Saturday, 28 July 2012

Wee Beefys Sheffield beer bites July 2012

Ay up,

  well, since we are now the inspiration and some are partakers in the opening ceremony of the Olympics it seems only fair to raise the profile of our fair city even higher- by having an old man witter on abut this and that beer in which ever pub or blah. Or my blog, as its otherwise known...

Thursday saw a photography trip with Maureen around the salubrious and distinctly less then salubrious environs of the River Don and Kelham Island. The idea was to try out my new camera, and, obviously, to pop in a pub or two.

The Gardeners Rest was our first port of call, with a dazzling selection of beers from breweries I';d never heard of. Being a sensible lad Maureen had come in his car so I had a pint and he a half. His Severn session was a light gold beer with not much to say about itself - puny  bitterness and lumbering malt with neither aspect showing through. Go buy some Citra! Meanwhile, my Camden Golden Ale was streets ahead, with a distinctive hoppiness but a lovely warm malt to balance it. A cracking beer to enjoy sat by the river, as we did.

Unintentionally sloping bar pic....

Next we wandered in the direction of and into the Wellington at Shalesmoor. Another good array of beers with an emphasis on brews from Millstone and the Little Ale Cart brewery. Maureen declined a beer in here but I had a pint of the LAC Kimbolton which was a tremendously enjoyable beer which I could have drank all day. This simply raises more questions about why I don't drink in there more often to be honest.

Up Scotland street next for a glim and a pic of the decaying Queens Hotel, where "only" 16 years or so ago a friend worked and me and my housemate popped in for Wards and Pool once or twice. Its finally for sale, but the only outcome realistically is that some tax avoiding property developer will buy it and flatten it and build some "much needed" loft apartments in its place.

Last stop for us both, as Maureen had to get home, was Shakespeares where I had two halves, of the rather disappointing Oxfordshire Ales Team, and a half of the rather better Great Newsome dark mild, which I enjoyed sat in teh garden enjoying the last of the sunshine that was managing to peep over the roof.

A quick walk took me to Dada next, where I am becoming an all too recognisable feature (I like this homeliness, but am not sure this is good news for my bank balance) and where I started with, wait for it, a half of Keykeg Halcyon. Yep, that's right, upside down cross branded into my head as I sipped it, I really enjoyed the sweet citrus bite and flavours of grapefruit and pineapple, just as I had done on Saturday, hence my decision. This was followed by a pint of Jaipur, which was a nice satisfying IPA as it should be, although I can't get past my inclination that its "different" somehow.

James looking at the Maui brewery price list..
My next sojourn was rather less successful, I popped in to talk to Barraharri but only for 5 minutes as I needed feeding, alas I contrived to miss all of the deadlines for ordering food at the local hostelries, leading ,e to veer into the arms of Satan himself (Tesco) to buy a reduced price wrap and head off down to the Sheffield Tap for a last one.

Here beervana was found as they had Dark Star Saison on cask, so I had to have a pint and a half, which I sat outside to enjoy in the last light of the day before heading home.

Yesterday, after work, I was at the hospital for 17.00 and on my way back into town settled on having a beer in the sunny beer garden at the University Arms. Some confusion came about because I was paying by plastic (bad Beefy) and the price came to £4.90, with crisps. Rather than charge extra for the crisps as I offered, or charge me £5.00 and put 10p in the charity box as I suggested, the management were adamant that no such deal could be done, and I bought an extra pack of crisps for later. A slightly bizarre and not very well thought through approach which ended up looking a bit silly I reckon.

I sat in the garden in the sun drinking my wonderfully weird half of Fox brewery Steamboat (with its absurd levels of distinctive malt) and an unusually disappointing pint of the normally excellent Dark Star Espresso stout. On the other hand, I did bump into Sheffield beer legend Aston, delivering some beer as I was on my way out. Good to see one of the "team" back on the scene.

Next I was propping up the bar at Harrisons 1854 enjoying a couple of pints of Moonshine, which was on decent form, and a half of Deception. This gave me chance to brief Dave about some of the details of our beery trip out Friday, and also to spend time somewhere cool and relaxing with decent music. All important factors.

My final stop was at Dada once again, James had cut his hair in protest at being photographed by me the night before, and Jamie and Steph were manning the bar. I got the chance to try something utterly insane that Emily had bought and also to repeat my beer prescription from the night before, so this was another enjoyable visit, although its gets more lively on a Friday so standing alone at the bar is a slightly sad preoccupation. Hence I ran away home for chicken wrapped in bacon and lemon rice.

One last point, according to the sign outside the Dog and Partridge the pub is closing down this week. Hardly surprising when you consider the arrogant and shortsighted greed of the pub company, and the shambolic conditions the manager has been given to trade in. I really hope the pub company will be big enough to admit they got it wrong and sell the pub as a going pub concern to an interested individual, then we might see throngs of customers in the Dog again, as opposed to it being forlorn and empty as it has over the last two years. I won't hold my breath though...

Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Blue Bee Brewery 1st Birthday bash at the Rutland Arms


     last night I was attending the celebrations of the first birthday (are they sure? seems much longer...) of Blue Bee Brewery, which, now I think on, is probably a celebration of the opening of the "Hive". Here's some gen about the event, visitors and most crucially the beers.

I bumped into erstwhile beer scribe John on the way to the Rutland and was greeted by Rich and Kath, the powerhouse brewing team, at the bar. I should point out that prior to this I had taken a leisurely wander to the Sheffield Tap for a starter or two. Pleasing halves of Gadds Dr sunshine wheat and Black pearl oyster stout were tried outside in the sunshine - great to see outside facilities back, and the beers were nice, although there was too little wheat in er, the wheat, and the black pearl tasted too much of erm, oysters. A confounding puzzle of contradictions it seems...

First beer of the night at the steamy hot Rutland was a pint of the collaboration with Ashover brewery, a 3.9% hoppy bitter called Bee-gyled. Not strictly a collaboration in full since it was I understand hopped by the worker bees, so it was actually a recognisable Ashover style brew with a hoppy twist. Enjoyable though.

Next came the quaffable and slightly darker than before Light Blue, accompanied by a delicious meal from the excellent Rutland kitchen of lamb and garlic pie with chips and veg (I could have had mash, but hey, it was hardly going to be a night of dietary advance). This was just the right size and a great compliment to the Light Blue, and only £6.95.

Next up came a pint of the Birthday Bee, (Blue Bee Birthday, 5.1%) an initially astringent IPA with assertive hops that mellowed slightly and complimented the body of the beer better and better as you drank.  A second half pint of this indicated it was a contender for my beer of the night.

