Tuesday, 30 July 2013


Now then,

     its not all reopened pubs you know. Sometimes I can't stay away from those long and slightly less long established ones. Here's some details and news on that subject....

On Tuesday I set a new "high" bar for frankly preposterous excuses to go to the pub. I had left work and realised I needed to buy a bus pass on the way home. I went to the cash machine and drew out a tenner. The pass was £10.50 - but I only had £10.45. Of course, the only "rational" thing to do was go and get another tenner out and then somehow conceive of a mechanism for changing the troublesome little bugger.

I started by popping in DAda, to change a tenner (see "walk the dog", "see a man about a dog" and "research"). Behind the bar, loving the wall of heat created by the fridges, glass washer and bright lights, was Jamie, struggling to stay cool even in shorts and clearly near unconscious, with Steff sitting at the bar for company - these two things aren't linked, but they were the only people there....

I didn't anticipate swelling the numbers for long - after all, I was only going to have a half. Oh please....

I started on the right track, since a half of Chiron was my choice, largely influenced by some slightly grim cask options; the Pica Pica re-badge would have been my preference but it had "gone orf" so I stuck with a Chiron, which did the trick nicely. After an enlightening discussion about the Standardised English Swearing Usage Regulations, which we may well copyright, I opted for a half of Raven.

Raven, from the Thornbridge, hasn't been available on cask for a very long time. I first tried it on cask and really liked it, but its been Keykeg ever since. This is a good illustration of why not everything you put in Keykeg works, no matter how big your house is (or how many brewers you recruit each year).

Raven on Keykeg is incredibly bitter. Which is fine, since its a Black IPA - it is after all, black, and bitter, like an IPA. Except its bitter in a needlessly dry way and has precisely none of the finer points of a stout, (whether it should or shouldn't as a Black IPA). It needs more body and less edge, if that makes sense. Still, I'm glad I tried it, since I'd normally not bother, because I think there is merit in revisiting a beer now and again. And there was merit even if not joy, in doing so on this occasion.

Across the road at the Dog and Partridge I enjoyed a closed door so made my way slightly earlier than planned to Shakespeares. A Roosters Stars and Stripes was my starter, a slightly underwhelming Roosters beer once again, although better than their not-so Wild Mule, and scoring points for having an intriguing mix of flavours.

I finished this short wander on two pints of Wilson Potter "In Shreds". This was a gloriously well balanced hoppy beer that would have warranted a few more goes if I hadn't been behaving myself - or even if I had. I think I've tried four Wilson Potter beers in total, and I've liked them all - this one perhaps most of all. Whilst its easy to argue that there are numerous real ale micro brewers producing hoppy pale ales, Wilson Potter and similarly Cross Bay, though following that same path, are a good example of breweries doing it well. There's a pleasing subtlety to their brews which highlights the glorious facets of the hops used rather than simply using more of them. Brilliant.

A last bit of news features another pub reopening - this time in the middle of chuffing nowhere. Obviously, if you live in Woodsetts, sort of between North Anston and Worksop, this may be a phrase that you disagree with, but I'll perhaps beg to differ after what I expect will be a rather long trek back from the pub when I get round to visiting.

The Butchers Arms at Woodsetts has been taken on by Raw Brewing of Staveley. I understand that Enterprise own the pub and Raw are in essence tenants there. The upshot, above anything else, will be that there will be really good real ale available henceforth. I never made it to the Butchers previously but have a sneaking suspicion that Grey Ghost and the like weren't spotted on the bar.

The interweb is hardly awash with info (even Raw's own website for the pub isn't up yet!) despite its official reopening bash being on Friday 2nd August. However, you could always look at their Facebook page for updates. Its touch and go whether I'll make it Friday but any visit to a (barely) local new venue sounds worth a look. Hopefully, like the White Swan in Chesterfield, this will be another Raw Brewery success story.


Wee beefy

Monday, 29 July 2013

Libation, launches and lunch


         posts have been a bit thin on the ground recently due to my being "busy" AKA not exactly at home. Or particularly sober. The upshot of which is that all sorts of things have happened, which I hope to recap below.

On Thursday I went to the Closed Shop. As mentioned last time out, the pub has reopened after its refurbishment, and as predicted, does indeed have a slightly increased beer range, and as hoped, continues to be rather fab. There are a few last minor issues to overcome, like planning permission for alterations to the beer garden, but overall its much cosier and beerier and looks good.

There are minor concerns based on my two visits thus far, and in the interest of balance (I'm rubbish at hiding bias am afraid) I'll list them here.

Firstly its chuffing warm (and this isn't entirely down to the weather), and also, the standard international spacial tolerance allowance for gaps between tables and fixed seating has been blatantly flouted in an  attempt to seat more folks. Not that this is a great problem, not least because the above regulation is something I made up, but it is marginally problematic for big lad. I can, if I like, scare small children and the weak hearted by placing my hernia on the table. Or I can sit elsewhere. I'd rather do neither.......

Still, its ironic to consider that the more time I spend sat in said environment the more it in some way contributes further to spacial issues, since there has been quite a lot of very good beer on. Arriving first (no matter what anyone tried to claim) on Thursday I had a pint of Abbeydale Dr Morton's Angler Management, followed by a Nethergate lager, and several pints of Blue Bee Tangled Up IPA, which true to form, was rather nice. I also think I had a Titanic Plum Porter. In summary, people were very generous and lots of drinks were bought, and I had the pleasure of good company all night. It was ace.

Sunday saw me invited to the Closed Shop for the soft launch of the food service, which starts on Tuesday. The idea (for dumplings like me who don't understand what a soft launch is) was to put on a range of dishes and see how popular they were, what time and place people prefer eating in, and generally how this whole "food" malarkey pans out. Personally I found it all very tasty, and as many others commented, offering free food to everyone on a Sunday is bound to get the punters in. Mr Stephens has not yet but surely would, ask me to point out that food actually has to be purchased under normal trading arrangements. I still would.

The beer range was once again rather good, but I only tried two ales - the Nook Brewhouse Oat Stout was great but once I'd gravitated to Titanic 9 below zero, a fruity 5.9% pale ale, it was that all the way. I'm fairly sure Chala enjoyed her Staropramen, although I couldn't tempt her to a cask beer. It was also good catching up with tree expert Robin, Vickie (this is probably wrong, sorry probably not Vickie) Mister Christopher, and his flat mate Allan.

