Saturday, 28 December 2013

Crookes Ale House joins Crookes Valley Crawl


     yesterday I was meeting up with Carlos for our Christmas drink. My initial plan was to meet him at Toyne Towers and then whisk him away to the Closed Shop, but as you may have heard already there was a new kid in town. A pop up ale house was opening on Crookes at 12.30. It would have been rude not to have gone, so I started there.

The Crookes Ale House is part pub, part market research exercise to see if there is enough of a call for opening a micro pub in Sheffield, most likely in the Crookes or Walkley area. Personally I think Crookes has fared pretty well having only lost two pubs (assuming you count Matlock Road as Crookes) in the last 20 years whereas as Walkley as been somewhat decimated. So that suggests Walkley maybe in more need of such a venue. That said, I'd prefer a micro pub in Handsworth. Where I live. Irrespective of any research or potential for "success". But I digress...

The Crookes Ale House is at 170 Crookes Road near the Ball and is housed in the former Mr Ben's fancy dress ship. It has an eye catching pink frontage with a large window showing the name Crookes Ale House so that you know its a pub. It has a yellow painted interior with a tiny bar at the back where three casks are stillaged, and tables set out across the front part of the shop. There were three real ales on, Sheffield Brewing Co Porter, First Gold and Magic Rock Ringmaster NZ, which I am reliably informed is the new name for their Curious pale ale. All real ales are £2.50 a pint and mulled cider, which I understand has "other ingredients" in it, is £3.00 a mug. There are a small range of bottles including Ampleforth Abbey Belgian ale and Franziskaner,along with Brooklyn and Budvar Dark lager.

Alas this is not a permanent fixture on the crawl but it is an enjoyable addition. Two and a half pints of eminently quaffable Ringmaster were supped, and, in an event that I'm welling up just thinking about, I can report that I was the FIRST CUSTOMER to use the toilet.

This, is journalism, ladies and gentleman. Journalism at its most raw. Defined by firsts...

Up the road and down Sackville and the Jennel you come to the Cobden View. Arriving at about 15.00 on a Friday there was absolutely no-one in - so me and Carlos set about playing pool, the lack of customers affording us the kind of time two rusty players need to complete a few games whilst lacking the requisite skill to bring them to a close. In the end, as Carlos noted, pool won. To accompany our potting I had a pint of the Sheffield Brew Co First Gold and Carlos some Stella in a glass egg cup. And having got settled and realised they took card payments, we stopped for another - more egg lager for Carlos and a delicious pint of Bradfield Belgian Blue for me.

Out onto School road the crawl took on a familiar look and we arrived at The Closed Shop in need of food. Alas their card machine was broken so it was only ever going to be chip butties - but they are rather fab in the shop. To accompany the nosh I had a reckless but delicious pint of the excellent Acorn Gorlovka, and noticing that we'd done nothing but sup Carlos sensibly invested in another chip butty. It was quiet in the shop but the days between Boxing Day and New Years Eve are a puzzling enigma where no-one seems to want to venture out and you can't expect to take much.

Across the road the Hallamshire House had the Thornbridge Kacho rum porter on so it was a given that I would have that. Sat in the main room we were soon joined by some of my colleagues from work but had already decided we needed a walk to sober up. The Kacho was very tasty but a little more rummy that I had hoped for but was nevertheless enjoyable.

We decided against going to the Blake only because it was nowhere near a bus home for either of us, and our early start was contributing to our feeling a trifle refreshed. So we walked down past Shamesbury's who have now opened their "vital" new supermarket at the expense of the Hadfield pub,  in a frankly embarrassing charade where the pubco pretended that after having received an offer from the supermarket, they were ever going to do anything but sell the pub off.

Onto West Street we headed for the Bath Hotel where there was, given this was our last stop, a frustratingly good range of beers to be had. Burning Sky Aurora, as recommended by Mr Ed, was indeed rather brilliant, but had I had more time I could easily have supped a pint of their Saison. Also available, on cask, was an aged Thornbridge Raven (note it wasn't wild raven...) which I had to have a half of. Both beers were in excellent nick and it was just a shame that my mind was wandering to thoughts of home and cheese on toast.

As well as being a great catch up with Carlos this was an enjoyable take on the Crookes Valley Crawl and it will be interesting to see what the research at the Crookes Ale House tells them about the potential for opening a micro pub permanently in the area. Does Sheffield need a micro pub? Why not. Could it be sighted in Crookes or Walkley. No. It needs to be in Handsworth like I said...

For now though, its a great starting point on  a crawl that throws up a handful of traditional pubs with a varied range of real ales along the way.


Wee Beefy.

Friday, 27 December 2013

We're on the road to go-where?

Now then,

        my recent trips to and from the Northern General Hospital have shown a familiar but  unfortunate picture of pub life in the S4 and S9 areas of Sheffield. The areas along the route present an increasing roll call of closed and demolished pubs which have either been put to alternative use, struggle on in defiance of their circumstances. or worse still have been bulldozed.

The route starts in Darnall where The Industry, still showing obvious pub tiling, and the Ball, further down Main Road, are notable losses from the last two decades. The route taken doesn't go down Main Road or indeed York Road in Darnall, but York Road has two boozers worth a mention. The Duke Of York has been closed for many years now, having undergone a name change (possibly, and very ironically to "Goldmine"...) and succumbed to a theme makeover, before succumbing to  a rather more pernicious theme. Of pub closures. Across the road the Terminus Tavern, previously called the Bradley Well, still survives and I even heard once that it sold real ale. I haven't been in to find out, but its notable for being the only open pub in that part of Darnall.

On the corner of Prince of Wales and Staniforth roads is the Wellington, still for sale through Colliers CRE and once mooted as the siting of a new medical centre. This has been closed for nearly as long as the Duke, 2008 potentially, but before I moved to the area was the winner of the Community pub of the year in the late nineties. Diagonally across, the Rose and Crown, a former Wards Irish themed pub closed its doors sometime after being renamed Connells and is currently a community centro and post office. Most depressing though is the site of the former Halfway House.

This was off Senior Road  near the allotments on a dead end beside Greenland Road. It was closed, its bowling green grew over and it was left to lose its windows and large amounts of roof before it was flattened in about 2009. The question is...why? The site remains unused and there is no evidence that anyone plans to do anything with it. A pub of the month winner in the nineties, if memory serves, which sold Glentworth beer at one stage, it seems to have been easy to flatten the pub but having taken that drastic step, harder to use the space it left behind.

After Greenland Road things start to improve - but only slightly. Broughton Lane comes next and towards where it joins Attercliffe Common the Bing maps for the area fails to mention the surviving Noose and Gibbet but rather optimistically notes the Enfield Arms. This pub was built in 1825 but was likewise demolished, in 2008 to make way for....nothing. Except they left about a foot of tiled walls as an outline. I went in the Enfield a couple of times and it seemed to be a decent honest boozer with three real ales. Once again, someone seems to have prioritised flattening it without having any firm ideas (or possibly firm finances) to do anything afterwards.

Crossing Attercliffe Common there is an old and new pub combo of the Arena Square and the Wentworth House. The Wentworth was doing really well when I went a few times in 2007 and 2008 although it hasn't sold real ale for years. Its new build neighbour sells one or two real ales but is ostensibly a large restaurant. The positive thing is both are still open. With the senseless loss of the regional inventory listed Stumble Inn to an Indian Restaurant just up the road, and the demolition of the Commercial  at the junction with Weedon Street, its good to see that there is still a traditional pub to go drinking in round there.

Down Hawke Street you pass the site of the Wellington which had stopped trading but was still standing in the late nineties, and joining Upwell Street there are further tales of woe. The Sheffield Arms seems to have closed down although I understand it was open recently, but the Ball, a sturdy looking pub which appears to inhabit half of a much larger red brick building, with a decent Bentleys sign on the Page Hall end, is certainly open. Alas the Firth Park Hotel a little further on is now a community centre - although I suspect the banner advertising bed and breakfast, function room and bar meals is a legacy from its days as a pub. Finally, as you come out onto Barnsley Road you are nearly at the hospital -  and slightly up hill on your left is the site of the former Cannon Hall pub, which I remember being Whitbread, and which I recall drinking Castle Eden in around 1994....

In essence there are three areas which have seen some sort of change, and a decline in pubs as a result. Certainly Darnall and Fir Vale/Page Hall have seen what would best be described as a change in their cultural make up. Darnall perhaps less so, but no less bereft of pubs for also having an increasingly tee total population. Sandwiched in between which is Attercliffe Common, a hub of heavy industry which surprisingly isn't a beer desert but is a pale shadow of its former self in terms of boozers.

However, don't be disheartened. Because, even against this backdrop of increasing depletion of pub stock, its pleasing to find out that in addition to the already admirable selection of pubs to be found elsewhere in Sheffield, there is to be a new pub.

A "pop up" micro pub is to open at number 170 Crookes Road in what used to be Mr Ben's fancy dress shop. Called the Crookes Ale House, it opens at 12.30 on 27th December (today) and is open until 22.00 and keeps those hours everyday until it closes on 30 December. There isn't a website but as you find so often these days they have a "social media presence" - here is  a link to their Facebook page, and they are on Twitter as well.

Given the tales of decline and closure above, its nice to see a pub spring into life and close in a positive way. Magic Rock and Sheffield brewery Co beers are to be on sale and bottles form Europe and America, so get up there for a look whilst you can.


Wee Beefy

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The first beer of Christmas

Now then.

            firstly: I know, I know. Its supposed to be the first beer of Christmas on December the 1st. Yet, its Christmas Eve. What is wrong with this man, you ask? Why is he reviewing a "Christmas" beer on day 24?