That accolade however went to the scrumptious Listin for Port, an unsubtle pun on Lustin for Stout, so named based on the addition of a bottle of port to the brew. Some suggested there wasn't enough but I considered it a good balance - too much port and it becomes sharp and heavy. This was a very satisfying pint.

Whilst all this went on, CAMRA members came and went from an upstairs committee meeting, and the cake arrived, which was a very nice chocolate affair with the addition of the Blue Bee stout. This was shared out between everyone, as the pub garden and pub started to fill up with beer glitterati (there was even a beer named that, which I think may have been another collaboration with the Sheffield Roller Girls) including the Axholme Brewery team, Tom from On The Edge, Dave U from Steel City and many friends from the world of beer like young Mr Williams, Geoff and Sarah and Malc and Allie.

Note the branded Blue Bee glass - snazzy advertising...

After a quick half of the aforementioned glitterati mash up (described by the brewer himself, no less, as "legendary"),  it was back to halves of the Listin for Port and Birthday Bee to finish off an excellent night of great company and great beer, with all Blue Bee beers sold at £2.00 a pint all night.

Here's to many more Bee birthdays to come.


Wee Beefy 

Monday, 23 July 2012

Beers of Tramlines

Now then,

    Friday and Saturday (well, mainly Saturday) saw me dip my toe in the waters of Tramlines, the ever increasingly large Sheffield free music festival. As I mentioned earlier in the month, one of the advantages of the venues chosen was that a good deal of them served real ale, and of course there was the Snow Lane CADS blues and ale event which had its own bar. Against that backdrop, here's the details of some of the beers I managed to drink to accompany my Tramlines 2012 experience....

Friday - Shakespeares

I started before any bands were on at my regular haunt, not intentionally, I just blundered out of work after a crap day and headed pubwards. Here I had a pint of the excellent and uncompromising Kirkstall Dissolution IPA and a bottle of the Dupont saison. I figured if I was going t get my head round this style I ought to try a few, and although beer seeker T_I_B had suggested it was a bit strong (so presumably not a typical saison) I figured it would make a good start.

The brash hop bitterness of the Kirkstall probably suited the Dupont, which was strong enough to hold its own, and was a really nice drink, the cost of both being £6.40, which is not bad for half a night's drinking. Alas, given the Tramlines theme, I can't really claim to have seen any bands on Friday - I did stop around to see DJ unpeeled get set up and heard a track, but in the end I left just as the first band, who sounded OK, got started upstairs.

Three Cranes

Tramlines geeks might point out that there was no bands on here, and they'd be right - I only popped in for a half, this the excellent Welbeck Abbey Cavendish. However, I was fortunate enought to bump into Mr J so joined he and his friends for what turned out to be a number of Cavendish, and then some Blue Bee Lustin for Stout, whilst the DJ played a number of tracks that we wouldn't be hearing at Tramlines....

Shakespeares again, Saturday

This time I made a determined effort and started where and when bands were on. A combo, possibly called the rag tags, but possibly not, played outside in the smokers garage, and that seemed to be a very popular act. Having said that, it was rammed beyond belief, which was to be a feature of the whole event. Abbeydale Deception in here, before I had an appointment at Dada.

Dada Trippets Lane - Slow Moves gig

I met up with friends at Dada, which was also heaving with punters sat outside the pub and across the road outside the Grapes and the Dog and Partridge. Plastic glasses here alas, presumably a decision borne out of a mixture of practical concerns and licensing laws, but the beer was good. Whim Hartington Bitter was still more hoppy than I recall, but a decent drop, and it was nice seeing James, Emily and Jamie manning the bar at my (other) second home.

The Slow Moves set was brilliant and enjoyed by all, during which, as well as taking video and photo's, I was supping a pint of Keykeg Thornbridge Halcyon, and I don't mind admitting, it was really rather nice, if not a mite too cold. Christingpher very kindly bought me a pint and it was a good choice, especially as it gave me time to catch the sun outside after Slow Moves and listen to a bit of another band.

Red Deer - band setting up!

I popped in the Red Deer for some of the excellent Whittlebury London ale which I had tried on Wednesday, and the Beartown 2012, alas from a bands point of view there was someone just setting up, although the Red Deer gets extra marks for me being able to get a table.

Rutland Arms

I stormed off down the hill next to the Rutland where food and good ale was imperative - I had a fantastic bacon sandwhich as per always, and a delicious pint of Blue Bee Light Blue, whilst fraternising with luminaries from the world of music, which is neither an accurate nor sarcastic description. Unfortunately all this schmoozing and troughing needed to end all too soon as I had to be up in town at he new music stage.

No booze here (although I could have taken my own) but I had a very enjoyable hour watching Future of The Left before meeting up with Wee Keefy, Carlos and Paddington, and whilst Cads was mooted I wanted to head back to Shakespeares for more excellent ales.

Shakespeares part 3.

Of course, all that banging my head and screaming had made me forget that it was 10 deep at the bar here and a queue to get in so arriving with anti-queue Carlos was a debatable move. Not only that, but the beer range had been decimated, with only 4 beers left on when I arrived. I fancied more Deception but that was long gone, and wary of Clarke's offering I went with the excellent Kirkstall Black Band porter, due to inevitable glass shortages served in a Budvar and Becks glass respectively to me and Carlos.

At this juncture, waiting for the band the Crookes to come on, Wee Keefy had to call it a night and Paddington went with him, so me and Carlos went back to fight at the bar and watch beers going off before our eyes. Kirkstall Three Swords made an appearance so I had that and Carlos more Black Band, but in the time it took me to drink my pint and return to the bar the Three Swords had also gone!

Mayhem ensued whilst trying to get to see the Crookes - despite my having been brought up in Crookes and Carlos living there all his life, so we were clearly part of the entourage, the only way we were getting in any time soon was if several people died and had to be removed, so we let the waiting line increase and went and stood on the steps listening in and drinking.

A few more rounds of Black Band passed before last orders was called at near 02.00 so having sent Carlos off for a taxi I bade my time before heading off to catch the N52 night bus, and got home before 3AM.

Not maybe a classic Tramlines then in terms of the bands, but one enhanced by several commendable ales and many excellent venues which made for a very enjoyable day.

Here's to next year!

Wee Beefy

Further science


  following on from my experiment matching cask and Keykeg Kipling, I popped back to the Hallamshire House to try something else - this time the comparison was between the two versions of St Petersburg stout from Thornbridge.

