Sunday, 30 June 2013

Summer season sessions


     sitting in a great pub. Or sitting outside a great pub in the sunshine. Drinking a really good pint of beer, with good company. I was doing just that yesterday, listing the above whilst describing to Christingpher what constituted the perfect reasons, and situation, for a session. At the same time we were, sub consciously, starting one.

We'd walked in sunshine along Loxley Road to the Nags Head at Stacey Bank. There was still places to sit outside, and it seemed like a very good idea - because even if it hadn't been sunny, it was peculiarly warm in the pub. Christingpher opted for a pint of the Bradfield Wimbull-don, which he claimed head a hint of fruit flavour to it, I went for my absolute favourite Bradfield beer - Pale Ale at 5.0%. As its Bradfield Brewery's tap (perhaps not officially) the beer is remarkably good value here at £2.00 a pint, irrespective of strength.

We sat on the decking with the farm carrying on its business just yards away, with the sun beating down, and a steady but varied flow of people joining the throng - hikers, cyclists, dog walkers, people out for a countryside drive, locals having a catch up. It was inevitable that we wouldn't want to leave. Indeed, it was 5 hours, and 7 perfectly kept pints of glorious beer before we did.

Friday I'd been in Shakespeares with Wee Keefy and Jambon and friends, and once again the perfect combination of factors was in place. This time it was the Hop Studio Brew 100, a lovely citrus bitter with a hint of cluster and a surprisingly robust malt background. It was a perfect combination of a dry traditional Yorkshire bitter and something altogether more exotic. It was 5.1% and £2.90 a pint and despite not being an ideal; sessionable strength it kept me and my companions firmly entrenched in Shakespeares for hours.

The Ship at Shalesmoor is a pub you may know from my frequent write ups. It has a fantastic Tomlinsons Brewery tiled frontage and inside is a formerly multi-roomed layout, last refurbished in the 1980's. The extent to which the decor fails to match the age or outward appearance of this fine old pub is part of its charm. Its steadfastly rooted to the time it was upholstered and fitted and its reassuringly similar to the decor at the Old Heavygate in Crookes. The three well kept inexpensive real ales are the final piece in the jigsaw.

I was in chatting to JB on Friday and drinking the excellent if slightly heavy Harthill village Brewery Dark Hart, but last night, having stopped for a few hours of recuperation and eating, I managed to squeeze in a few hours supping the excellent Barlow Heath Robinson, 3.8% and £2.50 a pint, whilst chatting with Col, Sue, Fluffy, Sarah, Gone John and Lynn. I could have migrated to something stronger but the Barlow was exactly what I wanted so I stayed on that. In the end it was only the late hour and need for sleep which cut short our slaking.

So rounds up three slightly ill-advised but hugely enjoyable sessions  - the perfect combination of location, company and beer. Well worth leaving the house for.


Wee Beefy

Friday, 28 June 2013



    I was in the Sheffield Tap the other day having a quick one before meeting a friend, and wanted a pint to see me sated whilst I waited.

Recently I'd opted for a pint of one of the excellent Tapped Brewing Co beers whilst there. Because they are very good, whilst also sensibly priced. Most Tapped BC beers average £3.00 a pint, broadly comparable with the Rutland nearby. Other prices, though, seem to get a bit silly. With Tapped being a rather good brewery with great hop forward (but balanced) beers in their repertoire, one wonders how that might impact on the sale of guest beers.....

I always thought the Tap guest beer policy was based on " this is rare so you will pay more" given the absurd premiums applied - the fact that numerous below HSBD beers have still been ridiculous in price can only be explained by either the pub taking the piss, the suppliers taking the piss, or the "novelty value of ales" being exploited. As a case in point, on that occasion I spotted Dark Star Porter, which I craved.....

One of the great improvements to the Tap is the willingness of staff to inform you when a price is, ahem, higher than you could reasonably expect. The beer was (following a check on the brewery website) 5.6%. It was £4.60 a pint. With this information available, I politely declined. The barman informed me "Yeah, Dark Star beers are very expensive".

Well, irrespective of whether I think that is sufficient justification, or correct, I later met Fluffy and regaled him with the tale - and he had bought the same beer the night before at the Ale House Sheffield for £2.80 a pint. And Steve the Beermeister regularly finds their beers good value at around £2.50 to £3.50 a pint in Hastings in super expensive Sussex. So, erm, WTF!?

Given the above its interesting to consider how the Tap's guest beers may fair in future. A not unusual beer at well over £1.50 above the going rate is unlikely to sell, so given the excellence and sensible pricing of the in-house beers, I wonder whether the pricing policy might backfire?

Wee Beefy.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Beer fortnight - what happened when.


       it seems incredulous but there is still one last birthday do awaiting me. Not because I'm the queen and have two, nor is it because I'm a cat and live life seven times faster than you all (although some of you who have been on a pun crawl with me may claim I walk and drink at least twice as fast). No, just that with a pile up of events we decided to go out for a meal next month. Luckily, I have squeezed in a few trips to the pub in between, yer know, to maintain the ruddy faced revelry of my celebrations. It looked a bit like this....

Thursday was a chance to meet up with Fluffy and go to the Hop beer festival. Which had happened the week before. Thanks to a chance meeting with Andy M I was spared the embarrassment of turning up expecting Mallinsons and other IPA based treats, and instead we met in the Rutland. The place was packed despite monsoon rains outside, but we managed to wrangle a seat near the open door to dry off in the draught and for me to sup a pint of Chantry Black and a pint of Blue Bee Lustin for Stout. A good solid start to any night.

Next we yomped through rainy streets to DAda where there was loads of people in, but not loads of necessarily good beer. So much so that I appear to have forgotten what I had to drink. Oh, no wait, I was continuing my dark beer theme by sharing a bottle of Kernel Stout at £5.00 odd a bottle with Fluffy. here we were joined by Rich Hall impersonator Keith and Si.

We decamped to Fagans next for a nice change, and even got to sit in the miniature snug on the right. Pints of Abbeydale Moonshine all round were supped whilst we discussed the finer points of lire. And buses. Fume.

