves, to legitimise the expense.

Yes, given its £6.60 a pint you need to at least have a reason for drinking it - I figured my impending birthday and a smidgen of hype, plus innate curiosity of how the two flavours would combine met that requirement. I am, however, fully aware that I paid an absurd sum of money for 268ml of beer (although, it was so lively, that with the kindly proffered top up glass I got more than a half in the end, but shhhh, don't tell anyone).

The Maui porter was exactly as and everything that I had expected. It was a scrumptious luscious creamy porter, a little bit like the Nogne, and it somehow managed to glide elegantly into the sweet coconut flavours like it was the most natural combination in the world. It was not a heavy beer for 6.0%, but nevertheless it was probably not something I'd have a session on. Besides, next I was about to attempt to drink something far stronger.

Bearded Lady

Having purchased a sandwich in preparation for the sudden intake of a bit too much alcohol, and having checked the price of this behemoth in advance (so that I knew beforehand that I was about to buy the most expensive drink of beer I had ever), I was ready to try a half of the Magic Rock Bourbon cask Bearded Lady, 10.5%. I think I might never be able to consider anything a beer of the year again.

Bearded lady bourbon cask stout is an epochal brew. A staggering wall of flavoursome delight which made me want to stay sat where I was for the rest of forever. I bought a half, am not mental after all, and it took me about 50 minutes of persistent sipping to finish it. It did not cloy, it did not wain, it did not disappoint. Christ, it was so tasty that it was barely credible. It is the end of beer.

I think I may struggle to convey the finer points of its taste but having just last week enjoyed the incredible tastes of a 5 year vintage of Durham Temptation I think I'm well qualified to state that this is the best stout I ever tasted. Better even than a 4 year vintage of the Thornbridge Islay cask reserve, even than the 11% headiness of a Rogue coffee porter (yes, I realise that's not a stout). It was like the best stout you ever tasted, but then better again, with an unbelievable satisfying rich and lingering finish, joined by a bite of bourbon which quickly mellowed into a rapturous melee of soothing , comforting malt loveliness.


I should point out by the way that it was expensive. Very expensive, at over £8.00 a pint. And yes, I remember that I nearly bust a lung with anger at Thornbridge Bracia being over £9.00 a pint, but without tasting that, I would be amazed if it could have equalled the matchless excellence of this immense beer. To put it in perspective, I paid £4.25 to have 50 minutes of unbridled pleasure, and it was legal. What's not to love?

And in other keykeg news

Nicely ignoring the fact that this years finest ale was on keykeg, for which I dislike my self a little, it was unfair play from the Tap to have had such an amazing line up on - St Peters IPA, Odell and Thornbridge Pondhopper and Mikkeller Big Worse Barley Wine were also available on keykeg, for those with an entire day to drink their way through the offerings. Along with Magic Rock Rapture and Dark Arts, and Thornbridge Black Harry, all on cask, this was possibly the best line up of beers I have ever seen.

To the Rutland...

What to do after drinking the best beer ever? Wh-hy, head off to the Rutland to try and better it of course! Entering the quite busy pub I immediately noticed that those scamps at Steel City had brought out another 2.7% beer. Perfect! I thought, and I'll just get a half of that Arbor Ales beer whatever its called. When Paultous charged me I assumed, naturally, that in his youthful exuberance he had made a critical error in ringing the sale into the till. Unfortunately I was wrong. I had just bought a half of a 10% beer. Oh dear.

I jokingly said I'd down it in one and have the Steel City afterwards as I was sure it would be packed with flavour. True to my word I tasted the Arbor Down Deeper Sports IPA, enjoyed its initial bite of hops but perhaps less so its lingering sweet finish, and downed it. Childish it may sound, but I really thought the longer I lingered over it the more my body would remind me that this was all a tremendously bad idea.

The Bolshevik Revolution from Steel City was not as good as Parasite God but still a good lesson in flavour, and I finished off my visit with a half of the Blue Bee Red White and Blue which was in excellent nick. And then I went for a walk.

This was mainly to clear my head and also to search out food, which I did at a disreputable global conglomerate, before sitting down near the bottom of Fargate for a nosh and a brief spell of thinking. Clearly the additives in the distasteful muck I was eating had addled my brain, because I decided to go for a last one.

Ta Dah!

I arrived at Dada much the better for my mastication and perambulation and spotted James on the way in - even though it was not required, I quickly apologised for leaving my three quarters of a pint of Revelation from the night before - details of that yomp to come tomorrow. Once inside, noting that it was still on, it seemed silly to miss out, so I had a half this time, a very pleasing and not exactly out of place given the earlier consumptions, pale ale at £1.65.

I also had a nice half of the Brock, and gleaned some upcoming news about beers at Dada, where they also had Purity Mad Goose on the bar. Apparently, Magic Rock Cannonball, High Wire and their new Wheat beer Clown Juice should all be popping up soon - I can't be certain which ones were on keg so its perhaps best to find out by popping in over the next couple of weeks just to make absolutely certain.

And so ends a tale of strong beers, steep prices and unbounded joy in the hostelries of Sheffield. Wishing myself many happy returns!

Wee Beefy

Some recent city centre drinking


  here are a few details of some venues visited on Thursday with Chala.