This was an interesting one because I haven't tried St Petersburg for years, in fact my last taste was of a Thornbridge Islay cask reserve about 18 months ago, a stupendously smoky peated malt and lusciously alcoholic brew. Other than that, I have only tried it in cask once, and I bought quite a few of the original bottle conditioned bottles when they were launched. Would this knowledge gap help me to more openly assess the beer?

As per last time it was keg first. The obviously difference is that its served in a different glass, obviously only drinking it once this is hardly evidence of a deliberate serving policy but its interesting that Continental beers come in a different glass in order to enhance the flavour, not to mention as a savvy marketing ploy. I wonder if the branded glass for the Keykeg indicates a preference for that product?

Initial tastes were good, with sweetness at the front being quicly replaced by the roasted malt and slight coffee flavours, but very quickly I noticed that it was astringently hoppy. Even with my limited experience, I didn't recall it being dry or all that bitter. And besides, should that really be a characteristic of an imperial stout? There were quite a few similarities with a black IPA, which seemed strange. There was however a good robust body as you'd expect.

Chcolate, raisins, figs and fruits in alcohol were in there but somewhat restrained in the face of the hops, and the aftertaste reminded me of simcoe, as far as its even possible for me to recognise that! Aroma wise it was difficult to nail however. I was going to need assistance.

I got chatting to a couple in the snug and they offered valliantly to tell me what they thought the aroma was. We all seemed to know what it was, we certainly recognised it, but no comparative description could be found. In the end I picked out two customers in the larger back room at random, and asked them.

Hot off the press are 3 independent descriptions of the aroma of St Petersburg : Burnt Toast; Urinals, Tobacco.

Perhaps my rather odd gambit of "smell my sample" didn't provide the olfactory expertise I sought but I think I'd go with tobacco. Its strange though that the more musty flavours are hidden in the taste of the Keykeg beer.

The cask was also a bit of a revelation, mainly for the wrong reasons. It was a lot less dry which was good, but still bitter, much more so than I remembered. There was pleasing creamy roast malt and an earthy quality which I couldn't quite pick out but it was still too dry and too bitter. Perhaps some St Petersburg devotees could tell me if I have imagined it not having the dry bitterness of cascade or simcoe (or similar) previously?

Overall the beer was too smokey and the drier notes made it unbalanced. So in essence, I wasn't really sold on either of the formats. And what does this insight tell us about the relative merits of cask dispense and Keykeg?

Well, precisely nothing am afraid!

Lastly, I was talking to one of the barstaff, and he told me a few interesting things about Keykegs. Firstly he showed me one, which I now realise is remarkably similar, if not in mechanics, to a polypin (I understand theres a collapsible membrane inside). This also this gave me the opportunity to discover how light it was, which may be a deciding factor.

He also suggested that the brewer at Thornbridge (and this is highly unspecific, since there are about 5 or 6 in the team) didn't like serving beer that had been stored in the cask because it meant the beer was quickly oxidised. I think that the ambiguous nature of the chat probably meant this was not intended to be taken as an actual or full quote but the gist seemed to be that keeping a beer in correct cellar conditions for two weeks and then connecting it up to a handpump is not to the brewers liking because it doesn't taste fresh like it does on Keykeg.

I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions about whether this really stacks up, or indeed if it really is the brewery's outlook. but in terms of identifying that the beer is in peak condition I'd suggest that an injection of gas and a chilled dispense is unlikely to be the best meter of a beer's quality. A better approach is to consider that poor beer does not stand up to being served on gravity, so if you want to see if its well balanced and fresh, take it straight from the barrel. The lack of additional preparation and aids to dispense means its a naked beer, so you see it for what it is.

I think the only real progress in this debate would be if a beer I drink all the time was to appear in Keykeg. Then I could make an accurate assessment. The thing is, I don't want to drink Abbeydale Deception from a font....

Wee Beefy


Thursday, 19 July 2012

Ecclesbourne valley pub crawl


  the title references the fact that almost all of the pubs in my recent pub ramble with Christingpher were at one end or the other of the Ecclesbourne Valley, but as so often happens with such things, you have to get there and home again, so before you read on I must confess that there are a few sneakily inserted Derwent valley pubs as well....

We were due to set off at 10.00 from Sheffield Interchange last Sunday, and according to the poster in the entrance there was no disruption to the route despite the Race for life event taking place. Fairly puzzling then that Stagecoach, obviously too busy concentrating on their multinational concerns to think things through properly, decided to run the service 15 minutes later, thus handily missing the 2 connections in and following Matlock. Well done.

Luckily, I noticed the 215 was headed Matlock way, and that was leaving late (but not as much as the X17), due to it being filled with passengers presumably also missing vital connections, so we hopped on that and arrived in Matlock with 6 minutes to spare - AKA, the time the X17 had been due to arrive.

We were in Wirksworth before Noon and walked slowly round to North End to eagerly anticipate the opening of the venerable and admirable enterprise which is the Royal Oak.

This was my first daylight visit (they only open during the day on a Sunday, 12-15.00) and my companion's first, and weren't disappointed. Ales on offer were Rudgate Viking, Timothy Taylors Landlord, Bass, Whim Flower Power and Wincle Sir Phillip. Not noticing its strength (5.3%), I opted for a pint of the Whim and Christingpher the Wincle, and we sat down to enjoy our pre walk refreshments.

Sat in the cool air of the pub, with quiet chatter at the bar, with the sun blazing outside, this was a perilously good start - I think that we could easily have stayed here til 15.00 then gone to Derby, and the cobs and pork pie bought pushed us towards abandonment. Instead, we enjoyed another pint (our choices now the other way round), as well as taking a pic or two and chatting to the friendly landlord. I highly recommend a visit.

Next we were in the Market Place catching the 6.1 towards Belper, the knowledgeable driver pinpointing the exact country lane junction we needed to get off at near Blackbrook, so we could set off up onto the ridge overlooking Belper. Unfortunately, testing of my camera and the warm sunshine made this a slightly slower walk than I planned, and it was gone 14.00 before we arrived at the Bulls Head at Belper Lane Ends.

Having never been before, I can't say how its changed, but it certainly appears to have been recently refurbished and boasts comfy seating, a pristine beer garden and four real ales. On the bar were Bass, a Springhead beer,  and the local Shottle Farm Brewery Shottle Gold and 8/- (yes, you read that right). the latter being served on gravity from the cellar.