Our final port of call was Shakespeares where I had a pint of North Riding IBU-less Mosaic, and probably some bottles that were strong. I know I finished on a bottle of Duvel Triple Hop Citra. In fact there may have been more than one. It was rather nice and sold at a very sensible price, and am afraid after a lengthy listen to Keith's lament on the downtrodden English I had to escape and catch a taxi for a very reasonable price. Which was nice.

Friday was beer festival day as you know, and Saturday it was my Barbecue. The chosen 18 pints were of Howard Town Wrens Nest which was just about spot on with a decent well balanced bitterness. Bottled highlights included a Wild Beer Co Hop Monster, and some excellent unfiltered German lagers brewed for a London brewery by a fifth generation Bavarian. These are only samples but hopefully Davefromtshop can get his hands on some to sell. Sunday saw me trying to recover - by finishing the remaining 6 and a half pints of Wrens Nest. Well, I couldn't let me down...

To finish off an entire fortnight of frankly childish excess I went out last night as well. I was to meet a mysterious rarely scene double act from the Internet, but alas, in my haste to meet them, was undone by the very same world in which they live...

I was meeting them in the Sheffield Tap at 19.30 but we don't have each others mobile numbers or really firm ideas about our respective appearances. I spent a good 20 minutes supping a rather magnificent pint of Tapped Brew Co Pegler pale ale, 4.4% and £3.00 a go, subtly assessing every couple who entered he bar based on a series of preposterous guesses and erroneous assumptions, like some novice shy swinger. Having "located" said pair I set about subtly making them see that I was obviously a beer drinker. Nothing happened.

I can confidently claim that I have never seen fit to use the internet on my phone. Because it's rubbish. But having arranged this high level meeting through Twitter I caved in and cack-handedly fumbled my way through Twitter on my phone to see if the plans had changed - which they had. Still, by this time I had bought a half of the excellent Magic Rock Carnival Summer Ale, and met Mr C for a chat so the visit wasn't entirely in vain. And besides, having chosen to head off to another pub, I now knew I had to find one with free Wi-fi to continue my phinternet training.

First though a pressing need forced me to divert to the Old Queens Head where there were about 4 real ales on - I had a half of usually reliable Wainwright from Thwaites and Bluestone Bitter from Kite Brewery. Hmmm. The Bluestone was like a Whitbread full mash brew but sweeter - not so much unpleasant as unrecognisable as beer. It baffled me why they'd brew it at all. The Wainwright was a disappointment as this too seemed overly sweet.  Time to move on.

Things initially got worse when I got to DAda. Despite peach inspired brewmatser Jamie manning the bar and Adam for company, given that Thornbridge Halcyon was the only beer that I would contemplate drinking from the range available (and I wasn't going to since its quite strong) I opted to leave and try somewhere else. This may seem a bit OTT but the range was 4 of the very worst and most insipid Thornbridge beers ever brewed - you can probably fill them in yourself but it was Black Harry, Lord Marples, Brother Rabbit and Hopton. I could possibly have had a half of the latter but time was precious, as were funds.

The Dog and Partridge was my next stop, and despite my horror at its decor, as mentioned many times before, I am starting to rather like it. The beer was on excellent form as well so that improved my visit even more (although I was prompted to register with Sky to use their free Wi-fi - no amount of free stuff is worth giving my DNA to Murdoch for). I had a half of Abbeydale Cosmology and a pint of Chantry Chandos. The latter was a strong slightly hoppy beer, which was enjoyable but couldn't really compete with the Abbeydale. Cosmology is probably one of my favourite beers of late and it was so good that I had another half. A pub I think I'll be visiting again soon.

My final stop was at Shakespeares where top chap Mr Bamford very kindly assisted with my refreshments -- two halves, one of Revolutions Demo #7, and an excellent half of Roosters Londinium coffee porter. I supped these with an obligatory pork pie, sat in the clock room, battling with my phinternet and listening to the band upstairs, until I realised it was late and ran off home for some snap.

So highs and lows but both nights out were once again a great showcase for the varied pub stock of the Steel City. A collection that often proves hard to resist.


Wee Beefy.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Kelham Island Tavern Midsummer beer festival 2013


  I've somehow managed to find a window of semi sobriety to report on the annual Kelham Island Tavern Summer beer fest. I don't know how long this venerable event has been going on but it appears to be a regular fixture - they had their decade fest last year so there's no doubt been a few. Luckily I almost always get, and this year I am happy to report that I continued that tradition.

I had Friday off as I had to prepare for my barbecue yesterday - a level of pre-planning that consisted of getting up at 11, having breakfast, making potato salad and then, um, going to  a beer festival. I rolled up after a somewhat lengthy journey on a 50 year old bus that couldn't accelerate in the first 2 minutes of motion. There is a bus stop every 1.5 minutes. We were overtaken by 3 other 52's. Epic.

At the fest I was meeting a fellow journalist. I say fellow journalist. A journalist. I am but a blogger. So is he as it turns out. Its always nice to catch up with folk from the Internet as, if nothing else, its quite life affirming to know that actual people who like and write about beer exist in real life. I started very sensibly on a half of Bobs Brewing Primevale, a tasty 4.0% pale bitter that was a good starter. I went to sup it in the back room with a bloke called Keith from Wakefield and my mystery blog author.*

 I went liderally bongkers next and had a whole pint  - and what a good idea that was. Blakemere Deep Dark Secret Licorice Porter at 5.2% was a lovely rich, strong, beer that wasn't overly chewy, and was very well balanced. I knew of Blakemere from drinking their reliable bottle conditioned beers and this was one of very few of theirs I've tried on draught. Good stuff. Next we repaired to the beer garden where I managed to sit in some sunshine, like it was midsummer or something. The longest day provided ample sunshine which was a pleasant surprise, although I was at all times worried it may have run out by the weekend....

From here on it was mostly sensible halves for me, and we were joined by a cavalcade of Sheffield beer scene movers and shakers - Andy M, Dave Unpro, that bloke (you've seen the bloke) Misterchristopher of Bamford, Katedave, Patrick, and Wakefield Josh behind the bar. I next had halves of Abbeydale Phone Dip since I'd liked it the other day, along with Yorkshire Dales Whaw, which had a very interesting if slightly unusual flavour. The phone dip was just as good as I'd remembered.

