Monday, 28 December 2015

Cans.

Hello

         in the 1980's and 90's people really seemed to like canned beers. Almost all breweries canned their beers, from Multinationals to regional family brewers and even some new, up and coming microbreweries. Cans were available in corner shops and supermarkets and were inexpensive. My first party aged...um...an age, where canned drink was bought, was memorable as much for the antics of the guests as the number of cans and PET bottles that I disposed of the next day.

At Hagueys on Crookes you could buy cans of beer with widgets in - Castle Eden, John Smiths, Guinness, Trophy being ones I remember. These produce a silky smooth, film-like, jet of foamy beer which had almost no taste apart from a slight malt and bitter aftertaste - sometimes a lingering pharmaceutical aftertaste. Probably as bad as smoothflow beers are now.

As soon as I got into real ale aged 18 (ish) I started drinking less cans and moved onto pints and bottles - most notable when I started going to Archer Road Beer stop. Pretty soon I stopped drinking crap cans of bowze. I mean, why would I?

In the US of A, am fairly certain that breweries producing hoppy, excellent quality beers, Sierra Nevada, Brooklyn and Anchor spring to mind in this respect, have been producing their wares in cans for a long time. However, its probably only five years ago in the UK, likely with London based Microbreweries, that high quality hoppy tasting UK beers have started to appear in cans - most noticeably, in my experience, in the last eighteen months.

Given the above memories, and the often sky high cost of such products, I immediately turned my nose up - just like I did with keykeg, before I understood what it actually was. Earlier this year I tasted  a couple of UK cans, I think from CamdinBev and Roosters at Sheffield beer week, and really enjoyed them, And then later, Tom, or Barry Valentine at the Beer Engine, kindly gave me and Tash a can of Roosters baby faced assassin to try. I was amazed at how hoppy and distinctive it was. Granted, the beer itself is a hoppy easy drinking strong pale ale, so right up my street, but it tasted superb. What on earth was going on?

I have since tried Beavertown cans, and Magic Rock and think that as long as they are sold at a sensible price, the can is, or rather can be, a valuable means of dispense. A case in point is Magic Rock Grapefruit High Wire. Bought from Archer Road Beer Stop for £2.00 a can, which is a sensible price given its cost on keg, I was immediately struck by just how grapefruity the beer smelled and tasted. I have had this beer on keykeg, which I expected to love, (expectation versus delivery, I know...) and found it disappointing - the grapefruit was no more than a subtle hint in the background, perhaps overwhelmed by the carbonation?

In the can, the grapefruit is a complimentary but strong flavour at the forefront and again in the aftertaste. Supping a can last night I found it was refreshing and fruity and hoppy, as well as excellent value. Is this an example of the can being the best dispense method for a particular type pf beer?

Well, alas I can't say - I have not had the beer in a bottle or on cask so its not a fair comparison. What is a fair comparison is that cans from forward thinking innovative microbreweries now seem far better than the widget weary smooth foam of the nineties. If those selling such a product could be more realistic about pricing then I may start drinking more canned beers. And cans are after all, recyclable.

I would always prefer to drink real ale though, in case anyone is worried...!

Psssht click


Wee Beefy

 

Sunday, 27 December 2015

A Monday night in the bath. Hotel.

Now then,

           less than a week ago I met Tash in town after work. It was a Monday night, and Christmas was fast approaching. The previous night we had been in the Rutland til late drinking and moshing after seeing a fillum at the picture house. Tonight we were meeting to enjoy a coffee. I didn't meet Tash until gone 19.00 and we'd both had a hard day. No prizes for guessing which decision we made then, about where to go...

I mean, am sure the Bath Hotel could have done us a coffee, but we didn't really want one. And when we got in Sheffield's only National Inventory pub and saw a Cloudwater Extra Special IPA on cask on the bar, it frankly seemed silly to have a hot drink. The Cloudwater IPA was 7.2% and on at what is a very reasonable for the Bath £4.20 a pint. I set up a tab, got us a seat and ordered two pints. We then spent a short time drinking and catching up with the staff. Followed by another short time....

Mark was working and possibly Paul. We sat at a table near the drinking corridor where Scott and Stef and Sean were chatting, next to what I imagine is one of the Bath's first Christmas trees  - a bloke came in a taxi and said he had a spare one to give away so they accepted it and dressed it, naturally, in pump clips and baubles and tinsel. We wrote a card to the staff (at least, all those whose name we could remember) and handed it over before Scott came over and Stef, Scott mainly to wish us a very happy Christmas and New Year (you too mate). More pints of the excellent Cloudwater IPA were bought and supped. This was an outstanding IPA, and devilishly easy to drink despite its strength. Perhaps one of the beers of the year.

Tash had another chat with Stef and we were joined by Sean (other Sean) and Matty fresh from Meadowhell. He had bought bags of reduced price sandwiches and was doling them out amongst the four of us. He bought us more pints of Cloudwater IPA and we continued socialising. At some point, I lost one of my sarnies and some fish cakes - I understand they weren't found in the Bath so are probably rotting somewhere between the road and our front garden!

As time went on more IPA was bought and we were joined first by Pete Green who seemed a trifle refreshed, but was his usual friendly charming self, and also by Kat. More sarnies were doled out and the pub started to slowly empty whilst we ordered more pints of Cloudwater and Matty bought  a number of people halves.

A final round of IPA's came our way before we bought shots of Lagavulin to finish on - I think actually Tash may have migrated to another drink by this stage but I finished on the Cloudwater IPA, over four hours after I started, and six pints down. What an amazing night. What an amazing pint!

Many thanks to Matty for his generosity and him, Tash, Stef, Sean, Pete and Kat for their company. Although I was, unsurprisingly, slightly zombified the next day at work, this was the best nights out all Christmas.

And in case am not back in again until 2016, I would like to wish all the staff at the Bath Hotel a very merry New Year. Here's to a prosperous 2016.

Cheers!


Wee Beefy

The Cobden View and the White Lion

Hello readers,

        firstly, I would like to say that I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas, and to wish you a very merry new year, and a prosperous 2016. I was lucky enough to wake up on Christmas Day in the arms of Tash for the first time, and spent the day with her, then the Wee men at Wee Fatha's. Before all that however, blogging was temporarily suspended due to imbibing. Over the next few days, I hope to recall some of that.

On Saturday 19th December I met Wee's Fatha and Keefy, Mumrah and Martin and Matty and Tash at Crosspool for our Christmas meal out. Afterwards we went to the Punch Bowl and then were heading off to the Closed Shop and Hallamshire House to finish. More details of the first two pubs will follow. En route to School Road we were on Cobden View Road and Tash had a pressing need. Since it wasn't too late I agreed we popped in the Cobden View for a half and an obviate. In the end, we stayed all night.

The Cobden View, or the Cobden as its usually known, to me at least, is a back street boozer. Its on Cobden View Road, with houses or flats on either side and the back of Western Road houses overlooking it - there is even a jennel from the beer garden to Western Road. I first went in when I was seventeen - I used to drink Newcastle Brown in bottles, and bought and poured one hastily, causing it to be half head. Being so young, I mistakenly thought this was a Southern head, and went to see some such folks from Church (I know...) and loudly laughed at them and it. I made myself look like a tit to be honest. That never, luckily, stopped me going in.

Matty had never been in the Cobden. I told him, in a casual but believable sounding Beefy lie, that it was named after the industrialist Richard Cobden, as opposed to the guy who had a short-lived brewery and Nightclub in Stockport in the nineties. To my surprise, I found a poster in the loos confirming this was (virtually) the case. Richard Cobden was a commercial traveler then businessman, setting up near Clitheroe and then in Manchester a Calico printing factory. He later became a member of the Anti Corn Law league and a peace campaigner and campaigned for Free Trade, described as the "greatest classical-liberal thinker of International affairs". He wasn't just an industrialist, in fact his views meant he wasn't at all. Its nice to make up something which is virtually true however...!

We had halves of Belgian Blue for Tash, Hobgoblin for Matty and Copper Dragon Best for me. We sat in the room on the left and noticed a huge jug of mulled wine was nearby with mince pies. When I returned from the loo Matty and Tash were tucking into roast chestnuts. I've never had them, so joined in. The occasion? The 150th anniversary of the licensing of the Cobden View in 1865 (originally as the Cobden Tavern). There were carol singers, who sing only in pubs on request (and the woman singer leading had an incredible voice), a huge pot of stew, and regulars and newcomers alike.

We talked to the managers Andrew and Laura (am not sure, sorry!) who was a university student from Stoke. They were keen on promoting the pub and making it an inclusive part of the community - in my opinion this has been pulled off perfectly. There is an excellent mix of local students and local born residents, a former boxer who is unsteady on his feet who collects the glasses, friendly bar staff and a proper community spirit. We had stew and mulled wine and mince pies (we were encouraged to!) and carried on drinking pints of Farmers Belgian Blue and Blonde, and chatted to other punters.

One of the most amazing things about the night was that I went to the bar to ask if I could pay on card, telling the man serving me, who may have been called Chris (sorry!) that I needed the change for the taxi. "Where you going to?" he asked. "Handsworth via Arbourthorne " I replied. He said it would be fine to take us - even though, when I asked him where he lived he said it was just round the corner. When we pressed him for an explanation later he said " well, just think of it as a Christmas present". What a lovely kind gesture that was. His generosity nicely summed up the spirit of the pub and the friendliness we had been shown. For more information and news, here is a link to their Facebook page .

A short mention next about the White Lion on London Road Heeley bottom. Its short because I was only in shortly the other day. It is no lesser a pub!

Earlier this year the pub was taken over by my friends Jon and Mandy. I was surprised to say the least, because even though they were long time regulars in there, I didn't think either of them had any experience of running a pub. Going in soon after they opened, I found out this was the case. Despite that, more than 6 months on they are still there, making money, showcasing live music and have put their own individual stamp on a pub which had become a little predictable in its beer range prior to them taking over.

Initially Jon told me that he wanted to introduce his own prices as he felt the current were too high, and to make changes to the beer range. The first few times we came in that hadn't been possible, and it took a fortnight to get a card machine, but one thing that shone though was the quality of the beer - I understand the cellar is immaculately clean. However, other than seeing him run a bar at Tramlines (selling excellent Wild and Siren beer) I don't think I've been in the pub since.

