Monday, 30 September 2013

Pubs. The perfect start and end to a weekend.

Oh aye,

      its been a lovely long weekend of doing very little, which as regular readers may have observed started on Friday night. Before that there was the small matter of a pre weekend warm up warm up at the Sheffield Tap, and an evening of reckless abandon in the Crookes Valley. Featuring, amongst other things, a certain populist brew...

The Tap was busy as always and as is also a regular occurrence I studiously timed my arrival to be on the arse end of about 20 other thirsty folk. Mind you, a beer going off and two of the slowest and least expeditious drinkers tarrying at the bar over some Keykeg hardly pushed things along. My pint of choice was the Tapped Mojo, my destination some seats near the bar, and my intention? Well, it was always lovely beer, but I soon realised there was more that I wanted to sampled than I could sensibly drink on a school night. So I didn't drink sensibly. Duh.

Next up was half a Magic Rock Dark Arts, which was very tasty but it was so long since I last tasted it on cask I couldn't work out if it was somehow different? Either way it was very enjoyable and unless my maths has gone awry, it's not all that expensive by Tap standards. Which is code for - I am wrong. It was ages ago. Soon I was joined by my companions for the night, which included a surprise catch up with Alan whom I know from my Archer Road Beer Stop days. Always nice to catch up with a former customer, especially one who likes a chat and a beer.

I moved onto the excellent Thornbridge Raven next, which was just as fantastic as I remembered it. Take note of the price - £4.05 a pint - to partake in a little quiz later in the post. This was far too easy to sup for such a strong beer, so I decided to remedy the situation by having half a Weird Beard Brew Co "Fade To Black" black IPA, a 7(or 7.5)% monster which lacked some of the subtlety of the Raven if am to be honest. Not that the raven is really still a black IPA. Whatever one of those is. Craft *coughs* or something I imagine. It was also £2.30 a half, so I needed another pint of Raven to recover.

Saturday afternoon saw myself and Miss N recovered and restless in equal measure. It was a lovely warm day and the football was too depressing to even consider paying attention to so I racked my brains to come up with an innovative schedule of culture and contrasts. Despite which we ended up at the pub. The Princess Royal in Crookes was fairly busy but was strangely lacking any Locale - not that it mattered since I had a lovely pint of Bass, and Miss N a Hobgoblin, which she seemed to correctly identify as a guilty pleasure. Like Wham. Not that it would be my guilty pleasure you understand. On either count...

Off next to the Cobden View where the Raw JR best bitter was on - just. In the end, after a good 10 minutes thrashing the beer was declared finished, so I opted for all of the beer that had come out for the price of a pint, whilst Miss N did something truly unspeakable involving singers with Greek antecedence. A quick chat in the beer garden followed, and then we were off to the Closed Shop on Commonside.

Here, in a surprising more, we both had a pint of the Blue Bee Pilcrow Porter. And then another. We may have had three - I know for certain we had a chip butty and it was bloody excellent. The only downside was that the new crack team of chefs at the Shop hadn't realised the extent to which I love bacon butties. So as yet, I will under all but the most extreme circumstances, have to decamp to the Rutland for pub food. Harsh, I know. And damned inconvenient!

After probably three pints each of Pilcrow which you may recall is excellent, we went over the road to the Hallamshire House to pretend to be disappointed at the Thornbridge Raven being on. To win a prize, can you guess how much it cost per pint?*  Whilst summoning your stab in the dark, remember that Pivni owns the Sheffield Tap, not the Hallamshire House. Meanwhile, we sat downstairs in the underground not inside nor actually underground bar cellar room lounge, and supped our fantastic pints of Raven, whilst musicians did things upstairs, before stirring ourselves for the walk to our last destination.

The University Arms was probably busy as well, however a mysterious soporific malaise had befallen us by this time, so it would be difficult to be sure. I do recall we both, having despondently watched the Welbeck Abbey Cavendish run out, had pints of the latest Abbeydale Brewery Dr Morton's beer, which was most agreeable.

All in all, what with nothing but cooking Moroccan stew and looking at photos to fill Sunday, this was the perfect weekend. And with upcoming do's at Shakespeares and the Rutland, there is no reason to think things won't continue to be excellent on the beer and pubs front over the next two weeks.


Wee Beefy

*That's correct! It was £3.40* a pint like you said. You now have the gift of knowledge. Well done.... unless you guessed wrong. Admittedly, the necessary apparatus is missing from this literary function which therefore does not provide any  assurance re the veracity of your guessing. Apologies if that takes the veneer off your self congratulatory satisfaction.

**I wasn't paying that much attention. I mean, it could have been £3.60....

Saturday, 28 September 2013

North Staffordshire nights


     It was the end of the working week. Some cataclysmic occurrence had rendered the city centre an immovable mass of abandoned vehicles, cordons, roadblocks, and amassed irritable people, short of fuse and bereft of answers . The birds took flight. The stray dogs stopped barking. The air went cold. And nobody bought an ice cream.