Well the simple answer is, because I can.

Also, my Christmas 2013 beer stash wasn't collected until last night and its only now that I have started to tap into it. There are 18 pints of sedimented Abbeydale Absolution and 12 bottles of rather excellent and at times expensive beer to get through. Not that my supplier, Archer Road Beer Stop is expensive - its just I bought a couple of strong Durham beers and a bottle of Fantome Saison. Which is approximately a million pounds....

So, after an hour of festively moshing to Cathedral and Acid Reign, what better way to cool off than in a spare room chilled to below room temperature (although arguably am in said room and erm...well, its the temperature that it is?....) with a cold-ish bottle of excellent beer.

The first of my box, part of a series of potentially two reviews of the 12, is Blue Monkey Bludolph. Its 5% and an orange hued golden colour and it smells rather fab. Dave told me  in the shop that its three lots of three types of hops which are chosen by the brewer every year. It's been a very long 24 hours since yesterday however so you may be better off looking at the link here from real ale store - since he brewery are. um, too busy to update their website....

It has a lovely tangerine kick with some dry bitterness, a hint of lemon  and a pleasing soft malt in the background which means the bitterness settles back into the beer rather than jarring at the forefront throughout; although the aftertaste is lingeringly bitter, after the more calming malt has dissipated.

Obviously better than your average brown spiced nonsense, it wins plaudits foe being umpologetically  hoppy and not remotely interested in Christmas pudding or berry fruit.

In conclusion, a great example of a Christmas beer that doesn't taste of sherry and rum and raisin chocolate with treacle, like so many of the ilk have a tendency to do. And it was so good that I didn't take a picture.

This is virtually anti blogging.....

Merry Merry Christmas!


Monday, 23 December 2013

The good and the bad on the weekend of the mad


         against my better judgement and infused with a decent amount of surprise I found myself out on black Friday and Twaturday. I hadn't planned to do either, mot properly anyway. However, much like I "definitely" wasn't going out last Christmas Eve (I was in DAda for 3 hours) I seemed to inexorably gravitate to the pub - and in doing so waded through the sea of crapulent chaos that somewhat inevitably raged around it.

I'll start with the good stuff. I was hoping to meet a refreshed Miss N in some undecided venue after a visit to the hospital but found she was orf home to recover, so ended up meeting Wee Keefy and his mates for some pints in the Dog and Partridge. 

Slowly getting back to the kind of melee of punters that used to define any Christmas or New Year trip to the Dog, the pub is winning back drinkers who drifted away in the dark days when real ale disappeared and the developers got interested. A good range of local and further afield micro brewery guests along with Black Sheep are available, and the first beer I tried was the Okells St Nick. A pint of which was bought for me by Connor, who I'm not sure if I should describe as the landlord or manager (along with Sarah, who knows her bloggers....), to replace a tired half of some Cross Bay I'd had a few weeks ago. I said then on being offered a replacement that unfortunately I hadn't time for a replacement half on that occasion, so this was a pleasant surprise.

Wee Keefy and Mr Pre-wash were in residence along with other of WK's colleagues and we got sat down to continue making a dent in the real ale . Halves of Blackjack Ginger Stout and Tring Moongazer followed - I had been on the latter at the Three Tuns earlier. The stout was impressive if sightly overpowering and he Moongazer was a very enjoyable drop. So much so that further pints of it followed, and I should point out in the interests of honest and fair reporting, that I didn't pay for many of them, along with a whole pint of the fearsome but impressive stout. 

As well as focusing on real ales, the Dog aims to be more of a locals pub, a move that quite apart from the geographical separation, would show it to be different from the throngs of West Street boozers that are as homely as a cactus settee. I can see a few more trips will be called for over the coming months to test out this claim...

The other plus point was my unexpected Saturday sojourn. Having been out for a cracking meal at the Sportsman at Crosspool we had repaired with Miss N to Wee Keefy's for some entertainment. At the Sportsman, beer of choice was Top of the Hops (which I thought was a Great Yorkshire Brewery beer?) but would, had it come on an hour earlier, have been Fullers and Steel City Steel. When I asked when it would come on the manager said "its still a bit cloudy" which elicited a wry smile and the word over-hopping from myself...

Later, having been persuaded to go out "just for one" we needed up in the maelstrom which is the Bee Hive with WK, Miss N, Carlos, Alison, Paddy, Jambon, Half Pint and Jack, and after an epic struggle made it to the bar to buy a pint of Bee Hive bitter, AKA Bees Knees. Despite this not being exactly my favourite venue I stayed for another, mainly because WK very kindly paid for it - after, it was suggested that we went for a pint in the Bath Hotel. So it was settled. The night was not yet finished...

Thornbridge Pollards was on the bar along with a few other tempting treats but as soon as I spotted the Burning Sky Saison I knew it was a no-brainer. It was going to be an enjoyable but rather expensive end to the night. We were probably in the pub for three hours, catching up and sharing great company and supping, in mine and Miss N's case, copious quantities of saison. This was a fantastic night with good friends which may even have got me into the Christmas spirit.

Alas there are two sides to black weekend or whatever its called. And so as not to ruin the joyous tales before it, I'll summarize the downside in a few lines :

A fight outside at least two pubs and inside one.

The already widely reported but no less horrendous damage to the last remaining full size Wards window at Shakespeares.

And  a pint of 5.9% beer costing £4.60 at the Sheffield Tap, coupled with my not having looked at the price (or been warned of it) before asking for it. Not attributable to any particular event of course, just an unpleasant surprise for customers enjoying finishing their weekend with a couple of drinks.


Anyway, there is a lot coming up over the next week or two so hopefully I can finally finish work for the year and get some blogging done, but in the event that I don't make to the keyboard, then I would like to wish everyone a very happy Christmas.


Wee Beefy

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Simian and ape thought procesess in beer rating


          a few weeks a go me and Davefromtshop had our biannual beer tasting - this time it was at Chez Boeuf, and comprised an odd mixture of aged beers, beers bought in pubs, beers shipped across Europe, beers from Supermarkets and beers form specialist beer shops. This time, to ensure a fair reviewing and reporting process, we recorded everything we said and slurred, about the beers, on video. What follows is the *potentially* choice excerpts form he untranscribable nonsense we uttered, along with salient points about which beers were best...

I described the first four beers, noting that Santorini Yellow Donkey was unfiltered and refreshing. Ilkely Dinner Ale was  a hoppy and refreshing low gravity beer which was very very hoppy...Geeves Presidents Ale was very nice actually, pleasingly hoppy, but probably could have done with being a but stronger, and Shepherd Neame Mainbrace IPA was in effect, a bit poor. It didn't really have an aftertaste, and was not really an IPA, whatever an IPA is....

Dave reckoned the Santorini Red Donkey was very fruity and very satisfying. It followed on well form their Yellow Donkey but the IPA crowned the whole set (see later). Tatton Obscure was really interesting with lots of licorice flavours which provably shouldn't have been there but tasted all the better for it. Dave would have liked to try a fresher beer to compare. He also liked the Blue Monkey Marmoset, considering it a valuable addition to their range. Its low gravity emphasised the hop nature of the beer, and it was totally different to anything else they brew. Meanwhile 
Shepherd Neame IPA (6%) was a great contrast to the Mainbrace, as there was nice hoppiness, good aroma, and it balances well. Lastly, we both thought Santorini Crazy Donkey was a very interesting beer in a nice way, with  prickly hoppiness, and fruitiness to support it. It had good texture, and was really a good classic beer.

Nogne imperial Brown was reviewed by us both at some stage but "somebody" forgot to video almost all of our reviews - I thought it was very strong but smooth with quite intense flavours but Dave felt it didn't go anywhere, dropping away towards the end. Meanwhile Dave reviewed 60 Degrees North lager from the Hebrides  a lager that "wasn't necessarily complex but is remarkably clean and does a good job of cleansing the palate but it does stop right dead there. It was a worthy beer however. 

On next to the big hitter - Thornbridge and Dark Star Coalition Old Ale, a beer which was no doubt about £10.00 a bottle and which I had been preciously refusing to open for years on account of nobody else I knew owning one. Here are the "highlights" of our increasingly tangential musings on a much anticipated drink:

Beefy:  its not that dark...
Dave: lots of carbonation which is always a good sign, 
Beefy: ooh God it smells nice! (note, this is a professional beer sommelieres phrase). 
Dave: ooh! That's not bad at all. 
Beefy: orange as well, in a really really good way, that's good its ever so slightly ascorbic which is brilliant, because its actually quite sweet. There's definitely orange in there. 

(I think this is why no-one writes blogs entirely from transcribed reviews. I mean, who is this guy?)

Dave: very floral, quite well balanced, for its strength you'd expect some sort of punch there. It is very mellow and I suppose that's what the brewer would want to achieve with an aged beer. Ooh with a bit of a candy follow through,. 
Beefy: its a really accomplished mix of sort of orange and then there's a kind of candy sort of a flavour and also a little dry bitterness but thats not as strong as you would expect.....
Dave:  its got good depth, its got a deal of fruit to it, I would have expected a bit more but nevertheless its a good beer, 
Beefy: I think that you expect it to be dark for a start, and expecting more kind of dark malt and you think of Harveys old ale from the same county as Dark Star - its more like a Belgian to me
Dave: It probably epitomises the expectation versus delivery point. It does seem to have altered a little bit,  there are notes there that weren't there before but nevertheless its not the full package.
Beefy : I like it but like you say its not what I was expecting it to be,  its expected to be a smooth malty dark beer and its not, but its still good.

And finally, with increasingly ponderous assessments - the conclusions!