On Wednesday I was up at Manhattan's Motorcycles buying a present and popped in the Sheaf View for a half of Geeves fully laden IPA - on my way to Davefromtshop's shop, I decided to pop in - and found that as promised, the prices were much reduced, and the beer range was incredible. As I was pushed for time I only tried a half - of Waen Snowball, a 7.0% chocolate, coconut and vanilla porter - a bargain, given its strength, at £3.50 a pint. Other beers on offer included Dancing Duck Hoppy Christmas, a beer from Coastal, one from XT and many more. For more info, see their Facebook page here.

Its great to see the changes that Jon and Mandy have introduced, and I wish them all the very best. I will have to start adding this to my Brothers and Sheaf View crawl from now on. Once again, Sheffield presents two excellent community pubs hosting live music, and selling excellent real ale at sensible prices. God bless the Steel City!

Cheers


Wee Beefy

Sunday, 13 December 2015

An Ale Amble round the edges of Sheffield centre

Hello,

         yesterday I was pleased to meet up with Charlie, AKA renowned beer blogger from the aswiftone beer blog Ale Ambler. We had not met up for a couple of years and we decided to meet in the Sheffield Tap to start a short pub crawl.in the grey, darkening streets of sodden Sheffield

The days tarted well I had arranged to meet Charlie the night before -desit having been a trifle refreshed at the time, and despite having lost my phone, I remembered that I was meeting the AA at
12.30. I hadn't however, remembered to get ready for 11.45. I was burning my bacon at that point. And trying to contact the AA via Facebook. Luckily I found his Twitter account and messaged him. I found my dead phone 10 minutes before I left, and met the AA at 13.08. Luckily things improved form here on.

In the Sheffield Tap it was busy and I spotted the AA at the bar. He had a half of Arbor Oz Bomb and me a First Chop AVA. We repaired to the brewery room where the smell f brewing hung in the air, and I sat and gently shook whilst Double A made notes. I was still mildly drunk from the night before you see. Both beers were lovely. Especially the Arbor.

Coats and scarves done up we walked out of the Tap into a wall of water and struggled along Brown Street, Sidney Street and up onto Arundel Street. Double A is fond of street art - as opposed to graffiti (the difference between which is different to many) and we stopped off at a wall near the pub to look at some.

The Lord Nelson is a small, back street, corner local, owned by Greedy King, but still retaining its character and selling a good range of real ales and bottles  - and black pudding pork scratchings. I also noticed bottles of West Brewing St Mungo's lager in the fridge - not something I have seen anywhere for a while.

We had a pint and a half of Pennine Happy New Year 2016 - maybe a little early but it isn't how I would expect a celebration ale to taste. That said. it was beautiful. Very quaffable with a balanced bitterness and very easy to drink. The AA also had a half of Bradfield Belgian Blue. This was as I predicted - poorly balanced and sweet (and with no identifiable blue). Absolutely nothing with how it was kept I should point out. It was in here as well that I decided to recharge my phone. Alas, two minutes in, the lead fell out and I didn't notice. It would be two pubs later before I got my phone charged!

The AA liked the lord Nelson - now with I love Fanny's T-shirts to order, for those confident that people would realise the pub was known as that. He liked what they had done with the space and the fact that there were four separate drinking areas still. Definitely a pub we will revisit.

Along back streets and through Decathlon car park we were soon in the underpass and heading for the Beer Engine. Sadly Tol Barry was not around - he would be in later. The AA will have to return to Sheffield to meet him.

On the bar was a great selection of real ales and kegs - sadly rather too many dark ones for me but the Siren Oatmeal Pale Undercurrent was on at £3.40 a pint so I had a half of that and the keg four Hopmen of the Hopocalypse. The AA meanwhile had a half o the Wild Beer Millionaire, a salted caramel chocolate ale which we were warned was quite sweet. It was an immensely strong flavoured beer at 4.7%, and although I preferred my delicious Oatmeal Pale and Hopmen, the AA found it quite easy to drink.

As usual there was an interesting range of music on and trade was steady, if not busy. One thing I will point out about the Beer Engine is the toilets - soft loo roll, heating, handwash and a hand dryer and hot water. None of which are difficult to provide, but usually only two of which are available in other pubs. Its nowhere near as important as the quality of the beers however. Since they are also excellent and well thought through, this makes the Beer Engine a fab place for a pint.

Up Eccy road next and we arrived from the continuing downpour at the Portland House. On the bar there were four Welbeck and Leeds best and a Celt Experience beer called something an Brett. The guy behind the bar asked of we were here to try it, and given the choice we were. The AA was not aware of brettanomyces - part of the Saccharomycetaceae family of myacies, for ease of reference! The only reference I could muster at the time was that they featured in Imperial Russian Stouts, and that breweries were now trying them out for the unique unusual flavour. The beer was certainly in possession of that - it was an unusual but possibly over-bretted beer, but definitely one that challenged our taste buds. The other thing here was that I managed to charge my phone o 26%.

We caught a bus back into town and went to collect the AA's haul of shopping from Wateralls and a cheese specialist - where I also purchased some Brampton Impy Dark Derby cheese. After a quick chat with Sean from Beer Central we headed up to the Devonshire Cat. The AA got a half of Shiny Sorachi and I the Hop Studio Obsidian Black IPA. We sat in my usual place and found that we couldn't use the sockets to charge my phone....

 Never the less, we enjoyed our beers, but me rather more than the AA whose Sorachi flavoured beer was overpowering! We also bumped into new manager Liz formerly of the Sheffield Tap. December, it seems, is s busy time of year to start your new job...

Up the road next for me and The AA's final pub the Bath Hotel. I got a pint of Harbour Pale and he a half of Jaipur on keg. We sat in the back and watched the fire very slowly fail to get going and then be drowned by more coal. A shame, since we were soaked. I had a further pint of Jaipur and Matty joined us whilst we waited for Tash, but the AA admitted he had reached his limit and we soon left for him to get his train. Thanks so much for your company Ale Ambler! Glad to have introduced you to a new Sheffield pub or two.

I headed off to BrewDog next to wait for Tash - as the crawl was finished we could now drink beer in the cntre. We shared a bottle of the Fantome Saison.  The bar was quite packed and the music was fantastic as it so often is. We also had two halves of the Aberdeen BrewDog Ghost Writer and the Prototype Black IPA, along with a venison pie and mash and gravy - which was very tasty, but really needed to have come on a plate as opposed to in a box.

Our final stop of the night was in the Tap and Tankard where we had two halves of the Green Jack gone fishing and a half of Double Top Shanghai. I also bought Tash a double gin and tonic as she was feeling a little unwell. The music changes from being rock and dub to awful pop later one - a deliberate ploy no doubt to persuade customers to leave. It worked, and we left about midnight.

This was another fantastic pub crawl in Sheffield featuring a mix of different pub styles and beer styles. Great to catch up with the Ale Ambler, and this day out proves that there are plenty of other Sheffield crawls for us both, and indeed us three, to do in the future.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Supterday

Hello,

         on Saturday I popped in the pub after overtime. I had earned some extra cash and decided to spend it about 7 weeks in advance. In the end, due to events far North in Cumbria, Tash was quite late joining me. Very quite late. Luckily, in the meantime, I decided to sup in the pub. And virtually remained sober. Here are the details of those twelve hours....

I got to Shakespeares at 14.15 and had a pint of the excellent, biting hopped Arbor Triple Hop at 4.0%. I supped this very slowly as it turned out, joined briefly by Paul and his family, before I spotted T_i_B from the internet. Having got his attention (he does not answer to Tib) I chatted with him for a good hour or two. He started on the super strong Brodies Simcoe for Breakfast whilst I moved onto a 7.2% Red IPA from Buxton - just a half of course. Tom (for it is he) then moved down to the Arbor and I joined him for a last couple of halves of the same, before heading for food nearby.

The Three Tuns was busy, as it often is thankfully, and I managed to get a seat at the right near the bow end of the pub. I had a half of Blue Bee Motueka and ordered a chip butty with blue cheese and bacon. The menu is reduced since this time last year and this was actually quite a small butty, but it still did the trick. I spoke to Tash and she was still trying to find out details of the flooding in Cumbria so I quickly got myself another half of Motueka and sat back down.

I walked very slowly (deliberately) around 19.00 up to the Bath Hotel - this was also rammed, and  initially I had to stand at one end of the bar. I bumped into Nick out with some mates and supped a pint of the excellent Hopjacker Kansas City Shuffle, a 5.5% pale ale brewed at the Dronfield Arms. This was an excellent pint, and I eventually got sat down and ordered a half a pork pie and a glass of water. The pub was emptying a little now, around 20.00 and I moved on to a half of Jaipur on keg. Heading to the bar for more water,  I was spotted by Clare and Gav.

They were in enjoying drinks having been out walking their dog Jezza and I was allowed by the same to join them. They were also on keg Jaipur (which I think is a good price at £3.90, or rather about 50p only, more expensive than the cask) and I stopped on my dwindling supplies until Tash turned up about 22.00. She was really stressed about the flooding since her Mum and Brother live in Carlisle - by Sunday morning they had been evacuated. In an attempt to distract her I bought her and myself a pint of Hopjacker each and we chatted to Clare and Gav.

About 23.00 we were joined by Emma, Matty's friend. She arrived quite late but just in time for a glass of wine and persuaded Matty to get out of bed to join us. I bought me and Tash another pint each of the excellent Hopjacker and Matty turned up just after last orders.

From here we secured funds and caught a taxi to Shakespeares. In all honesty I can only say for definite what I had for the last rather than the first round. I know Matty had a pint of Abbeydale Marshmallow Meltdown, a 7.0% stout brewed with Hop Hideout, and am guessing I sensibly went for a pint of the Triple Hop. We were joined by Katie and Lee and sat in both the clock room and outside in the yard catching up and putting the world to rights. I finished on a half of the Simcoe for breakfast, the 10.2% Brodies breakfast stout before we caught a taxi about 02.40.