First stop was Popolo in Leopold Square, a chain of restaurant bars based mainly in the North and Midlands. Downstairs its all black and white lines and red lighting and classic film posters, upstairs is a separate small bar with the restaurant seating which is a little more traditional.

In days of yore (April 2011 to be precise) they sold bottles of Freedom Organic lager, both the standard and the dark. Although not labelled as bottle conditioned (instead unfiltered) they did seem to taste and behave like bottle conditioned beers (but in the better respects of the term, i.e not fizzing sour soup). Alas now there is no Freedom to be found, but they have at least got a couple of Brew Dog bottles in.

Interestingly, Sheffield CAMRA have for two years now included Popolo as selling real ale in their guide to city centre real ale venues. I admit that there is a small chance that the Theakstons bitter served through keg taps over the bar (one assumes the barrels/kegs are upstairs, which is a tad funky) but it seems really unlikely that this is real ale. It may be time perhaps for Sheffield CAMRA to reassess their list. Not that it impacted on the enjoyment of our visit, its just a bit strange to see them on it.

I started on a BrewDog 5AM saint, their ascorbic, bitter, dry red hop ale, whilst Chala had a cocktail, which came with free nibbles, which was a nice touch. The Saint was an interesting experience. This was my first taste of it since last year, and having since tasted the red hop wares of their brewing apostles in particular the excellent Magic Rock Rapture it seems a bit overly harsh and slightly one dimensional. Where Rapture has burnt toffee and a mix of complimentary malts in the second part of the mouthfeel the 5AM Saint delivers a big unwieldy slab of what I think is Simcoe, but offers no moderating flavours in support.

Next we had more of the same, except I switched to a half of Erdinger. All the drinks are discounted between 17.00 and 19.00 so the bottles of beer were about £3.30 and the cocktails were about a fiver, which is still expensive - if there hadn't have been an offer on I would have tried the Theakstons I think...

Our last drink was a bottle of Punk IPA for me and one last Godfather for Chala. The Punk was not a vintage example of itself, being slightly sweet in a way that it really shouldn't, possibly it had been light struck during some part of the process of getting to Popolo, but it was still a decent beer.

Old House

Our next port of call was city centre fave the Old House, selling both of the recent range of True North beers (i.e those brewed at Welbeck Brewery) and also the excellent Bradfield Farmers Stout and a couple of Kelham Island offerings.

I had a pint of the First Porter in here, which is a really nice beer, with just enough roast malt and plenty of body to carry off the flavours, and we also stopped for a meal, so we had a bottle of red wine to accompany. One of my only gripes is the table service idea. It doesn't quite work. As we were sitting down on arriving, we were asked straight away if we wanted to order food - we weren't sure at this stage, so were asked what we wanted to drink, but having not even made up our minds about food we didn't know if we wanted a couple of drinks to start or to order the wine. The lass told us we could order drinks from her and disappeared.

I nipped to the bar for my Porter shortly after and then after delibaerations and menu perusing Chala went to get the wine, since we now knew what we wanted to eat. Chala had trouble setting up a tab because we hadn't ordered food but we made it clear we were going to order, so returned to the table with the wine to await the waitress.

A while passed and it became clear she was otherwise engaged, and with the wine warming up I went to the bar to order food, but was told they couldn't put it in the till and it couldn't be ordered from there (Why? No logic was forthcoming...) In the end the waitress came to the bar to take my order and I sat back down again but that was a needlessly lengthy process to just order a meal. Why not use the magic of technology to enable the silly old till behind the bar to accept another reel of preprogrammed numbers, like you can do with every till on earth?

Anyhoo, ranting finished, we did enjoy a very lovely meal and some decent wine, and I also found time to have a pint of the True North First Blonde. This was a very pleasing blonde bitter ale with a lovely fruity aftertaste, which did carry off some of the characteristics of the originator brewery. Hopefully there will be more beers on the way.

Harrisons 1854

Our final port of call was another bar, so not really a traditional pub crawl for us. Here Chala was back on cocktails and I tried a bit of the Farmers Tramlines beer. Once again it managed to be quite bland and disappointing, though not as grim as the Sheffield Brew Co one last year. I completely understand the need for the Tramlines ale to have universal appeal but it tasted like an amalgam of some of the less edifying and more dreary characteristics of the Bradfield output, although having said that it had a nice initial burst of malt and bitterness which reminded me a decent Yorkshire Bitter.

Despite that I had a Farmers Blonde next, before finishing on a small glass of the excellent Hugo Cassanova Sauvignon Blanc, which was just as light and refreshing as I required.

All in all an enjoyable and varied crawl of some of the more modern bars in Sheffield selling decent beer, which proves that even if you don't set foot in a traditional pub all night you don't have to settle for  smoothflow or fake euro lager dross anymore.

Happy times!

Wee Beefy

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Sheffield Doc Fest - pubs on film


   I dragged my sorry drunken ass out of bed today despite a rancid hangover to stumble into town and get to the Showroom for before 10.00 to see a double header of documentaries about pubs and clubs and beer. Not being mad abut film of any kind this was my solitary doc fest visit but was certainly a great opportunity to see material that usually wouldn't make it to the cinema.