From this point on the concept of order, both in the sense of a timeline for drinks occurring and non rambunctious behavior, became slightly lost on me. So, as Patrick and Katedave used their "legendary" charades skills to persuade me and Andy M that they were showing us a film called Raar! Antlers (come on, I mean seriously, who's ever heard of that?) the following beers were also supped :

Ascot Kazbek
Abbeydale Intergalactic
Acorn Perfect 10
Brew Company Summer.

Alas after 5 hours preparing for the barbecue I had to get orf, but I left reflecting on the fact that there was a good range of ales as always, and that the weather had played its part in making this a midsummer festival instead of an April shower. Overall a highly enjoyable afternoon spent supping. And don't forget-  its still on today.


Wee Beefy

*if you want to find out - sorry, since you obviously are desperate to find out who the mysterious man of writing is, watch this space. There are details to come (one hopes) over the coming month......

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Bertie Booze Face

Yep. I am him.

         yet it's tragic to consider that today is my birthday and not only have I been to work, but I'm also not out drinking tonight. And to properly dub my bowed head with a turd crown, now I'm writing a blog post about the celebrations attached to my aging anniversary.. What, in the name of Satan, am I thinking of?

Still, yer cant't learn nowt when tha dunt se nowt. As no-one has ever said. Ever.

Sunday was Fathers day, sandwiched somewhat inconveniently between two raucous birthday related drinking events, but thankfully not the day after my annual barbecue (although, it looks like its going to chuffing piss it down all day this coming Saturday so that plan has backfired) so me and Wee Keefy whisked Wee Fatha off to the Ouse Estuary to gawp at birds. In a strictly ornithological sense. Via a bacon butty in a sinking church opposite a closed pub called the Angel in Reedness, (as yer do) we headed to Blacktoft sands for a few hours. We then repaired to nearby Eastoft for a Sunday lunch at the River Don Tavern.

The lunch is £6.95 and doesn't scrimp on the meat. There was loads, and it was cooked to perfection. You then got yorky puds, 2 types of stuffing and as much tatties and veg and gravy as you could fit on the plate. Ours was washed down with halves of Fulstow Northwood IPA, at 4.3% and £2.80 a pint for Wee Fatha, whilst WK had a pint of, and I two and a half pints of, the rather excellent Wold Top Tenner, brewed to celebrate their 10th anniversary. Served mercifully slightly cool, on a belting sunny day, this was a great advert for the pub.

On Tuesday I was meeting Chala for "either" a coffee or a pint. Whatevs. We headed for Shakespeares where the Muirhouse mild dark type affair didn't really tempt Chala so she had a pint of Blue Bee Lustin for Stout, whilst I had a pint of the Roosters Wild Mule. I have to say it was a somewhat underwhelming beer, but I had my eyes on sterner stuff. I soon moved onto a half of the Blue Bee, thus confirming it's excellence, and a half of Ska Brewing Modus Hoperandi.

Obviously as a fan of modern hop forward brews its a prerequisite that I have to actually achieve orgasm at the very mention of Modus Hoperandi, and though it was good, it could probably have benefited from a smidgen more balance. As all too often demonstrated by hop clumsy lupuliholics, a splurge of hops is not everything in a beer. That said, it was still very nice. I finished on an equally very nice bottle of Anderson County Barney Oatmeal Stout at something around the £3.50 mark, which was incredibly full flavoured but in a canny, subtly layered way.

Off next to the Fat Cat so we could "eat food" (nope, I don't understand that either) and sup beer of course. Here I had a pint of something dark that I have forgotten the name of. It was from a Yorkshire brewery. Probably. It was OK. The food was very nice as always though. And it was god to catch up with Stephen.

Round at the Ship we were literally the only customers - for a whole hour. Not even the advent of 21.00 provided any company. Chala ordered and abandoned a worryingly sweet Staropramen (I'm certain its not supposed to taste like that) but moved onto a house brandy and coke for a very reasonable price, whereas I had a pint of Abbeydale Brimstone. Am not sure Chala was taken by the Ship as much as I am but it was still a good place to sit down and catch up.

A hop on the tram brought us to the end of West Street and Chala sensibly went home, whilst I went to DAda. Behind the bar was Jamie - on it was his Peach IPA, Melba. Oh my good God. That is a fantastic beer. Absolutely exactly what I wanted and needed, not overly sweet like Timmermans, since its a peach IPA, just very refreshing. Annoyingly though it ran out so I opted to move up an ABV. Or 6.

I had a half of Thornbridge Imperial Russian Oatmeal Stout, which had been maturing 6 months so could have been stronger than 11%, at £3.15 a half. It was brilliant. Pretty soon, having texted a few mates to tell them about this delight, I was joined by Clare and Gav, along with Adam and Lofty, and things took off somewhat from there.

As we all moved onto the stout I bought half a Chiron and then shared a bottle of Kernel Export Stout 1874 or something. The same beer that I am drinking now,  in a curiously restrained birthday undertaking. After this happened I'm not clear on a few points, but I remember suddenly running out at 23.25 to get a bus, actually not falling asleep on it, and getting home. To fall asleep on the settee. Classy.

Tomorrow and Friday I am out and about at pubs and stuff so may see some of you, before Saturday heraldss the barbecue to end all barbecues. Or possibly one that you just wish would end. In a dismally English wet upper lip washout. Only 18 pints of a pale bitter beer will ease the pain (and that's not all for me I hasten to add).


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Birthday week boozing

Its here folks.

The anniversary date of my being around, largely refreshed, and well walked, for another year. So as to maximise the enjoyment of this annual event I have spread my celebrations over two weekends. Next weekend will see me filling a small polypin with something pale and hoppy, possibly from Salamander, maybe from Abbeydale, to accompany my barbecue. Meanwhile, on Friday, I amassed a crowd of quite frankly excellent people to join in with drinking and larking about and trying to look sober.

Details of that anon, first, here's some gen about my my trial run.

