usually on bank Holiday Monday, certain things almost inevitably happen. It pisses it down with rain. We arrange to go somewhere miles from home full of people united in their abject disappointment at how crap everything has turned out to be. There is very rarely much in the way of good beer. Tensions are laid bare. It would almost be better being at work. So this year I had a change.
The venue? Some good pubs in Sheffield. Who with? Whoever from my extended drinking family I came across en route. The plan? Refreshing beer. Yummy, tasty, refreshing beer, that tasted yummy and was refreshing.
I started in the Sheffield Tap. It was gloriously sunny and I was able to grab a spot at one of the tables outside watching a tumult of vehicles and pedestrians missing out on the beery delights I had before me. That was Outlaw Low Life (wow, catchy name..) and half of Tapped Brew Co Bramling Cross. The Low Life was a 2.8% beer. After the Government's "sensational" plan to cut duty on lower gravity beers, literally tens of them have been brewed to almost nobody's knowledge or delight.
This was the 4th such beer I've tasted. It was actually quite good - none of the cask versions have lacked flavour but this managed to have enough body to carry it. The Bramling Cross meanwhile was a really enjoyable beer with lots or aromatic British hops to tingle the taste-buds.
I popped in the Showroom cafe bar next upon rumours a bit ago that they were serving more than one beer, and not always the same one. There was a real cider from Westons, and Thornbridge Sequoia and Abbeydale Now Then. It seemed rude to miss out on the Now Then beer so I supped a half (£1.60) whilst siting slightly jealously watching people walking outside in the sunshine. Only a hardy few, myself included, stuck it out in the heavy heat indoors.
Soon after I arrived at the Rutland Arms to find much talked about Arbor/Dark Star (I think) collaboration beer Bock Star on. As it was 6.7% I started with a much more sensible Mallinsons Nelson Chinook. This ticked all the right boxes, although it lacked some of the balancing fruitiness that Mallinsons brews often have. I also gave in and the Bock Star anyway, despite its strength, on the premise that I was going to eat.
They had a home cured bacon sandwich made with homemade bread on the menu. Straight away I had to think about my reputation for only eating bacon sandwiches, which keeps Stu awake at night. In an act of wanton rebellion, I opted for a Blue Bee Lustin for Stout steak pie and chips. In your face familiarity! I then repaired to the beer garden to bag the last bit of sun by hoiking the table further up the slope towards the entrance ( a feat which would prove pointless as the sun naturally moved higher and thus over the rest of the table, meaning I ad to jolly well hoik it back again!).
I finished off with a Steel City beer which I struggled to read the name of but knowing the recent popular theme of the demise of the milk snatcher, I surmised that it might have been Walpurgis Nacht. But it could have been another version of Metal Fatigue.. or just original Metal Fatigue. Clearly some sort of fatigue was encountered...
After I left I had to nip in the Roebuck to avail myself of a resource and ended up buying a half of Yellow wood IPA from Wood Street Brewery. A strong, malty, orangey brown beer with a smattering of hops in the end of the taste which doesn't really sell itself as an IPA. Luckily I know not to raise my expectations too much re the Roebuck and Wood Street beers so this was a pleasant enough diversion.
An unexpected stop came about as I snook across Tudor Square where everyone was watching the snooker. A cry of "Wee Beefy!" rang out and I quickly spotted some blobs and a waving stick. As I neared it turned out these were humans waving their hands, and I knew them. Carlos and Jambon were settled, albeit slightly uncomfortably on the paving stones, soaking up the atmosphere. Sensing I was becoming a trifle refreshed I wasn't expecting to have a drink but Jambon kindly bought me a pint of the excellent Blue Bee Brown Ball from the Old Monk. The "bitterest brown beer ever" was just as reassuringly brutal as I'd hoped.
My penultimate stop was the Closed Shop at Commonside. I had hoped to experience the wonder of the legendary beer garden, but once again I arrived too late (although, to be fair, they didn't open til 16.00 so the only way I could have enjoyed its sunny glory would have been to have sat in it when the pub was shut...)
Here I had a Raw Majjik Mild, which alas had died a death, so replaced it with a pint of Titanic Chocolate and Vanilla Stout. Hardly a subtle affair, but far more beer like and enjoyable than the Plum Porter drink. I had a couple of pints of this whilst chatting with Nate Rawg in da house (not literally, we were still in the pub) and Mr Stephens, before moving onto a half of Blue Bee Tangled Up IPA. Having only a half was a sensible move since, against all my expectations and all that I previously understood about drinking, as the day wore on I was mysteriously feeling less sober. Mind boggling...
Next, for the information of Nathan and Andy, I DID NOT go to the Hallamshire House as alleged, but instead went to fail to buy anything from the closed Dram Shop and headed into town on the bus to visit the Bath Hotel.
Here Trooperstar Steff was at hand (along with other bar lady whose name I forget - sorry, other bar lady whose name I forget) to recommend I had a wildly insensible pint of Dark Star Six Hop (only 6.5%!) at £4.00 a pint, and to chat with me about stuff not to mention things. The Six Hop was very nice, but a slightly unrealistic challenge so late in the day. It was enjoyable nonetheless.
So, no rain, no crowds, no disappointment and no discord. I look forward to following this formula at the end of the month as well!