Dave: Its between Crazy Donkey and the Nogne Brown 
Beefy: its a tie between Red Donkey and Crazy donkey and Marmoset.
Dave: Marmoset, on a  blow for blow account because it delivers much more than you expect.... 
Beefy: Crazy Donkey has a lot to it, its incredibly impressive but does tail off to the end a little, the Red Donkey I could drink all night basically and Marmoset is just a victory of delivery over expectation; and expectation is the key.
Dave: tonight has been exceptionally good because there are no beers there that are bad but there are some that deliver more than the others and I think given the range that we've tried that  is where we will get a winner and.......
Beefy:  Marmoset could be the winner....?
Dave: it gets my vote!
Beefy: in which case I go for that; Marmoset beer of the day, donkeys red and silver and Nogne imperial brown and Coalition all brilliant but actually Marmoset is more ballsy, it does more than you expect it to do, it confounds your expectations and therefore, Marmoset is the winner.

For reference, prior to tasting the last two beers here are our top four beers.
1. Santorini Red Donkey
2. Blue MonkeyMarmoset
3. Ilkley Dinner ale
4. Santorini Crazy Donkey

Dave :
1. Santorini Crazy Donkey 
Equal 2nd: Shepherd Neame IPA/Blue Monkey Marmoset
Equal 3rd: Red donkey/Tatton Obscure
4. Santorini Yellow Donkey

I'm not sure whet this tells us, apart from suggesting that the limbic brain which is possibly more prevalent in simian and ape thought processes (I'm making this up by the way but it sound convincing...) helps us to identify beers named after monkeys as the best...?

Or, alternatively, it might not....

Wee Beefy 

Monday, 16 December 2013


Good heavening

        am going to share a story that happened back in February. Those that know me will probably twig what event I am about to describe, if nothing else based on how much I wittered about it since. I think there is also a small chance that this post may potentially become a confession. But we're all friends on the blog aren't we? We can share....

One night in February I had ended up in the Bath Hotel and they had made me drink beer. Obviously, every single action I perform thereafter is their fault. And the Ball on Crookes. And the Sportsman at Crosspool. Just so we know I'm innocent...

Anyhoo, in the good old days there was an N52 night bus which, for a small fee, would magically transport me from West Street to near my home (or much further on than my home depending on snoozing) around 20 past the hour, and having just missed such a chariot, I opted to wander into which is part of a group, and opens late, the name of which you can never ever guess.

 It was rammed as it usually is around midnight on a Friday and since I needed my real money for the ale tractor set up a tab and purchased a delicious pint of Bradfield Stout. Having failed to find a seat and being in urgent need of a trip to the facilities, in desperation, I placed my full pint of real ale in, erm... a rather large pot. Containing a small tree or similar.

Now, I realise this sounds daft. It was. So to ensure that even if the location of my pint seemed perplexing, said drink could be identified as belonging to someone, I wrapped my scarf round it, and placed the other end in the top of my work bag, and asked the youngsters on the nearest table to watch my drink. And there is no way you can guess what happened....

For those unused to the vociferous enthusiasm of glass collectors, and/or random ale thieves, someone unwrapped the scarf and waltzed off with my pint in the 90 seconds it was out of my sight. I asked the people nearby if they had seen what happened and they suggested someone had probably collected it, and it didn't seem like they'd nicked it. So I went to the bar to pay my tab, even though I had in essence purchased nothing more than the concept of a pint. This was a deliberate set up on my part to prompt them to tell me I was below the limit for a card payment, so that I could then moan endlessly that someone, possibly a member of their staff, had snaffled my ale. It worked a treat.

Except it was very loud and I had to raise my voice. This alerted the staff to my perhaps being pissed and so the manager stepped in to have the same conversation all over again. If I'm honest, this wasn't making me feel any better, especially when he suggested that I simply buy another pint. A quick chat with a colleague meant he turned his back on me for a while and my limbic brain was quick to note that I was now being ignored. So I raised my voice. A lot. In a Yorkshire accent that I don't possess.

I have worked behind a bar so I know that there is nobody who enjoys being shouted at by drunks but the response was (and I quote) "No-one screams at me. Take your card and get the fuck out of my pub". Now, that's quite rude. And it is owned by a large company, so if we want to be factual it is also not his pub. However, the shock brought me back into a more sensible state and on being passed my card back having not paid for my stolen pint I said "oh brilliant! and smiled, before a very large person ( a professionally trained very large person) gently escorted me to the street outside.

On my ale tractor home I thought about my experience and decided this wasn't me. I don't scream and shout and I don't say Naaaa-then unless I am having a laugh. Well, apart from that night, obviously. So upon returning home more or less sober, I emailed the "pub in question" with some precise details and caveats and apologised. I also pointed out I'd like to pop in the next night to do so in person and to draw a line under the matter. Inevitably the very large person on the door had been pre-warned about me and refused me entry. I explained about the email which I considered quite a polite manner of behavior but to no avail. I was told I had to wait for the manager to tell me I wasn't barred.

And this is where I'm confused. You may, having become used to my bleary and inaccurate recollections, think that I mis-remembered an important slice of discourse but I assure you I was never told I was barred. Not only that, but I never received a reply to my impeccably drafted email. Nor any written, verbal or otherwise communicated disbarring notice. So I boycotted them. For like, months. And then gave up and went in the other night to find that no-one cared.

The point of this is -  does this sound like your experience (not that I dare to suggest you've had any) of being barred? Only I spoke to a few upstanding citizens in the months after and found some who had been barred twice in the same night from said establishment. So with all this being new to me I couldn't figure out if this was normal?

Oh, and of course the other perhaps more important point is that this serves as a cathartic exploration of my errant ways one night. So I consider the whole episode, having enjoyed  a lovely pint of dark ale in there last night, closed.

And I also reckon I win....

Sir Beefalot

Monday, 9 December 2013

Drunken spells with a slight chance of twats later

Yo ho humbug!

        yes kids its that time of year again. Twat O Clock! Fancy a pint in a normally decent pub now full of twats? You can! For every night between now and Christmas guarantees nailed on twattishness at every turn. Even quiet pubs have decked out the halls with twats of all shades of festive cheer! Vomit, urine, WKD....

OK, I admit, the above is a bit cynical really because having managed to attend three Christmas "do's" on  two consecutive nights I can confirm that its still possible to have a decent night, at this time of year, even if few of the people you are sharing the occasion with are bothered about the fine drop. Thus .....

Friday I read with a heavy heart that our team Christmas do, which was otherwise admirable for featuring a scheduled five and a half hours of drinking prior to the meal, was to begin in Yates. Early considerations included - why would you drink in Yates whilst sober? In fact, why would you drink in Yates at all? Well, because not everyone is so mardy about ale as  I am and some people for reasons that I can't fathom like to dance and drink coloured shit with spirits in. And it pains me to admit that I probably should get over it. I still think starting at Yates is like having a kebab and then going out however...

In the end I only wandered in as the group were leaving so alas cannot report on the ale situation. Meanwhile, over the road is Lloyds Number One. I know its a Wetherspoons type of thing but it does sell real ale and so I was straight on to a couple of pints of Bradfield Belgian Blue. A seasonal favourite of mine, which makes me think I may be going soft, it was probably £3.00 a pint or something (I wasn't researching, although I concede this is no worse than my usual level of reportage) and went down very well.

Up next was Revolution De Cuba, whose high prices seemed to have kept the place tolerably busy, and whose drinks list kept the cocktail guzzlers happy. Beer wise they had Anchor Steam Ale in bottles so it wasn't all that bad. From here I switched do's and headed to meet Miss N in All Bar One. Granted they had Doom Bar on but I went for the Meantime Pilsner at £4.30 or similar instead. It had more hops in....

Members of Miss N's entourage wandered off to the Bessemer across the road, and against our better judgement we followed suit. Alas we missed the Moonshine but I had a half of Directors out of curiosity and Miss N a half of Hobgoblin from the remaining three beers. I'm not going to pretend its my kind of place but it sold real ale and people seemed to be happy. Not that I advocate such things, but if being happy is what they like then I suppose that's fine....

Off to DAda next, albeit having shaken off the do, and it was solid. I mean, I know the building is, but in a bar queuing sense. Here was my first wall of customers of the festive season. Luckily a pint of Thornbridge Christmas ale on Cask for Miss N and a pint of Chiron for me were purchased, and we found a space to have a chat before heading off once more in true Xmas do style.

The Three Tuns once again had some good Raw beers on and the lovely Dave behind the bar. Young Patrick was also in attendance and we stopped in there for a couple of pints of the Raw porter, which I think was Anubis but am unsure. It was bloody nice whatever it was. We ended the night at Shakespeares where we both had pints of late hopped Steel City All Hallowes which had hops in it and everything, and was also quite nice. And I definitely didn't fall asleep...

The next night we started at a rammed Sheffield Tap and were spoilt for choice. Pints in here were Hardknott Katalyst, a lower gravity extra hoppy pale, Buxton Rednik Stout (many) and the excellent Magic Rock Dark Arts (at least two). Understandably, despite queues in the heaving bar, I was reluctant to leave this beer utopia behind.

Yet we did as we headed for the Dove and Rainbow to see a friend's band play. The range is always a little underwhelming here but does usually feature at least one local beer with  hops in it - so I had a few pints of the Abbeydale Absolution in the three hours we were there. Not a regular haunt as I have noted before but I actually had to admit that it was far and away the least intolerable pub in terms of sheer overcrowding that I experienced over the two nights.