Monday saw me in the University Arms. I had a lovely pint of Abbeydale Cosmology, which was very easy drinking, and a pint of their Tramlines 2 beer, which was a pleasant pint, if not particularly striking. Tramlines beers are always a bit of a tin medal - its a great honour to be chosen, but god forbid you brew something striking. or, to be fair, aimed ta the small handful of beer geeks and hop heads who drink the sort of beers I do. That said, this was an ideal accompaniment to my hugely filling meat and potato pie and chips, which more or less grounded me.

On Thursday I noticed it was sunny, so sloped off after work to the Riverside to "catch some rays" on the balcony. A pint of Abbeydale Phone Dip was ordered - in an amusing eyesight failure, I noticed a word containing the letters s and t and assume it was a stout. To be fair, the gent behind the bar didn't question my request, but poured me pale ale anyway - when I said "erm..." and picked it up to look at it he said "it will settle in a minute" thus having misunderstood my surprise at it being significantly less black that I'd expected! Never mind, it was a much needed refreshing pint.

I walked to the Wellington next and had a very agreeable pint of the LAC Harleys Galaxy, at a bargain £2.40, sat in the garden in the last of the evening sun. All too soon this had disappeared so I headed back for a recommendation from the brewer -  returning to my sunny spot with a pint of William Henton Carver, still only £2.40 a point but a bit stronger. Kudos as a always to the Wellington for serving interesting beer at sensible prices.

A hop on the tram saw me to my next stop,the Bath Hotel, where Steff was dispensing wisdom and info as always, and nearly persuaded me to have a very silly pint indeed. Luckily I saw sense and restricted myself to two halves only - Hawkshead Gold and a rather strong Red Willow Shameless. Probably about 7% and packed with flavour, there may have been a smidgen too much sweetness for me but it was enjoyable all the same.

I finished the night at DAda where there was a "do" on and a slightly disappointing range of real ales. Lord Mumbles, Brother Boring, Hawkshead Red and Thornbridge Steelmakers. I found the latter woeful on Keykeg but assumed a bit of cask conditioning may improve it. Alas I was wrong. It's dire. Still, my spirits were lifted by a midweek discount and two bottles of excellent Kernel, resulting in a free bottle of Halcyon. Which was nice.

And so to last night. Two pubs, twenty people and one or two pints over nine hours. We started in the Harlequin at 16.00 and I met up with Tina, Dextrose, Rachael, Malc and Aidan. Wee Fatha arrived about 5 and by this time I was on my second pint of Revolutions Uprising. As usual with Revolutions, it was fantastic. Prior to that, as a birthday treat, I'd splurged cash on a bottle of Kernel Cascade. Which was not as good as their Simcoe, alas, but got better as it warmed up. Before we left I'd had a third Revolutions and we'd been joined by Ally, Mr Cain, erm thingy (sorry erm thingy) and Glasgow Edwardo, who despite my crap name recall, was actually called Chris...

Shakespeares beckoned and we met Miss M who had just arrived, along with Wee Keefy. Before long, Jambon, J9, Dave, Angie, Mr G, Tash, Gav and Clare, Michelle, and Carlos had all joined us, as we accidentally took over the clock room.

Beers in the Shakespeares were - reliant on my memory. Allegedly, pints in my session included Acorn UK Cascade (at least 2) Brew Company Oatmeal Stout and Ella, Kirkstall Three Swords and something in a bottle. And possibly Deception.

To be fair, this was my birthday night out - I wasn't "working" so am afraid there are areas of uncertainty over what beer was supped. Realty it didn't matter. This was one of the best nights out I've ever had. Fantastic company, excellent beer and good music in a great venue. At one stage I mooted the idea of heading off somewhere  else. In the end, there seemed little point, and we were in for about 7 hours. Thanks to Shakespeares for their hospitality and my friends for making it such a great night.


Wee Beefy.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Wee Beefy's beer bites June 2013.

Oh aye.

      last week the Three Valleys Festival, that signpost for casual violence and pseudo EDL allegiance in North East Derbyshire (only pulling yer legs three valleys organisers...) interrupted an otherwise normal but no less enjoyable week of drinking, thus:

Thursday started with a pint of Blue Bee Light Blue at Shakespeares after a late escape form work. This went down rather well, as did chatting with Andy M and Dave U from the world of beer. I followed this with a pint of a Steel City Brewing beer that I have no intention of remembering. Under duress, Dave U agreed it could be called Arthur. I prefer Douselb macken alle honig und devouren sie wollen die fliegen. Catchy.

So that was a nice Black PIA that isn't (or something), and I supped that along with a couple of much needed pork pies and a pint of Little Valley Dark Mild. A very palatable and well rounded mild. I also got chatting to Keith, whom I met when the legend in his own lycra Ron Clayton was in talking about the Robin Hood. It's goo to catch up with someone who not only remembers some of the older hostelries in Sheff, but is also interested enough to talk about them.

I had a half of Toolmakers Easy Driver and an excellent half of Black Iris Peregrine Pale next,  the latter being a very palatable and well balanced pale beer with a subtle but acceptable hop kick. I then finished on the two best halves of the night - Raw Centennial and Great Heck Andromeda, both excellent well balanced pale, hoppy, beers.

Next up was the Bath Hotel. I say next - last up is the truth. In here I met a man from the US of A who despite the minute size of his country, didn't seem to know anyone from the bone study (stop sniggering now kids) course I chatted on Tuesday with. On the bar were beers (investigative journalism is clearly my forte) of which I had a pint of the Riverhead Floating Light and Thornbridge Chiron. Yum.

Friday saw me and Mr Dave H from the world of music traipse to the Gardeners Rest. Whilst it would seem more mature and constructive to voice my concerns with the staff directly I'll mump about it on here instead. I do find, unfortunately, that rather more significantly poor real ales are being put on at the Gardeners. A case in point was the Big Hand brewery Dark Anto (? - no info online, but definitely Big hand....) - reminiscent of the dire full mash Whitbread oddities that used to grace their Brewpubs in the dark days of the nineties. It was seriously debatable if it was drinkable, but in the end we decided it was just poor and ploughed on through to select another. This time the Cromarty Atlantic was poor so I had a pint of Sheffield Blanco Blonde which was very nice.

