against my better judgement and infused with a decent amount of surprise I found myself out on black Friday and Twaturday. I hadn't planned to do either, mot properly anyway. However, much like I "definitely" wasn't going out last Christmas Eve (I was in DAda for 3 hours) I seemed to inexorably gravitate to the pub - and in doing so waded through the sea of crapulent chaos that somewhat inevitably raged around it.
I'll start with the good stuff. I was hoping to meet a refreshed Miss N in some undecided venue after a visit to the hospital but found she was orf home to recover, so ended up meeting Wee Keefy and his mates for some pints in the Dog and Partridge.
Slowly getting back to the kind of melee of punters that used to define any Christmas or New Year trip to the Dog, the pub is winning back drinkers who drifted away in the dark days when real ale disappeared and the developers got interested. A good range of local and further afield micro brewery guests along with Black Sheep are available, and the first beer I tried was the Okells St Nick. A pint of which was bought for me by Connor, who I'm not sure if I should describe as the landlord or manager (along with Sarah, who knows her bloggers....), to replace a tired half of some Cross Bay I'd had a few weeks ago. I said then on being offered a replacement that unfortunately I hadn't time for a replacement half on that occasion, so this was a pleasant surprise.
Wee Keefy and Mr Pre-wash were in residence along with other of WK's colleagues and we got sat down to continue making a dent in the real ale . Halves of Blackjack Ginger Stout and Tring Moongazer followed - I had been on the latter at the Three Tuns earlier. The stout was impressive if sightly overpowering and he Moongazer was a very enjoyable drop. So much so that further pints of it followed, and I should point out in the interests of honest and fair reporting, that I didn't pay for many of them, along with a whole pint of the fearsome but impressive stout.
As well as focusing on real ales, the Dog aims to be more of a locals pub, a move that quite apart from the geographical separation, would show it to be different from the throngs of West Street boozers that are as homely as a cactus settee. I can see a few more trips will be called for over the coming months to test out this claim...
The other plus point was my unexpected Saturday sojourn. Having been out for a cracking meal at the Sportsman at Crosspool we had repaired with Miss N to Wee Keefy's for some entertainment. At the Sportsman, beer of choice was Top of the Hops (which I thought was a Great Yorkshire Brewery beer?) but would, had it come on an hour earlier, have been Fullers and Steel City Steel. When I asked when it would come on the manager said "its still a bit cloudy" which elicited a wry smile and the word over-hopping from myself...
Later, having been persuaded to go out "just for one" we needed up in the maelstrom which is the Bee Hive with WK, Miss N, Carlos, Alison, Paddy, Jambon, Half Pint and Jack, and after an epic struggle made it to the bar to buy a pint of Bee Hive bitter, AKA Bees Knees. Despite this not being exactly my favourite venue I stayed for another, mainly because WK very kindly paid for it - after, it was suggested that we went for a pint in the Bath Hotel. So it was settled. The night was not yet finished...
Thornbridge Pollards was on the bar along with a few other tempting treats but as soon as I spotted the Burning Sky Saison I knew it was a no-brainer. It was going to be an enjoyable but rather expensive end to the night. We were probably in the pub for three hours, catching up and sharing great company and supping, in mine and Miss N's case, copious quantities of saison. This was a fantastic night with good friends which may even have got me into the Christmas spirit.
Alas there are two sides to black weekend or whatever its called. And so as not to ruin the joyous tales before it, I'll summarize the downside in a few lines :
A fight outside at least two pubs and inside one.
The already widely reported but no less horrendous damage to the last remaining full size Wards window at Shakespeares.
And a pint of 5.9% beer costing £4.60 at the Sheffield Tap, coupled with my not having looked at the price (or been warned of it) before asking for it. Not attributable to any particular event of course, just an unpleasant surprise for customers enjoying finishing their weekend with a couple of drinks.
Anyway, there is a lot coming up over the next week or two so hopefully I can finally finish work for the year and get some blogging done, but in the event that I don't make to the keyboard, then I would like to wish everyone a very happy Christmas.