Both beers were £2.80 a pint and we enjoyed them sat in the garden taking the opportunity to soak up some rare sunshine. The gold had a very traditional lightly hoped flavour and the 8/- was malty and fruity and darkish brown. Both went down really well. And next we were to walk to the brewery.

Well, I say "were", we had to be at Cowers Lane to get on the Ecclesbourne Valley railway at Shottle station by 16.30 so it would only have been a look, but it didn't look far, and we had 1 hour 40 minutes to get there. What could go wrong?

Well, I could bring far too large a scale map for a start, and after rejoining then leaving the safety of the Midshires way, almost without exception, there were no waymark arrows. The map helpfully instructed us that the path went right then followed a wall into the valley and up the other side into Shottle. We went the wrong side of the wall for starters, then back up in a loop, and even when we found the path again it was overgrown or difficult to see, leading eventually to a stream that wasn't on the map, after which the path disappeared entirely.

After 15 minutes puzzling and looking for signs of stiles/gates (half of the stiles were collapsed walls so that wasn't easy) we decided to paddle across the stream and keep straight on. The other side of the hill heralded waist high grass that was arduous to traipse through, and we finally reached Shottle at the time we were meant to be reaching Cowers Lane. Still, we made it there in time to catch the last bus (at 17.15, for crying out loud) and got off at Milford past Belper and visited the King William.

This former Leadmill brewery pub had 4 ales on including Pedigree from the jug. I plumped for that, and Christingpher the Oldershaw Newtons Drop, and we settled down at the left hand end of the long room as sunshine streamed in and across our table.

Next we walked up the hill to the Holly Bush at Makeney, a terrific unspoilt pub with an amazing Bar snug, dispensing Pedigree and Ruddles by the jug plus guests. Christingpher had the Thornbridge Colorado Red, and I a pint of the Buxton Blonde. This was accompanied by one of the Holly Bush's pork pies - I asked for one, and was told there was a choice of small and a medium. "How big's the small?" I enquired, as the barmaid showed me a pastry case the size of a haggis. " I'll have the small I think", and at £1.60 it was a decent price for a filling carbohydrate hit. The only slight downside here was the Colorado Red - not badly kept or even expensive, just not a well balanced Thornbridge beer.

The final part of our walk was to wander along Duffield Bank in glorious sunshine into Duffield, crossing the Derwent at the Bridge Inn and making our way up King Street to the Pattenmakers Arms.

Here it was a no brainer as to what to have -  two pints of Bass form the jug was the only plan we were interested in and the beers didn't disappoint. Sitting in the arts and crafts homeliness of the right hand room this could have been a perfect visit had it not been for an unfortunate public toilet roll incident which would be too tiresome and pointless to explain.

Finally we were in Derby and noting there were plenty of buses to the Station we headed for  a centre pub, this being the Exeter Arms. Here the beer had taken a hammering and no more was coming on it seemed so we both had a half of the deliciously creamy mild Dark Drake from the on site Dancing Duck Brewery, which then promptly ran out as well.

Our penultimate pub was the Brunswick, where we had underwhelming but inexpensive halves of their Caramild and Station porter, before a quick visit to the Alex round the corner, where I had a pint and Christingpher a half of the excellent Welbeck Abbey Portland Black.

This was a great selection of pubs even if the walk was frustrating, and bar the Bass in the Pattenmakers all offered a sensibly priced beer selection - ale in the Royal Oak, Bulls Head, King William and Exeter Arms was less than £3.00 a pint, not bad these days for Derbyshire.

There are of course also many other pubs in the Ecclesbourne Valley so that may have to be a trip for another time, but those that we visited were excellent, with The Royal Oak in Wirksworth easily standing out as the best.


Wee Beefy. 

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

On The Edge Brewery launch, Sheffield 14th July


    on Saturday I was up early and awaah across town to the Old Junior School, South View Road, Nether Edge, for the exciting launch of On The Edge Brewery. This was a great opportunity to try some new Sheffield beer and also to test the performance of that old chestnut "expectation" since I had persuaded myself in advance what some of the beers ought to taste like.

Whether expectation or anticipation, the sense of both had been building based on the release of various details about the brews on offer in the week before the launch so I couldn't wait to get there - literally. I arrived before any beer was served, with just Billingham alesman Geoff for company.

Sadly its probably recorded in the annuls of the history of the brewery that he bought the first half pint, whilst I was fannying around trying to organise pictures, change and discourse with the brewer, but that is the burden on the noble beer blogger. Or pisshead - I think the roles are interchangeable....

Things quickly got busy and it soon became apparent that punters would be following the same route, i.e starting low and then increasing the strength of beers tasted - that said, there were only pins of the strong stuff, so I was quite perturbed that I might have to embark on a less than wise beer early on.

All in all I got to try all of the beers on offer, a temptingly broad selection of styles using different yeasts and a core bittering base as a platform for styles as divergent as smoked Maarzen wheat beer and Double IPA.

Here are the notes I made about each of the beers, possibly in order...

Wath IPA 3.8% £1.20 my first half was quite sweet and fruity initially, and after getting over my damaged by Greene King abhorrence at a low gravity IPA (I know, I know, IPA's needing to be plus 7% ABV is a beer myth, etc...) I found it very well flavoured for its strength, and a satisfying hoppy finish made this a good start.

Wit Wash 5.2% - £1.40 my second beer was a fantastic orangey refreshing wheat beer, using German yeast and slightly reminiscent of Weihenstephaner, although if I had one complaint, it was that it didn't stay cloudy throughout - I demand soup!

Citradel 5.5% £1.50  my first tainting by the gaunt spectre of expectation came with this orangey, slightly yeast prominent (but in a good sense, i.e not sour or anything) IPA which just didn't meet my expectation of how bitter it was going to be. I know Citra is a fruity hop but there was no depth to the bite and the hoppiness faded too fast.

Black IPA 6.0% £1.90  this was exactly what I expected, dry roast malts and bitterness, made with U.S yeast and mainly Cascade hops, possibly a mite too dry but definitely ticking the Black IPA boxes.
The expert tasting panel, i.e not me!

Maarzen - smoked Brown 5.5%  £1.50
Wow! A smoked bite that smacks you square in the chops, then attaches to you with its brutal burnt wood claws and refuses to let go for at least the first half of the drink. I really didn't care for this at first, but as I continued drinking it mellowed just enough to be the rich smoky beast that I had hoped for. The brave and commendable use of peated malt gives this an edge, no pun intended, and harshens the bite.