Leaving Commonside we headed down the road in-between huge downpours to the Dam House. A beautiful walk through Crookes Valley park in hot sunshine ended with 20 minutes sat admiring the view and supping ale. Chala had a half of Wentworth Oyster Stout, and me a pint of Banks and Taylors S.O.D (Shefford Old Dark). I'm sure it wasn't intentional, but two dark beers from a range of two is CHUFFING BRAVE in Sheffield! Luckily I love dark beers....

Our final stop was in the Bath Hotel, where weird new opening hours have been imposed. It used to open at 18.30 maybe 19.00 so we didn't want to arrive early only to find it shut - but had we dallied any longer we'd have not made it in - it seems to shut at 19.30! Unperturbed (well, unaware), I had a pint or few of excellent Mallinsons Topaz and some Chiron whilst Chala had some beer. We weren't really doing research, not that you can tell.

A last mention goes to Shakespeares where I headed after work on Friday. A short session played out in which I was joined by Mister Christopher, and Patrick, from the world of hair. I had a few pints of the excellent new Steel City beer from the cellar, and a half of a Wilson Potter beer (which was excellent) with the word go in it (probably), along with a half of the Arbor Monsoon Saison. Cracking beers and good conversation prevailed as always.

So rounds up some recent slaking and pub related news. Hear's looking forward to a thirsty August ahead.


Wee Beefy.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Re-closed Closed Shop reopening.....

  Yes, I know.

                I did this silly alliterative gag last time, and its a bit cheap and sad to do it again. So, um...well, sometimes its best to just stick to what you know.

Anyhoo this is just a quick post to convey precisely all of the above information in the title in a slightly longer and less user friendly format. So you may wish to read on....

The Closed Shop on Commonside only reopened in February but had already built up a good reputation (some hairy man even blathered on about it in a magazine or something) and now, after 3 weeks being closed, the pub is to reopen following a refurbishment, on Thursday 25th July at 18.00.

I'm sure Mr Stephens will be thick skinned enough to see the "hilarious" irony of him not being able to close the pub for refurbishment as intended, back when winter was still upon us, and instead having to close at the very beginning of a three week heatwave. I mean, you gotta laugh... (optional). Still, with any luck there will be more shiny hot weather to come so the beer garden will once again be available to enjoy, along with the no doubt equally shiny new interior, topped off with an expanded range of real ales.*

Other promised changes include the new kitchen which will see them able to serve food  -  a source close to the business confirmed that previously, the kitchen not existing had rendered the preparation of food in it an impossible task, but that the installation of a kitchen had been considered the most logical step to overcoming the problem of their not having one. Despite my insider knowledge, I'm not certain of exactly when the food menu will be available -  but I can bet a substantial amount of money on there being plenty of good quality beer on when the official reopening gets underway.

There is also to be an exhibition of artwork at the pub from Thursday through until 1st October - for ease of reference, here is a link to a website from the Internet regarding the same.  

Hopefully some of you can join the glitterati of the Sheffield real ale and pub scene, along with myself,  tomorrow night, for a much deserved welcome back to the redoubtable Shop.

Wee Beefy

*subject to my having remembered this right. AKA research.....

Monday, 22 July 2013

The Tramlines

Now then,

                 whilst we can all fanny about going to Huddersfield, Saturday was a day to go to overcrowded venues to see bands I've never heard of and drink warm beer. Yep, for the first time in its history The Tramlines was a hot n sunny event. And having initially resolutely refused to attend for reasons unbeknownst even to myself, I couldn't resist the allure of (mostly) free music, and so decided to pop along, starting with a new venue.

I never got in the Albion on London Road what with  it not selling real ale, but was still shocked to hear of its closure - after all, it was allegedly selling more Stones than any other pub - surely there must have been some decent sales racked up? More surprising however was to discover that it had reopened, sort of, as a music and arts venue selling real ale.

Its new moniker is the Bell Jar, and its all very plain - there isn't even a sign! There is an A Board outside and a message in the window, and some social media info to assist. On entering the bar is on the left proudly showing 4 handpumps, this time two Sheffield Brewery beers plus something called Institute of beer were on offer, so I went for a couple of halves of the Sheffield IPA at 5.2% and £3.00 a pint. I caught a bit of a band I have no idea of the name of, as well as sitting in the beer garden. This was pretty much how most visits panned out over the weekend...

Delaneys beckoned and to my surprise as well as a really very good band, Mynas, they also had three real ales on including two from Morecambe's Cross Bay brewery. The Tempest was a very enjoyable pale ale at £3.20 a pint and I had a couple of pints of that before the music took a bit of a downturn and I moved on.

Next stop the Rutland, and I had an Ashover pale ale. I also sat outside, not listening to any bands but catching up with T_i_B instead, along with a lady. Sorry, but anything not photographed with a name on didn't get recalled. Hence the lady has no name.....

A quick detour found me at the Sheffield Tap with Chala. I had a pint of the Tapped Brew Co Bullet which was a really tasty pint and Chala had something with fruit in it. Bless. From here we headed to the Dove and Rainbow where it now transpires that about ten people I know were there. Except I didn't see them. Instead I had a half of Blue Bee Lustin for Stout and stayed around for a couple of songs then moved on.

To Harrisons 1854, for a pint of Abbeydale Tramlines 2 and a catch up with Bob and Linda - but not, crucially, to meet Christingpher. Others were flagging by this stage, not least me, but I had enough about me to catch Big City Blues at the Bath Hotel and to enjoy a Black Iris Black Mountain Black IPA, leaving with only photographs for memories..

Sunday saw me at the University Arms, as Dave was celebrating her birthday. The novelty of the pub being open on a Sunday was bettered by some rather excellent Cavendish, which I had two pints of, and a band playing songs from the 1980's which, worryingly, I remembered. I sauntered to the Frog and Parrot next to miss the Hudares but instead catch a band called the Hurricanes. Or the Tornadoes. They're just words. I also got to have the worst pint of Moonshine ever. It never ceases to amaze me how one pub can consistently have such dire beer. Still, I wasn't forced at gun point to attend.

An hour on the buskers bus followed before I caught up with the Man of Ash and Entwistle and Steff in the Bath Hotel. I got to joyously remember what I had to drink the night before, and have some more of it - plus some rather nice Thornbridge Chiron. This enjoyable diversion, even if not from drink, provided a slower pace and enabled me to get my second wind to tackle the last stops.