Notwithstanding the ride home, when Tash was treated terribly by the taxi driver for reasons that I on't share on here, this was a great day of (mostly) restrained drinking of excellent real ales and keg beers in three different fabulous pubs. I may have had nine or ten pints in all but I wasn't that drunk and crucially I really enjoyed every one of them. Even if I forgot one of them....

With thanks to Tom, Gav, Clare, Emma Katie and Lee and of course Matty and Tash for their company on a wonderful long short pub crawl.

Cheers!


Wee Beefy

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Wanderians November 2015

Once upon a time,

            long long ago, in a far away place called Sheffield, there was a man of Beef. The man went into public houses, and micro-public houses, and bars, and inside delighted (usually) in sampling drinks. Beer drinks. This made the Beefy man beefier, happier, more tired and less well off. It also gave him something to write about. Hence....

This month's Wanderians was a little longer than normal. Mr P seems less worried about restriction - or rather, potentially has less restrictions,on the amount of beer he consumes. This was demonstrated fully on Wednesday night. Our plan was to go to The Portland House so I suggested we started at the Bath Hotel. After waiting just 25 minutes for an every 10 minute 52a, we were less than soon starting our evening's voyage.

Being two days after payday meant I had real money on me. Just as well since the card machine at the Bath Hotel was not working. Mr P had a pint of (possibly) Real Deal from Blackjack and I had the 6% Arbor beer which was an IPA. We sat at the large table, mainly because a leak meant we couldn't sit anywhere else, and talked, and planned our route.

Brood is a bar at Art collective Roco nearby. Well, I say that, Roco doesn't appear open. There were lights on upstairs but the doors were locked (despite its opening November banner) and I on't care how artistic it may seem,. breaking and entering is not my scene. So we headed off down the ring road towards Eccy Road. En route I mentioned to Mr P that I'd never been in the Hanover. He had, in the early 70's, and all of a sudden we were on Hanover Street and the pub was there. Inside we went in the dark games room on the right. There were three handpumps but no evidence of any real ale being on. I asked what bottles they had and from a very limited range we opted for a can of Guinness each. We took our drinks round the back of the bar to sit in the "best room" on the left.

The Hanover used to be a Wards pub, or am sure it sold Wards. Inside it has two rooms and was perhaps originally three, and there is exposed brickwork on the left wall and a nice open fire, and an old telly on the beam in front of us showing Murder She Wrote. The loos are across some decking outside and this is to my knowledge the only Sheffield pub that I know of with this arrangement. There were a handful of locals, a bloke who looked, if this is possible, like a theatre producer, and people were chatting and socialising at the bar. I like the Hanover. Its not pretensions, and it appears to serve its local community. It would be great if it sold real ale of course, but it doesn't, and is sill trading. Good for them.

Down through the flats and out on to Eccy Road we were soon at the Portland House. We both had pints of Townhouse Green Bullet and I had a Wateralls pork pie. We chatted and soaked up the atmosphere and noticed tat actually there were a few spare handpumps. Mr P also noticed a mis-spelling on the chalk board (Wensledale...?). Hardly the end of life as we know it, but a couple of little niggles. The pub now sells food as promised and seems to have regulars, so the outlook is good.

Off next to the Beer Engine via a chat with quiz bound Mr Hough, and once again an impeccable range o ales was on offer. Mr P had something dark on cask and I had a pint of the Almasty Mango IPA - less Mango-y than I expected but still a cracking beer. The pub was a little quieter than I expected but still turns over an excellent range of bottled and cask and keg beers - hoping to get back there to eat very soon.

Our penultimate stop was at the Hermitage. Last time I went in this was called something else and didn't sell real ale - I went to see a guy about a job working for his 3d photographic company. The Hermitage now sells four or five real ales including Clubhouse ones from Milestone - Mr P had a pint of their strong mild and I a pint of the Saltaire Cascade. It was awkward to find somewhere to sit as a party of rugby players were on their way but the staff were friendly and the beer was well kept - and the pork scratchings were lovely.

Our final stop was at the Lord Nelson on Arundel Street (or Lane..). Mr P had a pint of Belhaven Porter and I a pint of the Pennine Real Blonde from a choice of four. We went and sat in the room on the left and watched some football on the telly, before Mr P shared some of his Twitter poetry with me. As I have said before, I like the Lord Nelson, and this was another enjoyable visit - although, I did leave my wallet there. This is something I found out whilst buying my tea at the checkout. Credit to them though, they found it and kept hold of it until I returned after work the next day - to have two excellent pints of the Real Blonde and a packet of Black pudding pork scratching.

Once again hen, a small area of Sheffield provides 6 very different styles of pub with a range of real ales available in all but one. Thus proving, if proof were needed, that Sheffield is  a great place for a pub crawl.

Cheers!


Wee Beefy  

Monday, 30 November 2015

Also in November.....

Now then,

          I thought,. before the memories escape me on a tide of libation forever more, I should share some with you of other drinking and visiting of pubs carried out of late, and not previously covered in my blog. After the outrageous orgy of new and long ago visited pubs the other Sunday there are few new ones am afraid, but hey, am not a pub detective! Am not sure what I am if not however.....

On a recent Monday or Tuesday myself and Tash went to the Shakespeares for a change. We had, or rather I first had, a pint and a half at least of something very tasty which I think was Blue Bee Centennial and a half of their Little and large IPA. This collab with North Riding has a distinct Sorachi Ace flavour and is a very pleasing big hoppy real ale. This event could have happened earlier in November if am honest.....

On Tuesday we headed up to grab a quick one in the Three Tuns, for drinks which will inevitably have been a Blue Bee beer again, before me and Tash visited the Three Cranes.

Having not been in since their reopening I figured it was only fair that we visited - Tash has probably not been in for a few years or so. Ignoring the dubious delights of Sharps Atlantic thingy, we both had pints of the Taylors Landlord. Not as astringently hoppy as I come to think of it don't remember, but certainly a noteworthy pint.

On the 20th we were in the Three Tuns again - joining friends including Dan, Howard, Daniel, Nick and Emma, Ian, man from work and others for end of week pints. The Little and Large IPA was on - or it might have been another Blue Bee beer - but we had the last pints and moved onto American 5 Hop for me and an oddly named single hop beer for Tash. A number of pints later we finished in Shakespeares on pints of Kernel which am confident was an IPA, and Cloudwater - the chances are it was the same.

The next night I started, well, about 16.30 I think, in the Bath Hotel. I remember the excellent Liquid Mistress has been on but am not sure that is what I had - I dunno - lets say I had a pint. Tash joined me and I know I had a pint of Hopjacker Grifter Oatmeal Stout -  a fine tasting oatmeal stout from young Edd at Dronfield. Tash had a pale or wheat beer if I remember - it was neither sorry, it was Eimbock a 2 year barrel aged Belgian beer. It was delicious....

We nipped out for some shopping and came back via BrewDog. I remember having a half of the Magic Rock Cross Collaboration as well as the excellent BrewDog Born to Die 27/11/2015 -  an 8.5% fresh hop ale. Matty meanwhile, and Tash, had Magic Rock Salty Kiss and a bottle of Oud Broun Flemish Red Brown Ale, before returning to the Bath for last ones and seeing Jules and Will (Hello!).

A final note comes regarding the last day of Shakespeares festival. On Saturday I arrived at 16.30 and left about 21.00  - by which time I was a trifle refreshed. In addition to halves of Zoo Hop and North Riding Motueka I also tried what I now know to be Abbeydale Black Mess on keg and several halves of the excellent Grapefruit IPA from Siren. I spent most of my time sat with Steve and Sonia who were great company. I was later joined by Matty, and it was also good to see Mr Szumski and friends, and Fluffy. A cracking festival.

All in all, its been a very enjoyable if overtly expensive month November....

Cheers!


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Shakespeares beer festival 25-29 November 2015

Hello,
 
      later I intend to make my third visit to the event, but before doing so I wanted to give you some details of the festival so far. As you may know, most of the Kelham area pubs hold a beer festival and through appreciation and no degree of bias whatsoever, I can tell you that Shakespeares is far and away the very best one.

It started on Wednesday - just the normal downstairs bar was open, however Mr Wozewith was willing to fetch some ales from the cellar for the more enthusiastic drinkers. There was a mountain of sandwiches and an increased range of keg ales to tempt you, plus no Deception as all the pumps were used for the beer fest.

We started on halves of Alphabet Kerb Kicker, Arbor SX Bomb and Greytrees Afghan Pale. The Greytrees was unusual but had a delicious hop flavour and the Kerb Kicker was excellent - a strong (ish) hoppy pale ale. The Arbor was also very good. Matty meanwhile was on keg and had a half of Brodies London sour cherry, and a Gooseberry beer which may have been from Wild. The gooseberry was intense and earthy and the sour wasn't quite as sour as I'd expected but both were good.

I tried the Hardknott Nuclear Sunrise but was underwhelmed, not half as much as I was by the Fat Brewers Pale Ale which was awful. I had a half of the Hammerton which was a pleasant enough beer and Tash tried the Cloudwater Motueka lager. After this we moved inside and started drinking rather a lot of the Wild Walker Old Ale at 7.0% and the Rebel Cherry Mexi which was meant to be a cherry stout but tasted more of vanilla - an observation made by Nathan who I sent much of Thursday's visit in the company of.

In respect of which, Thursday saw the opening of the upstairs festival bar in the games room. The first two beers I tried from here were the best casks of the festival - Ghost Brewing Phantom Pale Ale at 5.3% and Blue Bee Revenge of the Geek Red Ale at 4.3. I got sat in the clock room to enjoy them, with Geoff and a very drunk ticker who swore and chuntered to himself all the time I was talking to Nathan. Ace....

I also rtied the very quaffable Hopcraft Deutsch Project 6 and Small World secret pale ale - bth well hopped and tasty beers at below 5%. Joined by Tash at 20.30 she was only staying for one but got chatting to Tony and Nathan and Steve and Katie and others and we ended up staying much longer. Much of this was supported by us drinking large quantities - I think I had two pints - of the absolutely excellent Siren Pompelmocello Grapefruit IPA at 6.0% and the wonderful  Wiper and True Family Tree 2 IPA at the same strength. Both were on at £5.10 a pint which is a bit steep for Shakespeares for the strength but not for the breweries, if that makes sense.