Imperial stout, 7.5% - £2.00 Spectre 1 - brewer 0.
Unfortunately this was not at all what I hoped for. It was dark, yes, it had stout character and robust dark malt flavours but it had a subtle taste lurking at the back which I couldn't ignore. A few sips in I realised to my horror that it had a fruity almost lambic sharpness. The world's first black lambic? I wasn't sold on this one, but I think this is an example of where the expectation scuppered its chances of having a fair assessment. One to revisit.

Pilgrimage, 3.9% £1.20 a reckless and unjustified slump in ABV had me arrived at this enjoyable earthy pale ale, still with a distinct hop (or maybe malt?) signature, but reminding me of the better sulphurs and chewy bitter notes of beers I know and love, but, erm,which seem to be hiding from me. Stood up well to the might of the darker one before. Brewed with Pilgrim hops, tha sees..

Double Gold 9.5% £2.50 Puzzlingly, there appear not to be any notes for this beer. Almost inevitably it was my last, but for some reason the pen appears to have become too weighty and cumbersome to wield under its influence. I recall being slightly underwhelmed by the bitterness, but my memories are sufficiently unclear to warrant a description no more than guess work, which would be harsh.

Overall this was a great festival/brewery launch with cheerful and knowledgeable volunteers and helpful  brewery staff Tom and Luisa, which was a great introduction to the breweries interesting brews. My favourites were the Wit (I had 3 of them, later notes proclaiming only "Yum!" ) the Maarzen and the Black IPA.

My only concern is, with a plant so small that, I think it can only produce 2 firkins at a time (or is it one?) where are we going to get hold of some more?

I suspect Steel City beer festival 38 might offer a helping hand on this one...


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Black, Dark, hoppy, fruity goodness


   I am here to tell you about a few beers I have had in the last week. Despite the title, there is no hybrid fruity black ale, nor a hoppy stout with  sweet hedgerow gifts, instead there are a few examples of cracking beer, tried days apart, and linked by nothing apart from sterling quality.

Firstly, after Sunfest on Saturday, I was dropped off in Broomhill so I could pop into the York. Here my first thrill was seeing two fantastic beers on the bar - Black Iris White Fang and Klazny. As I was ordering I also spotted Pete and Diane and friends and the night was made all the more enjoyable by excellent company. I'd had the White Fang before and this was just as good, with the Klazny perhaps tired, but showing enough to warrant further tastings. Excellent beer overall.

In the end I only had a half of each in the end since I needed to get back across town but once again I wasn't disappointed by the Black Iris offerings, signs I'm sure of potential future market dominance...

Next up was my visit tonight to Shakespeares, where I started with the ever reliable and impeccably kept Abbeydale Deception. Granted, there was plenty more ale finery on offer but I wanted and enjoyed a reliable Sheffield beer to start off.

After which, joined by Mr H and Steve, I had a few pints of the redoubtable classic which is Dark Star Sunburst, which was 4.5% and £2.80 a pint.

This championed warm orangey malt, tangy and slightly sweet, with complimentary hops, citrus flavours  and an admirable cleansing acidity, which made for a superb pint which I had a few rounds on in the end. In fact, so good was this summery drink that after finishing I was sate enough to wend my way merrily home, having enjoyed an evening of unparallelled summer hop brilliance.

In conclusion, its true that there are huge numbers of brewers beer available in Sheffield, but its so nice to find and drink those which consistently deliver, and thoroughly enjoy them.

Wee Beefy.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Cask vs Keg - unscientific exploration


  tonight, or rather significantly earlier, I had the chance to do something I had never had the chance to do before. Now, those of you who know me may well be waiting for me to say "stop it" in a harsh yet condescending voice, but this is a real and quite serious concept. I tried a cask and a Keykeg version of a beer side by side.

Hallamshire Haus

Twas at the above venue that I finally "broke my duck" (stop it...) on the keg vs cask tasting event, and I was there in good time around half 6 for the privilege. In order to try and not be biased (hence the unscientific tone of the title) I tried a half of the Keykeg Thornbridge Kipling first, and then the cask.

The Keykeg was obviously different on the basis of its higher carbonation and on being colder. It was also served in a tall rather than half pint glass (making it a girl's drink of course), and was minutely lighter coloured than the cask.

I didn't actually mind the KK. It was hardly an affront to beer, but was noticeably similar to some of the bottled offerings I have tasted. Except, it wasn't as smooth, and given that recently I have been blown away by the drinkability of bottled Welbeck Abbey Portland Black that's not a compliment.

The flavour was very dry and with a lingering bitterness hindered by a fizz that made the sharper drier notes of the hops linger instead of dispersing into the overall taste. There was a hint of tart peach as well.

The cask version had a slight lemony flavour and a barely discernable lychee aroma, and was smoother and heavier, with a much more satisfying mouthfeel for a start.  Having said that though there wasn't a huge difference, except that it lasted about a quarter of the time the fizzy cold version did.

Also of course, there is a price difference - the Kipling on cask was £3.20 a pint, and the Keykeg 60p more, and therefore nearly 20% more expensive, using rudimentary and likely not rigid mathematical fact. It seems Steel City Ale's Forum post about the beer being 4/3rds more expensive more or less pans out.

For the next round I had another half of the cask first (eschewing the delights of the bottle) and noticed little change in the flavour or aroma. Trying the Keykeg second this time the main difference was that it seemed thin, overly bitter with an unappetising paracetamol flavour, but had an enchanting aroma and hint of Elderflower.

So, overall, its difficult to say whether or not my preconceptions were at work, although I can confirm that I have not liked cask Kipling as much lately compared with last year's tastings, but in conclusion Keykeg seems to be a colder, less subtle, more carbonated version of a cask ale, served without the characteristic development that a beer would undergo whilst in cask. So not particularly good, unless of course there is no cask available......

Closed Shop

Seeing as I was out, and research completed for the night, I reluctantly popped in the Closed Shop across the road. I say reluctantly, because the Landlord/Licensee was so rude last time I went in that I vowed never to return.

On entering I was greeted with an empty pub, a sign outside seeming to suggest that Tanglefoot was on, and only 4 of 6 pumps in use. I realise that four is still a good choice, but it was Landlord and Doom Bar on one end, and Castle Rock Harvest and Kelham Easy Rider. All except the Doom Bar, which I avoid deliberately, are barely even fallback beers.

I asked for  a half of the Harvest and it was rancid. I accepted a taste of the Kelham and it was fluffy and tired. The Taylors was overly sweet but OK, and actually quite enjoyable. The lass behind the bar proved good company and it was a good opportunity to have a chat about pubs and music venues in Sheffield, and a change to see a friendly face in there. Yet, bar a chap running in and depositing a glass on the bar then running to the loo and back out (I assume he was drinking out the front, unless there's some kind of odd unwritten lav for receptacle bartering system in the area), I was the only punter for 20 minutes. Not looking good.