Its a concern because I love the Gardeners but now I think I need a taste of a beer every time before I buy. I don't know what the explanation is for this sudden malaise but it's not a good state of affairs.

Anyhoo, a quick run round to the Ship followed where the Pale Rider was not only £3.00 a pint but also in excellent condition. Alas Dave was off to meet a companion so I ordered us a taxi and arranged to meet in the Bath Hotel. Here, a pint of Dark Star Darkness and a couple of halves of the Thornbridge Chiron finished things off nicely.

A final note concerns the Three Valleys Festival. According to the Facebook (you've seen the Facebook) another smaller festival of pubs further down/lower down (?) the valleys called the Ridge is planned for August. I sincerely hope this can all go ahead but I think so soon after the trouble and idiot quota at the last one it seems optimistic to be planning another. I do however wish them the very best with any add on celebratory do. Assuming am not in hot climes I will, of course, attend.


Wee Beefy.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

The Three Valleys beer festival 2013.


         yesterday it was my 4th annual trip out to the Three Valleys beer festival. Here are the details of what I got up to - bearing in mind that ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING WAS NORMAL.

I met Miss M in town and we got the train tickets (cheaper if you come back together) and popped into the Sheffield Tap for a quick pint. Miss M had a rather optimistic half of Timmermans Kriek whilst I had a pint of Tapped brew co Lupolo Galician Pale Ale, which was lovely. In the end though, it was I who was dispatching the last of my drink before we left. Miss M's cherryade had disappeared long before.

We arrived at the station in time to get the bus. We were intending to go to the Coach and Horses but instead since the bus takes a rather odd route past the Green Dragon we got off there instead. This was my first trip to the Green Dragon and to be honest I was rather impressed. Wye Valley HPA, Black Sheep Gold, and three Peak Ales beers on, from which I had a pint of Chatsworth Gold and Miss M a bottle of Rose cider. We grabbed a table in the bright sunshine and undertook a very lengthy debate about what food we would eat and where.

Next stop was the Three Tuns, where I started with a pint of the Liverpool Organic Kitty Wilkinson vanilla chocolate stout, and Miss M a half of the Glebe Farm elderflower cider. Once again we parked ourselves outside and started to feel very hungry faced with the choice of fresh pizza from the wood oven, and hot roast pork sarnies. In the end we both caved in and had the sarnies, but this wasn't our only food of a rather long day of drinking.

Service at the bar was as fast as it could be based on there being four staff and half of the beers and all of the ciders in the cellar. With the bus service running regularly (for the first time ever) the bar was frequently flooded with hoards of punters all at once - like a slightly less mental version of the rail ale trail. Next up was a half of Glebe Farm Perry for Miss M and a pint of Spire Amarillo, as personally recommended by Dave the brewer, for me. It wasn't quite as zesty and pale as I was hoping but it was still a refreshing drink.

We bumped into Tim and erm, you know the other guy (sorry other guy. If you had made the effort to be called Dave, like what everyone else is, this ,may have looked better...but you may well have been called Rich) and we were catching up with them for a bit before more beer was called for. This time I secured us a soda water for Miss M (how very sensible of her!) and a half a naked brewing Maiden Over for me (how much less sensible, at 6.0%). There was also pizza ordered as we weighed up the bus options and planned where to go next.

Our final drinks in here, accompanying a rather terrific pizza, were a pint and half of Growler Brewery Lemonhead, a refreshing strangely darkish bee that did the trick nicely, before we crossed the road and got onto the bus to travel at about 2mph up the hill towards the Miners! There was loud applause when ever we reached a flat bit. It was quite worrying at times....

Having jumped off at the Miners we walked round the corner to the Hearty Oak where there was more food available, but we'd had our fill for now, so we stuck to beer. Miss M was back on water and I was on a half of Thornbridge Jaipur from a slightly disappointing selection (it turned out there was at least one Toolmakers beer on which you couldn't see on the pumps). We grabbed a table in the sun and waited to catch up with Patrick, the lovely Dave and their friend Joan. It turned out, based on their choice of drinks, that in naturally assuming there as no merit in drinking any Wentworth beers I had denied myself a rather tasty chilli chocolate stout. Luckily a lady nearby found it too much and donated her half to us to share.

By this time it was clear that I wasn't getting to the Dronfield Arms again, which is a shame, because it looked like having one of the best beer ranges available. But we wanted to head to Barlow, via the Horns. In the end, the Dronny Arms wasn't the only pub we didn't get to...

The Horns was rammed once again, as was the Rutland which we decided to give a miss, if nothing else to let the rather raucous crowd outside die down. From the back bar at the Horns I had a pint of Acorn UK Cascade, a lovely fruity hoppy beer that went down perfectly, whilst Miss M was on zoider of some kind (alas I have contrived to forget which). Sat outside, alas now out of the sun, we also got a sausage sandwich - £2.50 - from the Moss Valley Meats stall at the side of he pub. Absolutely spot on.

It was at this time that rumour spread by mobile round the gathered throng that the buses at this end of the route had been cancelled. There were easily a hundred people at the Rutland, probably the same at the Horns, and Barlow Brewery gets pretty damn full as well.  Although the only confirmation came from a lass at the pub as we sat in the sunshine over the road waiting for the bus to Barlow, it soon became obvious that this was true. An aggressive simpleton had punched one of the route B bus drivers in the face, and after sending a bus to Barlow to pick up at least some people they cancelled the service in protest.

Which is pretty ironic because this year the bus service was conspicuous by its efficiency! Last year I waited so long at the Horns for a bus the service it may as well have been cancelled. This year it ran like clockwork, until some knuckle dragging moron decided to take action in the only way his shrivelled brain could understand. How very limbic* of you Mr Simpleton.

So, we weren't going to Barlow or the Castle, that was clear, and having heard (and this is not provably factual) that the perpetrator of the spasm of violence was bragging about their exploits in the Rutland, we decided to knock that one off our list, and walked down Carr Lane into Dronfield. After a pleasantly sunny if slightly long evening walk we were at the Coach and Horses. (we were told at the Miners that the other service was cancelled as well. By this time it was impossible to separate fact from fiction, since we did see other buses running from the Coach but none on our walk back to Dronfield).