Somewhere towards the end of Thursdays visit I had a half of the Brodies Simcoe for Breakfast, an imperial stout at 10.2%. This was a very easy drinking bee for the style and certainly for its strength - a great beer to finish on at any festival. I also, after we bumped into Steff and Mark from the Bath along with Gavin - who I have known for two years, but not as Gavin, and Paul H, tried some of the Abbeydale Black Mass on keg. This was on wonderful form and tastes very different, as you might expect, the same beer on cask.

The festival runs until tomorrow, but I imagine little fest beer will be left by then so get down their quick. Maybe see you later.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

A sup on Sunday

Hello there,

          this coming Sunday, it being the day before pay day, I will be sipping water collected from leaves in the garden, mixed with sachets of salt and sugar procured from takeaway joints in the dizzying good times of the first week of the month, to get my sufficient nutrients. Luckily, last Sunday was a bit better than that. Here's what I did.

Myself and Tash sped across - sorry, dawdled hopelessly following retarded bus timetable changes - to Hillsborough to be picked up by Mum and Martin. Matty had very kindly lent us some cash for our meal which was to take place at the Top Red, or Old Red Lion, in Grenoside. Its fair to say that in the seventeen or eighteen years since I was last in it has changed. For starters, it now looks older than it did - I know that is logical, since its eighteen years ago, but it looks older now, like it did perhaps 100 years ago. The ageing is of course fake, and I think the bar has moved, but at least its not what I remember as an ex Whitbread/Sherwood Inns pub.

We were there for Sunday lunch - you have to book - and I can see why. Its £7.50 a go and served beautifully and the meat and accompaniments including piles of veg was delicious. I had a couple of pints of Stancil Number 7 and Tash a pint of Farmers Blonde - both were about £3.00 a pint and well kept. After a quick trip to Mum and Martin's for coffee we got a lift to Hillsborough.

Here we ventured into the Hillsborough Tap. As the sign advertised, all real ales were £1.99 a pint and there were four or five on, with just the Marstons Help for Heroes being on at £2.20. We each had our first pints of this year of Belgian Blue from Bradfield, as I visited for the very first time. The pub is still recognizably a former sports bar, but now does better beer. Its not a place to go if you don't want to watch sport, however, the seating was comfy, the clientele was mixed and the only downside was that the pork scratchings were overpriced - making up no doubt for the inexpensive beer.

Just up the road is the Queens Gruond. Having read in Beer Matters recently that it now sold real ales I decided we should pop in, having only previously been in once, when am, not even sure I had a drink. The pub retains a three room layout from an original four (I think) with an interesting entrance way, a lovely window above the bar, original looking leaded windows showing it was once Wards, and a long sturdy wood bar with three handpumps. From a range of Farmers Blonde, Belgian Blue and Strongarm we went for a pint of the Farmers Blonde for me and the Blue for Tash. The beers were, I think, about £2.60 or so a pint and were well kept. Crucially, in terms of allure, there is a real fire, and a cat called Boo with the strangest miaow. Certainly a venue I will return to.

Further still towards town and before the hulks of the Burgoyne and Cuthbert Bank loom up at you, is the Masons. Still proclaiming cask ales on its sign, which has not been the case since I first visited four or five years ago, this is an interesting and traditionally laid out pub which I actually quite like. I have only been in to drink twice before now, and each time was interesting. There are two rooms either side of the doorway which has a tiled sign on the floor - the right room is actually behind the bar which has interesting glass plates above it - it is currently closed off alas. Beyond the bar is a large opened out room with access to the outside, off which are the loos, and an original leaded windowed door entitled cloak room.

On the bar are two unused handpumps and some keg fonts. We both had a double gin and shared a tonic for our first round, and sat in the left had room to listen to Haircut 100, Ray Parker Junior and other "giants" of Eighties pop. Soon it was time for another drink and I got to choose - I went for a half of John Smiths Extra Smooth (all in the name of research....) and bought Tash a bottle of Desperado. As you can probably guess, this was an awful drinking experience, but we didn't care. It was, as Tash remarked, just like her growing up drinking days in Whitehaven. Only cleaner...

We finished our wander in the Hillsborough Hotel. The pub has been sold I think to a developer who plans to build flats upstairs and keep the pub open downstairs. The brewery has been mothballed so there is now an interesting range of cask ales to choose from. It's sad for Alison to have to give up the brewery but I was never a fan of the wildly inconsistent Wood Street beers. Instead from the five or six casks on offer we had pints of Whippet English Pale and Gadds Number 3, which we enjoyed sat near a radiator - which seemed like it was on, even though it wasn't. Clearly a cold inspired trick of the mind. Good to see an interesting range of reasonably priced real ales on offer at the Double H.

Overall then we visited five pubs, four of which sell real ale, and found all of them worth a visit and some a return visit for different reasons. By way of comparison, here is a link to my post the last time I visited the pubs in 2011. Well worth popping into any of the pubs if you get chance.

Cheers!


Wee Beefy

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Three weeks, one post

Hello,

         as per my previous post, I will remind you once again that the last three weeks have been a bit slakey. I have an unhealthy desire for drinking beer as it is, so lets just say that the period described has been mightily refreshing and dangerously scaturient. Just how I like it. Not how I like to be when it comes to remembering ting alas. Despite this aqueous handicap, am going to try and remember some stuff from the period and write it down. Good luck to you, dear readers, in finding any actual facts uin the following....

It all started with Tickle's birthday. Me and Tash and Matt met briefly in the Tap and Tankard to wrap present and had a pint each of a flavoured beer and some Pale Rider. We ate at Agraah and I drank a keg beer which I think is brewed  in the UK and begins with B before we went to the Grapes. Excellent pints of Moonshine were had, along with the company of Mr Shumski before those remaining went to Shakespeares for last ones.

I have been to the Three Tuns twice recently as well. Both times I had excellent pints (many) of the Blue Bee Little and Large IPA. Each tome there has been a jolly chap called Nathan working behind the bar. Unfortunately I decided to have an "joke" with him last time and may have looked like a twat. Sorry Nathan....

The Bath Hotel let me down slightly on the first Monday as it was Thornbridge only on cask - Gah! Luckily they had the Cloudwater Farmhouse IPA on keg at 6.5% which is much more my strength. Earlier myself and Middlemarch had been to Shakespeares where we had enjoyed, amongst a few, halves of the sour Berliner Weiss from Siren, maybe called Calypso, and also had popped in the Ship for a couple of pints of beer.It was the quietest I've ever seen it, although it was 19.00 on a Monday.

Other Bath visits saw us drinking Jaipur and the excellent Anarchy Brew Co Sublime Chaos breakfast stout at 7% or more, as well as trying Jaipur X which is 10%. It was once again busy, which lets face it is great news. After WK had left is we headed once again to Shakespeares to enjoy some delicious keg including something from Anspatch and of course, the amazing Cloudwater Drink Fresh Special IPA on cask - one of the beers of the month by a long stretch.

A quick trip to the Closed Shop and Hallamshire House found excellent hoppy Blue Bee - I can't recall which but I think the description is most likely right - at the Shop, and a Blackjack beer at the Hallamshire House. Initially I could only afford a half of one of the Thornbridge beers but luckily the card machine was fixed in time for me to splash out.

A trip out on Bonfire night found us in the Fat Cat supping a hoppy red ale in real glasses whilst enjoying he fireworks and lovely BBQ hot dogs and burgers in the yard. One thing I will say is the Cat really know how to do bonfire night! Good to bump into Rolla Coley's friend Michaela behind the bar for her second shift - I imagine it got very busy.....

A wander round the corner saw us have a couple of pints sat in the beer garden at the KIT. I know we had something strong and hoppy, and am willing to bet it was a Blue Bee beer. Lovely place to sit and watch and listen to the fireworks, as was Shakespeares once again, where we very likely had the To Ol Final Frontier double IPA at 9.6% on keg to, erm, yer know, finish.

Two Sundays ago we went for a lovely walk in South Anston in Little Stones wood - we finished off with a pint in the Loyal Trooper. Still selling four real ales, the only disappointment is that they have refurbished it (I haven't been for at least five years...!) and the new decor seems very out of place in the grand old building.

Finally, a couple of visits to the Devpnshire Cat and the Portland House have occurred, with the Cat winning points for the excellent Instant Karma Black IPA and the Abbeydale beer of the same style (but stronger). The Portland is a decent walk form the Cat, and we have done this twice now. I like the place but am not so sure about their claim to sell three traditional Welbeck beers with the three guests providing more hoppy fare. The Waen Monkey Spanner was lovely, as was the Liquid Mistress from Siren on keg (although £5.50 for a pint is steep), however the Saltaire Hopfen was awful. Luckily, excellent Wateralls pies and lovely pickle jars compensate - its just not the Walkley Beer Co.

Apologies once more then to anyone I forgot or any places I neglected to mention. More posts are to follow I promise!

Cheers

Wee Beefy

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Been too busy drinking beer to write about the beer I've been drinking.....

Hello people,

     in fact, despite the title suggesting I have been cast adrift on a sea of crapulence, there are actually three nights in the last two weeks when not a drop of alcohol has passed my lips. I have, however, been tired or worn out on those nights and am now, therefore, writing my first post of November. Half way through the month. Regulars readers will know that through the haze of alcohol, my memories, particularly of names, seem to get left in the fog. My memories of pubs seem like photos taken in the fog. So, if I have met you in the last two weeks or more, and have not mentioned you or the pub that you run in this or likely my next blog post, don't take offence.

Yesterday I was doing overtime. Afterwards Tash was no quite ready to join me and I decided to spend a couple of hours in good ole Shakespeares. I started on a pint of the lovely Blue Bee Centennial, one of my favourite hops, and a punchy bitter pale at 3.9%. I also had a packet pf pork scratchings and a rather lovely cheese and pickle sandwich - still 70p, and served on a lovely cob. Another followed, along with a half of Brodies Hoxton Special IPA at 6.6% and a half of the Blue Bee North Riding Little and large IPA, featuring delicious soorachi ace hops along with mosaic.

