the Bank Holiday weekend started in earnest on Friday night with pints in the White Lion at Heeley. Partners Brewery Mungo Mild was a surprise find so I supped a couple of pints of that before moving onto Thornbridge Jaipur, which I was disappointed to find was a little bit bit more expensive even than the Hallamshire House. Despite this obvious financial discomfort, I consoled myself with a couple before heading back down the ABV again and finishing on a mild, prior to a boozy meal at Parthenonas for some Greek celebrations.
That meant Saturday was a day to do proper bank holiday things - namely yomp round the Peak District, sup ale and get rained on. All of which were enjoyably achieved.
I met Miss M in town and we caught the bus to a rain soaked Chezvegas and onto Matlock. Or Madlot, which is a much better name on bank holiday. Stood in drizzle at the bus stop muttering about crowds the full horror of tourist-mageddon was laid before us. Why, we wanted to know, are all these people here?
Its a precarious moral position to inhabit when bemoaning the fact that loads of people have come to Matlock and you can't see why, whilst you are also in Matlock, but in our defence, we were on a mission. Matlock was nowt but a stepping stone. We were off to Bonsall, on public transport.
We jumped off the M2 bus at the bottom of the dale and walked the short distance up to the Barley Mow in bright sunshine. It was chilly, and changeable, and whilst sitting outside looked like a good idea, it soon ominously clouded over again. Not that we minded, ensconced inside, supping hoppy ale and eyeing up some mountainous portions of food.
There were four beers on, Kelham Island Best, Black Hole Cosmic, Bumpmill Thunder Road and Blue Monkey Infinity. I started on the Infinity as did Miss M, and we started to think about how we could possibly have exerted enough energy to tackle a lasagna having done nothing more strenuous than walk uphill for 5 minutes. Our concerns were justified. The lasagna portions were ginormous.
Miss M had sourced us some more drinks and to be honest the Blue Monkey Infinity was so good it seemed pointless moving onto something else just yet, so I had another pint of that to help wash down an hours worth of food. We were then joined unexpectedly by Wee Keefy who had ridden over on his bike, arriving just in time to help finish off my meal. Now we were really in bank holiday mode. It even warmed up enough for us to sit outside.
We sat looking down the dale in the sunshine and continued supping, WK on coke and then Bumpmill, Miss M on Infinity and the Black Hole, and me on more pints of Infinity.A perfectly balanced orange tinged hoppy pale ale made for sunshine, and possibly from it.
The Barley Mow is the sort of pub you always seem to arrive at with a fixed timetable, and very quickly decide that you don't want to leave. Certain pubs sometimes just grab you and won't let go. Sat in the Clock room in Shakespeares with its heavy tick-tocking the only sound in the pub; stood next to the fire in the Duke of York at Elton; sitting on the banks of the Severn supping Salopian beers outside the Royal Hill at Edgerley. All moments which I wanted to continue well beyond the point at which was practical for them to do so. (The Duke of York at Elton is especially un-leavable....)
Against which backdrop, five pints of Infinity down and with our bus to Matlock approaching, I thought about the practicalities of catching a later bus. Or in fact, just moving to Bonsall. No practicalities were found.
Back in Matlock, with WK off to the Sheffield Student Union beer fest, we popped in MoCa Bar for a pint of Abbeydale Dark Congregation which we drank whilst sat outside on the terrace/balcony thing, watching the less than salubrious scene in front of us. I don't think Moca's beer terrace will win any awards for the view but it was nice to still be out in the fresh air.
Before we left I grabbed a quick half of Oakham Hare and the Hedgehog, a delightfully punchy, fruity, hop fest at 3.9% which was dispatched quickly. Alas, we couldn't hang around (always a feature of Moca bar) as we had to head off to the bus station to escape back to Sheffield.
Once back in the beer capital I went straight to the White Lion to undertake an even more epic session whilst celebrating Chala's 40th. We had the right hand snug to ourselves, all decorated for the occasion, and to my and many others joy, Raw Dark Peak Stout was on. Chala was on shandy to begin with, perhaps sensibly plotting to remain mostly compus mentus until the end of the night. I, on the other hand, was past the point where switching to soft drinks or lower gravity beer was going to make any difference, having put away numerous lovely pints before I arrived.
The solution to this was technical and very scientific. What one does, is to drink a very large quantity of the same beer, thus mysteriously not getting drunk! That's an actual fact. That I made up.
Several hours and pints of Dark Peak and a couple of pints of water later, I was being given a lift home by Thangor, and a fantastic sunny bank holiday Saturday featuring three brilliant pubs was over.
What a tremendously pleasing start to May. Things can only get worse.....!