It was time to head to the moors.....

Under purple, red, and yellow hued skies we headed for Ladybower, passed through Bradwell, Tideswell and Millers Dale, passed the turn for Chelmorton on the snaking road to Brierlow Bar and then headed through Earl Sterndale, Crowdecote and Longnor before arriving, as the sun set over Flash, at a small unassuming building with a darkened wooden board above the door, and an A board across the road with nothing written on it.

Inside, the Butchers at Reapsmoor was already busy, and Carl was stood behind the bar aiming to tempt us with whatever was on his hand pumps on this crisp colour splashed moorland night. Unusually, he quickly caved in and admitted that the beer on the left was Jennings Cumberland. We were disappointed - where was the guesswork and hopeless clues? There was also a mild. No stranger a thought had entered my mind - Carl doesn't serve mild does he? Well, since he doesn't usually remember what he is selling himself, who knows? Luckily normality was restored, since he couldn't recall the name of the beer. Or its strength.

His daughter said "its 4.5%" as he told a customer it was 4.0%. Wee Fatha piped up "it says 4.6% on the pumpclip". Carl said "do you read everything it says on the front of a bus?". I couldn't see how this helped clarify anything, but he seemed pleased that this removed the need for any further questions, as we filed through to the room on the right with our beers - a pint of Mild and half for Wee Keefy and Wee Fatha - and a pint each of Cumberland for myself and Miss N.

Soon a canine party popper was let off and a herd of Alsatians rushed in, bristling between the chairs and tables, sussing out which one of us seemed most taken in by their enormous "feed me" eyes, and were therefore the best to be leaned on or stared at as we ate. Meanwhile, bellies rumbling as we waited, we all migrated onto the Cumberland since, alas, the mild was very much on its last legs. This saw us through our mammoth plates of Barnsley lamb chops and mixed grill.

Soon we were off over the moors to another isolated gem. A missed turn on the moors road towards Morridge brought us out onto the A53 before the incongruous Winking Man nightclub, but 300 yards up the road a defiantly modest single light and a jumble of cars showed us the Royal Cottage was busy - it was the last Friday of the month and was therefore folk night. We couldn't even get parked in the pub car park it was that busy. Those seeking assurances that the pub is still open - read on and rejoice.

Inside, the left had room was open and a large number of instruments and music stands clustered at the end of the bar to be retrieved when needed by the musical throng. Cliff looked rushed off his feet, draught beer was on, the fire was lit, and it was warm and joyful. Three bottles of Old Speckled Hen and a Manns Brown Ale for the driver were secured, and we sat down near the fire with a couple of dogs propping themselves against our legs or lying on our feet. The music from the other room drifted seamlessly from folk to a classic blues song, then some Appalachian sounding choral number, then a didgeridoo, and back to old English songs of lost love. And we talked, fussed dogs, and watched and listened. It was just what we needed.

It seems perhaps trite to describe somewhere as being timeless but there were two senses of that at play there last night - yes, it seems never to have changed in terms of decor since the 1960's or 1970's, and the furniture appears to predate that, but its also somewhere that you can lose track of time. Before we knew it, with Miss N and WK on Newky Brown, we had, and were discussing racing over to Earl Sterndale for a last one. Wee Keefy's powers of persuasion worked and we were out in the chill of the nigh walking back to the car, none of us seemingly having realised it was gone 23.00.

Back through the lanes there was only the landlord and one of the regulars in at the Quiet Woman - obviously we now know that was indicative of the late hour we arrived rather than it being particularly slow on trade. WK had a pint of Jennings Dark  Mild, myself and Miss N a very nice pint of Wincle Waller, and WF a half of the same. Drinks in hand, we repaired to the dominoes table to talk Royal Cottage, moorland pubs and ailments with the two gentlemen until long after we should all have been home in our beds.

So ended a fantastic, needful escape from the haste and stress of the city. With three excellent pubs, and three indomitable landlords at the helm in to the bargain.


Wee Beefy

Thursday, 26 September 2013


        in order to leach credibility from what is written below I'm going to confess to my inspiration for this post being having seen a post earlier on the Facebook from someone I know runs a pub, who observed, with some horror, that lots of details regarding his pub on a website were a bit wrong. Considerably so. As a direct result of which, I decided to have a look myself, at the CAMRA pubs database. With interesting results.

Before I share my findings, lets give the somewhat beleaguered website from the CAMRA a bit of credit. Keeping a database of licensed premises in the UK with 7000 closing every time we draw breath and 7000 reopening as amusement arcades selling angostura bitters every 4 seconds, is undoubtedly a massive ball ache. Every time you look round another venue has sprouted with "edgy" names like the 17th November Bar and Glittergang Lounge, and frankly, recording and updating this must be a heinous task.