Anyhoo, I digress. At the CnH we bumped into Vinnie, Mark, and Dan from the world of music, as well as John M who I hadn't seen since the Steel City fest (and hello to T_I_B who we spotted at the Horns) and set about securing ourselves a table and some boohar.

I had a pint of the rather fantastic Welbeck Abbey Brewery Henrietta, and Miss M some more apple based refreshment. We sat chatting with Vinne et al until they had to rush off to the Closed Shop, before securing further drinks in the shape of a pint of Jaipur (not watery this time) and under duress/via gentle persuasion from Adam behind the bar, a half of the Belgian Blonde from Thornbridge. Having declared it was rubbish, I was beaten into submission by it being rather pleasant after all actually. Silly I.

Our final act was to catch the bus to the station and the train back home, via a lot of people becoming irate and indignant at the idea that the guard had unreasonably expected them to pay the fare from Dore (even though they got on in Dronfield, the Monster!) an outlook which, as a paying customer, I had absolutely no sympathy with. Having waved Miss M off at the Station it was virtually obligatory to visit the Sheffield Tap. So I did. And it all got a bit weird...

I got a half of the 7.0% Oakham Alpha and a fantastic half or pint (it was getting tiring, but I think it was a pint)  of the Mallinsons Oatmeal Stout. This was every bit as tremendous as I'd hoped. After all, if you are consistently excellent at making pale hoppy beers there's a good chance you could turn your hand to an excellent dark offering Mallisnons can.

Sat in the dining room talking to two guys called Keith and Martin I suddenly realised I couldn't find my phone. A rigorous if cack handed search of my bag and clothing was repeated until I realised to my horror that it was no longer with me. After another search, and  having spotted Blue Bee Rich, I went and asked him to ring it - and my Brother answered. So he had my phone. But it took another call for my brain to comprehend that he was also in the Sheffield Tap!

It gets stranger as well. Apparently, a lady in the Sheffield Tap found the phone in her SHOE. I shit you not! She handed it into the barman who called the last number I'd done, which was Wee Keefy, who then drove down to the Tap for a pint and to collect it, all the time during which I was sat in the other room drinking! So I got reunited with my phone, and caught up with my Brother, and Carlos, who he brought with him for a quick one.

So, the Three Valleys Beer festival 2013.

Despite the rather unfortunate cancellation of the buses the Three Valleys once again did not disappoint. Pub of the festival was a toss up between the Green Dragon and the Three Tuns, beer of the festival was a dead heat between Welbeck Henrietta, Acorn UK Cascade and the Liverpool Organic Porter.

Well done to the organisers for putting on anther great event, enjoyed responsibly by 99.9% of attendees, and a special mention to the four barmaids at the Tuns, tirelessly running between bar and cellar to serve a tide of thirsty punters.

Here's to doing it all again next year!

Wee Beefy

*The limbic brain is the primitive "ug" part of the brain which reacts rather than analyses. To be honest, reading this blog post on the subject I suspect I may have given the assailant too complimentary an assessment. And based on stories I've heard today, it was potentially worse than I thought. I hope any readers who went, got back OK from Barlow and indeed elsewhere. Yan

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Past pints and future events

Ey up,

      am taking it easy this week, since the weekend is looking quite refreshing, and now i have to pay my significantly larger mortgage payment I need to be a bit more canny with the pennies. At 300 for a pint, that means I am probably going to have to take up a more traditionally British way of drinking. You know. Friday through Sunday. I'm sure I read somewhere that's really good for you...

Anyhoo, before I came to my senses I did a little bit of extra drinking over the last few days - here s some details and some gnus.

On Sunday I went to the Derbyshire (you've seen he Derbyshire) and walked along the latter stages of the Monsal Trail, AKA the good bit between Millers Dale Station and Blackwell Cottages. Wee Keefy drove us out at some point after dinner and we walked through the three tunnels we'd previously not been in before heading down into Chee Dale to walk back to the Station, near where we parked. Sunshine, fresh air, fauna and scenery is thirsty work. however. So we decided t go for a pint.

After much deliberation about the Anglers Rest or Red Lion at Litton, we decided to head a little nearer home and drop in at the Three Stags Heads at Wardlow Mires. It was rammed,  mainly due to there being a folk music session in the green room as it isn't called. Following the usual plan of stepping over dogs and falling over chair legs I hustled my way to the bar to order a pint of Abbeydale Absolution £3.00, 5.3%) and half a Brimstone for WK (£1.40).

I realise that repeatedly noting that I didn't remember the Stags being inexpensive and what good value it is may suggest to readers that I have begun my dotage already, but its worth repeating on the basis of it being true, and good to know. Perched on a table near the open door, with lilting airs wafting through from the room next door and the conversation bubbling along sociably around us, it was a perfect scenario. Improved only by my getting another pint and a half of Absolution for me and WK getting himself half a Deception. The Three Stags is a classic National Inventory pub, which keeps its beers in top condition and is well worth a visit.

Last night after an exhausting day of work (that's not sarcasm kids) I wandered round to Shakespeares to have a jar or two. I started on a pint of Blue Bee Light Blue, and sat in the Clock Room trying t get over the fact that I am smiling in the photo of me in a certain magazine. They must have taken 20 photographs and I don't remember smiling. I look like a slightly simple serial killer. Luckily the excellent but short-lived pint of Light Blue made up for it. A welcome return for this excellent brew.

Next up was another pint, which also didn't last long, although I had to have crisps due to an unacceptable paucity of pork pies, after which I had halves of the Toolmakers Fine Finish and anther half of Light Blue. I did try the Derventio stout and to be honest it was dreadful. Its testament to Chris' skills of tact and fairness that he managed to describe in a way that didn't involve saying it was crap. A thoroughly nice chap, Mr B.

The Fine Finish was also "eclectic" but not in a bad way, the same as which could be said for the half of Ashover Smoked that I followed it with, along with Abbeydale Tramlines Two. A great range of refreshing beers for a sunny evening. Just needs pork pies...