At DAda a re-badged Pica Pica was the pint of choice (followed by another half of Chiron) before I got swept away listening to an excellent band called the Vuvuvultures - probably my favourite band of the festival. After which, noticing the Dog and Partridge shut, I headed to Shakespeares for a pint of something from North Riding and an hour or so in the garden watching amorphous blobs make sounds. I had started to  pay little attention by this stage, to be honest, although the dancer and violinist were really good.

So, Tramlines was really enjoyable again this year, despite my concerns, possibly bettered by my attending Sunday. And crucially, apart from the wonky Moonshiner in the F&P it was also memorable (that's almost ironic...) for excellent beer. And in the Bell Jar, I now have an interesting new venue to go drinking in.


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Star Inn beer Festival 2013.

                the Star Inn at Folly Hall in Huddersfield has been making waves for some time now - numerous mentions on blogs and its inclusion in the GBG brought it my attention and yesterday I got to go there for the first time. En route I was meeting Ale Ambler (hereinafter referred to as "the AA") from the A Swift One blog to show me a couple of Hudds-pubs and to hopefully introduce me to some of the Huddersfield glitterati. I smiled when I wrote that...

I started at the Sheffield Tap as I had 18 whole minutes spare for a beer - this turned out to be only a half since it took 6 minutes to get served, as me and the gentleman next to me were stood at the end nearest the entrance, which apparently makes us invisible. It was busy though.  Harviestoun Schiehallion was sampled, in decent nick but probably a smidgen too warm.

Next followed the train journey that time forgot, the ball aching trundle from Sheffield to Huddersfield. A direct contribution to the paucity of my visits to Huddersfield, but at least it deposited me at a station which crucially features the Kings Head. Inside it smelled strongly of stale beer (grim) but there was nothing stale or grim about the range on offer - despite the plethora of unknown brews I went for a pint of Magic Rock Curious because its always good in the Kings Head.

Stood outside in the sun I soon met up with the AA and we headed for the Hand Drawn Monkey beer shop - or more accurately pub. On the bar were 3 real ales on cask and a selection of Keykegs. The AA had half a Summer Wine Pacer pale on KK and me a half of 6.5% Bombay IPA on cask. A rather strange slightly, erm, curry-ish concoction, but nice nonetheless.

We finally arrived at the Star just gone 6 and decided to forgo the beers in the pub to get some tickets in the marquee. Having got a glass and some tokens (the tokens are £1.40 each, all beers are the same price, but the glass is non refundable) we rolled up at the bar in the marque to survey the rather impressive beer list. I started with a half of Mallinsons Folly Girl, since I like Mallinsons. Not perhaps their best ever beer but a good place to start.

I followed this with a Popes Hop Market, a very unusual lemon and herby pale ale which worked very well but probably wouldn't tempt you to a whole pint. We did eventually get to sit down (high scores for festivals with plenty of seating) and having caught up with fellow Swift One scribe Will and bumped into Unpro and the blokes from Wakefield (*tip - you don't think they live in Wakefield...) we had a another few beers and started to think about ordering food.

We headed inside to what was now a slightly cooler pub, since it was quieter, mainly driven in by some sprog whose mewling it's deaf parents found incredibly amusing. Well done. Inside things improved with the arrival of very good value food (pastie and beans is £3.50 and the pastie is huge) and we also had halves of the Alechemy Cairnpapple IPA.

The other beers tried were :

XT XT pi mild
Great Heck Mosaic
North Riding Aussie Punch
Yorkshire Dales Feizor
Loch Ness Light Ness

The Mosaic and Loch Ness were probably the stand out beers (the Mosaic kindly enabling me to recognise its distinctive taste in other ales) and the Loch Ness was impressively dry and bitter for a sub 4% pale ale. All in all this was a great first festival visit for me and one I'd like to do again.

Not done however, we set off walking to Lockwood. We popped in the Salford Bowling Club, who despite our not being members were happy for us to sign in for a quick half. There were two real ales on, Salamander and Durham Evensong. I had the latter, which was an interesting version but not too bad, but the AA's Salamander got progressively worse as he got down the glass.

Before getting the train we just had time for a Pint of Mallinsons in the Shoulder of Mutton, an interesting Regional Inventory listed old stone pub at the top of a cobbled courtyard, selling three real ales. A great way to round off a great day out. Thanks to the AA for getting me to and from the salient points, and to Sam at the Star, and her staff, for putting on a great festival..


Wee Beefy

*...but they do...

Thursday, 18 July 2013

More unspoilt pubs in the secret kingdom.


      its important to clarify that the pubs listed in his post aren't literally more unspoilt - instead they are simply unspoilt, but are featured in addition to those previously mentioned. I hate to think anyone would be disappointed at not finding a pub more unspoilt than say the Star or Bridge of Aln. A carved wooden seat in a garden shed with beer drawn by garden hose from a cave in next door's rockery perhaps? Or I suppose, the Seven Stars at Halfway House...

Anyway we were heading North again in the morning, after stopping to photograph the Bridge of Aln Hotel. Landlady Esther had made an interesting remark on the subject of photographs the night before - having joked about fees for appearing she extended the welcome to take what pics we wanted but then said "mind you, last time I found someone taking photographs of the outside of the pub a week later it was listed". This was not presented as a  a bonus. I expect this is a reminder of the fact that not everything is brilliant about pubs as listed buildings, for everyone. I want to see the pub continue but I imagine Esther would much rather it was retained in a more useful capacity if she became unable or it became too expensive ti run it.

Our first stop was Dryborough Abbey, a rather extensive ruin with plenty of inside bits to explore and scenery to admire in hot sunshine. From here we headed to Kelso, and then onto Selkirk for our first pub of the day, the Town Arms. A pleasing outer appearance with sees sharp rising battlemented dormers (I should probably have read the Regional Inventory article again since I blatantly know nothing about architectural terminology), Bass plaques either side of the entrance and sadly protected by glass and grill, two original Dryborough windows advertising Burns Strong Ale in Bottle and Gold Medal Edinburgh Ales. There's an alley called Bogies Wynd through an arch that looks like it could be part of the pub to the left with a stone looking market place road sign above it, and a carved head of Bacchus and woman and child further up above the entrance. I rather like this design!

Inside there are two doors that lead to narrow drinking areas each side of the large long bar, the one on the left housing a huge Dryboroughs mirror, with an intriguing darts snug at the end. The bar has a highly impressive carved wooden back and....no handpumps. Some surprise then that the Scotland's Heritage Pubs guide says it serves real ale. In their defence, its not about the beer. A tomato juice for WF and a half of "somebodies" Caledonia for me were the drinks ordered.