Also, the fact that the CAMRA have listed none real ale venues is interesting, and not without merit since it includes the above types of establishment. Ones which, whilst perhaps less susceptible to closure than your traditional boozer, are much more likely to morph.

So after reading about its woes, and being a bit cheeky searching for the Royal Cottage, a pub which I concede until Friday I also won't know for certain is still open, I decided to try the site out properly. I was focusing on real ale only establishments that I know, to see if the gripes of licencees were born of isolated glitches, or representative of a wider malaise (counter arguments of CAMRA stalwarts that data updates went awry not withstanding)

And in summary - I have no idea.

I say this because lots of pubs I know are recorded accurately - ones specially chosen included Henry's and Interval and the Anglers Rest in Richmond/Handsworth. I reasoned that their unusual names or location outside the CAMRAsphere might trip the CAMRA up but they seem pretty much spot on. So far so good then. Lets be a little more keen...

DAda. An interesting venue not least because it attracts a lot of barely concealed ire from trad CAMRA types. Not that its a heaven in a half glass beer utopia by any means. There are faults and reasons to dislike it, but it isn't on the website. Full stop. Yet it was a recent pub of the month nominee. Hmmm...

Next the Hadfield, Barber Road, AKA the Sainsbury's Folly. Currently, in fact since May, boarded up to be converted into something no-one wants. That is still open. Meanwhile The great Gatsby, seller of two real ales on Division Street (last time I went!) is also non existent, likewise the Cwmdu Inn in Cwmdu, a landmark community run multi use pub, of which there is no trace. The Closed Shop is managed by last year's team, the Hallamshire House, open two years, is still selling Sharps Doom bar and guests, but isn't run by Thornbridge, and the Freedom House isn't shut. And so on and so forth.

In the end though, its not actually a bad try. In fact I think the only question is, should it have gone live before they were 100% sure it was accurate?

I think more work and another data upload attempt could have improved it. However, it only claims to list 96% of real ale pubs in Britain. In effect, using my own narrow search criteria, having chosen many banana skin venues, only three don't exist (this excludes non real ale searches) and only five are inaccurate, but the majority, a good twenty five, are correct. Compare that with the accuracy of most pub websites, especially whole of UK pub databases, and I think it fairs pretty well.

Perhaps the only conclusion is that the industry is slow to update and those keen to share that info are bound by the same constraints?

Wee Beefy

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Moss Valley beer wander


       Sunday saw me yomping through the North East Midlands to the Moss Valley, or, to be more precise, the edges of it. More precisely still, the pubs therein. Here is what I found in some of those buildings.

Myself and Miss N blazed a trail to Eckington along the TPT, and arrived in what is now virtually a ghost town, as if Eckington wasn't already a stand in for the set of Threads. No offence Ecky folk, but the past malaise of almost none of its many pubs selling real ale has now been replaced by the more pressing malaise of none of its many pubs being bloody open!

Annoyingly I had failed to make note of the pub that is in Eckington purporting to offer a range of real ales* that I had spotted somewhere in the beer writing world, and feeling that arriving red faced in the Co-op and asking random people which of Eckington's pubs were open may make me look a little piss-headish, we opted instead of boozing to get refreshments from the shop, and carried on our trek.

We made good progress along Back lane, turning left off the track near the house in the woods that Wee Fatha claims isn't on the map (it is, and I don't believe its not on his 1970 version - questions arising about why he's not got a more recent one must wait to be answered on FB or similar!) before heading up the hill past the School playing fields to behind Bramley Park. Here our progress slowed significantly.

Because we spent 50 minutes becoming increasingly thirsty trying to escape on to the road amidst a frustrating lack of any signage. To make sure this problem doesn't reoccur, please donate to : to enable the council or authority responsible to put just one lousy chuffing indication of which way the path goes, at the 4 way junction of the path you've just walked up, the one you need of which there is no obvious evidence, and the two created by ruminants out of boredom. Thanks.

So, having got over that as I so obviously have, and escaped onto the road via Eckington School playing fields, we toiled up the hill and into the Fox and Hounds at Marsh Lane,  now mercifully keeping more modern hours of open all day. We quickly ordered two glasses of water and two perfectly kept cellar cool pints of Jennings Crag Rat at £3.10 a pint, which hit the spot perfectly. We sat outside in the beer garden with me perversely craving the heat of the sun, and once we'd applied plasters and other medication (don't ask!) we steadied ourselves for a walk to the next pub.

This was the Devonshire Arms at Middle Handley. There's no longer any point sighing and muttering about its gastro credentials rather than it being a proper pub like what it used to be - because it simply isn't and it is almost impossible to conceive of it being anything else other than a commuter home if it had not taken its current direction.