Off up the hill next to DAda, from being a real pub and nominated for pub of the month many times recently fame. Jamie was manfully running the show when I arrived, and I quickly organised buying a  couple of bottles of Kernel to take out using ny bottle discount card, and bought a pint of the Hawkshead Red. Things were looking good.

It was nice catching up with Jamie but alas the Hawkshead was a little underwhelming. Luckily I sorted this problem by having a p[int of Halcyon. Nothing to say really about one of my favourite beers....

Soon I was joining some students (they didn't run away quick enough see) from Sheffield Uni who studied bones and stuff. That's an actual academic discipline I'll have you know. In a surprising break with tradition I remember all of their names - Jordan, Lyndsey and Mike. Unfortunately for them I "helpfully" scribbled this blog's address (Shit, I'm such a stats whore) on a  piece of paper, a feat which worryingly illustrated that I was feeling "a little tired".

This was not helped by another half of Halcyon and half of the cask Thornbridge Three Beards (it may not have been on Keykeg before btw). A strangely drinkable brown bitter with almost no body, but in a refreshing way, for a darkish 5.0% plus beer. Intriguing..

Eventually I had to admit defeat and head home, leaving those more sober than me to speak clearly to each other. A great after work drink.

Finally a bit of noose. Its the Three Valleys Festival this Saturday. Its really rather good. Here is a link to their website, and everything. Its basically mandatory that you attend.

Also, a new Thornbridge beer is being launched at DAda - Melba has a surprise fruity ingredient (if you've never heard of any words associated with fruit) and is brewed by no less than Jamie himself. Obviously the Halcyon has made me forget which Friday,  but I think its the 14th June. Perhaps best you ring to check, or just go on both Fridays to make sure.


Wee Beefy

Monday, 3 June 2013

A quite marvelous evening of refreshments

Now then,

     I know I might seem a little spoiled by all the pub crawls I go on. Or maybe threatened with imminent physical decline and slow, trembly,  yellow death. Either way, the surfeit of ale yomps could perhaps make me a little jaded. You can, after all, have too much of a good thing, as people who've never had a good thing tend to say. Well that's their look out. I proved them, whoever they are, wrong on Friday night.

I had accrued some flexi credit for the first time in years and after a couple of stalled attempts an evening out with my dear friend Middlemarch was overdue. She was also owed a couple of years credit so we opted to leave work at 3PM and make an effort. To sit in the sun and sup beer. Albeit, we didn't actually escape til half past but it didn't matter. We were soon sat in the beer garden of the Closed Shop drinking Marstons EPA for the lady, and Blue Bee Nectar Pale for big lad.

Despite having visited the pub before, I admit I'm an infrequent visitor to the Closed Shop beer garden. Because I'm never there early enough, or if I am, its cold. Or wet. Or windy. Or all three. On Friday it was lovely and warm, and by fluke we picked the one remaining corner of sun dappled seating that the sun then deigned to shine on as the hours, and pints, went by.

Another round of the same followed, with a pork pie for me, and crisps for us both, then round three, when I'm fairly sure Middlemarch "upskilled" her palate to the Blue Bee. No better an education. This time my trip to the bar included fetching a brownie for her to enjoy in a very lady like fashion. By this time others had followed our lead, but, remembering it isn't a game, we were easily winning at sitting in the sun.

The next round saw Middlemarch on Nectar and me rather unwisely supping a pint of Blue Bee Tangled Up IPA. Soon the sun hid behind the gable end again and we sat in the table room (I haven't named them all yet) to finish, after another half of the Tangled Up for me.

After which we went for a long walk, down Commonside, and made a fairly well guessed travail diagonally to the Wellington. It was really busy arriving at around seven, and we sat outside studiously supping halves, of Harley's Galaxy Special from the on site brewery, before walking slowly to the Ship to make sure we didn't suffer the ignominy of arriving to find it closed.

"It usually opens about half seven" I announced with an air of authority as we arrived to find it absolutely rammed at precisely that time, with a near empty table of food near the entrance.There was a retirement do on, and it had clearly been in full swing for a while. Here Middlemarch had a pint of Moonshine (or maybe a half) and I a pint of the fantastic Btadfield Pale Ale, at 5.0%. Sitting down on one of the few free tables we were chatting away when Stuart from (amongst other places) DAda fame came and sat down next to us - it was his wife who was having the do....

This was a surprising co-incidence but it didn't seem out of place in the carefree flow of the day (although we'll paper over the fact that the pub had opened at 19.00 anyway, with the do having started at 16.00). However, before long Stuart had to "do the rounds" and we had to head off for a final pint at Shakespeares.

Here a minor kerfuffle with my attempting to spend money in small increments to pay by card meant Middlemarch graciously picked up the tab, and we repaired to the clock room to enjoy a pint of Welbeck Elis Dark Mild for me and a quite frankly I haven't the foggiest for Middlemarch. Afterwards, I even had time to walk her into town, grab supplies (pizza, two bottles of olive oil, and, um, sausages?) from the supermarket and have  a glass of wine before bed. Well, I say bed. The settee was very comfy....

Sometimes a plan just comes together. And as a black belt in mis-haps, miscalculation and misanthropic moaning about changes and compromises, this excellent session was the perfect way to start the month, and the weekend. Thanks to Middlemarch for keeping me company, and sharing in an evening of faultless beers and fantastic pubs.

Wee Beefy

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Rivelin to beer valley pub stumble


     yesterday I headed off for a walk in the old stomping ground of Stannington and Rivelin. Its so easy to get to the Rivelin Valley from Crookes me and Carlos were probably in  it every weekend in summer. And winter, come to think. One of the anomalies about the valley though is that there are only realistically three  pubs actually in it. And one, the Norfolk Arms which was a good mile up from the Rivelin post office, is now a nursing home.

So in fact this leaves just the Holly Bush and the Rivelin, with a smattering of decent boozers on the higher reaches, namely Stannington and at a push Crookes and Walkley. For reasons of change, I explored the Stannington side, sampling the pubs as I went along.