Things didn't get off to a promising start - it was £7.70 for a start, which seemed a lot for a combination of previously seen footage, what the T.V chaps would call "repeats". Then there was waiting on the stairs in bizarre sauna temperatures for the screening to start 10 minutes late - having nearly killed myself to get there in time this was most annoying.

Once in the cinema there was a brief intro by a British Film Institute bod, and a welcome drop in temperature before the show began.

First up was A Sheffield Working Man's Club, a documentary by a German filmmaker with all the charm and warmth of Siberian Roadkill, edited in a way that suggested he had run out of sellotape for the spliced intersections. That said this was a fascinating study of Sheffield in the 1960's, and more specifically Dial House Social Club. There were a few pumpclips on the pumps which will be pertinent later on, it seemed to have sold Stones, and of course, everybody, upon everybody smoked.

The footage of the club, its drinkers and some truly bizarre acts (Romanian style fast folk a' la Taraf De Haidouks? Who'd have thought?) was interspersed with still photos and rather odd snippets of footage of Sheffield, including some ham fisted attempts to address the issue of immigration. That said, the overall impression is fascinating, and the fact that Pop (can't remember surname) was still the president at 80 and that the hierarchy of the club at the time comprised of no-one under 70, shows you the rigid and impressive continuity of the organisation in the community. Essentially by the 1960's it appeared to have changed little in its purpose and function since the 1930's.

Next up was a collection of British Film institute and Arts Council films covering the subject of the pub from 1944 to 1984 (ish, am not clear when the very last piece dated from). This was another fascinating look at pubs on film, and the method and manner of portrayal of such places through the ages.

Mr Cholmondley-Warner

The first piece was from the war office and it seemed was intended as both an education and a morale booster for troops, although it seemed mainly to be an exercise in reinforcing stereotypes - all Northerners had flat caps and said "Gradely" and all Somerset folk drank cider and wore boots and smocks. Am not saying none of this was true of 1944 England but it seems tremendously convenient to have the characters so instantly recognisable.

Aside from that film's patronising tone there was also an interesting film about the Hope and Anchor Brewery on Claywheels lane (of Jubilee Stout fame) Sheffield and their international sales push involving provision of a replica Rose and Crown at Hoylandswaine. at a trade fair in Canada in the 1950's. Details of the pub and how it was replicated were provided, along with much emphasis on the token female's ability to smile. Both these early rolls showed a rather twee sexism which in the grand scheme of things ended up looking absurd rather than offencive.

Then followed 3 or 4 miners report newsreels from the 1950's and 1960's, a perhaps too lengthy segment mixing news of mining technology and the drinking dens of their communities. This was followed by a fascinating film about the Ship Hotel, Tyne Main, on the banks of the river Tyne.

This was interesting because it showed real people in a real pub yet clearly had a vague plot foisted on it. As a portrayal of an area in shabby decline it was amazing - at no point in any of the outdoor scenes did any sun get through the fog and smoke, and the road was barely surfaced, the river seeing only small tugs as opposed to the larger trade vessels of its heyday- but it was also a really interesting portrait of a down to earth working men's pub in Tyneside in the late 1960's.

Interestingly many punters were drinking hand pulled ale (no pump clips here, not like the Bass in London and Somerset) and only one drank Newky Brown. Everybody smoked, and there were traditional pub games and singalongs a plenty. The only thing that let it down slightly was the sound was significantly out of sync, so coupled with the thick accents of the locals it was fairly difficult to understand what was being said.

The last piece was about a pub fabricating business - building new pubs from old buildings using fibreglass moulds of authentic features. Strange to see such heinous practice exposed in the 1960's and 70's, when it seemed that so many of the country's public house treasures were lost for good for no justifiable reason.  The export of fibreglass ancient village locals abroad was understandable but their imposition on inner city London venues was baffling, whilst simultaneously symptomatic of the idiotic approach to pub design and stewardship shown by the pub companies today.

All in all this was a really interesting look at pubs on film over a forty year period - I understand a DVD of the BFI material is available at the Showroom box office. Judging by the crowds outside, there seems to be plenty of people interested in attending the numerous venues for the festival which I think runs until tomorrow.

Of course the only way to fully pay tribute to the drinkers of old was to go off to the pub and become extremely relaxed, which I did with respectful gusto, the details of which will follow in the next post.


Wee Beefy

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Forum bars own brewed ale update


    I have to confess that a select few of the Forum bars own brewed real ales have passed my lips but I have had plenty without considering their atecedndce.

I discovered tonight that their latest beers - First Porter and First Blonde have been created by executives and staff from the Broadfield, York and Old House along with the brewing team at Welbeck Abbey Brewery. Hence the signature fruit and hop notes in the beers?

This is good news but also more accurate news (re post on 27th December 2011). But other than having a slightly more ascorbic porter than I might have expected before in the Old House, there seems little difference. Try First Blonde for evidence of brewing changes though....

Seek em out and drink em I say!

Wee Beefy

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Chesterfield and Matlock pub crawl


   on Friday I was due on a raucous all dayer with my friend Christingpher, however a surprising and unsavoury blight befell him and he cancelled in the morning. Seeing that I had a whole day to myself, and knowing there were a few new venues I wanted to try, I threw together an unsophisticated poorly thought through plan, the details of which follow.