Sat outside in the setting sun, we supped pints of Farmers Blonde for Miss N and the excellent Barlow Dark Horse for me, from a range of usually four cask ales. As well as the beers, the other feather in the pub's cap is that they take cards - buses aint cheap in the area so you need all the coinage you can get. Especially if you get stuck in Apperknowle...

Walking into the sunset we were rewarded with outstanding views over the Drone Valley with beautiful colours streaking across the sky and vapour trails criss-crossing and fading into purple and then dark red as we walked. We didn't actually get stuck at the Travelers Rest in Apperknowle, but I can safely say that it  wouldn't have been the worst place to do so.

The current CAMRA Dronfield Sub Branch Summer pub of the season, as well as gaining massive kudos by selling rarely mentioned Blue Bee Pilcrow Porter last week, also excels by carrying an ever changing range of other real ales, plenty of ciders, and by selling absolutely fantastic pork pies. We ordered a large one to share and weren't disappointed for £3.00 - the ales were around the same price and we had a Reef Porter from Coastal Brewery and the rather marvelous Abbeydale Asbo. I didn't see the strength., but I confess it "dinnarf" remind me of the Abso. Lution. Either way it was cracking.

Alas, having arrived in near darkness and with time getting in on we needed to try and catch a bus, which we did, much to our surprise and slight disappointment, despite the best efforts of Tin Pot Travel. Clearly, the trick to doing this walk properly is to start walking at 10.30 instead of 13.30, not get lost, and end up at the Travelers a bit earlier, therefore fitting in a few more beers. Even without following this recipe, this was a very enjoyable visit to a proper locals pub selling great real ale in fabulous countryside.

All in all, despite not reaching Ford or Troway or visiting the Butchers, the Moss and Drone Valley edges offer some fine pubs and a decent range of beers. Well worth taking a hike from Woodhouse or Norton or Coal Aston, or Dronfield, or anywhere nearby really, to sample what the area has to offer.


Wee Beefy

*investigations suggest I made this up! I can't find it in Innspire and the Internet mocks me by suggesting its the Fox and Hounds in Marsh Lane, or the at least accurate in terms of location but less likely Duke of York in the centre of Eckington - am I losing my mind, or is there not only the George that sells real ale in Eckington now?  

Too many beers, not enough liver.

Hello people,

                Tonight I've gone radically off message and decided not to consume any alcohol. I'm enjoying the palpitations and the lovely welsh unicorn asleep in my mug, which I can see as I rock backwards and forwards in stinking breathlessness, but in all honesty I'm very annoyed with my liver for being such a big girl's blouse and needing a rest. I mean, at least my cognitive functions are still hyssop..

To be fair though, old yellow eyes has put in quite a stint of late - so in testimony to the indomitable work rate of my put upon organ I'm going to pay tribute to some of the excellent liquids it has helped me process in one of Sheffield's famous beery hostelries, over the last few days.

Friday is traditionally a day of refreshments. As an ultra traditionalist, I felt it would be tantamount to digging up the graves of my ancestors not to partake in an after work tipple (see part 792 of "frankly absurd excuses to go to the pub here). On this occasion I was meeting Miss N in the Sheffield Tap for some pre meal libation, and discovered the excellent Anarchy Brew Co unfiltered Grin and Bare it, a 5.0% hybrid IPA, which impressively, their website claims hasn't been released! Still, I expect that's to ramp up the anticipation....

Not that much of that matters - the main thing is it was a very easy drinking beer with a subtle hop flavour and started the evening nicely. In fact, we had two pints of it in tribute. Despite this being a gentle precursor to my cooking, we couldn't resist finishing on something a little stronger - and what a spot! Having bemoaned its "kegularity" since I first tasted it in cask in the Tap a few years ago, the excellent Thornbridge Raven was suddenly and without precedent available on cask once more! So we had to have a pint. And it was absolutely fantastic. Beer of the week, except for the people's porter of course.

Mind you, we'll just not talk about the price. Move away from the price. Don't look at it. Simply accept it was a really good beer. Its OK. You are safe now....

Days later and a return trip revealed  the obvious consequence of the Raven having run out but that disappointment was tempered by there still being plenty to go at, during a pleasing three hour plus session. I started on a half of Peak Ales DPA, a sweetish but not unpleasant 4.6% chestnut (euphemism for mainly brown) beer that went down really well. I followed this with a much less sensible pint of Anarchy Brew Co Quiet Riot, a complex surprisingly fruity IPA at 6.6% which was also very drinkable. Far too drinkable, arguably.

A pint of the rather more sensible Tapped Brew Co Bramling followed, if nothing else to stop me keeling over, before I had a second pint of Quiet Riot. I'm starting to really like the Anarchy stuff. I've probably tried about five of their beers and really liked every one. The sublime breakfast stout was amazing, but I enjoy some of their lower gravity perhaps more "mainstream" beers as well. Here's to seeing them in Sheff more regularly.

