after my beer festival visit on Saturday, it seemed churlish to simply jump on a bus home and not make the best use of my Derbyshire Wayfarer. The buggers cost £11.50 now so a return train journey doesn't really cut it any more, so, for this reason (and this reason alone) I decided to head out into Ripley and then see where the night took me.
Starting my Derbyshire Wayfarer abuse mission took some time since I missed a bus on my way out of the festival and decided to walk into Ripley, which isn't far. Spotting a festival goer heading in the opposite direction I asked him if I could cut through the road opposite to join Lowes Hill. He said I could. I had guessed nearly the best point to come out, along Alma Street, to get to the George.
The George, tucked away down Lowes Hill seemingly a long way from the centre (more so on the way back up) used to be in the GBG but always had a chequered history for me. The first time I went, with Davefromtshop, having laboured down the hill in the dark and cold on a Christmas jaunt we found it packed out and selling just Cottage Santa's something or other. I have to declare a certain dislike for post Golden Arrow Champion beer of Britain Cottage beers. They are malty, sweet and usually cloudy.
My next visit heralded a couple of Amber Ales beers which was a marked improvement and me and Dave returned once more to savour the same level of excellence, but its not been in the GBG for a bit and seemingly in testament to this the Wild Walker brewery banner on the side suggested that its fortunes had perhaps faltered with them. On the bar was 1 beer. Cottage something or other. Having been supping cracking ales like Oakham Green Devil and Citra there was no way I was going to enjoy this so made my polite excuses and left.
On the way back up the hill a bloke I had asked which way the pub was (just to be sure) enquired if it had been shut - I replied that the beer choice was a bit grim and was off instead to the Taphouse. "I hope your earning plenty then coz its bloody expensive" he said. "Beers good though" I replied, and went on up the hill wondering how cheap the beer I didn't fancy at the George would have to have been to make the £3.00 a pint I was expecting at the Talbot seem expensive.
Inside the Talbot Taphouse was busy as always and there were plenty of ales on offer. Here I was determined not to fanny about with nonsense like notes and simply photographed a blackboard and the odd pump clip. I started with a couple of guest beers, Raw Ecky Thump which was brewed with fresh hops, and Liverpool Organic Simcoe, which was a really nice hoppy brew, although less pale than I'd expected. I also had a half of the Amber Ales Revolution, which was described as an amber ale. It really was. I also remember a protracted quest for an Amber Ales original stout but I have to confess I'm not sure i got to try it!
To be honest my most sensible purchase in here was a large sausage roll, although I quickly worked out that further sustenance was required. Still, it was nice to once again pick a perch in the long bow of the ship like hostelry, looking at the sun streaming in through the window and picking out a random customer, or glass, in perfect detail.
Soon I upped sticks and headed for the Red Lion, sort of on the understanding that I might bump into the Kilburn Crew, but mainly to assess the ales on offer. Whether through poor eyesight or some mild confusion I didn't spot anything to tempt me so headed off round the corner to the Crest of the Wave chippy, and set about securing directions to the Beehive.
This proved quite difficult as no-one seemed to have heard of it but the lass serving said she knew it was down Peashill and set about giving me complex directions. Luckily the bloke in front of me said he was heading that way in the car and gave me a lift. Even in the car it was nearly 10 minutes (although its further round) and I was glad I hadn't attempted the walk in the dark across the fields. Many thanks to traditional Northern named Pierre for his kindness!
The Beehive is an unassuming ex Home Ales pub near the bottom of Peashill with a relatively unspoilt interior and a visible allegedly usable off sales hatch. There was one real ale on the bar, Consett Ale Works Red Dust, which was OK, but the barmaid quickly worked out that I was here for the Honeypot bar at the back of the pub. Mind you, I necked the Red anyway.
Out the back and up through a marquee and a gap in the hedge and up some steps is the bar, open slightly less hours than the main pub but boasting an admirable range of ales from the cask, plus draught lagers and bottled beers. I went for a half of the very drinkable dark Nutbrook More, a 4.8% dark ale which I had a couple of in the end.
All the real ales are £2.50 a pint, but there were some slightly stronger ales, from a choice of 4. There was also a cider and only that and the strong continental draught beers attracted a premium. It was a really interesting place to visit, and its something thats catching on in pubs in Derbyshire - the Silk Mill has another bar inside at the back, the Queens Head at Marlpool has one outside, the Red Lion at Fritchley does or did and I'm sure there are others around.
Alas all too soon I had to head off following the landlords directions to the bus stop in Marehay, and was in Derby by half 9. Just chance to catch a bus round to the railway station to check the time of the last train, and pop in the Station on Midland Road for a last couple of pints of delciious Bass from the jug. The pub was busy and surprisingly the door was unlocked - perhaps this was a reflection of the fact that the East Midlands Derby was being played the next day? Please note, the below photograph of delicious Bass from the jug is deliberately taken at a jaunty angle. Honest....
Boarding the train home I bumped into Dave Unpronounceable, and Shaz, and had a very long but if am to be honest not especially cogent conversation all the way back to Sheffield. Here I had agreed to meet Fluffy for a last one in the Rutland, and its not clear who out of the two of us, and his Mum and Colin who were also out with him, was most "refreshed". Either way, I somehow ended up with one dark half of something that might have been from Raw and two halves of Black Mass. Almost all of which I think I drank.
I then walked up to Arundel Gate to fall asleep at the bus stop and end up getting a taxi home, after which I slept for 14 hours. Looks like I may have overdone it slightly over the last couple of days....
So, this was a great day out, featuring a new pub, an old haunt or two and a favourite pub in the making, along with some excellent beer.
Now to try and recover and prepare for the 38th Sheffield Steel City Beer Festival starting Thursday.