Our final stop was DAda once again where I laughed at signs on the walls and tables on the left stating "reserved from 19.00" for an area comprising six empty tables and with four people sat at one table. Mind you, it was nearly midnight. Here I had two pints from the promising new Burning Sky brewery based in the south. Aurora was an intensely bitter pale ale and probably only let down by the dryness of the bittering hops, whilst Plateau was also a beer, which I drank about 01.20. That serves as my excuse for having no memories more specific than "I liked it".

All of the above suggests that once you have attuned yourself to the sheer volume of punters and the real possibility but not guarantee of extreme twattishness, it is possible to have a pretty decent night out at Christmas. And in Sheffield at least, you can expect to find some decent real ales in the majority of the venues you visit.


Wee Beefy.

Sunday, 8 December 2013



       we are quite spoiled in Sheffield in having so many great pubs - not just the nationally known and renowned valley of beer destinations, but also some classic country boozers on the outskirts and a good mixture of traditional and more modern venues in and around the centre.

When choosing where to rest my hat, I'm an after work kind of person when it come to pubs - because with Shakespeares, the Kelham and Cat, and the Harlequin and Riverside only minutes away, going home first just seems daft. However, one of the problems with this is that unlike a couple of years ago, I now don't seem to go anywhere local in Handsworth for a pint.

Don't get me wrong there isn't exactly a lot of choice - as an example, I almost popped in the White Rose earlier out of curiosity, to see if the latest landlord was selling real ale, knowing if it was it would be Tetleys, but I really couldn't be arsed. Up the road the new Sword dancer pub is the proud purveyor of perhaps the worst selection of drinks in South Sheffield, with a reported (albeit a couple pf months ago) range of Guinness, a.n.other lager and Strongbow. The Turf has been resolutely non real ale for yonks and despite its rebranding am not sure if the advertised real ales at the Handsworth Inn were a token gesture. There are however, two stalwarts still flying the flag. The Old Crown, and the Cross Keys.

Miss N had never been for a drink in Handsworth and I was telling her about the dearth of venues one day when we realised that our expedition to fetch ingredients for a dish of lemon potatoes and roast veg had been missing one product - potatoes. So we walked up to the shop at Handsworth top and having secured our important goods decided to pop in the Cross Keys.

As well as being interesting for having part of the building situated in a graveyard and therefore assunedly being on consecrated ground, as well as the unusual mish-mash of different ages of building that comprise the pub, not to mention its inclusion on the regional inventory, the Keys also serves real ales. I've written before about the peaks and troughs of its fortunes since I first drank in Handsworth in the late nineties, but unless I'm mistaken the present incumbents seem to have been in charge of the Keys for a while now, bringing some much needed continuity.

It was warm and very busy when we arrived. I'd hoped to show Miss N the paralleled room at the back but it was completely packed so we sat in the main bar and got ourselves some beer. The Golden Pippin had run out - this has been on sale numerous times over the last five years at the Keys, so is presumably popular. The Old Peculier seemed a bit heavy for a starter so we had pints of Tom Woods Gold at 4% and £2.90 a pint.

There were plenty of groups of locals of all ages drinking in the Keys and the pub was reassuringly abuzz with conversation, and seemingly free of half nursing wash-back sippers - everyone seemed admirably thirsty. We drank our beers in keeping with the preferred speed of he locals and went to get more pints. The Tom Woods ran out but the landlady very kindly gave us what must have been at least two thirds of a pint for free, whilst we moved onto the OP.

Despite growing up hundreds of miles apart, somehow myself and Miss N seem to have both had teenage real ale initiations on Old Peculier. I don't drink it very often but it doesn't seem to have changed. It was about £3.20 a pint (I didn't check) and was the ideal tipple to protect us against the biting winds on Handsworth Top.

It was a pleasant change to sit in a traditional locals pub supping real ales on a Sunday evening, when each beer seems to taste all the better for being the last thing you treat yourself to after or before your Sunday meal. It was free of tickers and cocktail orderers and oak aged raspberry stouts.  It was busy and full of people who knew each other and enjoyed the company of others. It was warm and comfortable and friendly. And evidence that despite Sheffield's riches in the Valley of beer and beyond,  I don't think my drinking life could be considered complete without a quality pub within walking distance, with a warm welcome and decent real ale.


Wee Beefy

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Bars and kegs and coffee - for beer lovers.

Good afternoon,

     as well as having a thoroughly enjoyable night out at Shakespeares, whom you may have noticed me refer to previously, this week I have also gone off the rails and recklessly ended up in places where I don't normally get to. Including, shock horror, two bars with NO REAL ALES...! Despite that I have survived virtually unscathed and am here to tell you the details.

Friday I met Miss N along with Rach and Ade in the Dove and Rainbow. There was some decent music playing and I didn't look too out of place despite having come from work via the hospital, but I wasn't encouraged to find ale drinkers Rach and Ade on Guinness - "the beer's a bit crap now that stout's gone off so we are on emergency beer" they explained. Looking down the bar there were the usual suspects from national and local breweries (Trooper and Hobgoblin) so in the end I plumped for  Blue Bee Nectar Pale. It was £3.00 a pint and looked fab but tasted a little, um...burnt? Still, it was drinkable enough and it was nice catching up with the R and A.

Saturday saw us in Sellers Wheel. Initially I thought they'd gone mad and put a beer on handpump but it was just the angle of the sign on one of the cakes - had I been able to see better am sure that the confectionery's identity may have made it obvious there wasn't a beer on of that name...

As it was we had excellent coffee (as was the idea) along with Lemington (Lemonton?) Squares which are rich coconut covered slabs of delicious cake that are enjoyably filling. Feeling a bit sugar laden after, we had halves of Hop Studio Pilsner and Thornbridge Versa to cleanse the palate. The Pilsner does just that but the Versa was perhaps the better of the two, being both refreshing and strongly flavoured. There is also a decent range of bottled beers from quality breweries to choose from.

Heading back into town we popped in a new venue - or a newly renamed one. The Jaipur Arms is the bar at the Best Western Hotel between Arundel Gate and High Street. Proclaiming food and Thornbridge beer it seemed like a great idea, with four beers listed on the board. Alas, this is a rather optimistic listing since there are only two keg fonts - and no hand pumps. Granted the Tsara was nice, and the decor OK for a hotel bar, but I think they've missed a trick in not having any of the real stuff on. Although, I hadn't heard anywhere that they had taken over what I imagine was the existing hotel bar so maybe its a bit too low key to risk a live product.

From here I took Miss N to the Church House. When it first opened there were 5 or 6 handpumps and they admirably strove to always have a dark beer on from the Caledonian range. Now goodness knows how many managers down the line, there are 4 handpumps, and there were three beers to choose from - Deuchars, Caledonian XPA and Autumn Red. The Red was pleasant enough but it was such a long wait at the bar that the seasons may have changed during it.

One member of staff suddenly appeared to assist the two who were rushed off their feet serving a customer next to me with the longest and most complex order ever and a large number of people at the other end of the bar - but he just went to the first person he saw in the larger group, except that group had formed after I'd got there. The two staff there at the beginning them both went to attend to the same group at the opposite end of the bar before both remembering at the same time that I was there for a drink.  I know its Saturday night but ten minutes is a long time to wait for two halves.

Meanwhile, the decor remains the same and there was a mixed clientele savouring the food aromas and relaxing in comfy seats. I can't see that anything has changed in a way that will attract more customers or that has improved the experience of the customer in terms of service or choice, so I expect the pub to struggle on with no-one knowing where it is. In their favour (from my point of view) there appears to always be a seasonal beer on so maybe one of Caley's excellent stouts will make an appearance soon. However, a year and one day after it reopened its still a place to nurse a half in and remains traceable on the internet mainly via some blokes beer blog, as opposed to their FB page or fairly out of date barbook page....  

Our final stop of the night was in a strangely quiet DAda, where all four of the handpumps were dispensing some of Thornbridge's poorer cask offerings - Kipling, Marples and Wild Swan. Luckily the excellent Saint Petersburg was flying the flag for the good old days. I had a half of that and Miss N a half of the excellent Chiron, before she moved onto a pint and I a half and a half of Halcyon. To be fair, one reliably excellent feature of the Thornbridge portfolio is Halcyon - and it was damned excellent as always.

DAda my be a regular haunt of mine but its slowly metamorphosing from its original incarnation two years ago into a reliable source of excellent Keykeg and bottled beers, and when Daddy T allows, a decent guest cask ale or two. Plus there is the promise of Gluhkriek for Winter. And, whilst not a beer related bonus, it does have a rather fabulous big red leather sofa to snuggle up on and listen to some music. Simple pleasures but ones that help to make it worth going back.


Wee Beefy.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Birra To' welco meto


     alas, not a "cool" new uber expensive Greek or Spanish nano brewery with their own kooky yet modernist bar in a tourist host spot. Oh no. Instead, the above is my proposed name for a beer brewed at Shakespeares ale and cider house. Not that they have a brewery. Or presumably any intention of installing one. However regular visitors to the pub may well recognise the inspiration behind my continental sounding concoction...

Anyhoo, over the past week, despite commitments to family and fannying around in the Manchestershire, I have found time to pop into Shakespeares for a pint or two. First up was a late night at work last week. Having successfully clawed back some flexi I found myself stood outside in the cold with Miss N, tired and in need of urgent obviation. Luckily, there was a pub only a few minutes away that we could visit. How perfectly pleasant!

We were soon in Shakespeares and started with pints of Thwaites Phelan fine, a tasty hoppy stout from Thwaites ickle brewery what makes better beers. A very pleasant start to the evening, but we soon moved onto stronger stuff - Miss N choosing a pint of Abbeydale Speculation (OK so that isn't stronger...) and I waded into a beer with an expertly hand-drawn pumpclip. That being the Arbor and Brew Dog Pirate Badger Attack imperial brown coconut black IPA saison with unfined English hops grown underground. OK, maybe not all of that description is correct, but most of it is.