Alas the downside to this is that it was the precursor to another eye wateringly expensive but very enjoyable beer - this time the Buxton Wyoming Sheep Ranch double IPA on Costkeg. I probably wouldn't have entertained the idea normally, especially having asked the price first, but I think the Quiet Riot had disabled my thinking button so I purchased a half of this sensationally hoppy monster of a brew. To be fair, its massive wall of spicy hops and the aftertaste it unleashes probably suits keg better than cask, but I'm sure I would have enjoyed it by either method of storage and serving.

So, either side of the weekend the Tap provided two sessions with some frankly amazing beers. It remains a contradiction - a frustrating obstacle to sensible pricing which simultaneously provides some of the best beers you'll see on any given day in Sheffield - I can't emphasis enough just how good that Raven was. Overall, it seems that as long as I keep going on my own terms I can probably continue to enjoy the pub.

Just as long as I don't spot any Dark Star Porter....


Wee Beefy

Sunday, 22 September 2013

The Sheffield Food Festival 2013.


Schmood more like...

             For the purposes of his post, food has to be recognised as both solid and liquid. Mainly liquid. In fact, in terms of the "food" I sampled at the food festival, entirely liquid. Well, its a beer blog after all.

So once again, it was a warm September Saturday, and crowds were gathered in a bustling and noisy Peace Gardens, possibly concealing bottles of White Lightning or cheap sherry, enjoying the sights and smells of the Sheffield food festival. Stalls lined Fargate and Pinstone Street, and at the centre of it all, far more important than any other aspect, was the beer bar of the Sheffield Craft (coughs) Brewers Co-operative.

To get my own unique angle on the event, I was sat in the tent next to it - supporting local small businesses. How very locally engaged of me...

This year the bar features 8 breweries and staff from all of them were working behind the bar through the three days of the festival serving pints and offering advice to punters. The roll call was Abbeydale, Blue Bee, Bradfield, Brew Company, Kelham Island, Sheffield Brewing Co, White Rose and Wood Street breweries. Plenty of "real ale types" from the Sheffield scene were there but crucially, I spotted and overheard a lot of people looking to try real ale as a change or for the first time. In the spirit of the food festival, people were sampling the unusual, and as far as I could see, loving it. At £3.00 a pint regardless of strength, the beer was good value as well.

After a fortnight of tasty Pilcrow the only sensible choice for my first pint was a dark beer - alas we missed Brew Co's Oat Mocha Stout and instead plumped for a couple of pints of Blue Bee Lustin For Stout. This year for the bar they had invested in some rather more sturdy  plastic glasses, meaning grabbing it with any force didn't result in you squirting quarter of a pint of beer over yourself,  and the other bonus was the appearance of seating, which  made this much more like a beer festival bar. Soon myself and Miss N were joined by J9 and Dave, Feasty, Gav, Gary and Clair and Mr P, and set about securing a large table in the sunshine. Cue four hours of enjoyable socialising and drinking.

Back to the beer then, and another couple of pints of Blue Bee Lustin for Stout were purchased, before we switched codes - both of us moving on to pints of the Brew Co Stateside Pale, as recommended by the brewer. As the bar was getting busier, at the same time the sun was getting hotter, but the only damage to the beers was their availability - pale ales were running out left right and centre. That said, the Lustin for Stout went very early on in our session.

Real food lovers (i.e most of the rest of our throng) wandered off at times to sample the likes of curried goat, Nepalese curry and hot roast pork sandwiches at nearby stalls, whilst we manned the table and continued our drinking. Next up were pints of Bradfield Farmers Pale, that being, as I have often mentioned, my favourite Bradfield beer, before we tried pints of the Kelham Island Knight Rider.

Eventually we got to our final festival drinks - a pint each of the Blue Bee Tangled Up IPA, before we headed down to the Rutland with Mr P to worship at the altar of the people's porter. According to the Rutland, who is a person, its the taste of Wee beefy. I am very pleased to assure you that none of my person ended up in the beer...!

So, had I been more sober and less busy am sure I would have checked out other pubs and beery delights - I hear the Beer Central shop proposed to open in the new market on the Moor have a stall, and there are, as I'm sure you know, plenty of pubs in and around the festival serving a range of real ales. The festival is on til this evening and the bar will be open for some of that time - last year I think it closed around 16.00 so you should be OK for an al-fresco pint if you get your skates on...


Wee beefy

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Other beers are available *


                 all is looking good in the Beefy camp, since you ask, so much so in fact that I have ventured beyond the best pub in Yorkshire to other hostelries. With quite excellent results...

Sunday we ventured to Crookes to see a wall of horizontal water smash against us in a drenched descent to the Closed Shop. Tharrul learn us to visit the wilds of Crookes. It pains me to say, but in the interests of this being a blog not about the people's porter, that this was what we had - although in fairness we drained the cask. Miss N also had a pint of Enville Kasitra, a laudable attempt to produce a lower gravity hoppy beer that somewhat floundered, whilst I helped mop up the last of the Pilcrow.

