I realise its only early in the month but here is a summary of bits and bobs of info from the last few days.
Cricketers John Street
I start with a pub I have never visited before, because I was fairly determined to do so tonight. Alas, arriving at about 20.30 I found the Cricketers steadfastly closed. As you may know from Beer Matters, the pub is selling 3 or more real ales, all I think from Kelham Island brewery, and at decent prices.
A quick search on the tinterweb offers little but they used to close Tuesday so perhaps Wednesday is the new closing day. I note that in the past landlords came and went regularly so I really hope the pub hasn't fallen on hard times and closed again. I will try again Saturday dinner and see what happens.
Welbeck Abbey Brewery Portland Black.
I was given a bottle of this for my Birthday and finally succumbed to trying it on Tuesday. This was perhaps one of the easiest drinking beers I have ever tried in bottle, but with no less flavour for it - masses of roast coffee notes and a lovely burnt toffee aftertaste that made me crave more.
Tonight I popped in the Three Cranes for more ever reliable beer choices and since the Portland was still on opted for a pint of that, at £2.95 a pint. The Henrietta was also on, but the quality of the Portland renders pondering a waste of time, and I was very happy with my choice.
Rick also confirms that as suggested elsewhere, Blue Bee Lustin for Stout is a permanent replacement for Guinness. And, even better, that Light Blue will be on again soon - the first cask only lasted three hours, so get your skates on if you want to try it!
It would be silly to live another few days and not find myself in the Shakespeare. Here I had a delicious pint of the Blue Bee Red White and Blue, a little cloudier than I prefer but still a refreshing brew with plenty of character. I also tried a half of the Raw MADD Golden Ale, brewed in aid of a charity the details of which have managed to escape me. This was the Shakes 600th guest ale since opening 11 months ago.
I finished with a half of the Bradfield Tramlines since I was determined to try it in more than one venue (and if its anything like the SheffieldBC one last year I'll be confronted with it endlessly...), and it was still desperately inoffensive, with a slight sweetness balancing some of the drier and more lumbering bitter flavours.
I was in only briefly but to my delight spotted the Blue Bee Light Blue. Since I was only stopping for a half I only had that, but it was a very refreshing half, and a beer that had I been in earlier I'd have probably had more of.
Into the Tap, tonight perhaps the warmest pub on earth. On the bar the less than salubrious promise of the Skinners had disappeared but in its place was empty handpumps and seven Thornbridge beers. I realise, as I remarked before, that Thornbridge and Pivni/Pivovar have a tie in, but really, all Thornbridge? Most disappointing.
I eschewed the reliable pleasure of the Beadecas well to try a half of the Craven Silk on cask and a half of St Peters Old Style Porter, sensibly priced at less than £4.00 a pint (I think), on keykeg.
The Craven was only marginally better than the Wye (also available), being more like a beer for its saving grace, but tasted of gherkins and eventually piccalilli, nothing like the elderflower proclaimed on the clip. The St Peters, a sweetish but hugely flavoured roast delight in bottle, was initially that, but the keg dispense nullified the sweetness to replace it with a weird caramel and bitter taste that jarred with the other malt flavours.
Mind you at least it was a sensible temperature - the Craven silk was warm. And, in an inspiring move, there was only one table to sit at outside, on the muggiest night of the year. One assumes,and indeed hopes, this is a temporary blip.
Overall a good few days of ale, let down by a bus driver style interpretation of grey weather being cold not hot, but rescued by gems like the Portland Black and the Blue Bee Light Blue.