Full speed to Chesterfield

Perhaps not a title to set your pulse racing but there was a frenetic feeling to my dash out to the Derbyshire brewing capital (sorry Derby, but you only have four, whereas Chesterfield, if one includes Staveley, has five, so neurgh). I was so disorganised that I didn't leave home til gone half 1 but got into town, bought my Derbyshire Wayfarer, caught the train and got a bus out to Chatsworth Road in an hour, shortly after which I arrived at my first pub of the day.


The Tramway Tavern is on Chatsworth Road, just far enough of a slog outside town to be an undesirable wander, but with the bus stops set just far enough apart to make a bus journey annoying as well, especially when the bus pulled up outside to get round a truck - then drove off five minutes up the road. And it was chuffing wazzing it down, which along with siling stair rods, is a meteorological term.

I arrived as the rain stopped (ha ha the weather....) in a rare burst of sunshine, and went inside to contemplate why I hadn't gone to the cash machine. I had five pounds. So I bought a pint, a delicious one of Brampton Impy Dark, from a choice which included their Golden Bud, a Jubilee Ale and a couple f guests from Ashover, St Austell and Peak Ales. This was a fairly exclusive pint, since I was the only person in the pub, and sitting in the left hand bay listening to a rather curious mix of tunes, I decided to try and formulate a plan.

This meant I got through my pint quite quickly (thinking makes yer thirsty see) and had to ask for cash machine directions from the barmaid before I left. I didn't fancy a half pint, since that's all I had money left for.

Rose and Crown Brampton

A short walk up Chatsworth Road and I reached the cash machines of Morro's then I walked up the road to the Rose and Crown, not before missing the turning and the guide marker of the Real Ale Corner. Clearly the persisting it down monsoon had seeped into my brain.

On the bar at the Rose and Crown were a selection of Brampton beers and a couple of guests which didn't seem to suit my tastes, but when I'm confronted with the Brampton Stout very little can match it. I sat down with a North West CAMRA mag and a local for company supping my pint in the near left of the odd shaped building. Shortly after sitting down a couple walked in and surveyed the range. The Wasps Nest pumpclip was facing the customer but had a sign on saying coming soon. Said the gent "Ow long before its going to be on, the Wasps Nest?" "Later" "Arr much later?" "Might not be on until tomorrow actually" "Orh, we'll leave it then".And off they popped!

As I remarked when I went back to the bar, its good to see a customer who knows what they like, but Christ, that's some restriction to put on your visit!

I tried a taste of the Tudor Rose but didn't really fancy it - new world hops according to the website but subdued and confused by pushy malt I found. Instead I went for a pint of the Best which was a very pleasant beer at £2.45 a pint, and dallied briefly with the idea of walking to Walton to get the X17 to Matlock, an idea my heavy soaking coat and sodden jeans quickly helped dispel.

Real Ale Corner

I headed back to Chatsworth Road and into the Real Ale Corner, my first visit. A stellar range of bottles surrounded the walls, and there were two pumps dispensing jubilee beers, Hoppy and Glorious from Kelham Island, and Leeds Brewery Jubilee IPA, but my eye was caught by the RAC's own brew, a mild, which was being served by gravity.

I made a bit of a balls up here am afraid. Listening to the helpful staff member's spiel about the beer's qualities and upcoming brews from her husband, I took a swig and noted it was quite tart. I pulled a face, and explained that it seemed a bit sharp, but persuaded myself that I would find this edge disappearing to reveal the wider and more mellow characteristics. I only had a half and taking a big swig to reaffirm my flawed premise it was well past half gone before I thought it might be off actually. So I pointed out it tasted wrong, and then bought another half. The lady behind the bar tried it, pulled a bit of a face and took the beer off, but didn't proffer a free replacement - whilst I should have said it was off and requested a replacement straight away, this seemed a bit mean - she'd just admitted it didn't taste right at all...

Grumbles aside I did stick around long enough, stood up instead of seating myself at one of the two barrel tables, to have a half of an excellent Leeds Jubilee IPA, a brilliant 4.8% fruity pale which had I been less embroiled in my adventure I would have liked to have had much more of.

Matlock bound

I caught a bus back into town and then noting I had a while to wait for the X17 I popped into the Royal Oak for a quick half - this was a tasty Northumberland Sovereign, which went down well, amongst a slightly less admirable range than last time, apart from the allure of the Jaipur.

MoCa Bar

Soon I was in Matlock and heading for Dale Road and Matlock's newest real ale venue MoCa Bar. This is a modern spacious and airy bar in an old building with 5 handpumps and key kegs. Since the bar was showing my favourite Derbyshire beer Blue Monkey BG Sips, it was no contest what I was having. I settled down in the window, listened to some very good tunes, read my copy of Inn Spire and enjoyed my ale.

In fact, I perhaps enjoyed it a little too much, as I was soon at the bar ordering a further half of BG Sips along with a half of Abbeydale Vespers, which I don't think I've ever had before. I had only intended to stop in Matlock long enough to visit MoCa, so soon had to be off back to the Bus station, but mission accomplished, and I had seen enough to want to go back for a return visit.