Next up we stayed dark with a couple of pints of the Blue Bee Lustin for stout, before undertaking the arduous trek to the Hallamshire House. Here, after a few droughty visits with only the staple range to choose from, we were spoilt for choice! A 3rd each of the Heather Honey Stout, about which I was given an informative poster to make my write up more accurate in terms of details, yet which I haven't read, was an absurd £3.00, but incredibly tasty - almost a fruit cake taste predominated, like the honey had mellowed into the other ingredients. A memorable brew.

Also brilliant was the Thornbridge Kacho, a flavoursome and complex rum porter with a pleasing colour and a really smooth finish. If the Imperial Russian Stout hadn't been on Keykeg I think I may have tried that. And moaned about the price (which is out of the hands of the pub to an extent, given that the funding for the beer has to have been stolen from the infirm and disabled. Allegedly)

A wander down the hill brought us to the Rutland and pints of Blue Bee Pilcrow Porter were enjoyed once more. Good to see it still in bars around Sheffield, albeit briefly. A great end to a fab night of drinking.

Tuesday I was in All Bar One, for my sins. Eschewing the delights of cask Doom Bar and Black Sheep I ended up having a couple of expensive pints of the Meantime Pilsner on keg. Mind you, it was on cracking form.

Meanwhile DAda had the excellent Pollards Stout on at £3.00 a pint so I had a half of that and half of the ever excellent Halcyon before a trip to the Red Deer heralded a rare lengthy stay. Mind you, part of that length came from my chips being served to another table who, demonstrating a reprehensible lack of moral turpitude, claimed them for themselves, rather than confessing they hadn't ordered any. I agree with the idea of not having food take over but some form of receipt for the delivery of food may have stopped this, and prevented my waiting 50 minutes for something to eat. That said, the excellent Springhead The Leveller Belgian Ale on cask at £3.30 was well worth a go.

Final pints came at the Bath with Buxton Bitter the star of the show, despite the usually desirable attractions of an Oakham beer - a brace in fact. The Inferno was tried but it was wiped out in terms of taste by the admirable efforts of the Buxton.

Finally, a brief sup took place in Shakespeares tonight where the mostly admirable rejection of modern comforts became a pressing concern rather than a feature - put some chuffing heating on! The visit saw me and Dave Howard from the world of music both having a pint of Rat Dunkel Rat, which was possibly a bit too sharp, before I had an excellent pint of the Steel City 7% or something Black IPA that I didn't catch the name of (to be fair, Unpro was hardly forthcoming about its nomenclature**) and a brace of Great Newsome Jem Stout. The night was completed by a half of Pixie Spring Golden Pixie and Five Towns Yorker, from the cellar. The Pixie Spring was possibly the best of the beers listed, with the Buxton and Lustin a close second and third, if only because it (Golden Pixie) packed so much hoppy goodness into a sub 4% beer.

All in all a great demonstration of the variety of real ales available in Sheffield in a handful of venues. A pleasing geographical coincidence!


Wee Beefy

*that said the Pilcrow, or "People's" porter from Blue Bee, went on sale at the Travelers Rest at Apperknowle Tuesday night....
*turns out it was Swansong at 7.5%, according to Facebook....

Saturday, 14 September 2013

The people's porter on the march


          its been a taxing week this week. If any 24 hour period had the word day in it I was out fighting the fight, making sure every last drop of the people's porter, recently voted the most accessible and socially conscious beer ever brewed, by a panel of ignoramuses, was supped.

Shakespeares did their best to defeat me by "hilariously" telling me the arrival of the beer was weeks away then springing its availability on me Saturday night. Monday night I was straight into the pub to make sure I got some. In beer blogging circles, its usually expected that one provide at east a modicum of detail (see posts passim for the extent to which a modicum is the most that is provided) about the beers drunk but there is no point elaborating here. Seven lovely pints of the Pilcrow Porter brewed by Blue Bee Brewery was the totality of my roll call.

Tuesday night arrived and I had to pop into Shakespeares for some reason or other- I seem to recall it involved Pilcrow Porter. Just to confuse matters however, I also decided to sup a pint of the excellent easy drinking Black Iris American Red. Slotted in between 2 pints either side of the people's pint this stood up admirably well.

On Wednesday things took a massively divergent turn - I went to a venue to be photographed drinking beer. The venue was Shakespeares. The beer was Pilcrow Porter. I even got to drink it from a Blue Bee glass. It was also a great opportunity to be reunited with the brewing team of Robenbakker, Mister Christopher, Chris Wa Wa, JSB and Alex Corner form the band of the same name. Oh, and to drink beer. Just the four this time, including a half of the rather disappointing Red Squirrel Redtail Citra. I recalled really liking their beer but I suspect it was their excellent dark ales that I have gorged on in the past. Not that it was unpleasant - but it needed about twice as much Citra. Perhpas 600kg, as is the new standard in brewing which I obviously know all about all of a sudden....