Our final jars were of Brooklyn Smash IPA, which was distinctly disappointing, and the rather excellent Muirhouse Mango IPA which was excellent. Only nonsense like having work the next day prevented us sinking  a raft of these.

On Saturday we were in for a last couple of the night. Obviously that is only sort of what happened. On the bar were a couple of ales from the rather lovely Art Brew who seem to have a knack, starting with their delicious orange IPA, of consistently producing interesting beers. We both had pints of their Snerge Bergusson (my notes say cuddy summat but I saw this name on the board so it must be right...) which was a brown ale. It takes a damn good brewery to produce a brown ale that I want to drink (Brooklyn Brown being an example of a good brewery with a bad brown) and this 6% beauty was exactly what I was after.

Later we discovered there was a cloudy Art Brew ready-ish in the cellar, which Robin claimed was called Art Now, was 6.5% and was an IPA.  So naturally we had pints of this before more of the excellent brown again. All in all, in consideration of a hard day featuring some fairly unpleasant news, this cosy riposte in the behind the bar snug with Miss N and Origami Tom and Dave for company, was exactly the tonic we needed. So relaxing was it in fact, that we left our bag hanging on the coat rack....

Sunday inevitably saw us return to locate said item. and having got back to town for 20.00 we wandered round in the icy cold to find a warm and welcoming pub with a Dave W and a space at the back of the bar where we could sit on bar stools like cool kids. There was also a coat rack boasting a plastic bag with gloves and a bottle of pink grapefruit juice and 2 get well cards in. Two pints of celebratory Art brew purchased, we set about admiring the till messages and trying not to distract young Robin form his important work.

We also tried a half of the Allgates Blue Tea Pale which may have been "an joke" but tasted, mainly, like Allgates, and we finished off with yet more excellent and tasty Art Brew, on account of it being fantastic. Evidence, if any were required, that Shakespeares is a needful haven and hideaway from crap when you most need it. Sniff....

Finally a quick mention of the Andrew Inns pub empire's latest addition the Three Tuns. Firstly, I have cunningly worked out their roadmap for domination. If your local has a bar on one level with the majority of the pumps on, then another bit of bar on another higher level with a couple of pumps on, expect it to be Andrewfied soon - coz Mr Stephens luuuurves that split level thang. Think about it - Closed Shop? Yup. Three Tuns? Yup. Rutland? Um... well, anyway, this only applies to new acquisitions obviously...

Beer wise there was a decent range as always including two fab beers from Welbeck Abbey Brewery. Miss N sampled a pint of the Portland Black and me a lovely hoppy pint of Cavendish, before we both had a pint of the Portland. The pub has a fascinating design and is very pleasing on the eye and  now serves (although it has for a while) excellent real ales at reasonable for town prices. Well worth popping in for a look, unless you fancy a Sunday pint Since they don't open Sundays. Probably....

More news coming soon!

Wee beefy

Monday, 25 November 2013

Alec ale-full


        I was recently awaah over the Pennines to see Pixies in Manchester. Not the mischievous sprites from the land of make believe, but a popular beat combo who were playing at the Manchester Apollo. Of course, being a modern band, the gig was to start quite late and so it was necessary to stay overnight in Manchester. And it would have been rude not to have had a beer or two in the 30 hours we were there....

Staying on Portland Street our first two pre gig stops were fairly obvious. About 6 doors up from our accommodation  is the Grey Horse. At some point in the last 2 years it seems to have had a bit of a revamp, and now looks rather nice, selling most of the Hydes range including their seasonal beers and output from their new small run "craft" (coughs) brewery, The Beer Studio. It was this we went for, sampling a pint of Venetian Red which uses, among other things, black and concerto malt to create a smooth biscuity flavour. I know some of you may recoil in horror at the idea of black malt but as a first beer on a cold night this was a good start.

A few doors down the Circus looks a thousand times better these days with bare wooden paneling replacing the sea of pictures, and the table service only adds to the atmosphere. They also had two beers on for the first time I can remember. Not that their Tetley was shoddy before, but we decided to try the Robinsons Dizzy Blonde at £3.00 a pint - just so I could be certain I definitely don't like it. Which I don't. Its saying something when I crave Tetley over a guest beer....

A wander to the Joshua Brookes followed via hunting for a cash machine with less than twenty people queuing at it. Arriving at the J.B I anticipated easily solving our cash dilemma by buying some beers on card and getting cash back. The first hurdle I encountered was their minimum limit for card payments was £10.00! Since we were popping in for a swift one before the gig, this presented a slight problem, but I figured a round of stronger beers and keykegs would meet the target. Frustratingly (and simultaneously impressively) the beer was incredibly good value... Gah! To add insult to injury they didn't even do cash back either, even though its the 21st century, and they are quite a modern pub. How perplexing!

Anyway, I can't complain at the beer range which was excellent - we had a pint and two halves of Anarchy Sublime Chaos Breakfast Stout (7.0% at least) at an excellent £2.70 a pint, a pint of Black Edge Treacle Stout at slightly less strong, and a half of Weird Beard Fade to Black on Keykeg. The Fade to Black was not as good chilled as it had been on cask at the Sheffield Tap, but was still a nice drop, and the Sublime Chaos was very much sublime. All we had to do now was get a taxi to the gig.

The gig was fantastic by the way. Afterwards we walked back into town to go for a last one - past an ever increasing range of renowned ale venues that shut before 23.30. I know it was a Thursday but I was quite surprised by this. Luckily, despite their absurd payment policies (there was also a "comedy" broken cash machine to mock us) the Joshua Brookes does at least open until 01.00. So more Sublime Chaos and Treacle Stout was had - after trying a Thornbridge McConnells that actually, honestly, didn't taste of anything but the bitter aftertaste of stout. After midnight the prices appear to go up - but the Sublime Chaos was still at least £1.00 cheaper than in the Sheffield Tap.

Friday saw us up late and failing to go for breakfast in the Paramount so we figured a beer would help bring us round. We opted for halves of the Howard Town Snake Ale in the sumptuous environs of the Briton's Protection. Miss N had never visited so was blown away by the decor but if truth were told we were already thinking about having a big meal. ASAP.

Moving onto Knott Bar and having secured half a Marble Ginger for Miss N and a pint of impeccable Buxton Moor Top for myself, we picked up the menu and quickly decided we were staying for a hearty meal. Excellent beef bourguignon for me and Irish stew for |Miss N really filled a gap and set us up nicely for the day ahead.

We walked up Deansgate next and joined a familiar pub trail, starting in the Gas Lamp. Another first for Miss N, this was an impressive venue in which she had a half of Blackjack Honeytrap Porter on cask and I a half of Arbor Oyster Stout on Keykeg - just because I have a bit of an Arbor fixation at present. The prices in here aren't cheap - it was £4.00 for the two halves and neither is a strong beer, but both were on good form.

Over the Irwell past the museum of ordinary things we visited the Mark Addy to admire the harsh white Winter sunlight setting over the footbridge and making the scene almost monochrome. Beers here were halves of Dunham Massey Cherry Mild and Deeply Vale DV8 stout. Its great to see Dunham on a bar but the Addy was our second most expensive stop (taking Keykeg out of the equation) with two medium strength halves totaling £3.70.

The New Oxford is now at the limits of how far the accomplished beer taster wants to venture along Chapel Street based on dire reports of the health and quality of the Crescent. Luckily, the New Oxford also happens to be very good. From an excellent range of about 12 beers we had halves of Welbeck Henrietta and Red Willow Heartless chocolate stout for Miss N and Foxfield Golden Ale and Mallinsons the Count for me. We then moved onto half a Black Edge Treacle Stout and I had a pint of something else from Red Willow - no doubt it will have been fantastic but alas my notes have let me down regarding its identity. We also got chatting to Jean who was behind the bar when we arrived. She very kindly showed is the way to the bus stop and the buses we should catch to our next destination, and was great company to boot. Before leaving she introduced us to the owners/ managers of the pub who were likewise friendly and extended a warm welcome. Once again, the New Oxford proved a highlight in a Manchester and Salford crawl.

We hopped on the bus for a gold plated trip to Shudehill Interchange and then headed for the recently reopened Lower Turks Head on Shudehill itself. Arriving at 17.30 on a Friday means seats are at a premium but we managed to find a gap and sat down in the heat to enjoy halves of Mouselow Farm Under the Influence, another pricey do at £3.60 for two. I know there has been significant investment in the pub but the Mouselow was the only unusual or micro brewery beer on offer, and I would have been even less happy paying £3.35 upwards for Black Sheep or Landlord.

We headed to the Marble Arch next for some expensive (are you seeing a theme?) food which to be fair was absolutely excellent, and some rather good beer. First round beers were pints of Marble Ginger for Miss N and Dobber for me before I had a further half of delicious Lagonda IPA. Beer prices in here were a little more realistic at just over £3.00 for the stronger beers and they accompanied the beautiful food perfectly..

A penultimate stop (and yet another first time for Miss N) was a visit to the Crown and Kettle. By now the pubs were filling up but we still found space to sit down and had a HDM Joyous Pale for me and a half of Partners working class hero mild for Miss N. The HDM was underwhelming as they often can be, and the Partners insipid - I think it was simply a case of choosing badly rather than a reflection on the pub though.