My last stop was in the above and I finally got to try the Magic Rock Clown Juice Wit IPA. It was on Keykeg, it was £5.80 a pint but only 7%, and was nowhere near as good as I had hoped. Creamy but Refreshing wheat? No. Dry but complimentary hops? Nope. Balance? Not much. It was basically a wheat beer with an ascorbic then cloying bitterness, that didn't develop through the drink. Humph.

Luckily I had the company of Steph and Emily to wile away my visit, and a truly splendid pint of Pollards Coffee milk stout to accompany it, so this was still an enjoyable riposte before I tackled the trek home.

Roll on Saturday at Nether Edge!

Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Upcoming ale treats


    July looks like being a busy month in terms of events, here in Sheff and a little further afield, so here are some bits of info I've gleaned from social media and the wider tinterweb for your delectation.

We start with the biggest event.....

Of course, eclipsing all planned activities for most of the year I reckon (sorry Sheffield beer festival....) is the launch of Sheffield's newest Brewery, "On the Edge", based in and launching in Nether Edge on Saturday.

This exciting new Pico-brewery* is launching with what sounds like an innovative and really interesting range of beers, eight of which are expected to be available on Saturday, and all of which I am really looking forward to trying.

Teasers released by the brewery on social media include a smoked malt imperial stout, a Chinook and Citra hop IPA, and a 9 month aged Marzen.

The event runs from 12 noon at the Old Junior School, South View Road, Nether Edge, Sheffield. For more details see @OntheEdgeBrew on Twitter, the latest copy of Beer Matters, or the following Facebook link .

Further afield..

The Star Inn, Folly Hall, Huddersfield is running a beer festival starting tomorrow, or more likely today, since its now Wednesday. Not really a sleuthing by myself, since this info is on the A Swift One blog, so for more details see : aswiftone .

Maybe less further afield?

Also high up on any ale aficionado's beer destination list is Derby;  their summer beer festival, which I have been to a couple of times, starts today and runs until Sunday. More details here

Music and ale ahoy!

Another reminder, although I doubt any Sheffield folk require it, that Tramlines is on from Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd July, featuring numerous venues for music and of course beer, and a bar down at CADS on Snow Lane Shalesmoor serving up blues and real ales. Last year a few pubs that previously hadn't ever, started selling real ale for the event, and still are, so maybe try a few new venues and see what you find.

Cask vs Keg dream realised

Well, I sincerely hope I get the chance to see this to happen!

The Hallamshire House and everything have said that they will be selling Thornbridge Kipling on cask and Keykeg side by side at the same time! This presents me with a really interesting opportunity to properly assess the relative and contrasting merits of each style, as well as hopefully sampling some of the other delights, like maybe my favourite Pollards Coffee Milk Stout.

And whilst we're on the subject of cask vs keg, I would like to finish with a question for you to ponder (and would really appreciate some answers/help on this one). Having received a comment from Keykeg team on my recent post on the subject, which really is a bit naughty, since they are a trading website so officially its spam, I wondered what exactly it was that made Keykeg so damned expensive?

I note that more often or not the halves of KK I am buying are at a very considerable strength, or imported, or both , but even the few UK brewed lower ABV ones I have encountered are all over £3.50 a pint.

I genuinely don't understand why Keykeg is so much more expensive a method of dispense (especially with it being pricier than normal keg, although obviously better).

Does anyone know or can anyone explain WHY?

All help gratefully received!

See you at Nether Edge

Wee Beefy

*(it sounds smaller than a nano, you see, so that description figures, unless, and this seems unlikely, the inexpugnable accuracy of responses on Yahoo answers is wrong.... ahem...)

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Sun Fest 2012 at the Rising Sun


      yesterday I braved the threat of downpours and the rigmarole of travelling right across the city to go to the Rising Sun beer festival "Sun Fest" on Fulwood Road, Nether Green. The festival is still on today all day by the way.

One thing I noticed straight away was that it was in fact, sunny. it really was bathed in the golden glow of sunshine as I arrived, and to my surprise, it didn't rain apart from a spot or two all the time I was there. Well done to the organisers for dabbling in a bit of harmless dark arts to ward away the rain.

The other thing I noticed was it was rammed. I got there earlier than planned at just gone 5PM but it was twenty minutes before I got my first drink. Since the festival had grown inexorably since my last visit I assumed any one of the four tents I could see would house the beers but the beer tent is behind the ones visible. I found it by following people with empty glasses, then got directions to the ticket tent, and then queued 5 deep at the bar.

I envisaged this might at least keep me sober if nothing else, but at 15 minutes a drink I wondered if I'd clear my £8.00 token card before closing time. The card, if you haven't been before, is basically circles indicating a pound and squares for 5 and 10p amounts which are marked off with a pen every time you buy. You can hand the cards back in if they are unfilled and get the money back or donate them to the festival Charity.

Anyhoo, my fears proved misplaced since it soon became obvious that the sea of punters ebbed and flowed liked the tide. The next half I went to buy took less than a minute., walking straight up to the bar and getting served. By now I also worked out that the references against each beer were U, M, L and B, meaning their height on the stillage, and the numbers ran numerically from left to right. So to save time you could, usually, head for where you knew the beer was. Ingenious.

I bumped into Steve, erstwhile scholar and libator from the Red Deer the other night, and we got chatting and making our way through the beers. On my first card I tried the following :

Brown Cow Cowasaki Pale, 4.3
Barley Bottom Cobbydale Stout 4.0
Downton Apple Blossom Ale 4.3
Dark Star Saison 4.5
Oates Golden Oates 4.1
Raw Dark Peak Reserve 2011 6.0

The latter beer took me onto my next card, and was a useful tool in guiding my mate to a next beer. Because by this time I'd been joined by Carlos, Wee Keefy and Jambon and they were made aware straight away of the tricks, idiosyncrasies and rules and set out to get refreshments. Carlos found it ten thick at the bar inside so his quest for a pint of lager was thwarted, but we had noticed there were some Keykeg beers including a Hop Studio Pilsner, so we sent him to the tent to get some.