I started on Stannington Road up from the Anvil where the bus turns into the estate. I toiled up the hill to the Sportsman, which, despite being the first pub on the route, I didn't venture into, even though they used to sell real ale a few years back. I walked up into the older part of the village and stopped off at the Peacock. This Thwaites eatery does still retain a drinkers bar area on the left but to be fair its so hot in there I always prefer sitting outside. Just two real ales on in here but they always sell Thwaites Nutty Black, at £2.80 a pint currently. It seemed the ideal drink since the mild month of May had only just finished.

The Peacock doesn't really implore me to hang around but it sells a decent pint, much like my next stop Minnies, the Rose and Crown. A solid looking pub with a large car park in front and the Loxley Valley stretching out behind it, there are usually 1 or two real ales on here, and almost always Bradfield Brewery beers. This time, the Bradfield had run out, but there was a guest mild! For a traditional Sheffield drinkers pub that was quite a shock, nearly as mush as it being from Caledonian. Mayhem mild was very palatable, but expensive at £1.64 a half.

Moving on uphill and I was glad to find the imposing Crown and Glove open. There's a central entrance and two rooms, with a former dram shop window directly in front of you. Two real ales on here, normally three, and from a choice of Wentworth WPA, (which always seems to be the cheaper option) and Thornbridge Lord Marples, I opted for a pint of the latter.

I sat outside in bright sunshine looking across the fields to Crosspool, supping what was quite a palatable Marples. Its still a sigh beer for me but in comparison with the pale facsimile of itself that WPA has become it was probably the better choice. Mind you, possibly due to Thornbridge's pricing policy and the fact that the pub is owned by a greedy pubco, its price was a little less palatable - £3.35 a pint. Not that there's anywhere much cheaper nearby but that is very steep.

I walked on down past the church and through the fields, now getting a view of the forlorn ruin of the Bell Hagg Inn on the other side of the Valley. Zooming in with my camera there looks to be some sort of work going on, and, as I'd never previously realised, there is a whole other building built below it. Unfortunately nothing is being done to safeguard the road level structure so no miraculous return is pending.

I came out on Tofts lane in glorious sunshine and found the Rivelin busy. Unfortunately the handpumps remain unused and it appears they have given up on selling real ale. A shame for this picturesque local, especially since there's insufficient intactness of layout or other original features to make it worth tolerating a keg beer.

I made my way along the side of the valley as far as was possible, and eventually bit the bullet and headed near  vertically back up to Stannington Road, heading for the Anvil. The place was packed and was probably the best pub of the day at that point. Still retaining some signs of its original layout it also has a traditional difference in luxury between what would have been a separate bar or games room on the right, and the larger sprawl on he left.

I had a pint of Bradfield Farmers Blonde, £2.89, a much needed drink served at the right temperature - cool, but not cold. The pub was rammed, and plenty of people had migrated to the handful of seats outside.  Inside, as well as the bar room there probably used to be two rooms on the left. The potential division isn't obvious but there is a front and side wall fireplace so I think one per room would have made sense. As you enter there are two doors, further demonstrating the separate rooms, and I assume the first of the rooms would have been accessed from an entrance lobby. Its fanciful speculation I realise, especially not having any actual architectural background, but its interesting trying to guess how it would have looked.

Down to mousehole next and I took the path past the dam and ended up on Hollins Lane at the Holly Bush. I didn't have any great hopes for this pub - its proximity to the latter stages of the Rivelin Valley walk and its popularity with families (as attested on a large canvas banner as you approach) made me fear the worst but actually, what with everyone sat in the sun outside, its quite an interesting old pub inside. The first priority was to sort out refreshments - I had a half of Black Sheep Bitter (the other choice was Hobgoblin)  and went and sat outside in the sun trap at the back.

My next surprise was just how pleasant the Black Sheep was. It isn't a classic by any means but it was kept really well and was very refreshing. So much so, that, sat in the sun amid vibrant greenery,  with the trees gently swishing above, I opted for another pint.

In the pub, there are two rooms, with the entrance on the side leading to a smaller room and the larger part of the central bar's counter on the right, and a large lounge on the left. There is also a corridor next to the bar linking both rooms to the loos which have quite old doors on them. And the bonus of it catering to families is not only the useful sale of chocolate bars but also a fairly impressive array of soft drinks, possibly aimed at drivers. An enjoyable visit.

I walked from here into Malin Bridge and caught the bus to the Wellington. The walk was all but over, now it was time for a sup. I had a very refreshing pint of Little Ale Cart Harleys Galaxy special, which I was told was not a single hopped beer as I'd claimed (sozzard) but was in fact brewed with galaxy and erm, yer know, the other one, and a hop called I stopped listening. But thanks for the gen! It was also a bargain £2.40 a pint. I took it outside with me and sat in the sun once again, listening to the conversation and trying to photograph the fully unfurled but mostly rolled up, England flag. I failed.

An impromptu visit to the Kelham Island Tavern followed, where I had a pint of Yorkshire Dales Swinacore Pale, a spicy pale ale brewed with Sorachi Ace, and a half of Blackedge Dark. This was so good in fact that, having secured a seat outside in the sun I went back for another. The KIT was absolutely rammed, with a constant procession of punters arriving all the time I was there. Always good to see a pub thriving.

My penultimate stop was the Ship. To my horror the Bradfield Pale from the night before (my favourite Bradfield beer by a distance) had run out. In its place was an equally enjoyable Welbeck Fruit Cascade, which was nowhere near as grim as it sounds. Subtle fruit sits in the background behind a pleasantly hoppy bitter, which was an ideal pint to sup, sat with the sunshine streaming into an initially empty pub. Bliss.

Finally I ended my journey at Shakespeares, sat in the beer garden, supping halves of the Ashover smoked ale and Little Valley Python, a 6.0% IPA. I was joined briefly by Robin who was having a quick bite to eat, and it became obvious during our conversation that it was really the end of my day of refreshments. And so it was that I headed home from here for a much needed rest.

A great day out walking and drinking was had in some old favourites and a few less often visited pubs. Rivelin's pubs were the cheapest on the walk (if you include the Anvil) and despite the Stannington venues being costlier at least they all offered real ale. If you head into Loxley the situation doesn't change, and up the other side of Rivelin all the Crosspool and Crookes pubs sell real ale. So all the more reason to sup in the area.

Wee Beefy.