Its very easy for the Town Arms to get busy because there is barely enough room for the bar as it is, but even on a hot day, with the front and back doors open the cool breeze kept temperatures bearable. We didn't have long to stop but did get talking to a few locals and also managed to snap a few pics. It would be brilliant to get in when it first opens however, to photograph the magnificent bar.

A trek followed all the way down to Wark where parking was a little awkward since the bridge was closed - this meant the church service was being held in a marquee on the village green in front of a very car reliant congregation. A lovely setting am sure, but can't see it being a hit in Winter...

We ended up parking near but avoiding the pricey GBG Battlesteads, instead visiting the regional inventory Grey Bull. An interesting narrow pub occupying the left hand part of an L shaped building, with a games room on your left and a small paneled bar in front of you. The best room is the smaller paneled one at the back, also with bar access, and there is outside drinking and outside loos. Alas no real ale, so I braved a half of Worthingtons smooth.

Our first real ale came at the Crown, in Catton just outside Allendale Town. By now it was getting on for 16.00 and we were getting hungry, but its 12-3 for food, which is hardly unreasonable. Despite this we stopped for a few halves anyway. I had the Allendale Wagtail and Pennine Ale and WF the Wylam Gold Tankard as we sat outside in the sunshine with the gazebo still up from a mini music festival the day before. This is a cracking pub that I hope I can get to visit again.

In Allendale Town it was hunger stations so we headed for the Kings Head. This Marstons pub serves food all day, and despite the dubious speed of its delivery (our meals took 10 minutes, which is almost too fast), we were nonetheless very glad of sustenance. The Marstons Ashes Ale was reasonable but hardly exceptional so the minute we'd done eating we popped next door to the Golden Lion to find an admirable choice. Once again we sat outside, me supping a pint of Anarchy Blond Star and some of WF's Geltsdale Pale at 3.9%. Good to see this pub back in the guide and doing well.

Another long run brought us to Ovingham outside Prudhoe, still just in the county of the secret kingdom (I think), and the Bridge End Inn. This pub has been in the same family for decades and sort of, despite a former GBG write up, opens out onto the village green. The Allendale Pennine in here was a little tired but OK, but the Wylam Collingwood was probably better. Here and at the Golden Lion the beers were still averaging about £2.90 a pint.

We headed for the coast next to another regional inventory pub but also a CAMRA pub of the season, the Delaval Arms at Old Hartley. A spick and span red and white tiled entrance reveals three rooms, with the larger back room on the left housing the bar, with dining in the front left and a folk session in the right. Just three beers to choose from and we had halves of Batemans Golden, and Wylam Angel at a slightly more expensive £3.10. Both were in good nick and the pub was full of interesting features and crucially good atmosphere.

This turned out to be the penultimate destination as we headed down through the Tyne Tunnel and the A19 to Leamside just outside Durham to try Leamside brewery beers at the Horseshoes. It was quiz night and the place was packed and to my significant annoyance almost every inch of bar space was taken up with wide bar stools and punters. Its fine if you know what you want because the far end of the bar is clearer but it was hard work for me to see what was on and there's no way of making space without turfing someone out of their chair.

We tried three halves of their own beers, the Adventure, Revolutions and the Alexandrini as recommended by the locals - which was the better, hoppier, and more refreshing of the three. The pub has a pleasing interior with lots of dark wood (I think - it was very low lighting...!) and provided amusement when the quiz answers were read out.  Each questions was shortened and the answer followed, and I cracked a wry smile at the following dead pan couplet "he cut off his ear and took is own life....that 's Van Gogh...Question 35..." and so they went on.

Before I adopted my customary slumber on the way home I asked WF for his top 3 pubs and favourite beer - he chose the Free Trade in Berwick, The Bridge of Aln, The Star at Netherton and the Town Arms Selkirk (yes, I know that's four) and in a surprise move rated the Anarchy Citra Star his favourite beer! I'd concur with all the above except I'd probably replace the Town Arms with the Crown at Catton and Golden Lion at Allendale - two incentives to return to the area.

Another fantastic Beefy beer expedition ended with only three pubs not visited and no off or expensive beer encountered. Some of very many reasons why a trip to Northumberland's pubs is highly recommended.

Wee Beefy.  

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Unspoilt pubs in the secret kingdom


       I know the Secret Kingdom is a book for the yout. Its about some sort of miniature city discovered by a child which turns out to be real. That's what I dislike about childrens books - palpably unrealistic. Now, where's that intriguing phone book...

Anyway this isn't about that, this is about this - a trip the weekend just gone with Wee Fatha round some relics and ruins of Northumberland - the secret kingdom of the title. One reason it may have acquired the name is that its relatively unexplored, in a tourist sense. There are huge areas with almost no-one living there and probably (I admit I have no evidence to support this!) less population per square mile than anywhere else in England. One of the endearing side effects of which is a goodly smattering of unspoilt pubs, including two of perhaps the best in England. Here's how I got to them.

We started our tour by driving to Berwick on Tweed but stopped in Spittal nearby to take in the sunny view across the river. Here we also made an unexpected visit to the Red Lion. A cosy pub back from the seafront this traditional boozer has a friendly landlord and a single real ale - Robinsons Dissy Blonde. I concede its probably the worst Robbies beer but any port in a storm as they say - and after over 3 hours driving we were parched.

In Berwick I finally got to visit the Free Trade Inn. The first time I attempted this I was twenty and I was on holiday dragging Abz round some slightly less than impressive boozers on a constant hunt for "new " beers (don't worry, I grew out of that). Even then though I could see the Free Trade Inn was something special, yet every time I found myself in Berwick thereafter it was closed. Now we were parked in front of it and following a phone call the night before they had opened early. Brilliant!

On entering I was greeted by Brenda who figured I was the call maker, and found someone already sat at the bar, quickly followed by a few more punters. All of us wanted a pint of "real". Northumberland Brewery Secret Kingdom was pulled through by the barmaid whilst she had some banter about uproarious antics in the pub the night before, until we were all served with malty ale at £2.60 a pint.