Thursday I was having a pint after work wit my mate Steve and we decided he might like to drink Pilcrow Porter in Shakespeares. I say we. His acquiescence was presumed. Pilcrow wise, as a non beer drinker, his description of it being an not unpleasant drink was eye moisteningly kind. Mind you, this time I also mixed it up by having a pint of the Revolutions John and Yoko, a 6.9% pale ale. Boom! This was an absolutely fantastic beer. Packed full of hops that complimented each other perfectly (or were all the same hop, as can happen) it was the ideal accompaniment to the mellow drink-ability of the Pilcrow. The people's porter. Did I mention that?

By now news had arrived from the Closed Shop and the Rutland Arms that they had also put the liquid if the common man on their bars - so having drained the barrels in Shakespeares almost single handedly, the revolution had now spread across the fine city to other fine pubs, which had I bothered to visit them, may have made this a slightly less one dimensional post.

Finally, last night I escaped from work early and went for a walk. I "accidentally" ended up at the Wellington where i had a pint of the Little Ale Cart European Union, 4.0% and £2.35 a pint, and the Bittern from the same brewery, 5.0% and £1.35 a half. This was the precursor to a final visit of the week to the little mentioned Shakespeares Ale and Cider House on Gibraltar Street. Replacing the people's porter was a far more elitist beer which had coffee in it. I ask yer - coffee? What next, Earl Grey?

Well, since it was Roosters Londinium coffee porter and they also brew the Mad Hatters Earl Grey IPA I guess the answer is yes. I had a couple of the porter and a very enjoyable pint of Rat brewery wheat beer - well, it was cloudy, so assumed it was a wheat beer. Either way it was a very nice easy drinking pint.

With a cask having arrived at or being due at the excellent Travelers Rest Apperknowle, and another on order for Sheffield (and Yorkshire's) best pub, it seems like the chance to catch the people's porter still exists.

So go out there! Men, women and children (not literally)! Claim (not literally) your entitlement to the people's pint! Drink it for all of us!



Wee Beefy

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Three stags, two sessions, one beer.


             your oft absent blogger is back from another sojourn, this time only a short hop away to Litton in the peak district. I had made grand plans to visit Brizzle before coming to my senses and planning a short and more affordable trip away in Derbyshire.

The criteria was simple - I would select a National Inventory pub, and find a B and B nearby, thus enabling me to have a proper late night session in said pub. First idea The Royal Cottage, as well as not actually being on the N.I, isn't exactly surrounded by accommodation. Meanwhile everywhere in Elton or Winster (for the N.I listed Duke of York in Elton) was either full or far too expensive. Luckily, a place to stay 15 minutes walk from the Three Stags Heads at Wardlow Mires was found. And so began an epic stint sitting in and soaking up the atmosphere of this fantastic unspoilt pub.

Arriving in Litton at tea time and having dumped my stuff in my room the first thing to do was go to the pub. Obviously. Very little point being a beer blogger if you don't even venture to try the local pub. The Red Lion is a popular old boozer situated overlooking the village green, and serves good quality food and more importantly, real ale.

On the bar was a choice of Abbeydale Absolution, Acorn Forester, a mainstream national beer and my choice of tipple - Wincle Sir Phillip. At £3.30 for a 4.3% beer its a bit steep but it was the prefect accompaniment to my meal, and just to make sure I had three pints of it. A very satisfactory start to the night.

I then walked out of the village, diced with death walking along the A6 before visiting the Three Stags Heads. The pub was packed out when I got there and I ended up sitting in the Green Room with a couple who, much to my horror, were flagrantly ignoring the no mobile rule! That's two such incursions witnessed in just one year! Clearly the pub will be a themed sports bar by next week at this rate....

The beer range is Abbeydale and more Abbeydale - Brimstone, Deception, Absolution and Lurcher in order of strength. The Absolution is a more than reasonable £3.00 a pint (5.3%) and so it seemed daft to have anything but that. As the crowds thinned a little I ended up sat with the landlord who was talking about their upcoming (Saturday and Sunday 14th and 15th September) pottery and food festival.

Against a backdrop of a fire in the range, a tumult of dogs and good natured banter this was a fantastic session. So often when I visit the Stags I'm on borrowed time, waiting with bated breath to be informed by whoever was kind enough to drive me there that we needed to leave. Now I was sat in walking distance of a bed and constrained only by how late I thought I could realistically get to sleep and still make breakfast at 8.30. This was bliss.