Back in Chesterfield I decided to go in another new venue, to me at least, and popped in the Spa Lane Vaults for a pint. Here I got a very nice pint of Springhead Dark Tom, by far my cheapest beer of the day at £2.00 a pint, and drinking it being a nice way to spend my first trip to the vaults.  


My last Chesterfield destination was Coco Bar and Bistro on Corporation street, which finishes rather haphazardly at the edge of the ring road where the footbridge to the station starts. This is really much more a bistro than a bar - there is a bit of seating at the bar in this modern shiny but tastefully decorated venue, but it seemed mostly tables for dining: unless my libations have skewed my recollections there didn't seem many places to sit for a pint.

Initially I was disappointed to find only one of four handpumps in use, with the Thornbridge Wye (Why?) which we have already established I don't like, but the barman assured me a Welbeck beer was coming on next, so I plumped for some keg instead whilst I waited. I had a half of the Freedom Pioneer or at least I started - in a bad few minutes for the bar manager (I reasoned he must have been in charge, he had a different coloured shirt on!) two ladies at the bar took back their Wye saying it tasted too vegetabley, and I asked to swap the Pioneer.

I couldn't really think of a quick way of explaining that it tasted of the worst and most astringent characteristics of Selby Brewery beer in the mid nineties without having to find other more identifiable comparisons of that strange musty taste you get from some breweries, but I got it swapped for a Thornbridge Kipling anyway (the Pioneer had been £1.95 a half), which really served only to remind me that beer which already tastes really good in cask rarely becomes better in a cold fizzy state.

Things looked up however with a half of the dry Topaz pale ale from Thornbridge, and a pint of the excellent Diamond Jubilee wheat beer (6.0%, £3.00 a pint) from Welbeck Abbey Brewery (above), which to my surprise, ended up being even nicer than the Blue Monkey BG Sips and Brampton Stout to be the best beer of the trip. Below is a picture of the bar manager gamely posing for what he no doubt mistakenly expected to be exposure in a high quality mass readership online beer guide. Sorry about that...

So, all in all this was an excellent appraisal of some of the Brampton, Chesterfield City Centre and Matlock pubs that shows the real ale "scenes" if that's the right term, in rude health in all three areas. And now that the opening of the White Swan on St Mary's Gate is imminent there is even more reason to go back for another look.


Wee Beefy

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Bottle conditioned beer - doom put on hold temporarily


   back in February I wrote about my experience of a bottle of Durham Temptation Stout, perhaps my favourite bottle conditioned beer, that I had tried, and found to be orf. This was an incredibly disappointing outcome for me, since I rated Durham and this beer so highly. As I said though, the only thing when you have a fall is to get back on the horse - so seeking suitable reward for my exhausting endeavours today, I decided to open another bottle.

Please4 accept my apologies for a lack of pics - my phone camera decided to refuse to recharge, and Chala has taken hers to bed with my pics on it!

Here's what I found :

Brewery : Durham, in Durham
Name : Temptation ( May 2007 vintage, BBE September 2012)
Strength : 10.0%
BCA/none BCA? : BCA.
Purchased : Archer Road Beer Stop Sheffield.

Colour : "Black! Black! (No Johnnyy...)  All black! Like the procession of night that leads us into the valley of despair " (apologies to the Fast Show for borrowing this, here's a cursory link by way of recognition) . Anyhoo, also a thin, white-ish but gently fizzing layer of bubbles sits atop the dark chasm of drinkability.
Style win I say.

Carbonation/Pouring : Loud and reassuring fizz on opening - pours silky smooth with a lot of beer coming out before we hit the yeast.

Aroma : Alcohol! Plenty of it, its five years old and clearly not an old ladies drink. There's roast malt, molasses, tar and coffee fighting through in there as well.

Taste : There is an enormous initial mouthfeel of molasses, burnt toffee, massive alcohol, following to an incredible intense sweetish creamy malt finish, with a further bitter burnt aftertaste, which simply increases the desire for more. Even after that lingering wave of taste sensations has left there is still a hint of malt and maybe currants in alcohol? (am struggling for the drunken fruit here).

On the second taste you get more molasses and once again that initial burst of alcohol and warming roast and burnt malt, with that joyous creamy malted aftertaste, as the beer pushes you from creamy to bitter to burnt to toffee and back again over and over again with every swig.
I added the yeast to a small amount of the clear (as far as that's possible!) beer about 10 gulps in, because I noticed a very minor imbalance which I felt the addition of the bottling yeast might remedy. Straight away, the barely 50ml of sediment caused a massive head to form, with a striking yellow brown toffee colour, before receding back into the glass. The result is an even better beer - less burnt, more toffee notes, and and an even longer lingering creamy finish which makes the beer dangerously moreish (note, drinking 500ml of 10% beer is quite tiring, even if it is incredibly enjoyable!).

Head retention - its not really appreciably a head after a bit. The bubbles disperse after about 20 minutes leaving a luscious tar black sea of roasted creamy goodness with enough alcohol in it to confuse a rhino. .

WBrating : 9.0.
Sorry but this is beervana. Perhaps this score is skewed slightly by my disappointment last time but this is an amazingly well rounded tasty, vinous behemoth of a stout.