Our final hurrah was to have been in the Port Street Beer House. We went in with beers in mind and I was rewarded with two halves of Saison - a barrel aged from Buxton, which was enjoyable but not quite what I was after - and an impeccable one from Burning Sky Brewery based at Firle in Sussex, brewed by Mark Tranter ex of Dark Star. Given that the Dark Star saison was one of my beers of 2012 I can't say I was surprised. The only downside was the price - I'm sure the saisons, although hovering around 6% and on needlessly expensive Keykeg, were about £3.00 a half, but to an extent this was mitigated by the fact that we were expecting a bit of a hit and also neither would probably have worked on cask.

In the end we also fitted in a half each at the venerable Jolly Angler on Ducie Street,  after we missed our train by 30 seconds and had an hour to wait for the next one. The Hydes Bitter was well below £3.00 a pint and in good nick and this was a pleasing antidote to the crush and costliness of the Port Street.

So an oft expensive but undoubtedly varied trip round Manchester and Salford pubs featured some memorable beers and people at some fantastic venues.Only one beer required replacing and there were some astoundingly good value beers at the Joshua Brookes, cancelling out the rather more "eclectic" pricing strategies at other venues. It was great to be able to show Miss N some of the pubs that I know, since she hadn't been drinking in Manchester or Salford for 20 years, and also to know that there is at least another full day of pubs to come back and visit next time.


Wee beefy.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

I don't get bored, get bored, in the Broad field


       with recent rounds up of linked venues and breweries it's time to reprise my 2012 visit to the Forum Bars Broadfield Ale House on Abbeydale Road - conveniently situated next to the Hop Hideout, which you may remember from being a new specialist beer shop, and everything. My initial two visits heralded good and bad impressions but apart from a spate of visits later that year I've been a bit of s stranger. Lately, a flurry of visits have afforded me the chance of a re-review, thus...

back in the warm late September Miss N and myself had a day boozing in the Tap, grabbing a  coffee in coffee shop-cum-restaurant-cakery-cum-off license Sellers Wheel, before heading to the Broadfield for a beer in the garden. On that occasion the first two beers we spotted were ours for the session. Miss N waded in recklessly to several pint of the Hardknott Infrared and I switched between that and Ilkley Norseman. Both beers were well kept although they could perhaps have been a bit cheaper, and were perfect for the third quarter of our session. It was nice to sit outside and enjoy ale in the sunshine and there is a reasonable amount of space to do so.

The other Saturday was Nat's 40th - and we had "prepared" for it with a session in the Rutland as I reported last time. Reaching Abbeydale Road and hoping to catch the party of revelers as they headed down from Woodseats we nipped in the Broadfield for a beer and started texting the throng. Finding a space at the right hand side bar in the incredibly busy pub I caught the barman's eye and asked what other beers were on offer. Initially I was contemplating a Bradfield Pale but as soon as he said On The Edge Berliner my mind was set on that!

The former Sheffield beer festival award winner was every bit as good as I had hoped - eminently quaffable and utterly refreshing this ale was not to enjoy a lengthy life - probably lasting twenty minutes, and then only because we were searching for a seat instead of drinking. So good was it that, even having established that the party were not that far away, we had to stay for another to make sure. This visit showed up the minor downside to the Broady - that being that its undoubted popularity makes it claustrophobicly busy at times.

This weekend I was at a loose end twice whilst in the vicinity. After my drink at te Rising Sun Friday I was dropped off on Sheldon Road and popped into Vintedge for a sneak preview of Hop Hideout. Since they weren't officially open it seemed cheeky to hang around so I made my excuses and escaped to the Broadfield for a beer or two.  Finding a spare seat on a Friday night is a bit of a problem - but I managed it, and set about assessing my options. I opted for a pint of the Black Iris stout at 5.0% - alas I couldn't tell what the name was but it had a picture of a mans face on. So it was that one. And it tasted good. Next up I had a pint of Magic Rock Curious, and a half of Blackjack Dunkel on Keykeg. The Magic Rock offering was on good form and the Dunkel a nice chewy half to slow down my earlier rapacious intake.

Saturday I was back at Hop Hideout for the pzazz of the opening day, and hoping to be committed to celluloid as well - alas that leap into stardom never came about but I still found my way round to the Broadfield for an earlier and quieter visit. This time the Bradfield Pale was my starter of choice, which stood up well to the free taster of Northern Monk Imperial Stout that I'd had at the shop. It was also good value at £3.00 a pint. I then moved onto another half of the Blackjack Dunkel, along with half of their Texas Holdem on cask, a well rounded feisty bitter which came to £3.40 for the two. Both were once again in good nick, especially the Bradfield.

This shows that after an initially perhaps cautious start the Broadfield, not least because its an outlet for On The Edge beers, has adopted a policy of featuring interesting and varied guests which showcases some of the better upcoming and established microbreweries in the UK. Obviously as a drinker I'd prefer less space to be allocated to eating but that's the only gripe really, which means its always worth popping in if you are up at that end of town.


Wee Beefy.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Older boys

Oh aye,

            we can all fanny about cavorting with the new starlets on the Sheffield beer scene and sampling the output of camelopardelic jesters with donkey themed beers, but yer know, that's not  a long term plan. Sometimes you gotta go with what yer know. Luckily what yer know is often what yer like in Sheffield. Wherein another 40th and a few nights socialising near work have seen me enjoy a celebratory roll call of established Sheffield beer stalwarts.

First up is ickle babbeh DAda. Soon about to or having just had its second birthday, the oddly themed ale destination continues to be a favourite of mine with a winning combo of great beers and likeable staff. Relishing the prospect of a DJ (he spins rekkids, for our younger readers...) on Saturday we set about drinking quite a bit of good quality ale, including Red Willow. We started on the impeccable Smokeless smoked porter on cask, before moving onto the rather stronger Soulless black IPA on Keykeg. Further rounds included bottles of Hardknott Infra Red and some of their Azimuth on Keg before we finished on Halcyon. Plenty of thoroughly excellent beer to be had  as there is so often.

Next up is another slightly longer established haunt - but not by much. It's Shakespeares, who are barely two and  a half years old. Last week I "had" to attend several amber conferences with persons from work, and it seemed daft not to nip into the nearby award winner. First up on Tuesday was my friend Mr Marsh. He and I used to "work" at the exams board and much japery was had - for reasons of libel, I can't really name the individuals who made our tenure there so amusing but Frenjamine John, Mrs  Christine and Terry outer-organs were villains and pantomime fools in equal measure.

Pints of Arbor Tasmanian Devil IPA were my companion until Miss N joined us and I moved on to the Mallinsons Citra - also tasted was a rather excellent pint of Ascot Anastasia stout, although the Arbor probably shaded it . We also bought a bottle of Nogne Global Pale at about £4.00 - not their strongest beer but at least almost sensibly priced for a bottle in a pub.

Wednesday saw me catch up with Christingpher where I moved onto pints of the excellent hoppy Mallinsons Kahatu. Myself and Miss N also partook of a bottle of the  Emmelise espresso stout and a half or two of the Arbor Down Deeperest, now on at £5.00 a pint and still tasting rather fab even though its been " a while" since it was tapped.

Finally, Thursday saw Miss H accompany me for the first time in a year or so and it was Mallinsons all the way again, along with some Arbor when Miss N joined me after an epic shift at Chez gulag. All in all a great line up of beers from the venerable bard and a great venue to boot.

Friday saw me in town at the Rutland Arms, which is now nearly 4 and 5th years old, for some much needed food and some rather less important real ale. Miss N was steadfastly on the Gorlovka where as I was taking it a little easier on a beer which hasn't been named yet - we both finished on halves of excellent Magic Rock High Wire after I had a fantastic chorizo burger. We were also there on Saturday the week before last. Heading to meet Miss N at the Tap I found myself early in town and had to use up the time afforded to retrieve my scarf from the Rutland where I had drunkenly left it the night before. Such was the exhausting magnitude of this event I had to stop for a pint of Hop Studio XS and a half of the Acorn Bishops IPA.

A swift detour to see Matt and Miss N in the Tap heralded a taste of Tiny Rebel Fubar and a pint of the excellent Ilkley Black before we returned to the Rutland to be a little reckless. Despite the seemingly laudable undertaking of a steak and ale pie and chips (which was fantastic) this sensible layer of protection against crapulence was undermined in no uncertain terms by Magic Rock Human Cannonball. At 9.2%, even 4 halves of this beer, I can confirm, makes one a trifle drunk. And so it was to be. But it was damned good fun doing it.

The final stager is Abdeydale brewery. Now officially very old, I was visiting there the other day to catch up with Dan and was given a tour of the brewery, now about 5 times larger than when I first visited in the late nineties. Most of the rooms contained equipment, merchandising and casks apart from one which was surprising. Faced with a range of large stainless steel vessels spanning its length, Dan told me this was "where the magic happens". No wonder he doesn't do much brewing these days - quite how he has time to fanny around performing card tricks and rabbit out the hat deceits when he should be mashing is beyond me...

A quick trip to the breweries only pub, The Rising Sun at Nether Green followed. For reasons of journalistic independence I went for a non Abbeydale beer - Magic Rock Clown Juice, which was rather ace. Cadence forbids me from reporting what young Daniel had to drink however....

A good catch up followed along with a taster of the Four Yorkshiremen of the Apocalypse which I  understand was inspired by Ali Capper the well known British hop campaigner and grower, and which is a brew featuring exclusively British hops. Slightly tamer in taste than I expected it did however have a lovely aroma which I recognised straight away.

Abbeydale are a great example of an expanding and diversifying Sheffield beer success story - and they don't look out of place with quality like the Rutland, Shakespeares and DAda one bit. A resounding indictment of the quality of real ale in Sheffield.