For those of you who don't know about the Free Trade its on CAMRA and English Heritage's National Inventory of Unspoilt Pub Interiors. It is, and I concede this may be the least inspiring jewel in the crown reveal ever - the only partition pub in the UK, and, one of only three pubs called the Free Trade (apparently, Brenda says one has opened in Cornwall. The other is in Newcastle). The partition of the piece features because you enter down a corridor before finding a further thinner passage to the back snooker room "the newer Victorian part" ahead of you, and the entrance to the bar on your right. The bar is separated and the corridor formed by a wooden partition held into the ceiling by curved metal staves creating a  unique bar snug. The rest of the room opens out to your left with ancient leaded windows providing light and privacy.

The whole experience of visiting was enhanced by chatting to friendly locals and visitors and Jenny the barmaid, a refreshingly upbeat and helpful lass with an amusing take on the way the Berwick gossip machine works "oh aye, like that time I died!" was one example of Chinese whispers getting out of hand. She was also very well versed in the history of the pub and told us that it was previously called the Free Trade and All Nations. She also directed us to our next pub. In summary, after waiting so long to do something it can often be a disappointment. The Free Trade Inn was not.

The Pilot is a jennel away at Low Greens. Slightly less classic in comparison but sporting three handpumps, original room layout and plenty of light yet warm wood paneling . Here I had a pint of the Anarchy Citra Star and WF a half (well, some of, as I hope you know, its often only a sip and I "have" to finish the rest...) of Hadrian and Border Farne Island. This was £2.90 a pint and almost exclusively the price we found in pubs throughout the northern reaches of Northumberland.  We settled down to sup and listen in on the conversations - including resounding distaste at hoppy beer! I like to think I did my bit in buying a whole pint of the excellent Anarchy beer. Each to their own.

Our next stop was further North in Horncliffe. The Fishers Arms is in a terrace in this small village, formerly a Vaux pub, and featuring two distinct areas to a single room with a basic bar at one end. There are two handpumps, one was in use from which I tried a half of the Allendale Curlew, which was the first of many of the breweries beers on the trip. After this we decamped to Norham to scramble round the castle before ending up in Coldstream.

The Besom is a Regional Inventory pub with two handpumps. Initially I was a little disappointed - although we had come to admire the interior, the choice of Greedy King Old Golden Hen and Wychwood Hobgoblin was seriously underwhelming. However in fact, the pub slowly grew on us. A wander around the two left hand rooms with their Coldstream guards theme (tasteful as well) was a feather in its cap and although I'd have preferred a bit more adventurous beer it was certainly selling, and the company and conversation were spot on.

A long haul South and East followed bringing is to Embleton and the Greys Inn. A small back street pub which was clearly the centre of the community they had a good range of about 6 beers to choose from - we tried halves of Tempest Unfermentable, Alnwick Amber and Tyne Bank Pacifica. The Tempest was very dry but enjoyable, the Alnwick (brewed elsewhere I think) was inoffensive and the Tyne Bank smelled positively grim but actually tasted very nice.

Our next two stops were missed due to a lack of parking and a lack of time - both the Jolly Fisherman at Craster and the Red Lion in Alnmouth will have to wait for another time what with both locations being completely rammed on a boiling hot Saturday. Instead we headed off to our accommodation in Longframlington and to the Village Inn for tea - and some of their VIP brewery beers (which ironically, I think are brewed in Alnwick). The pub is old but with quite a lot of modern alterations and an odd mix of quieter dining area and raucous bar separated by not a lot. Still, the food was good and the two VIP beers tried - Village Bike and Village Ghost, were decent, with the Ghost warranting another go. Assumedly they were £2.90 a pint, but it all went on the bill.

Just up the road is the Regional Inventory listed Bridge of Aln Hotel at Whittingham, our penultimate stop. Now accessed at the left hand side despite an impressive porch entrance facing the road into the village this pub in a Grade 2  listed building was last refurbished in the early 1950's. Although the austere lines of post war make do and mend fittings doesn't necessarily suit the grand old pile housing it, I found the pub was full of character and characters.

No real ale but from a choice of smoothflow Tetley and Youngers Scotch I chose the latter, and we sat down and almost immediately got chatting to the locals. Esther the landlady was holding court and it was, apart from a 5 minute interruption to find out the lottery numbers, probably a scene played out for decades. Unfortunately we couldn't linger though as we had to speed through the lanes to Netherton before the Star shut.

Which we managed, despite WF taking a rather literal interpretation of the directions, and got to the Star just gone 21.40. Two gents were just leaving, and I suspect that despite officially closing at 22.30 Vera would have locked up after they had gone.

This is another National Inventory pub, with 40 consecutive entries in the GBG, formerly a hotel, and with the newest part being of considerable vintage itself. A servery greets you as you enter, with a table no-one sits at (rumour has it there is another room used if its gets busy) and Vera fetches the beer from barrels at the back of the servery. To my surprise, this time it was Exmoor Gold - having been Castle Eden Ale since God was a lad.

We took the beers and juice for WF on an ancient tray and sat in the sparsely appointed room on the right. Just fixed slatted benches and tables, a few chairs, a giant Ushers of Edinburgh mirror, and a seat for Vera. Nothing to distract you but conversation, and the clinking of glasses on tables. A fantastic pub.

Details of day two coming soon.

Wee Beefy.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Literally Sun fest 2013.

Cor Blimey!

       As I never say. Its ort!

Well. Good. It makes a chuffing change. I love rain, as anyone with no concept of enjoying anything does but you know now and again a blast of vitamin D would be well, a shot in the arm. So sparse have the glinting rays been over the last decade I was tempted to think that Sun fest had never been blessed with such a thing. Although 2006 was a scorcher I hear.....

Anyway this year sun was on tap as was a very large selection of rather good beers at Sunfest 2013 at the Rising Sun in Nether Green. Owned by the Abbeydale, its not really a pub I get to very often what with it being bloody miles away but almost every of the last 5 years I've rolled up at Sunfest. This year though I was heading for a Thursday visit. This would be a unique opportunity to sample an almost empty bar and to attend without 10,000 other punters.

Straight away I got my ticket card and proceeded to the bar. There were 5 staff and 3 customers. Get in! I tried to get two people to serve me simultaneously, you know, to make it worth their while but in the end I got just one person and one beer, a very tasty Smoke Bomb which was a light brown smoky ale with what I would, after the festival at any rate,m discover was their signature hoppiness - a good start.

I soon fund mys elf returned to the bar, without remembering to have checked where the beer was. In the heinous situation you didn't read last years review I'll explain briefly that all the beers have a unique code - U(pper) M(iddle) L(ower) and B(ottom) and a number. That way, both you and the staff can quickly find the brew you want. So its a bit silly to turn up, having looked at said code, with no memory of it. Yet somehow I accidentally arrived almost facing the Tiny Rebel Fubar. a slightly odd tasting but very enjoyable drop.