So, it seems that all is not lost. I have my faith partly restored, and I am happy about that.

I do have a 2010 and 2011 vintage in storage so five years from now I hope to be enjoying one of them, but in the meantime they'll have to wait (hopefully) with the Durham yeast doing its job and taking the coarse strands of the strong stout and melding them together into the ultimate beer, which if you'll forgive my somewhat muddle headed hyperbole, is precisely what the 2007 vintage is.

Wee Beefy

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Shalesmoor and Kelham pub crawl


  this post in essence follows on from my Shakespeares beer festival post earlier, as that was the first place I went on my night out with Mr C. Here's the details of where we got to next, and a new pub opening...

Kelham Island Tavern

Here I had a very nice pint of porter from the new Blackjack brewery in Manchester, who have already won a prize for their ale at the Stockport beer festival last weekend. Despite detailed notes ("blackjack porter") I remember the pumpclip very well, with a white background and a circle of images, which caught my eye. I am looking forward to this being precisely nothing like the actual pumpclip, and instead being something I dreamt. If not dreamy perhaps, the porter was certainly a good beer, which we supped in the back room which was, understandably, a little quieter than normal.

Ship Inn

More pale beers for me (no dark on last two visits, humph!) whilst Mr C stuck to Carling I had a pint of the excellent Spire Diamond Jubilee ale. Being the only customers in having recklessly arrived at about 20.00, we got chatting to the barman, and before we knew it, round 2 was on the cards.

Enjoying the beer and some rather eclectic tunes on the haunted jukebox (we spent ages trying to work out what buzzword alerted the spiritual realm to our need to hear the jukebox, because it was certainly on a random setting!) it was soon time to have yet more beer. All in all we had three in the Ship, in what was one of the most enjoyable sessions I've had for ages. Come to think of it, its probably ages since I had an actual session on just one beer. Not that it was necessarily sessionable strength.


Our final port of call was the excellent Wellington, where I had a pint of Stout, which may have been from a Manchester based brewery such as Boggart, or may not. All I know is it was a stout and it was jolly tasty. Mr C somehow managed to find a beer to drink given his lager fondness (it may even have been a bottle?) but this didn't impinge our enjoyment, and a fine finish to the evening was had, including a most excellent misremembering a persons name event, which I won. Sorry Mr S!

New pub opening soon....

To finish here's a smidgen of news from Chesterfield. Walking past the Cathedral towards the train station yesterday (report on my adventures coming soon) I noticed a sign proclaiming that Raw Brewery were opening a new pub selling real ales, food and something that my phone has decided is called puag. No,  I have no idea what I was typing either, but the pub is the White Swan and its on St Mary's Gate in Chesterfield. Couldn't find any info on Raw's website and the pub is listed on the closed pubs website but no info on there either.

You'll just have to wait and see!

Wee Beefy

Beer festival goodness at Shakespeares


    well, after two days of vigorous research I have now sobered up sufficiently to tell you about the Shakespeares 3rd (are you sure folks?!) real ale and cider festival which started on Thursday and runs until tomorrow.


Being a fest stalwart I was there Thursday evening, with my friend Mr C. We were in fact, the first people to sit upstairs in the concert room or Bards Bar as its more likely called. From a very good selection of ales I started with a pint of Steel City Parasite God, Spoof mild. This was a very interesting beer because firstly, it wasn't a mild by any stretch of the imagination, and secondly, its the first 2.7% beer I have tasted that I really enjoyed. Mores the shame it wasn't my round because I could have found out if it cost much less.

I bemoaned the lack of drinkable or useful sub 2.8% beers before and nothing has changed since, but here is one that actually tastes rather nice. Mind you, even knowing its a spoof, I still can't over emphasise just how un-mild it was! It was like any one of Steel City's excellent roster of 5-6% hoppy beers but with less alcohol. I'd have called it a modern luncheon ale.....

Next up I had an actual mild, half a Stringers Dark Country, and an excellent half of Arbor Ales Weissbeer. Mr C had bravely offered to try a real ale and he had a half of the Ascot Ales Aurole, and he liked the Weissbeer as well, but he is a staunch lager drinker at heart so went back to Becks for uor next round! The Weissbeer was a very good attempt and had that fruity Belgian quality that you find in Little Valley Hebden Wheat, which is far and away my favourite British wheat beer. The Stringers was a nice enough drink, but didn't really match up to the wheat.

Our final halves were of Ironbridge Citra, Botanist Q Gold and the excellent Yorkshire Heart Nightliner Stout. This was easily the best beer I tried at the festival, though the citra gave it a good run for its money. Alas we were only having a short visit as we were headed for the Kelham Tav, Ship and Wellycutler later.

There should still be plenty of beers on if you fancy it, like I say its on till Sunday - here are a few other Breweries who's beers are on the programme that I didn't try :

Attwood Ales
Black Hill
Cotswold Spring
Full Moon
Liverpool Organic
Royal Tunbridge Wells
Wilson Potter
Blue Bee
Summer Wine.

An impeccable selection, with bands on as well, and a range of ciders and Perrys including Millwhites, Orchard Pig and Pure North. All good!