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Three newcomers


     amidst the debris of a roller-coaster week of wild excesses and celebrations, some notable green shoots have appeared. As happened around this time last year, Sheffield is once more to gain a few additions. As have I....

First on the register is a specialist beer shop opening on Abbeydale Road called Hop Hideout. The Vintedge building at number 444 houses an antiques and collect-ables shop, in which is a small unit, as well as a shop on the side next to the Broadfield pub which is to be a pop up cafe. The beer business is the brainchild of Jules and Will, who have assembled  a fairly impressive rosta of bottles to sell to a public which they hope, and I suspect will be, thirsty for interesting bottled beers.

With Stanmore Boss opening soon in Sharrow and Beer Central in the Moor markets hot on its heels, and with stalwarts the Archer Road Beer Stop and the Dram Shop clocking up several decades trading between them, Sheffield consumers could well find themselves spoilt for choice by the range of ales on offer, and soon, by the different places they can purchase them. And why not, since with the exception of the Sainsbury's beer hunt (assuming all the ales are stocked in the Sheffield branches, which they never seem to be), plus a handful of curios from Tesco and Waitrose, the supermarkets haven't shown much interest in having evolving ranges or selling something a bit unusual.

Whcih is good news since most micro breweries can't produce enough for the behemothic bully boys so that ought to leave the market open for them to produce and sell small quantities of quality bottled products to equally small independent retailers.

And Hop Hideout is certainly small. Perfectly filling the tiny room in Vintedge the hideout boasts shelving for what I estimate would be 100 bottles, with understated and (gleefully for me) black decor, featuring iconic Magic Rock advertisements, which make it seem cosy and, well, hidden. The shop officially opens today from 12.00 - here is a link to their blog which also has links to all their social media, for further details.

One thing that will be interesting about this new clutch of beer shop babies will be the prices. Its too early to comment on Hop Hideout's pricing policies as they were still formulating them last night but thinking of established specialist beer shops outside Sheffield, and the bottled beer range in places like the Tap and DAda and the Old House, there seems to be rather distasteful love of overcharging. I understand the gamble - that the sheer uniqueness or rarity will persuade customers to dutch their usual price expectations - but this rouse is very misleading and could, indeed should, result in retailers being bitten on the bum. Not literally...

Which subject nicely leads me to another clutch of newcomers - this time in the form of some other Bokkuls. Of bowze. Which came by magic flying elephant all the way from the island of Santorini.

At the invitation of Chala I was offered the chance to buy half a mixed case of donkey beers form the island's Santorini Brewing Company. Initial interest was sparked by the idea that the beer was actually made by donkeys but alas this was a fanciful flight from sense. Of course it wasn't. It was made by men on an island with almost no natural soutce of almost all the ingredients required to make beer. Cue costs...

Without immersing you in the sordid details its fair to say the initial price quoted by Santorini Brewing Company, which I agreed to "against my better judgement" was, in reality, even higher. The main sticking point was the shipping, which added a very hefty charge onto the tab, not helped by our having such a small order. Oh, and there was the cost in worry - because I'd never drunk a donkey beer in my life. In any sense of the words.

To her credit Chala correctly identified the beers as being very nice indeed - the Yellow Donkey reminds me of the almost unfindable Columba wheat beer which I love - but they chuffing want to be nice considering the cost....

 The beers are unfiltered and unpasteurised and frighteningly easy to drink - but unlike old style Greek beers, they are packed full of ingredients and flavours. I have tried the Yellow and Red Donkey and have one of each left to share with Davefromtshop along with a 750ml bottle of Crazy Donkey which is a 6.5% IPA. On the basis of the other beers tried and the excellent produce of Septem and Volkan I'm expecting a very tasty brew - its just a shame that, irrespective of shipping costs, the Donkey Brewery appear to be having a giraffe....

Mt third trio is just one. This will make sense I promise. Mr Stephens, the multi millionaire pub magnate, has now added a preposterous third venue to his unstoppable, ever growing, pub monopoly. Three! I ask you! Three pubs in Sheffield...he virtually runs all of them...(see "Thornbridge"). The latest boozer to get the Mr Andrew treatment is the Three Tuns on Silver Street Head in the city centre.

An iconic building featuring an interesting internal layout and which seemingly has always sold eal ale, the Tuns is a Sheffield institution. Not in a mental hospital way you understand, but in that it seems to have a place in the hearts of plenty of drinkers in the Steel city. Great news then that the place has received a tidy up and started selling brownies (I realise the sale of brownies alone is not the only prerequisite to a pub being good...) and has continued selling real ales.

Last night's secret reopening (?) featured some fine ales including two from Raw Brewery. Myself and Miss N both opted for the Dark Peak Stout which was on excellent form and decent value for the centre at £3.00 a pint. Plans afoot which I have secured access to via torture and surveillance include not changing very much really, and continuing to sell things that are already sold.

Knowing from first hand experience how excellent the Closed Shop has become and the Rutland has remained it looks like a positive development that the Three Tuns is to be an Andrew-inn. However, for once, not as a direct result of too much beer, I actually don't have many details about this development. So  heartily recommend you pop down and take a look at the pub for yourself.


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Beer - perfect for "when I jetmjnh aidus. (Hijjs)"

Beer text.

        A message that makes perfect sense to the sender, despite a distinct lack of co-ordination between their brain, fingers and eyesight. The kind of message which is always of the utmost importance, delivered with the highest expediency, and which will always read back just fine  the next day.

But, I hear you ask,  what sequence of events might make one  clamber aboard the magic beer typewriter? What manner of tavern haunting and amber research could warrant such an action? Here's a few details of my thirst for knowledge over the last few days to put you in the picture....

Wednesday was Wanderians day so we headed up into town with the intention of having a change - and visiting the Sportsman on Cambridge Street. On entering there were two handpumps turned round. Journalistic rigor meant I had to ask if the beer was on, even though it clearly wasn't - and the nice man informed me that Trooper and another real ale would be on tomorrow. Still, that represents a hundred percent increase in the number of real ales in the Sportsman, should it happen.

Mr P was unswayed by the suggestion of Henrys and reluctant to trek to the Bath so we adjournment to DAda. DAda have recently introduced a new concept - comfortable seating. Which means that no matter how hip, pretentious or genuine you are, you needn't sup your ale sat on a fold-able metal chair. Which is nice. To celebrate, we had pints of the rather  excellent Thornbridge Otters Tears, brewed for the Indy Man beer conference that everyone but me went to. A perfect hoppy citrus bite and a very drinkable body made for an excellent drink. Mr P moved down a percentage to sup a pint of the Red Willow Headless, whilst I stuck with the tears. I finished on two halves - one of Hardknott Azimuth, which was fantastic, and one of the ever excellent Thornbridge Halcyon.

I say "finished" but in reality Mr P was sensible enough to go home whilst I, labouring under the self delusion of needing to "go sopping" headed to West Street where I accidentally went to the Bath Hotel. Here I had an excellent pint of Pictish Chinook, which was on good form, if steep at £3.40 a go.

Last night as an end of week reward for our having had housemaids knee for 5 days we were supposed to be going to the Tap. Arriving we noticed a party of students carrying massive models of buildings had made passage to the bar almost impossible and there was a bad smell and an even worse atmosphere. So we decamped to the Rutland Arms. We had pints of the excellent Brew Company Oat Stout and sat outside in the beer garden for a chat and some restorative fresh air.

Back inside we noted the Hopcraft New Dawn Fades we'd had our eye on had faded altogether so we had pints of Acorn Bishop IPA. Another Excellent single hop IPA (I imagine Bishop is a hop?) which didn't seem to last very long. So we had another pint, this time accompanied by a half of Magic Rock High Wire which was £2.16 a half on the Keykeg. This 5.5% beer was on top form and not served too cold, so didn't really last very long. So much so in fact that we had to order another half, along with some food -  a plate of Italian cheese, meat, olives and bread which was much needed.

We had been sat upstairs but as the pub was less busy we headed down to commandeer the juke box and to buy several more pints of High Wire. For our final rounds, Miss N stayed on the High Wire and I moved onto Hop Studio XS which was also on fine form. It was nice to bump into the Sheffield Sound Collective (Pete, Dan, Mark, Daniel and Vinnie) and friends who were back from seeing seminal 90's band Cud. We hooked up with them for the last hour before having a final round of drinks and getting a rather inexpensive taxi home.

And yes, as you may have guessed, somebody did make the mistake of trying to send a text. As you do when you've had about 7 pints. And it was every bit as nonsensical as the words in the post title. In fact, it virtually was the post title....


Wee Beefy

Note - if you can suggest 3 English words that I might have been attempting to text then you, and indeed I, could win the prize of knowledge......

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

An ale amble from Commonside to town and some pubs inbetween.

Ay up

           it's not all festivals and epic county wide beer crawls here in the Beefosphere. Oh no. There's also, um, returning to beer festivals. And meeting folks from the far North. Near Barnsley.

The AA was in Sheffield on Saturday to come and try some ales at Shakespeares beer festival, which you may recall my mentioning previously. Like any sensible chap he intended getting food before imbibing too much and had come to know the nosh at the Closed Shop, where I met up with him. A fine range of ales was on offer from which I chose the Otley - I think it was their wheat beer (Dave? Any idea?!) ad I ordered my first shaky pint of the day to accompany my meal.

As befits his want the AA was studiously on halves - in this case of the same. So both of us failed to record the beer's name. How errant we bloggers can be...

