last night I was meant to be taking Chala to the Blake for the first time ever - alas, she bailed on me as she had to go and undertake some Thangor* management (her Mum is recovering from an op and needs watering at regular intervals). Despite this upset to my plan, I forged on alone, in the spirit of adventure. And being thirsty.
I headed to Shakespeares as is only normal, and although Mister Christopher and Robenbacher were on duty, there was a distinct dearth of CAMRA folks. I had assumed that I'd bump into the usual crowd but it dawned on me that it was probably GBBF weekend. That event that gets held every year and which I went to once in the 1990's. Can't say I was blown away, but I've no doubt its changed by now.
Anyhoo, consumer groups or no I had to slake my thirst so started on a pint of Raw Cascade and a half of the XT brewing Pi Dark Mild. Not perhaps the finest example i have tried, and alas the Raw was running out, but it still tasted of lovely quality hops and had a fantastic reddish hue which made t look extra appealing.
I finished on a quite fantastic beer - Arbor mosaic at 6.8% was in the cellar as it wasn't quite ready to come on. Seeing it in the glass you could tell why since it was murky orange, but good God it tasted better than it looked. Light biscuit malt, punchy mosaic hops and the fruitiest flavour since Melba combined to make this my beer of the week, if not the month (faint praise since its only 10 days in...). Served just cool enough, had I not been harbouring plans to escape to Walkley I could have sat there supping this beer all night. I can't wait to get back and try it it when its on the bar - I highly recommend you do the same.
A short trek followed walking the 31 route to compensate for my having a while to wait for it - the upshot of which was it only cost me £1.30 to get to the Blake. Luckily the route is running as normal so the uphill slog is much more manageable. On the bar at the Blake there were a few pale beers to choose from and one caught my eye but having taken the money for it the beer promptly went off. The barman suggested I might like the 6.9& Kelham Island mind control - and very kindly let me have a pint for £2.60. Which was nice!
Although this did make me worry about upcoming bouts of relaxation, I happily supped this surprisingly bitter but well balanced strong golden ale, sat in the room on the left. Its an oft rolled out observation every time I visit the Blake but I really don't get there often enough. Hopefully, myself and the A.A will be there in about 3 hours time....
A struggle uphill found me wanting food so I headed for a food outlet near the famous Byrans (Bryans?!?) chippy - only to be informed by the grumpy lady behind the counter that they weren't a chip shop, an observation that was filtering in to my head as I spoke. Still, I knew I could head round the corner for New Cod on the Block where I bought a fishcake butty and received a smile and some goodwill before I headed to the Closed Shop.
Mr Stephens was on hand to serve a range of decent ales once more, and with no thought of what else may be on offer I went for the Blackjack, um, thingy, since it was a Blackjack beer. (it now transpires through the magic of looking that this brown ale was called The River - and was rather nice, as per the below) Once again there were no recognisable faces in the crowd but I enjoyed sitting in the beer garden via the other entrance (stop it...) supping my rather delicious pint of hefty flavoured but rounded beer.
I nipped over to the Hallamshire House next for a half of McConnells vanilla stout from a slightly disappointing range, and headed down stairs to meet the Man of Ash and the lovely Dave. I can quite understand the attraction of the downstairs outside bit and the garden, even at night. Its warm and cool enough to be comfortable and feels a little like being on someone's back garden when there is a party going on in the house. Mind you, the smokers in the crowd all wanted to go back inside so in the end that's what I did too.
I then returned to the Shop to try a Doncaster brewery pale ale that was coming on after the mild - which I should point out I had a fantastic pint of wen I visited briefly on Monday. The quiet and calm of that visit reminded me of the good old days when there was no customers and no-one bought anything. Apparently, this is "bad for business" - bloody capitalists!
Anyway the pale ale was excellent but alas I didn't want to be out late so headed back to the 52 route home to prepare for the mammoth exercise in pub crawling that starts at the Sheffield tap in...an hours time.
I may see some of you later - either way, make sure you visit Shakespeares and get some o' that Arbor darn yer! (not literally).
*sorry, I forgot the explanation - Thangor is better known as Thangor the Unpleasable. I hope that helps.