Wee Beefy

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Another day, another celebration


    well its not quite as dishearteningly familiar as the title may imply, but after a 5th day of Jubilee fever I am craving a more temperate physiology. Today, despite my grand plans for travelling afar and sampling delights from Derbyshire, we have been out on a nearer to home pilgrimage to the Jubilee festivities here in Sheffield.

Except, its noticable that apart from pubs making an effort, and a free music event in Western Park, absolutely nothing civic was going on at all. Not even a flag, not bunting, not a union jack painted or hoisted or even showing in any municipal space or capacity across the whole of the centre. Excuse my text parlance here, but WTF?

Those who know me well know I am not a monarchist. Never have been, never intend to jump onto the hereditary privilege boat and never cared a jot about how the Royals might continue to stamp or smear their marks on society. However, this is the diamond Jubilee. I assure you this isn't likely to happen again (and I mean any 60th year of reign, obviously not W-Liz, as the kids probably call her) in our lifetimes. So irrespective of your views, you'd surely want to have something to declare that you did on the weekend of the Jubilee? If you are pro monarchy you'd surely want something to attend, if you are anti Royal, surely your protest by absence needs an event or happening to be absent from?

Who knows what the council's reasoning is, maybe our Chartist past in Sheffield means we are eternally dissident (I realise that dissident is usually political not monarchical opposition), or maybe our socialist republic past confirms us universally anti inherited rule and suspectly acquired wealth so we have to abstain from all celebration? Either way, its a shame that the only people making an effort are individuals and pubs.


Still, that means I could shoehorn a trip to a pub or three into the legitimate celebrations of the last day of the Jubilee Holiday.  We started by taking a trip to Western Park, and having a look around the museum and the free music event, then walked towards town. A required loo stop meant a trip to the Forum (please note, we don't have to go to the Forum everytime we need to visit the lavatory. That would be silly).

Here there were two True North brewery real ales on, First Summer (I think, not tried) and First Porter, which was a really very nice drink. I had a pint of that, Chala a Peroni, then we stopped for dinner, with which I had a pint of refreshing Franziskaner wheat. There was flags and other red white and blue theming on beams inside but it was understated. Probably looked better for it.

Fat Cat

After getting to town I pointed out to Chala that we needed a further walk after dinner and sold her on the idea of a vintage red bus ride from the Cat. We walked down past Bower Spring furnace remains and arrived at a busless pub. We enquired about there being another trip (based on a lack of info on their website) and were told it would return soon and would probably go out again.

Whilst we waited I had two halves, the Spire Queen of Diamonds, a fruity and refreshing ale, and a half of the excellent Salamander Black Eyed Boy stout, whilst Chala had a half of Erdinger Dunkel.

The bus duly arrived and we went to chat to the driver and found out it would be a bit before our tour began, so I had another half, this time the Derby Brewing Co Diamond Jubilee (unless they wrote it on the board wrong, that wins a prize for the most unimaginative Jubilee beer name) which was a pleasant enough drink.

Eventually departure time arrived and we set off on a half hour tour of the city, which, if nothing else, starkly highlighted the astounding lack of any outward recognition that it was an important day. Thank God when we returned to the Fat Cat there was a nice line in mini flags strung up and a barbecue, where we filled up on beer soaking snacks. Well done to the Cat for putting on a celebration.


Our last point of call, and with rather a lot less celebratory paraphanalia than the Cat, was Shakespeares, although they did have a Jubilee beer or two on. Here I had an excellent pint of the Arbor Brigstow Bitter at 4.3% and £2.60 a pint, and Chala had a half of the Fernandes Jackdaw mild, a jet black slightly strong mild at 5.0%.  I also had time for a quick half of the Cotswold Spring Ambler, which was a pleasant malty bitter but paled in comparison to the dry fruity bitterness of the Arbor.

Just a reminder by the way that the Shakespeares beer festival starts Thursday, and a quick neb at the brewery list (posted on the wall and door) shows ales from Locale breweries including two new from Blue Bee and Steel City, along with the likes of Ironbridge, Revelations, Tynebank, Llangorse, Black Hill, Arbor and many others that I didn't write down (pushed for time, sorry, indeed these are all remembered, i.e mostly, but not entirely factual!).

Make sure you go along for a pint or 6.

So, that concludes my details of a rather unusual Jubilee weekend celebration for myself, with not as many pubs as I would have preferred, but plenty of beer and celebrations to help me along.


Wee Beefy

Apiarists favourite wins beer accolade

Now then!

  just a quick update about a bit of good news for the Sheffield brewing scene, and more celebratory goings on.

Blue Bee Brewery

have won Gold at the Stockport Beer and Cider Festival for their Nectar Pale Ale. This is a great bit of news for the brewery, possibly their first award (please don't take my word for this particular fact, I recall summat in Chesterfield last year maybe?) and is great recognition for a brewery that's only been brewing for about 18 months or so.

You can find them on Twitter here if you want to wish them well, or their website can be found here . I am hoping they will heed my entirely serious request to brew a smoked marzen next, a feat which, speaking as someone with absolutely no brewing experience whatsoever, I would expect to be a cinch....