A fantastic steak and ale pie and chips wit roasted veg was my choice (£6.95) and the AA was on an impressively large burger and chips. This was a very tasty meal which lined my stomach nicely for my festival reprise. It also helped me sup a half of the Ilkley Mary Jane IPA, far stronger than ordinary Mary Jane at 6.0%. Slightly heavy it packed a punch in terms of flavours and wasn't swamped by bitterness, although there was plenty there - a more traditional but no less enjoyable IPA.

From here we walked down to Shakespeares in a siling swirling downpour before settling down for a few beers. This time I was trying some new breweries. At least, after I had tried the Five Towns again. Now on hand pump it seemed a little drier and less enjoyable which was a shame. Meanwhile the AA was on a half of Cornish Crown 1 Hop 11 Grains. At least, that's what my beer list says, but my memory claims it was from Coastal. Either way it was very nice.

We were going to try the Geeves HIPA but it had run out since our arrival so I had a half of the Wild Boar Mad Pig, a very weak and not particularly accomplished beer, whilst the AA tried a half of the Pumpkin porter - which he liked but was adamant he wouldn't want a lot of. Ironic considering our finisher....

Our penultimate round saw me on Mithril Clocks Back and the AA a half of the Arbor Single Hop which he liked, before we both had a half of the Arbor Down Deeperst Black Saison. Suffice to say we weren't having another after this and soon the AA was heading North whilst I wandered up to DAda. Its important to clarify that, in no way is my inability to recall what I had in there, related to Arbor. It is (probably) entirely the result of my only being in for a short period before I headed off to meet Miss N and Matt in the Tap.

En route to which I ventured in the Dog and Partridge for a swift half. I spotted the Cross Bay seasonal and went for that but it was a little tired. I mentioned it to one of the staff and he offered me a free replacement which was good customer service (I had more or less finished it) - except I had to head off! In fairness they offer a try before you buy policy as far as I know so I could have done that and despite this being a third tired or off beer I've had there in a year I think that whilst a bit more checking is required, their willingness to remedy such issues is a positive feature.

Finally I arrived at the Sheffield Tap, none the worse far having downed at ;least 2 thirds of my last Arbor half in Shakespeares. It seemed only sensible to have a pint and a ha;f of the Magic Rock Dark Arts on cask, which I did. It was on impeccable form as Magic Rock beers seem to have been of late. And it also provided both the perfect end to a Sheffield pub crawl and the necessary encouragement to head home to bed.


Wee Beefy

Monday, 4 November 2013

Some unspoilt Staffordshire pubs


      this weekend saw Wee Fatha celebrate his birthday. For reasons which make us,  his passengers,  seem like we have enslaved him in automobile ferrying servitude, he came up with a plan to visit some of the best unspoilt pubs in Staffordshire, and one in Cheshire, on a day long escapade that promised up to 11 pubs. Given this level of self sacrifice, it would have been rude not to attend and sample some excellent boozers along the way.

We set off in a howling maelstrom and consoled ourselves that there were really only views from car windows and the inside of buildings awaiting us - as it was there were sunny spells all day - along with ferocious showers. Luckily more time was spent inside pubs than walking to them.

We started in the wilds beyond Eccleshall down a network of lanes that once were tracks and lanes that had since returned to being tracks, to arrive at the Anchor at High Offley. This two roomed canal-side pub has a fantastic setting up a flagstone path from the waterway near a bridge affording views along the Shropshire Union. There are outside toilets, one real ale, and conversation prevails in the bar, which comprises two giant settles, an open fire and a quarry tiled floor. WF and WK were on halves (and once again, please remember WF has no more than a quarter of every half), whilst myself and Miss N were on pints of the Wadworth 6X.

The only minor shame from a photographic point of view at least, was that the pub was still quite brilliantly and painstakingly decked out in Halloween decorations. That didn't make the company or the surroundings any less enjoyable though, and we were there for nearly an hour in the end. Pub 2 and pub 6 were studiously removed from the itinerary to accommodate this reckless but wholly necessary extra long stop.

We parked up at Norbury junction for our dinner then headed onto the Swan at Whiston. Set in acres of land and bathed in bright winter sunshine this long white pained building is not really in Whiston at all - its just the nearest group of buildings find-able on the map on the isolated road the pub stands beside. Included on the basis of it having long been a Holdens outlet, here I had a pint of the mild at £2.35, Miss N a Harvest Pale at £2.90 and there were also halves of Enville Ale and Holdens best to try. The mild was perhaps the best of the bunch, although the Harvest was in good nick.

Into Cannock next and the Crystal Fountain is owned by Black Country Ales (or at least run by them) and is on the National Inventory of unspoilt pub interiors. An unusual high wall forms the frontage with entrances at both ends linking and giving access to the main bar and snug with access to the lounge and function room from the left. A good range of beers included 3 from the Black Country Ales fold - WK had the BFG and WF the Pig on the Wall - whilst myself and Miss N opted for pints of the excellent Great Heck Citra. The Pig on the Wall was great but the BFG a tired and disappointing brew - which is surprising as the session bitter in that breweries pub.

Despite that this was a cracking boozer, the interior of which is, to my mind, 1950's - lots of austere lines and frugal yet elegant fittings. For more info on the interior, here is a link to the Heritage pubs website.

Into Stone next and a chance to visit the ever popular Swan in daylight. This pub sells Coach house and Joules (are they not the same?) beers plus guests in a  large multi-roomed pub wit real fires and stone floors. We chose halves of Coach-house Wizards Wonder, Rudgate Thunder Flash, Coach house Gunpowder Mild and Blythe Bridge Ridware Pale. It was telling that the non Halloween themed beer was far and away the best - but this was an enjoyable visit to a comfy, welcoming, busy pub nonetheless.

Outside Stone a couple of miles away lies Oulton. Curmudgeon profiled the Brushmakers here back in July, but visiting now in the dead of winter the photo on the blog was of limited use - since the sign had been lost. Luckily, blind boy here spotted an illuminated Bass sign and insisted we went back for a look - and sure enough there it was. The Brushmakers is a one room (I think!) drinkers pub selling three beers - two from Thwaites and a guest. On this occasion we all went for the Coach House Dick Turpin which was a pleasant drop, and settled in the corner to talk and soak up the scene. There was sport on the telly and plenty of customers, and nearly as many dogs, with a refreshing mixture of ages chatting convivially in the warmth. Well worth  a visit.

Food came next as we broke our own rule and visited Cheshire - just over the border at Scholar Green to visit another National Inventory pub, the Bleeding Wolf. An impressive interior of dark wood and leaded glass windows on the bar along with impressive heavy wood doors to the loos in a style similar to the Racecourse in Salford awaits - along with three real ales. We all went for Trooper and ate from a menu that was somewhat more expensive than your usual Robbies fare - not that it mattered because the food was excellent. On the way out I noticed some Robinsons bottled ales stained glass features in the glass either side of the entrance door - a nice subtle and more easily photograph-able touch.

Back into Staffordshire and  despite getting lost, which is customary, we did eventually find our way to the Vine at Tunstall. A quiz was on in the darts room in this unspoilt back street boozer, also on the National Inventory and which boasts outside gents, a long drinking corridor, lounge, and a redoubtably old gas fire in the narrow bar. Our round of J2O for WF, bottled Guinness for WK and halves of Walkers something unreadable on keg for myself and Miss N came in at under a fiver. Although, arguably, the Walkers was sufficiently dire to make that total about right. Alas this was a short visit as time was getting on, nut its good to see the Vine still quietly and unassumingly getting on with being a proper boozer.

Time was literally getting on for our penultimate stop - the Coachmakers at Hanley. The bus station across the road has been built and despite opposition from a  mixed brigade of concerned and passionate supporters plus people who know what they are talking about when it comes to pub preservation, the powers that be have confirmed demolition will go ahead to make way for a car park.

Despite this the locals remain upbeat, unified by an understandable  dislike of the municipal overlords who seem to have ploughed on with the decision to show that they were right all along rather than for any claimed benefit. They also seem convinced that the demolition is a long way off, but I'd still get there sooner rather than later before its too late. On our visit, halves of Black Sheep Ruddy Ram, plus a half and a pint for me of the Bass from the cask in the cellar were ordered. We sat in the right hand room warmed by the fire listening in on the conversation and plotting our next move. Lets hope this wasn't our last visit.

Our final stop was to have been the One Legged Shunter - a pub seemingly with no phone number or website, attached to a heritage railway and situated down a dark lane. The GBG claims it opens 18.00 til 23.00 weekends in winter but the fact that the station isn't on Caverswall Lane and we had reached it without spotting signs of life suggested our search was fruitless. We did turn down a few lanes initially before returning to the station to spot a pub open sign behind the locked gates. Perhaps they don't open Sundays in winter anymore, and no doubt its run by volunteers and is not exactly likely to attract passing trade on a chilly Sunday, but its surely not impossible to announce such a  decision or confirm such an arrangement via the tinterweb. To be fair, a search on the web in the comfort of my home identifies a phone number but it still says they open 12-23.00 on Sundays. A case perhaps, with this being their FB page, of getting but not utilising social media. Humph.

Unperturbed we pushed on to Cheadle where the Hunstman was holding its quiz. A range of about 7 beers heralded some LocALEs including Joules but I went for the Lymestone Einstein - an overly sweet beer that I probably should have had a taste of first. Initially the loud music round was a bit annoying but once we'd found a corner to sit in and guessed a few of the answers, along with listening to Fawlty Towers and Blackadder in the loos, I think we all rather warmed to this pub.

So started a long punt home and ended a tiring day out for all concerned. Stand out pubs were probably the Anchor, The Swan and the Brushmakers but there wasn't a bad pub in the ones we visited. A great advert for unspoilt pubs in Staffordshire, and the existence of the National Inventory.


Wee Beefy.