I met Tash and Matty and we ended up at the very busy Bath Hotel a few hours later. One feature of recent drinking sessions has been the appearance of the loudest people on earth. Am not suggesting this is linked to the recent finishing of the association football match but the pub was filled with the loudest people ever. Beer wise it was more sorachi - Craft Brewing Gloucester, I think and their Sorachi Red. We had a pint each plus a half for Matty and although the crowds eventually dispersed we were in a rush t get up to Walkley.

The Walkley Beer Co was also busy, as its small, as well as excellent. The only cask beer left was Dark Star Partridge, which is their least enticing beer alas. Also on was Magic Rock Cannonball on keg (7.4% and £4.80 a pint) and a Cloudwater "Summer IPA" (!) at 5% and £4.00 a pint. We started on a pint each of that and sat by ourselves initially, before the tall man with the short hair who writes and used to house share with J9 and who I have known for 6 years or more whose name I have forgotten called us over to sit with him and Dan and friends.

We had another pint and a half, this time of Cannonball and got chatting to Tim, Gemma, Pete, Kerry and Owen, whose name is spelled with an e, I think. It soon dawned on me that I met Kerry and "Owen" before - in the Bath Hotel, about three years ago, and I drank 6 pints of Oakham Hop Devil. Having checked my back catalogue I realise I met them in July 2013, as shown here. It was food to catch up with them again, along with Dan and Pete and the nameless man and the others.

Leaving late we caught the bus to town and headed towards the Shakespeares. Alas, a pressing need forced us briefly into the Church House - for a double Whisky and coke for Tash and a half of Robinsons Trooper for me. It always makes me amused to see so many pump clips turned round in the pub when they only ever seem to sell the same two real ales...

Shakespeares was busy when we got there and we got sat in the clock room with pints of the Little and Large IPA once again. We had hoped they might have some sarnies left so we could eat the fillings and take the cobs home for our tea (burgers) but alas they did not. To make up for this, we had another half of the Hoxton and a shot of Jungle gin with that good tonic water that Shakespeares sell. A fantastic end to the night this proved.

I will attempt to remember other facts in my next post - I have been on quite a few good nights out in November, some of which I intend to share some fragmented details of.

In the meantime, take care, don't stop supping and see you around.

Cheers!


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Portland House Micropub

Hello,

      on Wednesday I was invited to the soft launch of the new Micropub in Sheffield on Ecclesall Road. I was invited by Tom who worked at the University Arms for six years - I claim to have only just fund out that he is called Tom. This is a recurrent theme in this and most other posts.

The Portland House micropub is at 288 Ecclesall Road in a former Cooplands shop just up from the Nursery Tavern. I can tell you from personal experience that its a good ten minute walk up Ecclesall Road to the Beer House, Sheffield's second Micropub. The Portland has a more modern interior and settees at one end, with benches and chairs and modern tables - one thing I was asked to point out was that the table we sat at was wonky - I hope that's not the floor!

On the first night they Had Henrietta, Portland Black, Red Feather and Harley on from Welbeck Abbey and Saltaire Citra, and Arbor Half Day IPA on as guests on cask, with Wild Fresh on keg at £4.50 a pint. Tom tells me there's a keg of magic Rock in the cellar and other delights awaiting, which is good for me, since I do like a hoppy beer. However, what I do like about the pub is that it admits that not everyone likes a strenuously hoppy beer, so the Welbeck are the more traditional beers with the guests providing the hops.

The first pint was Henrietta for me and this was interesting - I personally think Welbeck are much less hoppy and punchy with their beers now, and this was a great example - a pleasant soft pale with little hop bite - is not how I remember Henrietta. The second pint was of Arbor Half Day IPA - this was more of a red ale than a pale but was very pleasant, if not actually very IPA-y, which is a word.

The pub will also serve food and at the moment they have pork pies and pork and black pudding pies from Wateralls as well as meats and cheese and breads from Welbeck Abbey producers. The olives and sour dough and olive bread on the first night were excellent - I can, assuming these are from the same, see myself popping in for a bite to eat once the food gets off the ground.

I bumped into Nick Wheat and Andy C whilst there - Nick is someone I have known, but never met, for a few years. He was there with his Dad who runs an architects firm nearby - it was he who asked me to mention the table. It was interesting to meet and talk to Wheaty and his Dad and to Andy and Tom - good to catch up with Sheffield beer news.

Bt comparison, after my visit I went up to the Beer House. It was rammed, with Mr Hough doing the quiz. I had a few pints of a lovely hoppy ale which has unfortunately slipped form my memory, and I got sat with Ben and Paula who I impeded in the completion of the quiz. Two thoroughly lovely people who kindly paid off the tab I accidentally created when I discovered the Beer House doesn't have a card machine - the Portland House does!

Sheffield now has three micropubs and all are different in subtle ways. Am looking forward to revisiting all of them, including Walkley Beer Co, sometime in November. Best of luck to Tom and his team and Welbeck Abbey Brewery with Portland House as well.


Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Red House. Dead House.

Hello,

          about this time last week, maybe an hour later, I had sent a tweet to the Red House Sheffield's new and largely unfindable Twitter account. In it, I asked them what times they opened on a Saturday, as I had been there at 19.00 last Saturday and found no signs of life. I did not receive a reply, and discussed this on Monday with W's K and F. When I returned that night, I received a message from Andy C telling me that he had been emailed by the pub. They had closed after three weeks, and the pub was now back in the hands of Punch.

This is not a surprise. Not at all. So what went wrong?

Well, here's a tip. If you are going to reopen a former live music and DJ venue in a hard to find back street area of Sheffield as a quiet, traditional back street boozer, you should advertise. Not simply put a piece of paper on the door (that is how I found out it was reopening) and let Sheffield CAMRA know, and then a week or so after opening create the worlds least informative Twitter account. No, you need to advertise and publicise the fact via as many mediums as possible.

I heard that Craig and Marie had been successful tenants of the Peaks Hotel in Castleton and the Castle at Bradway. I thought I remembers hearing that the peaks had started selling local real ales, which is a bonus for Castleton (although that is based on my last visit, about 8 years ago) and the Castle has always seemingly had a good reputation for food and real ales. Imagine my surprise then at finding the three real ales they had on their delayed opening night did not change two weeks in. I say did not change - am not suggesting they were the same casks - although the moonshine tasted like it was the first sold that week.

You see, their promises were not that watertight it turned out. For instance, on their advertisement, they claimed to sell local craft and real ales. The range never changed, as above, from Moonshine, York Guzzler and Castle Rock Harvest Pale. Myself and Mr P were in two weeks or more ago, and Marie showed us the Punch finest cask list she could choose beers from, and to be fair there were some that I have never tired, and some I would really like to. She said originally that they wanted to get onto the SIBA guest beers list but two weeks after opening, she said the pub co had confirmed that this was not going to happen. They also claimed to do food and high quality coffee, there is a sign up about food but I don't know if this ever got going. I never asked about a coffee, but I assume the machine required was also not delivered. Or not ordered.

When I last went in with Mr P Marie said she was fed up with it being so quiet - and as I was about to point out the lack of publicity, she said "but what do you expect wi' no advertising". I agreed, but found this a very strange statement. She ran the pub with Craig. Both of them should have been promoting it. It's almost like they opened it and assumed passers by, you know, mainly the Chinese student population would simply pop in and make it their go to place for a drink. Guess what? That didn't happen.

I thought Craig and Marie were friendly, knowledgeable and good hosts. And I only visited their pub three or four times. I can't for the life of me think why they took the pub on though, and did nothing to make it a success. And something that Mr P said, after, as a respected poet and performer of poetry, he offered to put on a poetry night and received no contact about doing so, stuck in my mind. Perhaps the pub company offered them the chance to run the pub badly for three or four weeks, and then agreed that they could leave - so that the pub could be deemed non-viable and turned into flats, like almost every other building of that age locally.

I understand a successful local firm on Upper Allen street have been offered vast sums to vacate their premises so they could be turned into student flats. Am sure that the Red House represents a great opportunity for conversion. If this is the case, and such plans are afoot, that is hugely disappointing.

I don't want to be writing a post six or twelve months down the line about another lost boozer in Sheffield. Granted the Red House has been more of a venue for some years now, but I think it could be turned into the pub promised last month - but not without extensive coverage and advertising, determination positivity and crucially, the right support from Punch. It wouldn't be competing directly with any of their pubs - because there are no pubs locally that aren't independent.

If anyone has any knowledge of the plans for th Red House do feel free to let me know. And if it does reopen as a pub, I would encourage you to visit it in huge numbers to prove it is viable.

Cheers

Wee Beefy

Sunday, 18 October 2015

This week, I have been mostly.....

Drinking.

    once again, not exactly a revelation, but an appropriate back story to a week or more of libations that I hope to record some details of here.

Recently myself and Matty and Tash have found ourselves in the Harlequin more often than usual. Its not that I have anything against the Harlequin, more that in the beginning of the month when I have actual money I tend to travel or go to my usual haunts. By this week, I largely pay for my beer on card. Its cash only at the Quin. Despite this on recent visits I found sufficient funds to invest in pints of Five Towns and North Riding Golden Years IPA, which we all had several pints of, along with Exit 3 IPA, and on my last visit, a very palatable pint of Blue Bee Motueka Pale Ale. Motueka is not a hop I encounter that often but there was a definite and interesting tang to this beer, which I assume is a   Motueka characteristic. Decent value as well at £3.00 a pint for a 5% beer.

I haven't been to Shakespeares that much of late. I was in last night after the Ship, not partaking in but observing with interest the punters at, their inaugural gin festival. There have been a couple in Gatsby's and the Harlequin over the last year but I have never been tempted to go. Had Tash been better this last week I think we could have snook in for a taster or two. Last night I started with a pint of Brodies Steam, a half of North Riding Citra and a half of Blue Bee Ginger beer. Good to see that during the gin fest the beers were still top notch.

I sat in the back room and met Tracey and Tom, Phoebe and Tom and Sarah and Tom. This isn't, despite appearances, a bizarre four way, instead three couples. These lovely folks were at Shakespeares to see a man playing upstairs whose three names probably included Steven and Adams. Its always nice to meet new people and this was no different, hopefully all six enjoyed the gig. I went back afterwards  for another half of the excellent Blue Bee Ginger beer, and to pay my tab - another excellent Shakesperian visit.