Fat Cat hire a massive automobile

Not the whole story, since mercifully its not a monster truck (although, would that necessarily be a bad  thing?) and importantly its a red bus hired for the Jubilee celebrations which is taking people on a tour of the  Kelham Island area throughout the Jubilee weekend, until tomorrow evening. Well worth a trip I'd suggest, along with a pie and a pint in the Fat Cat. Thanks to the Postcode Gazette for this info.

Please also note they are not open until 18.00 on Friday 8th of June for the funeral of Dave Wickett.

Some festivals still on....

Don't miss the Tramway at 192 Chatsworth Road Chesterfield, The Commercial Chapeltown, The Organ Grinder Canning Circus Nottingham, The Lescar Sheffield, and MoCa bar in Matlock. Apologies if I missed any pubs off, am sure any pub hosting a festival for the jubilee will still be selling beers so keep an eye out!

That's all the gen for now, thanks.

Wee Beefy

Monday, 4 June 2012

A short Sheffield pub crawl


      what with the unbridled excitement of beer festivals of late I have neglected to tell you about some of the Sheffield pubs  that sell a decent pint of real ale at all times, irrespective of commemorative events. Thursday was payday, thank goodness, so me and Mr P went out for a jar or two to celebrate.


We started in the Three Cranes, neither of us had been in for a while so it was decided this would make a nice change. It was a Sheffield ale extravaganza on the bar, with Blue Bee and Abbeydale providing all the beers that were on. We both went for pints of the Blue Bee Nectar Pale, and due to a mix up behind the bar, ended up with a large taster of Abbeydale Daily Bread as well, which was much darker than I recalled but very nice all the same.

The Nectar may not have been selling too fast since my first out pint was a little sharp, but soon mellowed, if that's not contradictory for a zesty hoppy beer, into a fine pale ale. We then went for a half and a pint of the Blue Bee Lustin for Stout. This was the stand out beer of the night, brilliantly balancing the bitter roast malt with a satisfying creamy malt finish. I am told that the Cranes have removed Guinness and put the Lustin for Stout on in its place - whether this is mere conjecture or not, it was in fine form, so they are obviously selling plenty of it.


Next we headed down past the old Moseleys Arms and across the ring road to Shakespeares. Here there was a surprising lack of beers that tempted me, which doesn't happen very often. I dallied with the idea of a half of the Ossett Mild but went instead for a more standard strength bitter from a brewery I wasn't expecting to enjoy the wares of. Great then that my notes have gone for a wander and I can't recall what it was! Shamefully lackadaisical of me...


After these Mr P headed off home and I hot footed it to West Street and off down to the Bath Hotel, where I bumped into Ken from Harrisons.

In here they had the excellent Oakham Citra on, not as weak as other Citra offerings but still a really excellent 4.0% beer, hoppy, but more citrus hop than dry hop, and with that noticeable Oakham signature background malt. Or, as it may be, yeast. Have yet to understand the way that would show in the beer's flavour, but will let you know when I do.

Harrisons 1854

My final resting place was the 1854 where it was Farmers Blonde all the way. Fellow project member JW turned up and we had an impromptu and not desperately sober convening of the project team, accompanied by rather a large amount of refreshments as it happens. This was a great way to end my night out, celebrating the glory that is payday.

And further still in the past....

What with wretched finances I haven't been out that often in the last week of May, and my disappearing Internet meant I forgot to update you on the Rutland.

Me and Chala were in a Wednesday or two ago supping excellent Blue Bee Bees Knees bitter (the darkest bitter ever?) with the lovely brewing team, and along with Chala enjoying the Freedom Organic lager I was ploughing my way through a number of excellent pints of Stroud Brewery Budding.

This is only the second beer I have tasted from this brewery, noticeable on the bar for its excellent traditional pumpclip designs, and both have been delicious. As it was this was in fact a trifle hazy but it didn't mean that it tasted any worse for it. It was a fantastic malty beer (but there were some hops) which had me rushing back to the bar for more.

Sheffield Tap

My final update is on the Tap, where I went after the Commercial beer festival in Chapeltown on Friday (and (its on) today and tomorrow don't forget!). From a goodly range with plenty of Phoenix I think, I went for a half of the Marble Mild, and a pint of the Cromarty Brewing Co Red Hop Rye Ale.

Unusually for me I actually wrote some notes on my phone - since this is time consuming and fiddly it must have been a really good or bad ale to warrant such an action. As it was, it was a negative review, but not as bad as I have suggested above. Essentially, I thought the Red Hop Rye was too dry and one dimensional, and almost every mouthful tasted of sage or rosemary - not good ingredients in a beer, nor good bedfellows for hops. The burnt toffee notes and dry bitterness that you get in red ales were there, but they clashed with the weird herbal notes.

The drinking experience was alas made all the more disappointing by the decision by the staff to start using what must have been a gallon of bleach before last orders, meaning that sat in the panelled room at the back I soon started to smell nothing but. The smell was so overpowering that I had to go and sit back in the busy bar. Here the more ascorbic and jarring flavours of the beer lessened slightly, but I still enjoyed my Marble Mild far more.

A slightly disappointing end to a great night, which better bleach management could have avoided...

That's all for now, I have a craving for some dinner (alas not getting out and about on the bank holiday, disgraceful!) so must leave you. More news and views coming soon.

Wee Beefy