Unfortunately, after we had secured ale, he was told after about 10 minutes queueing that the lagers were only served in the pub, even though this was listed on the beer list as being in the tent (I have studiously re-read every word and it doesn't state its in the pub). Luckily he'd had a taste of the Dark Peak and had that but considering that the Kirkstall Framboise was on in the tent this omission didn't make sense.  Surely, put all the Abbeydale ones in the bar plus two or three in the tent, (as they did), and all the festival beers, including Keykegs in the tent? If you queue for ten minutes for a beer that all along was at the end of a totally different queue that's poor.

Anyhoo, this annoyance was tempered by the realisation that Carlos had a taste for some darker beers so he got to try the excellent Kirkstall Black Band Porter and the legendary Abbeydale Black Mass.

The rest of my tipples were :

Tydd Steam Golden Kiwi 4.1
Crouch Vale Yakima Gold 4.2
Dark Star Revelation 5.7
 Abbeydale Black Mass 6.66

I didn't fancy finishing on the Black Lurcher (not that its particularly much stronger than the Black Mass...) but anything dark delicious and dangerous is ideal for the final drink so the Mass was an obvious choice.

Black Mass action

Highlights of the festival beer wise were Crouch Vale Citra, Barley Bottom Cobbydale Stout, Dark Star Saison and Revelation and my favourite beer of the festival was the Raw Dark Peak Reserve. That said, there wasn't a beer I didn't enjoy, and the range was excellent. It was also interesting to note the benefits and drawbacks of gravity dispense - the Revelation was far better than on handpump, but the Saison not so good. Does this realisation sound familiar in terms of vessels chosen to dispense from?

And finally, I have to say, considering the huge numbers of punters, the volunteers behind the bar did the unenviable job of serving everyone about as quickly as was possible with admirable efficiency and patience.

So that was my visit to the 2012 Sun Fest, another triumph of beers and space and luck with the weather. As I said its still on today so get yourself up there and try some of what's left.


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 7 July 2012

More wee beefy beer news

Hello again,

  as so often seems to happen in Summer (Ha!) when loads of stuff is going on, in depth writing on single subjects is not practicable. In respect of which here is another unseemly blob of information about the fine drop....


In a recent visit there was Pollards on again, along with a new Thornbridge beer for a housing charity, plus Galaxia, and the excellent Bath Gem. I tried a taste of the Thornbridge chariddee beer and was non plussed, it tasted much like Doc Fest and Pub Scrawl, and er, wait, I'm seeing a pattern here! Great if you don't want to be challenged by tastes I'm sure.

First Pint Pollards was of course immense, and very enjoyable to quaff whilst discussing the nuances of employment and ale with Jamie. I followed this with a really nice pint of Galaxia which is in fact becoming one of my favourite pale Thornbridge beers, which is a shame, since I don't think they produce it all the time. Initially I wanted to know just which Australian hopes were used until I realised with some embarrassment that Galaxia is of course the only hop used in this zesty and fruity "single hopped" pint.

The Tzara, whilst the real ales watched...

I finished with a half of Tzara, since it was still hideously warm and muggy out it seemed a good idea to finish supping with a cool quality lager, which hit all the right spots being cool, but not overly chilled, and refreshing.

Red Deer

A visit on Thursday heralded the opportunity to meet Mr Paul the DJ and his chums, along with trying two decent guest ales. One of the great mysteries of this pub to me is that there is clearly a core range of decent if somewhat predominantly hop shy malty beers, but sometimes the guests appear to be more of the same. This time was different, and I had two excellent halves of Great Heck Yorkshire Pale, and Empire Brewery Strikes Back, whilst chatting outside in the beer harden.

Bath Hotel

During yesterday's heaving skies and rivers of rain me and Chala bravely embarked on a rash and unwarranted yomp around Sheffield, including nipping in Tampa Coffee and Gusto for necessary fuel. Alas, the action of walking anywhere around Midday yesterday occasioned full saturation and so we had to go somewhere to get dry.

There were few customers in the Bath when we arrived and the barman very kindly agreed to light the fire in the back room for us, so we could warm ourselves and our layers up. Alas the Tzara was off on draught but Chala was happy with a bottle, and I opted for a pint of the Whim Hartington Bitter.

This was drier and less fruity than I remembers but was nice enough, but again the allure of the Pollards won through and I had a pint of that. I finished on a nice half of Dark Star Pale Ale, which was probably actually a little better than the Whim. Shame I couldn't make it back for the roast pork sarnies...


A whistle stop visit last night heralded two excellent beers, which I had halves of due to being in a rush. The wonderfully quaffable Offbeat Wild Blackberry Mild and the dark bitter Elland St Georges Anger were both enjoyed with the mild probably being the beer of the night.


Still no outside facilities alas, and it was like an oven inside, but mercifully there was evidence of breweries other than Thornbridge on the bar. Having mistaken Marble Dobber for their Porter I switched sides on ordering and had a half of the robust and really quite monumental Beadecas Well from Thornbridge, and Marble Summer, which was another excellent refreshing pale beer Time constraints aside, I could have sunk a barrel of it. Yum!

Punchbowl, Crookes

Not your first choice beer pub in Crookes or indeed Sheffield but some friends were up there to attend an auction where an original Joe Scarborough painting was being sold to raise money for Help The Heroes. It was an interesting auction event, especially since the auctioneer turned singer when the bidding (which raised a lot of money - the picture went for over £2,000.00) had finished.

Some friends of ours know Joe so it was nice to get the chance to meet him and talk to him, and of course to get a preview of the picture before it was sold. Beer wise there was a choice of two - the Everards Whakatu was a low gravity beer promising NZ hops. I suppose being Everards I shouldn't have expected a Summer Wine Brewery or Hawkshead style NZ IPA beer, but it was so weak in flavour and so bereft of hops it was woeful, and also smelt off, even if it didn't taste it.

the other beer on offer was Kelham Island Easy Rider which is not so bad, and I had 3 or 4 pints of that during the evening as well. At least this demonstrates that, assuming the Noah's Ark is open/reopens, you can get real ale in every pub in Crookes, which is no bad thing.

Am off to Sunfest in a bit so hope to have something to write up tomorrow.


Wee Beefy

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Wee Beefy's July beer bites


  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.

Sheffield Tap

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.

Wee Beefy

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Old Worthy Brewery, Old Worthy Scottish Pale Ale


    I have been lucky enough to receive a bottle of a beer from a new brewery, currently brewing on a contractor plant until they can get their own plant up and running on the Isle of Skye - their address is in Uig on the bottle, but am unsure exactly where their own brewery is intended to be located.