I caught up with Ally and Malc and Shaggy and Chris in-between spotting other beer monsters including Unpro,  whom I discovered cowering grumpily in the tent tying to avoid direct sunlight. Yes kids, it seems the rumours are true.

Next up was a very refreshing accomplished low alcohol North Riding Summer ale, before I tried my first saison, the Saison Noir from On the Edge. To an extent the dark malt aspect was a little heavier than I wanted, and some people said it lacked the lemony edge of a proper saison, but to be far, since when has any saison been black? It was still a very refreshing beer.

Its probably worth listing the rest of the beers I tried, since in all honesty the order is a little unclear some 4 days letter a

Arbor Ales Monsoon Saison
Barlow Karma Citra
Cross Bay tempest IPA
Hamelsworde Brewery Cherokee IPA
Purple Moose Ygaswen
Steel City Angel of Death
Talke o The Hill  Citrade

The Monsoon was my finisher but my favourite, it pains me to say, was the Angel of Death, which was really perfectly balanced. Other stand out beers included the Cross Bay Tempest, the Arbor Monsoon and the Talke Citrade.

I did intend to try one of the Keykegs (*its the future and its real ale, in fact, even more so than cask....) but they were mainly stronger offerings and the combo of sun and no food (despite a crammed wrap from Tesco) was making me a little tipsy. Not forgetting that I had a warm up half of the Green Devil IPA at the Bath - on for 6 days and somehow contriving to taste even better.

There were a few disappointments beer wise - the Barlow Karma Citra must have been the result of an evil act because it was Karma-crystal. Malt. No hops were detected. The Hamelsworde was even worse. A wincingly sweet heavy affair which I'd like to think was an anomaly. Surely.

Also, Dan Baxter, there wasn't any Ascension from Abbeydale on Key keg. Which was a shame since it sounded really nice described as being dry hopped to counteract the fact that it would be served at a lower than intended temperature. Yet despite being the subject of a rare Abbeydale blog post and being on the list in the beer tent it was nowhere to be seen. Which is a shame because that's one experiment that could have generated some interesting results on such a hot day.

Still, overall I had a very enjoyable drunken time talking beer with a multitude of people and enjoying a slightly less manic bar than I might reasonably expect on a Saturday.  My only suggestion for improvement might be a £5.00 card - since, I didn't have enough money to buy an £8.00 one (now I had a glass) just to use it to top up the shortfall of 30p on one half to cash it back in. I don't have spare cash in that quantity at the end of any festival unless I haven't drunk anything!

Otherwise another well organised well run festival with some truly exceptional beers, that I won't hesitate to attend next year.


Wee Beefy

*I'd like to think you "get" the joke here. Obviously Keykeg isn't real ale. But surely that's the point. And it doesn't want to be either. Meaning us what like the few good examples get to enjoy stunning beer n Keykeg as well as enjoying the same in cask. That's called choice..... 

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

High Peaks Drifter

Ay up

      no-one laugh but I had my "final" birthday celebration yesterday, 3 weeks after the date. An unavoidable log jam of engagements made a Monday after work nosh up a no go til yesterday, and thank goodness we waited. We were off to Little Hayfield in stunning sunshine.

The scenery was fantastic and the views clear over Moscar and the Snake Pass, and coming into Glossop we took a canny Wee Fatha short cut up a winding near single track road to come out at the top of what I think is a hill called Chunnel. The views over the Sett valley were astounding and we were soon at the pub getting beers and perusing the menu. There's a reduced menu on Mondays, but I think that's a great idea - I'd much rather they had a choice of say only 6 dishes because trade is slow than not bother, or throw food away. Me and Wee Fatha both had the pork in stilton sauce with mash and veg and Wee Keefy a rather hot chilli con carne. Prices are around the £10.00-11.00 mark.

There's only two handpumps at the Lantern Pike these days. I'm sure there used to be three but is a good few years since my last visit. The choice was Tim Taylors Landlord or Castle Rock Harvest Pale. I used to rate this beer but whether because of a changing palate and beer styles or because its wide availability means it suffers from indifferent cellar care, its become a bit of a Brother Rabbit. An ineffably disappointing "must we" of a slake.

For whatever reason, surely something to do with being well kept, it tasted rather nice. So much so that I had three pints of it with my meal. Wee Fatha then invited a debate on which other pub we should visit en route home. After much wrangling the Navigation at Buxworth came out on top.

We parked up in a much needed breeze and in front of a watery yellow horizon topped with white hemmed clouds, and popped in the Navigation to find a selection of five beers. Three of the four guests were from Abbeydale! Indeed the fourth had also been Abbeydale. Wee Fatha went for a half of sand storm which really wasn't to my  liking at all when I tried it but me and Wee Keefy's pints of Philosophy were spot on. The Navigation is in a lovely setting and a decent stop off for a thirsty walker en route to say, another pub...

I mention that because Wee Fatha had "gone mad" and decided we could squeeze in the Old Hall at nearby Whitehough. We took the industrial estate road out of Chinley and soon arrived at the pub, with swifts sitting on telegraph wires surveying the comings and goings in the car park. On the bar inside a couple of beers had finished but I spotted a Buxton American Rye IPA so was in no doubt what I was having. Until that also ran out. I ended up with a rather tasty pint of Happy Valley Small and Mighty a bitter 3.8% pale beer, whereas Wee Keefy had the Blackjack First Deal (my suggestion) and Wee Fatha a rather troubling malty Cheshire Brewhouse Engine Vein.

We didn't have time to linger as we fancied a trip to the Cheshire Cheese at Hope but found it closed  so plumped to go in another Old Hall, this one being in Hope. My first ever visit and a surprising range of five or six real ales. All were large regional offerings apart from one guest - Wood Street Yellowood IPA. I gamely tried a taste and it was in good condition but at the risk of incurring the wrath of 1870 recipe archivists, it surely can't be an IPA if its packed full of heavy malt that smothers any suggestion of hop?

Either way I left Wee Fatha to try that whilst I failed to note down or remember mine and Wee keefy's choices, but am sure mine was pale and was well kept. A nice surprise visit on a short but enjoyable tour of High Peak hostelries.