Talking of Gatsby, sort of, on Sunday after our jaunt to Ull and a coffee in Tamper Sellers Wheel, we went up to the Double G. Its never been my favourite venue but they usually sell two real ales and we fancied a change. They appear now to be permanently selling cask Saltaire Cascadian Black and Roosters YPA. Am not really a fan of either but ordered a half of YPA each for me and Tash. I assumed the cloudiness was a chill haze but even when they warmed up they were still hazy. I think it might have been the end of the barrel - at least I hope so, because £3.60 a pint is a lot for a duff beer.

After this we went and ate two portions of Kumara fries each in the Red Deer. They were having a bit of a Stancil fest, but there was a Brewsters and a Welbeck beer on as well. So me and Tash both had a pint or two of Welbeck Cubits Voyage, a 3.5% session ale using New Zealand Hops. I also tried a half of the Brewsters hopped Porter which was delicious. Am not a Stancil fan however so didn't have any of theirs, apart from a taste of the unfined Blonde.

We finished the night having several pints of Blue Bee in the Three Tuns Silver Street Head. The food menu has again reduced and Jamie was wearing his chef's hat, am not sure if this means another chef has left or not! Once again the ale was excellent, as were the pork scratchings, am just struggling to remember which Blue Bee pale we had. More of the same in terms of quality, when we popped in Wednesday to see Matty off to London with his friends Stuart and Phil.

By the way, Welbeck Abbey Brewery are opening their first Sheffield venue, a micropub on Ecclesall Road called Portland House. Their Facebook page described the venue, opening a week on Thursday 29 October, as a pub, brewery and cafe. Am not sure of the brewery details but I heard about their potential opening some time ago from one of the guys behind the project. Its tag line is a "Micropub without the gimmicks" so it will be interesting to see the results.

Bath Hotel news now - was in the redoubtable boozer Monday or Tuesday drinking one of the beers of the year. The Cloudwater 6.7% Autumn IPA on keg is a revelation - citrus, resinous, spicy hops on a warming malt background is my half arsed attempt at a description - either way it was a fantastic pint which me and Tash had one of each. We found out earlier in the day the pub had some trouble from drug and alcohol abusing molluscs who threatened the two female staff and generally caused havoc. Whilst I was walking down with Tash there was a massive argument going on across the road, and at one stage the front door was locked as a maniac was outside with a knife and a block of wood. Credit to the staff at the pub for working under this kind of pressure. Such a lot to deal with as well as meeting profit and sales targets.

A couple of visits to the Bankers Draft have shown some interesting ales including a mild, Purity UBU amber ale and Fatheads Yakima Sun, part of their ale festival. The Bankers is not my favourite place by a long stretch but is somewhere worth popping on for a coffee or soft drink or an ale, as I have done a few times of late.

Finally, the Sheffield Tap continues to offer some decent real ales. I popped in on Friday with Tash as she wasn't well and needed to sit down somewhere for a coffee - an extra large Cappuccino was £3.50 but am assured was delicious. I thought I would have a Fyne Ales Highlander, but at £4.00 a pint for a 4.5% cask beer said no - a similar strength Bad Seed Brewing Comet (I think!) was much better value at £3.40 a pint so i had a couple of pints of that. Always worth popping in to sample the real ales - just check the prices first.

That's all the news I have for now, am hoping to have a Sheffield beer festival write up next week!

Cheers


Wee Beefy

Punchbowl, Red House and Ship - one month in.

Hello,

         yesterday I went on a pub crawl. Shock news, as am sure you would agree, but there was a point. Starting in Crookes at the Punchbowl (or Reet Pizza at the Punchbowl) I was heading for the Red House and then the Ship on Shalesmoor to see how the three recently reopened pubs were faring. This is what I found.

The Punchbowl was busy when I arrived. After talking to the guy from Sheffield's newest micropub - details to follow in next post - I went inside to find dancers and a photographer. The dancers were the Sheffield Steel Tappers or similar - I have seen them in Shakespeares and the Bath Hotel and other venues, they wear red sashes and black and are a friendly and sometimes thirsty bunch. They do traditional dancing, but don't ask me what style. They were also on a pub crawl heading for Shakespeares as it later transpired.....

I went to the bar and bought myself, using a card, two pints - one of Hopcraft Napoleon Complex, and one of their Passage of Least Resistance. I sat down in the left hand side and awaited Wee Keefy.

The Napoleon Complex did not last long and Wee Keefy arrived to find me supping the very easy drinking "POLR" surrounded by families eating. No nauseating screaming bairns I should point out, just groups quietly enjoying the pizza whilst the parents supped. Christingpher joined us later and the pub was getting busier with 30 or 40 customers in. I went to the bar and tried the Reet Pale - for the third consecutive time I have tried it the beer was flat and lacked life or balance and had almost no hoppiness. Does anyone know why Reet Pale is suddenly crap? Instead I had a half of the Tempest Stout, which was lovely.

WK kindly bought us a cider pig pizza to share and this was as delicious as I remember. I know Mt Stephens was worried about the size of this pub and filling it but on every visit so far that has been achieved. I have been in four times now and the pub has always been busy. Looking good for the bowl....

A 32 minute wait for a First Bus 52 followed - to add to the 23 minutes I waited earlier, reminding me that having a First only bus pass adds hours to my weekly wait. A short trip later I got off near the University and headed down Broad Lane, Sidall Street and right down Solly Street to the Red House. Except, I was at the Red House, but it wasn't open. I waited patiently until gone 19.00 but there was no sign of life, just a light on in the entrance behind the locked door.

I'm not going to leap to any conclusions but for a pub so out of the way which had undertaken so little advertising and publicity, being closed on a Saturday night is, at the very least, bizarre. I finally found their Twitter page and tweeted them, only about an hour ago, to ask for their opening times - they haven't even posted any tweets yet, and don't have a description of their pub. The last time I went in, about ten days ago, we were once again the only customrs, and the beer tasted like it had been on for a week or more.  I will let you know what, or if, I receive as a reply to my query, soon.

Cutting down the less salubrious back streets of Snow Lane, Smithfield and Allen Street I was soon on the main road and heading for the Ship. Not as brightly lit as it was on its opening weekend the pub was still busy, thronged with punters of all ages and types, soaking up the atmosphere and the ales and kegs and wines. It was, in what is my sixth visit, a busy, popular venue.

There were three cask ales on - Monkeytown Mild from Phoenix,, a Lytham Witch Wood, and Golden Boots from Jolly Sailor. An interesting range, granted, but still not as good as that offered before (and more expensive). I tried and had a pint of the Lytham which reminded me slightly of Taylors Golden Best, a hoppy amber mild in style. It was actually very enjoyable, but the beer range brings me to a comment by Dave Unpro. He said he hadn't been, but the main complaint he had heard was it was described and marketed as a Craft Ale House but did not sell any Craft. I think he is right.

The bottled range is underwhelming in comparison to other local real ale boozers, i.e Shakespeares and the Kelham for starters. The real ale range is sometimes interesting, often uninspiring, and with the exception of the now much less punchy Punk IPA on keg, there hasn't been a strong pale hoppy beer on yet. Sheffield, as ye fules kno, is a pale ale city. Pale ales are surely the popular pint....?

However, putting aside a nonsensical debate on what the chuff is Craft anyway (its is a word, that is all) the pub seems to be doing rather marvelously despite this obvious shortcomig. In fact, I think that Artisan have been quite clever. In introducing a range of less hoppy but sometimes pale, and sometimes unusual real ales with more standard fare, and reinvigorating the decor inside, the pub has managed it seems to retain the regular customers, as well as attracting new ones. It may not sate the desires of the hoppy independent cask and keg ales drinkers, and its cask range for me is quite disappointing, but it has managed to change its identity and retain it customer base. That, readers, is a difficult trick to pull off.

The other issue is that all but  the Wellington locally offer an astounding range of changing independent real ales. It would be overly optimistic using four handpumps, to try and compete with that sort of range and availability. I say well done then, to the Ship, for making a successful if mis-marketed transition into the drinking venue, and pub, it has now become.

Overall, assuming the Red House is in fact still open, we have seen three very different pubs reopen since mid September and two at least, have been very successful. The difference between the two that are and the one that isn't is plain and simple - advertising, publicity and promotion. Attracting new customers whilst not, it would seem, alienating regulars. Yes, a couple of blokes walked in the Punchbowl on its first weekend and asked for smoothflow John Smiths and were disappointed not to have it on offer. This doesn't seem to have affected it popularity overall.  Meanwhile, am sure some of the Ship's regulars baulk at the higher prices, and miss the Chinese food late on a Friday night, but the pub isn't noticeably suffering a loss of trade. In fact, it has improved.

Its just a shame that the same could not be said of the Red House. Its a cause for concern how little effort was made to attract customers to this traditional back street boozer. I sincerely hope this isn't a false dawn, and that the pub becomes a success in its current form, as opposed to a set of yet more student flats.

Cheers!


Wee Beefy

Friday, 16 October 2015

Ull


     "its spelt Hull, burrits prunarnst Ull, thats what everyone rand ere sez" said Kev, as we sat in a circle of red leather chairs, with classic album covers on the walls whilst music played loudly in the background. We were, in Ull. We we here to celebrate Jobi's birthday. Gawd love her, this involved going on the worlds shortest pub crawl in Ull's Old Town. Here is what happened.

Wee Keefy had picked me and Tash and Matty up and drove us to Ull to meet Jobi and Jambon, and we then went to the William Wilberforce Spoons to meet Kev, Sue, who's birthday celebration it also was, and her friends Lynda and her other half, who alas I have forgotten the name of. Como siempre.

The Double W sells quite inexpensive ales and food and is set in a glorious old building. The beer list was well out o date but I had a pint of the Caledonian and some American brewery Amber ale and Tash some Zulu Pale - both pints came to about £3.45. Upstairs we ordered food for us all, and a few holes started to appear - I thought I had dabs of sour cream on my bowl but they were in fact three missing chunks, and Jobi had a cold cooked chicken burger - which they replaced with 2 pints. Downstairs, I was asked if I had been served, so said yes and turned to the guy next to me to ask if he had been and the person asking ran off! I had to wait five minutes to get two pints of Rhymney Export...