Looking around on social media it seems O.W have been in existence for sometime, certainly in terms of brewing and trialling beers and getting out there to publicise and market it. They have targetted sales in Finland and Sweden and have been busy sending out samples in the post to beer writers and stockists in the UK, prior to their official launch in August.

If you want more info about the brewery and its ethos their website is up and running but not fully  finished, so I suggest your best bet is to sign up at their website so they can send you some info. Nick at the brewery certainly seems happy to talk about his product, and the relationship between whisky and beer. You can also find them on Facebook here or on Twitter here .

These are the details of what I found when I tried my botttle earlier:

Brewery : Old Worthy Brewing Co. Limited
Name : Old Worthy Scottish Pale Ale
Strength : 5.0%
BCA/none BCA? : none BCA.
Purchased : Sent by the brewery.

Colour : gold, not as light as I would expect, with a hint of Pilsner Urquell in its appearance.

Carbonation/Pouring : Loud fizz on opening - pours well leaving a goodly head at the top.

Aroma : Not as strong as I expected, given the ingredients, but smoky malt predominates, with a strange salty hint.

Taste : Wow! -  a good start with lots of smoke, malt, whisky and whether or not I'm tasting it because I know its an ingredient, but there is peated malt. Its actually quite an alcoholic flavour, but I think that is a trick of the brain, telling me that if it smells and tastes of whisky (and it does, but not overly so) it must be as strong.

A hint of honey is noticable in the second mouthful, mellowing the smoky peat slightly, and there are other lighter malt flavours, perhaps because of the pale malts used. There is even a taste that somehow reminds me of sea air, which I am puzzled by, but overwhelmingly its that peat and malt which stands out.

Interestingly, for a pale ale, there doesn't appear to be much hops. Its bitter, yes, but it seems more down to the smoked flavours. As you continue drinking the whisky notes recede slightly and the beer takes on the flavours of a more malty pale bitter, but it never loses that edge.

The peated malt, whch comes from the Ardmore distillery, is the stand out characteristic, and having initially been quite alarmed to see both honey and wheat in the mix on the bottle label I think both of these ingredients are in there to tame and compliment the assertive peat flavours. I think without the slight sweetness of the honey and the refreshing benefits of the wheat the beer may have been too harsh.

I tried a pure liquer from Kilchoman distillery that had the addition of hedgerow fruits, and the balance of the inredibly strong alcoholic kick of the spirit and the sharp and sweet fruits is a clever mix. So it seems that peat needs sweeter softer flavours to mellow it out a little.

Head retention - good, it follows the beer down the glass before breaking into islands after about 15 minutes, having started full and billowy on pouring.

WBrating : 7.0
I like the fact that this is a bold flavoured beer and an interesting concept. Its not a whisky beer, its a beer made with complimentary ingredients from the whisky making process. It loses marks slightly for requiring a bit more hops, not that it needs loads, but there is quite a dry aftertaste which perhaps a full on warm fruity hop might remove, as it doesn't help the peat. Its certainley distinctive however, and the initial taste is impressive.

I'd like to try a dark beer made the same way, I think that whisky cask aged stouts seem to work well so it follows that this approacjh would suit a porter or stout, and I think one interesting thing I noticed was that it would make an ideal gateway beer to a stronger brew. If you were tasting a few 4 - 5% beers and wanted to move onto something hefty I think this is strong flavoured enough to allow you to jump a few percent and go straight for a really strong beer.

Ultimately, I want to see it in cask - roll on August 2012 I say.

Wee Beefy

I tried the new Blue Bee Brewery beer, and went to the pub, and everything


   yesterday I was invited out to have a few drinks with Wee Keefy, Half Pint, Lauren and Paddington. It seemed rude to refuse this kind offer, but those teasers at the Rutland Arms had made it known that Blue Bee Light Blue was on the bar, and having moaned endlessly about not getting to try iy it, it seemed equally important to go and have a taste.

So, an arduous public transport trial and a brisk stomp brought me to a very quiet Rutland where as well as Lustin For Stout there was the Blue Bee Light Blue sitting happily on the bar. I decided to have whole pint of it. It was 3.6% and pale. It didn't last very long.

Long enough though to make me aware that this is one of the best session ales I've tried. True, hoppiness in lower gravity beers isn't new or I assume impossible to pull off, but this was probably hoppier than their Nectar Pale and yet with the same balance. It was similar to the hoppy delights found in Brodies Citra, zingy and zesty citrus and exhilaratingly refreshing. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if there was some Citra in it, but I really don't know.

I think that if we ever get round to summer this year this will be a big seller - now that Abbeydale have ditched Matins and since Kelham stopped making the scrumptious Fat Cat Pale Ale years ago, I can't see a similar beer in Sheffield breweries portfolio, and at £2.60 a pint in the Rutland, I can see it being the beer of choice for many.

Before leaving on what was a whistle-stop visit I also paused for half a Dark Star Espresso, which was different again to my last taste at Shakespeares, and was a little tiny bit more rounded at the same time. A nice "bridge" beer before my next pint in the Tap..

Sheffield Tap

In here it was 3 thick at the bar as one would expect, but what I wasn't expecting, was an orgy of Thornbridge beers (I think there may have been 7 on cask) and the rather less tempting prospects of some sweet and malt driven beers from Skinners from far away. The only sensible option therefore was to have a pint of the excellent Pollards Coffee stout.

This once again served to remind me that Pollards demonstrates a dreamy meld of complimentary flavours, with a sub plot of creamy roasted malt bitterness and coffee tastes, each taking their turn in the spotlight. Mores the shame then that I didn't have long to sample this delight, because time, and friends, wait for no man.

Uni Arms

I arrived to find the crowd at the bar and quickly got myself a pint of Blue Bee Lustin for Stout, which as well as being an excellent beer was what I and some of the others had for our next three rounds in here. This was also a chance to have a proper play about with my new camera., which, to my joy, has a setting called "through glass" - despite it being meant to be used for taking pics through windows, it seems well suited to my hobby of photographing people through pint glasses.

Later pubs

After this things became less clear. We went to the Ball on Crookes, and I remember having a pint of one of the few beers that was on which wasn't Greedy King brewed. Other than that I am at a loss to recall (and Wee Keefy can't remember neither) what was supped. We followed this with a visit to the Noah's Ark on Crookes, which was the landlord's last night (I think the pub will be closing or swapping tenants once more) where alas the real ale had run out and I was on Guinness. Humph.
So, a great night out with friends, and the opportunity to drink some of the best Sheffield brewed beers I've had for a while.

Look out for the Light Blue in all reputable independent retailers.

Wee beefy.