Wee Beefy.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Hiking, Wee Beefy style.


     knowing it was going to be a lovely sunny weekend I set about planning an invigorating walk. Yes, there would (obviously) be pubs, but there would also be walking, possibly up to 10 miles. I was to head off into Derbyshire, and sample the delights of Kirk Ireton, Carsington, Ashbourne, Belper, Openwoodgate and Derby. Until I found myself getting a mite tipsy on Green Devil IPA on Friday. Was I getting up at 8.30 and catching a train about 9.30? Was I f

...airly unlikely to be so I set off for a more realistic Sheffield walk around dinnertime. I got off the bus in town and walked past the Church House (I imagine a lot of people make this choice) and onto Trippet Lane to visit DAda. To my horror chuffing Kipling was still hogging the pump that was destined for Melba. I tried the Rok Fall bitter, which was unremarkable, and decided to have a lovely cold beer instead - so I had a pint of Chiron, which was perfect. I had a good catch up with Jamie and a half of Oakham Bishop's farewell before setting off on the next part of my"trek".

At the Bath Hotel Steff was on hand, along with a much needed through breeze, to make the visit an enjoyable one, a feat made all the easier by my having a pint of the Green Devil IPA. You know, to check it was still great. It was. An hour into my arduous hike and I'd had 2 and a half pints. And despite having decided to walk to Crookes I remembered, crucially that I couldn't be arsed. so I caught the bus instead.

Once in Crookes I dallied with the idea of popping in the Prinny but instead walked down Newent Lane to  the Cobden View. Wee Keefy had informed me Friday that he had been supping an Inveralmond brewery beer in there, and I wondered if this was notice of a slight improvement in their beer range. When I got there the Inveralmond had gone but had been replaced by a favourite beer of mine Wincle Waller. I got a pint of that (£2.90) and went to sit in the hot sun in the beer garden. The Cobden is a great back street local the like of which are becoming rarer. It sells well kept beers at sensible prices, and hires its beer garden out for barbecues. Go visit!

Next I walked down towards the University Arms and en route popped in the Hallamshire House, where I spotted Mr Canning, and joined him briefly for a half of Thornbridge Pica pica. I also went into the beer garden for the very first time, where I bumped into Becky. The garden, such as it can be called one, is a large deck overlooking the city with a huge array of plants and tables and chairs. Its fair to say it's Becky's project, and must have been hard work. I understand the sun gets on it between 12 and 15.00 so I might try and time any visit to the Hallamshire accordingly to get the full benefit.

The University Arms was busy and Katedave was behind the bar. I had a pint of Crouch Vale Yakima Pale Ale and went and sat outside in the sun. The garden was understandably packed, but I managed to get a table to myself for a quiet read and to slightly change colour. Had I not noticed I was becoming significantly less sober than was sensible, I might have stayed for another. However, by now, using the miracle of text, I had established that the Melba was on at DAda. The next part of my ramble began...

DAda was quiet but to be honest I didn't want to be waiting to get the last of yet another barrel of Melba. This time it was in perfect condition, crystal clear and tasting as lovely and peachy and like a mixture of Halcyon and Qosh from the 1980's as it should. In between talking to a guy from Crookes called Louis and his slightly tipsy lady friend, I managed to have a couple more pints of Melba before I got word that Clare and Gav were at the Fat Cat. It would have been rude not to join them.

So I walked down to Kelham Island, by now having completely abandoned the pretence of an actual walk, and met them in the Cat's beer garden with a pork pie, a glass of water and a half of something. And a red face. I must have made a great impression upon their friends  Gary and Clair as I met them for the first time in a particular tangle. Still, everyone was singing from the same hymn sheet as I quickly worked out.

Its important to clarify now that apart from definitely having water and an Abbeydale Pocket Anchovy in the Kelham Island Tavern, our next destination, plus a pint of Nelson Gun dog Stout in Shakespeares (and stylishly leaving my wallet on the bar) I really don't know what I drank. What I do know is the potentially confusing (name wise) combination of Gav, Clare, Gary and Clair were great company, and if it hadn't have been for my camera there would very little that I could have recalled about the night.

So. If I walked 3 miles I'd be surprised. I never reached the countryside, but I did get some sun. I also drank some fantastic beer - with not a bad pint encountered in all eight pubs en route. Another reason, if one were needed, to stay in the Steel City when seeking great beer.


Wee Beefy  

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Being beer (un)wise


       Last night, to celebrate the end of a long week, I popped in the Bath Hotel for a couple. It was stickily warm, although a cool breeze was just starting to blow through the pub. I was very thirsty, so wanted a light refreshing beer. It was too much to hope for Melba, but more than that it was too much to hope for something sensible. Yes, I could have drunk Roosters Last stand which is about 4%. But they had Oakham Green Devil IPA on. I think its fairly obvious what happened.

I was rather surprised to spot Green Devil - I'd heard rumours (which lets face it, are a great replacement for facts when your'e not sure what your on about....) that because they couldn't purchase enough citra, Oakham had stopped brewing Green Devil. The thing is, I heard that back in April. No-one indicated it was permanent. Steff assured me it wasn't an aged treasure that Thornbridge had matured for them, so it must be new. This is very good news.

For those of you not anointed at the altar of beer brilliance, Green Devil IPA is really very good. Its also 6%. And its actually not that difficult to neck. Green Devil was my friend and enemy last night. But good God it tastes lovely.

On the downside, as well as my still being hungover more than three hours after getting up (I might have had 7 pints of it. But it could be less...) being a Thornbridge pub The Bath Hotel can be face slappingly expensive. Luckily the staff at the Bath have enough about them to not fob me off with drivel like "Oakham are a really expensive brewery". They just quietly said, before puling a  pint "it's £4.20 a pint though".

Obviously that's not as silly as the Dark Star Porter at the Tap but its getting that way. However, I absolutely love Green Devil so I swallowed the ignominy of paying over the odds for it, then swallowed a number of pints of it. Welcome to another Wee Beefy session! Location - check. Beer - check. Company - check.

Re the latter, having been chatting with Steff and Jason for a bit, I hijacked some innocent bystanders and "forced" them to stay for many pints. Kerry is from Brum, Owen is from Brizzle and they like beer. Proper people. I had such a great time (apart from some rather inescapable olfactory assaults from Owen...*clears throat*) chatting and supping with them that I don't actually know how long we were stood at the bar demolishing Green Devils. Except that I was last customer out to await my taxi home.

I should recommend you go and drink this wonderful beer yourself (there is only one barrel and its been on at least half of Friday) but in all honesty I want it all for myself. But if you did happen to visit the Bath and drink it, that would be a very enjoyable and rewarding co-incidence.


Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Circular pub crawl and a Sunday send off.

Now then,

      Thursday saw me heading out after a brain squeezingly complex day of work to unwind with an ale. Shock. I could have gone home and tucked into one of many rather fab beers left from the barbecue but I decided a bit of company, potentially at least, might suit me better, even if I couldn't influence the music choice. Having started my crawl from work I strode off to DAda first before heading virtually all the way back to finish. Not at work, but at a pub nearby, obviously....

My choice of DAda was to exercise the demons that had made me so unable to deal with the beer choice  on the Tuesday. I hoped they'd have Melba on, but there was no guarantees. On arriving there was a "do" on, the very worst kind where people wear suits that make them deaf (why is this? How come the wearing of straight lines and feint check makes you incapable f getting the f*ck out of the way when someone is trying to extricate themselves from your brogue-ish umbrella wielding mass?). There were three beers on, and this time I strengthened my resolve to tolerate the Hopton, which actually wasn't bad at all. Still humph though.

Across the road is my new girlfriend the Dog and Partridge, since I have no sense of loyalty. Once again an excellent range was on and I was able to get in the snug to enjoy reading a paper (Jesus! How old am I?) and supping beer. This time I had a pint of the excellent Abbeydale Cosmology, and a half of their latest Dr Morton's offering, this time a stout.

The snug is interesting because although it didn't escape the modernizing brush, to be fair its not that bad. No amount of "improvement" can, ahem, improve upon the original, but the wood carved graffiti on the dark varnished wood and basic fireplace still divert your attention, and it remains a great place to drink - and get served. Sensibly, no-one tampered with the hatch. I had another half of the stout to celebrate.

Next I went for a wander up West Street to the Bath Hotel. A rather smashing range on here - including Melba, which I had a pint of. Alas, I am doomed to have the end of every barrel of it as it was the last one out. Gah! What must I do to see it clear? Not even the Man of Ash could help, although rumours of a Saturday cask at the Hallamshire House were mooted.

I nipped briefly in Harrisons 1854 next. I'd be lying if I said I though it was the same as when my good friend Barraharri was behind the bar but having gone in regularly for nearly 2 years its not like I don't still like the place. I had a wry smile as the first beer I asked for, Farmers Yorkshire Farmer, was off, but it was replaced with acceptable Blonde and I caught up briefly with new Dave who might have been called Toby (sorry might have been called Toby chap). Nice to get back in the old haunt, lets hope I can do so again soon.

A very quick visit to the Red Deer followed, just because I've not been for a while, and I enjoyed a decent half of Dukeries Porter, before heading down past Fagan's and cutting through alleyways and deserted streets in what used to be the Red Hill and Crofts area (I swallowed a Sheffield history website, yes) down to Shakespeares.

Here further delights were to be found and I opted for a pint of the Revolutions Demo #7, before being joined at the bar by Brewer Rich from Blue Bee. A couple of halves of their summer refresher Light Blue followed, and given the late hour, it was probably best I finished on something quaffable but not too strong.

A final bit of news regards the prefurn do at the Closed Shop. The last session before refurbishment was like a night of the stars in the world of Sheffield pubs and beer drinkers, with cameo's and starring roles from Mr Stephens, Katedave, Kat, Kate, Katy(ie), Dansome, Father o Matic, Baker, Jepson, Bad panda, The Man of Ash and Williams among too many to list. Beers supped were well, not really recorded, but I'm sure I drank Blue Bee Listin to Port before it ran out, then possibly migrated to Easy Rider and then Caledonian Fying Scotsman before everything got a bit confusing.

I even joined in the quiz...

The bar staff, Paultous, Katedave and the unflappable Chris worked hard to make it an enjoyable evening, and despite us all downloading a rather unfortunate app called "Angry Daves" (instructions below*) it was a really enjoyable and slightly raucous night. I shall miss the Shop very much over the next few weeks, but likely appreciate it all the more when it reopens.

Wee Beefy

*Playing Angry Daves is simple. No download is necessary. Merely fill up the Dave with beer (preferably cask), propose an idea contrary to his..sorry, any idea, and await the outburst! Literally minutes of fun. And achieved using a set of instructions that, disappointingly, he'll never read....

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

No rest for the thirsted


   just a few lines about stuff that hasn't happened yet.

The completion of the long awaited refurbishment of the Closed Shop  - hasn't happened yet. It has, however, begun in earnest, which is near Commonside, and expects to continue for a bit, during all of which hiatus the pub will remain closed. According to Mr Stephens, the plan is to reopen on the 25th July, which is a Thursday. You can get updates on progress on their Twitter and Friendache accounts, I understand.

Next up in the future is the Monkeyfest (7) at  Armitage Bridge, um, "club" near Huddersfield. Alas I haven't made it to this popular beer festival destination before and can't get this year but I'm assured by regular attendees that its rather good. Since I clearly have no idea where it is or when (it's this coming weekend for certain but that's all I know) here is a link to a blogpost about it.

Meanwhile, the Sunfest 2013 at the Rising Sun Nether Green, also hasn't happened yet - but it will, starting on Thursday 11th July and running until Sunday 14th. The nice folks at the pub have even published a beer list on their website, plus meaningless details like "when they open" and "food". You can find this informative link here .

Another event that you won't need to travel back in time to attend (unless its very late on the 21st July or thereafter) is the Tramlines. You may remember the Tramlines from last year when there was oodles of free music and pubs you couldn't get served in. This year will be exactly the same but not as free. Here is another link. It confirms the dates as Friday 19th to Sunday the 21st July as well.

Finally, by far the most spectacular event will be the beer festival at the Star Inn, Folly hall, Huddersfield starting on Wednesday 17th July. I mentioned it on here last year and then promptly didn't attend - not only that, but a paucity of visits to the textile and agro-chemical capital of West Yorkshire means I actually have never made it to the Star. This year all that will change and I'll jolly well be there. Not that this should detract from your willingness to attend. Possibly.

I have included a link to the website if you wish to sample the flavour of life in the pub in September 2009 but for more up to date info see Facefriend or Twitter. Alternatively, Ale Ambler and Will at the "A Swift One" blog nearly always seem to get hold of the list and post details on their blog (see earlier link).

So, another anhydrous month should be avoided, another year off my life should be achieved, but am sure all of the above events are likely to be worth a visit, even if the price you pay is considerably lower than expediting your demise...


Wee Beefy