About 10 yards away is the Olde White Hart pub. Accessed down an alley way and through a large courtyard, this is a very old pub which I think is, or at least was, on the National Inventory. In the bar its Theakstons and Caledonian, granted, but the Flying Scotsman as on good form. Most of us had that as we sat in the room on the left near the second of two giant fireplaces. We were joined here by three or four of Jobi's Ull friends - to be honest, I really can't remember their names. I can remember they were great company though. This was a feature of the Old Town boozers.

Another couple of yards away is a modern pub called Walters, named I understand after Walter Wilberforce who ran a barbers there. It has a long narrow layout with loos at the end and about eight handpumps and some kegs and a range of bottles and cocktails. I had a delicious pint of Brass Castle Loco and Tash tried some local Atom Brewery Chamomile, whilst Jambon picked the best ale of the night with a punchy IPA which might have been called Nightflower.

We were sat in the booth as mentioned earlier with most of the party stood up,  mingling and chatting and supping the excellent range of ales. At this point the older part of the group (sorry Kev et al!) moved on to the next pub early as they had a train to catch, and we followed on behind after anther half.

WM Hawkes seems like the oldest pub but am guessing its not - I think the amount of old worlde decoration suggests its trying to be older than it actually is. I had another pint of Atom in here as did Tash but we weren't keeping notes, as its no doubt abundently obvious! Got chatting to a local briefly in here and he was pleased that we had come from Sheffield, which was also part of Yorkshire - neither  of us had any time for Humberside.  We stayed in here for a while soaking up the excellent atmosphere and surroundings - although, one gripe, having been told about its wonderful spirit selection, the two staff didn't seem to know what was on, and there was no spirit list. A missed opportunity methinks....

Virtually over the road is the Lion and Key. Our much smaller paty struggled to sueeze in to this rammed pub. Wee Keefy had the Cathead Brewery mild whilst me and Tash had the Leanside Alexandria IPA and something else form a local brewery. To be honest, the Leamside was lovley, but I also tried the Cathead Blonde and it was dire! Here we sat out the back with a good mix of drinkers and enjoyed people watching, and listening to stories of imbibing.

Our final pub was the Old Black Boy, also a National Inventory candidate, with an interesting long layout of two rooms downstairs and one up, with a terrace upstairs. The beer range was less good in here and I had a very average pint of Oakham JHB, and stood downstairs with Wee Keefy and Jobi and others, whilst Jambon Tash and Matty sat upstairs "enlivening" or potentially ruining some couple's date. The Black |Boy is keen on closing time, and we were outside before midnight.

Getting home via a drugged up paranoid mentalist in a burger joint and a long queue at the station taxi rank really didn't dampen our spirits. In fact, it was just another part in a wonderful jigsaw of experiences and ale and ale houses and people in the Est Yorkshire city. A thoroughly enjoyable and highly recommended destination.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Indy Man Beer Con 2015

Hello,

                  this year I was once again offered the chance to attend the Independent Manchester Beer Convention (or Conference?) in, surprisingly, Manchester. Here are some memories of what I, and Tash, found.

Firstly, lets make this clear - I bumped into, on the train, two gents from the Australian state of Lougabarougah, or Loughborough in Leicestershire, as its more commonly known. I'd seen one take a bottle of porter out of his bag for a pre festival snaffle, and asked if they were going to Indy Man. They were, Rob and Justin one of whom runs the Hoptimism beer shop. So I offered to let them share a taxi with  me and Tash since I had been before. It would, I said, cost about £6.50. Arriving at Chorlton Baths, it transpired I should have asked for Victoria baths. In Chorlton on Medlock. On Hathersage Road. A quick trip through Moss Side later with taxi driver Daniel, and we were 40 minutes and £15.00 down. Sorry Rob, Justin, Tash, and myself.

Once in things improved. I took Tash into the main room to buy some tickets - £1.00 each and in my experience between £1.50 and £2.00 a third. This meant that most, indeed almost all, of the beer, was expensive. However, most, indeed almost all, was keg, strong, and unique.

We started at the Quantum brewery stand. Our first two beers were their Gose for Tash and a beer for me called Gin and Juice, a 6.5% sour orange peel and I think elderflower gin flavoured wheat beer. These two thirds came to £3.50. The tone was set. Mainly, if not exclusively, because both beers were excellent. We enjoyed them outside amonsgt the tents and food stalls in warm sunshine.

Inside next we tried an IMBC collab with Northern Monk called Quinceessential. This was a quince IPA at 6.0% and was very easy drinking. So far, I had tasted two beers at 6.0% or more. This, I was to learn, was far from unusual at IMBC.

A trip into the far bar followed including a taste of and a third of the Tilquin Draft Gueze. It was here that we bumped into Rob and Justin and their friend, still talking to us, and supping a third of the bottled Grande Gueze at an eye watering £5.00 a third. I also tried or rather supped a third of Hawkshead Sundown red ale at a "meager" 4.5% and some Chorlton Farmhouse IPA at 7.0%. We sat down with a photographer and a guy from Lancashire called Mike who was really enthusiastic about the styles on offer. Tash also went to try a third of the strong Thistly Cross dry cider, and talked to the who ran the firm.

From this pint on, its probably best if I try and remember enough of the beers I tried to list them. So, with that in mind, other beers tried included:

Zapato and the Beak - Little Leeds Pale, and Raspberry sour
A Bilberry saison which isn't obviously on the list
Cloudwater IPA
Almasty Imperial Stout (10%)
Tuatar NUI (BIG) IPA

Whilst supping and wandering we saw a few Sheffielders - the guy with the name and his friend from the Bath hotel, Sean Clarke from Beer Central, the lass form Mashtun and meow who might be called Chloe (but probably isn't!), Stuart from Magic Rock Brewing (who is at least a Sheffielder by association, and the manager of the Sheffield Tap. We also met up with Jules and Will from Hop Hideout, who were my friendly and supportive hosts last year.

We also went for a sit down on a green-bag in the dark end room and listened to a DJ set whilst snaffling our pork pies and sarnies, and supping amazing LSD (Little Sour Delight, a young sour at 6.8% from Lervig in Norway, along with their Lucky Jack IPA. This was a lovely space and a great opportunity to wind down from the pressure of trying to sample as many beers as we could before 16.30.

At a point after that, things became a little less good. With two tokens left I discovered the bars weren't serving and so I headed to the ticket booth to get my money back, and was told they couldn't do that. I have never come across that at a beer festival before. When I protested I was advised to go and get a canned beer to take out - they, admirably, canned draught beer for supping that day but it was 4 tokens. I was going to give my tokens, which I had paid for, to the guy from Zapato but someone mentioned I could use them next year - so still have them. I don't, however, understand why I couldn't exchange them for cash.

That was the main downside if am honest, along with a lack of cask beers. A guy behind the cask bar said that not enough was sold the year before so they had to give it away. Whilst I understand this is not a viable sales pitch, its still a shame to see so few (10 I think) cask beers on sale from such an extensive list - the link to which is here.

Despite the above this was another excellent showcase of a wide range of UK and International beers - whether you define them as Craft or otherwise. The beer is expensive, but pushes the boundaries of taste and your expectations in a wonderful and excellent quality way -  we didn't try a bad one. The venue, as mentioned last time, is outstanding, and the atmosphere was great.

A thoroughly enjoyable festival!

Cheers


Wee Beefy



Saturday, 3 October 2015

Up the Locals

Hello,

           I was going to write this post on Wednesday, however, I accidentally went to the pub instead. Gah! Damn those hostelries. Whilst the three I visited then were well regarded locally and nationally, its not always the case for local pubs - by which, I mean, any pub that is a half mile or more out of town. During the end of my homelidays me and Tash visited three local pubs. Heres what we found.

The Forest is an unusual pub. It seems isolated, yet is on a main road. Its on Rutland Road at the end of Rutland Street which leads to Woodside Lane - in recent years, the street which goes under the railway to join Platt Street (which may be Woodside Lane) has been an open air dumping ground for broken rotting furniture and bags of rubbish. There is little evidence of occupied buildings except for a couple of industrial units and a factory across the road which may still trade. On the other side of Rutland Road is an empty space for sale for development. Behind the pub, sort of, is Toolmakers and Stancil Breweries - I'm told. In fact, I have never been past the pub. The Forest is to my eyes, therefore, an oasis of ale  in an area of industrial and urban depreciation. Good for them!

I only went in for the first time about three years ago when it reopened as the Woodside Inn - see my blog post.. It was previously, and a small sign still attests, a show bar, rented out as a whole for parties. Prior to that, it was , I understand,. the last pub in Sheffield to get a spirits license. I imagine back then there was far more industrial activity going on nearby.

The pub is in effect the Toolmakers brewery Tap and sells four or five real ales, mainly from them. We had a pint each of the Philips Driver, a 4.2% Amber ale which I understand is brewed wit European hops. We sat outside in the last of the sunshine and stared out over the railway and watched the traffic,  and an interesting mix of locals past the pub. Despite its location the pub is usually quite busy - I understand they hold darts matches and there is a small band of regulars every time I have visited.

The beer went down far too easily so I went back in for another couple pf pints (£2.80 I think) and a pack of pork scratchings at 70p and returned to sit with Tash. The scenery may not be inspiring but the pub, I think, is. Long may it continue to offer a pint to passers by and locals.

On Monday we went to Crystal Peaks for a shop and headed out to the Alma at Mosborough. I used to go in the Alma back in the 90's with Wee Fatha every other Tuesday for quiz night, read in his own inimitable style by Jim, supported by Jean his wife, who also provided free food. Jim, I think, left soon after Wards Brewery closed and the pub was immediately given a clumsy and unwanted "upgrade". Gone were the trinkets and bric-a-brac that adorned the shelves and ledges, gone was the faded cream paint in the Bar room,  and gone of course was the cask Wards and Vaux Samson.

Since them I have visited infrequently, but not for about four years or so. Walking up from Westfield near where the Mill pub used to be, it seems a long way to walk to a pub hidden away down a back street. Once on the main road in Mosborough you head up past the Royal Oak and the flats and bear left, past some now older buildings, and eventually onto South Street which is a couple of corners away. There, as we did, you will see the lit sign of the pub.