Saturday saw me off down Cressbrook Dale below a canvas of cloud strewn skies and fleeting bursts of sunshine that changed the appearance of mt surroundings constantly. I came back into Litton via Tansley Dale and walked slowly back towards the Three Stags, passing the landlord on the way walking his dogs. Robbie the barman was on hand to dispense beer and conversation and so began another, perhaps even more enjoyable session on the Absolution.

Being there for 6 hours reveals the Stags' contradiction. The pub is a relaxing refuge from the madness of the modern world, yet it's simultaneously an ever changing scene, constantly filled and emptied by a steady flow of customers including walkers, cyclists, a family training for a Forth Bridge abseil, pottery fanatics, sightseers and locals. All washed in and out of the tiny bar, lit by the sun streaming in through the front door, and as ever almost overwhelmed by dogs of all shapes and sizes. To cap it all the Absolution was on great form and had it not been that I was off to Fluff's 40th birthday party I might have been walking back to Litton for the last bus - or contemplating another night away.

As it was, a possibly drink inspired cheeky request to a couple I hoped were Sheffield bound resulted in them giving me a lift back - they even dropped me at the Beauchief Hotel, the venue for the party! Well, after all, if you don't ask, you don't get.

In respect of which, what I got, as well as a helping hand, was a day of exercise and sloth, and excellent beer and company in a fabulous, unspoilt National Inventory pub, which was a fantastic end to my Summer holidays. AKA, exactly what I was after.


Wee Beefy

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Sheffield beer blogger drinks in Sheffield, shock.

Now Then,

         after the abject horror of spending a week in a country with no cask beer I came back to the UK with barely time to catch my breath before heading off on another jolly - as described previously. In between times, so as not to shock my system, I have been steadily reacquainting myself with the Great British pub, in the following ways.

Sunday 25th saw me at Shakespeares supping one of Steel City's beers, a Black IPA that didn't really do it if am to be honest. I also got the last half of a Hopcraft beer and a few pints of a stout, the identity of which scarcely matters now. Which is lucky....*

Wednesday saw me back again this time drinking some rather agreeable Doncaster porter, having sunk a couple of the excellent Pilcrow Porter, AKA the people's pint, at the Closed Shop. A quick nip round to the Kelham Island Tavern finished off the evening nicely with several pints of Bobs Brewing Yakima Chief.

On Saturday I paid my first visit to the Sellers Wheel on Arundel Street. Not long open this is a coffee shop serving food (i.e more than just cakes) as well as a rather good selection of bottled beers including Hop Studio, and their Pilsner plus Ilkley Dinner Ale on draught. Admittedly they are both Keykeg but I was told that they needed to see how well beer sales went before risking a cask beer on the single handpump. The Pilsner is a decent lager anyway so I had a pint - £3.80 for a Keykeg beer (assuming it is?) isn't too wide of the mark, and the prospects for cask as well as those bottles is good. Well worth a look, if nowt else for the Aeropress coffee.

From here we nipped in the Rutland and I had a pint of Hopcraft something or other which despite its amnesiac powers I have managed to remember was very nice - and there is Ilkley and Mikkeller on Keykeg for those who like that kind of thing. Come to think of it I'm sure it was called Statement of Intent. Off next to a new venue to me - Tropeiro in Leopold square. Alas despite the prevalence in Brazil of Lokal, and there being a dark Brazilian beer available at Las Iguanas, Tropeiro manages to have nothing more unusual than  Cruzcampo and the very worst lager by numbers with a fanacy sounding name - at £3.85 a bottle. No wonder their drinks menu didn't seem to feature on their website! Seems Popolo is the only place to get half decent beer in Leopold Square.

The Dog and Partridge meanwhile had Lustin for Stout which Chala tried and Invocation from Abbeydale which I did. It was nice to see the place busy and we thought about staying for another but instead headed to the Bath Hotel where, bloated from our meat-cercise at the restaurant we were on halves. I chose to try the Bridestones and wasn't smitten but found the Thornbridge Beadecas well on great form. Chala tried and disliked the Tap 7 from Schneider, although she had already paid - after some questioning it was swapped for a far less odd Thornbridge Tsara.

Finally,  news of a Sunday crawl which saw me supping The public wants what the public gets (or similar) also from the excellent Hopcraft brewery, along with their impressive Jamaican stout from the cellar. We followed this with a pint in the Blake Hotel, where I had something very tasty, probably a beer I forgot due to having some excellent Kilchoman whisky to follow - not something I do very often. The final port of call was the Closed Shop for numerous pints of Blue Bee Nectar Pale - a great end to a great day and week of drinking lovely cask ale.


Wee Beefy.

*it is probably a bit late since 118 of you have read this but I feel, in my defence, I must explain that I am on  holiday - from research, or more importantly note taking. So please forgive my rancid attention to detail - I am back at the Grindstone (not the pub) next week and promise to write something down. Cheers!