On this visit we sat in the Lounge. For reasons unclear, myself and Wee Fatha always sat in the bar. I have perhaps only ever previously been in the Lounge once, when Jim told us he didn't sell hand pulled ale during the day because the older clientele didn't buy it, so the cask was sold on electric pump. Now, years later, the odd fakeness of the refurb is still evident - although there is still a, potentially unused, 1980's or older jukebox protruding at the head of the fixed seating. Other than that its not obvious how old the pub is, apart from the low ceiling and small windows.

There is one cask ale on and one cider. Which is not on the pump - its in the cellar. On the Monday this was Doom Bar. Regular readers will know how little I like the malty mediocre concoction, but it was well kept and was crucially the only real ale. Since it was popular and selling well it would have been daft not to have a pint.

The pub became busy quite quickly with a games night taking place. Darts was being played in the Tap room and dominoes cards and other games in the Lounge. Its a strange mix to see predominantly older customers playing traditional pub games, whilst horrendous recent chart music plays - I think me and Tash were the youngest clientele.

Two further pints and a pack of Space Raiders crisps - correctly sold for the 20p pack price, were consumed, before we headed off from the pub down into Mosborough. Here I got some funds and we headed up the road to the George and Dragon.

My last visit had been in the mid nineties. Myself and WF had crawled round all the local pubs in one night, and had struggled to get a full pint of Wards here despite several requests to top up. As I recall, the barmaid had said that pressing the button dispensed a whole pint - she was right. Mostly of froth. To our astonishment locals were seemingly happy to take what was at best three quarters of pint -  but we weren't. Cue a rather long period with no visit. I read in Beer Matters or similar a few years ago that they were now selling real ales, so that night we ventured into found out what.

 A range of ales was advertised but there was only two pumpclips, one turned round. Wadworth 6X was the sole beer on so we had a pint each of this. It was quiz night so very busy, but we found a seat in the back of the room on the left and listened in on whet were mediumly difficult questions, and then to the bizarre method of reading the answers out - if you got five of the first five read out at random you won the quiz...

Free food was laid on when it had finished and the atmosphere was friendly and there was a good mix of drinkers sat with us. It was good to visit two busy pubs on one Monday night, especially given the location of the Alma.

All too soon we had to get off, and headed down School Street. I suggested we nip in the Vine for a half - and entered to find it was now an Indian Restaurant (don't ask me how I missed that on the sign!). Interestingly, the large space was completely empty. It was gone 22.30 and they had no customers. Perhaps the pub would have been busier.....

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Ship, Shalesmoor, Sheffield, reopens

Hello all,

        apologies for avoiding an all too obvious tabloid pun here, but I won't mention that the ship is in anyway connected to water or not sinking. Well, apart from I just have. I mean thereafter. Last night, a night after the soft launch, I was there for the public reopening of the Ship Inn on Shalesmoor which closed due to financial problems of the previous landlord in January 2015.

As you may know, on Wednesday night I was at the reopening of the Red House on Solly Street. I mentioned that, as well as there only being six customers, the pub hadn't publicised its reopening. Interestingly, I quoted from the previous landlord of the Ship regarding the lack of local trade. Given that this scenario hasn't changed, and I struggled to find much social media coverage of the reopening, perhaps have a guess at how busy the Ship was last night....

It was rammed. Absolutely chock-a-block with persons of all ages and outlooks and drinking preferences. We arrived around 20.00 and when we had been served our drinks were lucky to find a spot to sit, in the area near the side door, with Saxbob Swift. We actually started the night on keg beers - mainly because it was very warm inside the pub, we were very thirsty, and the only enticing real ale was Old Moor Porter. I had a pint of Schiehallion, the Harviestoun lager beer, Tash a pint of BrewDog Punk IPA and Matty a Charles Wells DBA.

It was striking to see how many people I recognised, mainly because some. I'm sure, we had seen in the Ship before. Local drinkers there may be few but if their regulars used to travel across the city to drink there, they appear to still be doing. It was good to catch up with Bob and he seemed to get on well with Matty, and it was also good to spot Chris Bamford and others from Shakespeares enjoying the atmosphere and the beers.

We went cask next - and all had pints of the Acorn Old Moor Porter. The other casks on offer were Acorn Blonde (which changed to that from something else!) Greedy King Old Golden Hen and Kelham Island Easy Rider. I appreciate that the keg beers give the pub a different angle for drinkers, but I have to say the cask choice was better before - always local ales, always sold at a bargain price and always something hoppy. Punk IPA is probably the hoppiest beer there and there was nothing on cask last night that matched it in that respect.

Now, the pub has an impeccable tiled Tomlinsons Brewery frontage, and this, obviously, has been retained. However, inside they have exposed tiling around the windows which looks fantastic. The end room where the pool table used to be now houses a large bottled beer fridge and a single round table and the access to the loos is the same, from that room. I didn't, alas, due to how busy the pub was, get to see what happened to its fabulous original 1970's jukebox. I think it may have been lost.

A couple of windows were broken whilst the pub was shut and they along with another large one from the front have been removed. The plain glass widows allow much more light in and the pub is brighter lit so its stands out more. Inside the decor is more modern, but not in a way that distracts, but its difficult to make that assessment on a night where the pub was so busy.

Out of the three pubs that have reopened in Sheffield in the last week this was far and away the busiest I have seen. It will be interesting to see if this now becomes part of the Don Valley real ale trail, specially as so many CAMRA members never seemed to drink in the Ship, despite it selling 4 local real ales for years.

One last thing to note is the food - I imagine they probably stop serving at 20.00 or 21.00 but Matty was there before then and saw only on person eating. The Ship never previously did food, apart from crisps and nuts (it now does pork crackles from a jar and they are gorgeous by the way!) and nobody seemed interesting in eating. This, in some ways, suggests the pub's past as a down to earth drinking venue maybe at least partially retained. Sheffield needs more real ale boozers where food either isn't served or is equal to the provision of real ales. The Blake in Walkley is a great example of the first.

Am hoping to revisit next week after payday, including the Red House and the Punchbowl on Crookes. Its always interesting to see how a pub fares after its reopening night. To repeat what I previously said, I wish all three licencees the very best in their pub ventures, and look forward to helping them enjoy success.


Cheers

Wee Beefy

Friday, 25 September 2015

Oktoberfest Social beer tasting

Now then,

                     last night I attended an event at the Archer Road Beer Stop and Hop Hideout specialist off licenses in Sheffield. Dave at Archer Road and Jules at Hop Hideout were co-hosting a tasting event with three German  Oktoberfest Marzens and two American German style Oktoberfest beers.

The event started at Archer Road Beer Stop at 20.00. Jules explained to the guests that she had wanted the Archer Road Beer Stop to be involved as it was Sheffield's longest established specialist real ale off license - that said, Dave himself was not sure if it opened in 1981 or 1982. Either way, it was a co-hosted event between one of Sheffield's new off licenses and its first.

I was joined by Spence, who I met at the Three Valleys and SIBA beer festivals, Skippy, or Mike as he is actually known, Laura who is involved with Sheffield CAMRA and a couple who I think knew Jules. Dave had cleaned up the back room behind the shop (to the extent that it echoed!) and had 6 chairs around a somewhat rickety plasterers table with a beer stein, water biscuits and beer mats on it. Soon we were tasting our first beer.

Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest Marzen was the weakest of the German beers at 5.8%. Dave told us some of the history of the brewery, which originally was two rival brewing families. When one brewery was bombed during the second world war the other let them brew on their plant a couple of days a week until in 1974 they became Hacker-Pshcorr. This was a traditional Oktoberfest Marzen style since it was a chestnut brown in colour. It was slightly sweet and malty with a hint of orange in the mix, a caramel and burnt sugar aftertaste and was incredibly easy to drink.

Next up was one from Munich's oldest brewery Spaten. Their Oktoberfestbeir is 5.9% but much paler in colour. It was suggested that they had changed the colour due to the populariyu of pale lager like beers to meet custoer demand. This had much more of a lager style taste, and was once again very easy drinking. Whilst we did so Dave provided details about the Oktoberfest itself. Apparrently, 75% of those attending are Bavarians,with Americans, Australians and the British in 4th. Despite many of our misconceptions about levels of drunken revellery, on average guests only drink 1 litre of ale. Dave also explained about the tapping ceremony performed by the Mayor and showed us a web cam shot of the festival.

Our final German beer was the one which was receiving the most points on rating sites, that being the Paulaner Oktoberfest Bier at 6.0%. This was lighter still and much less malty, very much a lighter tasting strong lager than the original Marzen that we tried. Not everyone appreciated this beer, some feeling it lacked the distinction of the traditional recipe, but Laura really appreciated it - as the youngest person there, it was interesting to see which beers she preferred.

We walked down to Hop Hideout next to find Will waiting for us and to sit down with glasses and more water biscuits, and a beer contained full of water, to have Jules talk us through the two beers there. The first was the Brooklyn Oktoberfest, brewed in the US but with wholly German ingredients. The malts, Bavarian Heirloom, Munich and Pilsner, were apparently malted especially for the brewery in Bamberg in Germany, and the hops used were Hallertauer Perle and Hallertauer Mittelfrueh. The beer was more rounded than I expected, and not overly carbonated. It was 5.5% so the weakest so far but held its own well against the Germans beers.

Our final tipple was the Flying Dog Dogtoberfest. This was brewed to 5.6% and featured artwork inspired by Hunter S Thompson who apparently lived near the brewery when it started up. The malts used were Light Munich, Munich 90 Munich 100 and Vienna. This was Laura's favourite beer of the 5 and was once again a good beer compared to those brewed in Germany, but I thought the spiciness described on the label detracted from its authenticity, and it was somehow, despite using all German ingredients, noticeably American!

After the event finished we all had a further drink, myself a bottle of the Cantillon Gueze, and Jules, whose birthday it was, drank an amazing sour beer which I think was from Brooklyn. Or maybe Buxton! Whilst we drank Jules showed us original 1950's Pathe news footage of the Oktoberfests, which was amusing and fascinating at the same time.

The event was well run and very informative, and it was great to meet up with fellow drinkers to share the drinking and tasting experience. Well don to both Dave and Jules for their hard work and research and for delivering an excellent, joint-run Oktoberfest Social.

Cheers!


Wee Beefy