Sunday, 29 March 2015

Brothers Arms Beer Festival and the Heeley Triangle

Good evening,

           well, yesterday I went to the very first Brothers Arms beer festival, and to the two other pubs in the Heeley Triangle. Of ale.... and what a night it was! Probably the busiest pub event I have ever been to, and a hugely enjoyable one to boot, with friends and fanily and new folk joining in the drinking and chatting and general badinage. Here some details.....

I arrived a bit later than planned but it was still a little light as I walked up the hill to the Brothers Arms. I knew my friends in Kingfisher Blue ere playing and as a soon as I started walking up from Chesterfield Road I could hear Jake's distinctive voice. The Brothers Arms looked spectacular in its well lit position overlooking Sheffield, and there were numerous cars parked outside - and uncountable numbers of punters inside.

Having not really looked into details of the festival I foolishly assumed all the beers would be on the bar. To be fair, it was so busy when I arrived I could only see three handpulls so chose from that - a pint of Blue Bee called Brewers Gold and a half of the strong Black Mass from Abbeydale Brewery - which came to a very good value £3.90. It probably only took 5 minutes to get served - and just as long again to get outside to see Kingfisher.

Which I did, but only for the last 3 songs, although in some ways this was good because it included Plastic Jesus, a favourite of mine (and not because it includes a rude word), as well as a rousing singalong finisher before they had to leave the stage. I saw Angie, Rich , Wee Keefy, Jambon, Jo, Paddington and a lady and a lass called Caitlin who turned out to be Jambon's daughter. We chatted for a while outside (in teh cold rain and wind) before fining a small corner to stand inside near the door.

I then discovered the festival bar was outside, at the end of the tent at the opposite end to the stage. I handed back my empties and struggled outside once more and ended up with a pint of Rational Black IPA from Blue Bee and a delicious half of something dark and hoppy from Hawkshead. By this time Wee Keefy and Jambon et al had decamped to the Sheaf view having been at the Brothers for 4 hours, so I went back out and had a pint of a hoppy beer from Oakham and possibly half a Blackjack - alas, so busy was it, I didn't even get to photograph the blackboard advertising the beers!

After chatting with Ally and Malc, Rich and Carlos (and Andy - hello!) I finished up and headed down to the Sheaf View. One of the knock on effects of the Brothers being so rammed was that many people migrated to the other points of the triangle, nearest of which was the Sheaf. I know it gets very busy on a Saturday night anyway, but this was another heaving venue. In keeping with recent posts, and bearing in mind this was only last night, am afraid I can't remember what I had to drink. That's proper journalism...!

Our final stop was at the White Lion. We managed to get in the snug and sat down to enjoy a [pint of Sequoia for me (since the Jaipur had run out) and to chat and catch up. The pub was likewise busy, and there may also have been a band on when we got there. Great evidence, across the three, of the benefits of holding a beer festival in one of the pubs in he Heeley Triangle. Of ale.....

I got in a taxi towards Crookes without Carlos alas, and jumped out at Brook Hill - I did ask the taxi driver t stop of course. I then ran very quickly down Brook Hill to the Shakespeares to grab a pint and to chat to Mr Bamford who seemed a little tired.

Am hoping to nip back to the Brothers in a bit, especially as there is a Siren beer that was yet to come on last night. I may even splash out on a pizza if they are available - they smelled and looked gorgeous. Congratulations to the Brothers Arms for organising such a fantastic beer festival.


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Edge of town crawls


          recently I took a few days off to spend with Tash after her long stay in Carlisle. Whilst she has been away and since she has come back, we have been craving pints in quieter pubs, but not ones that take ages to get to. Luckily, Sheffield has many decent, not always quiet but worthwhile pubs, on the edges of the city.

Starting in the Rutland I saw Clare from Sheffield beer week with Gav and her friend Gary. They were trying an exquisite dessert - and I was on a pint of Blue Bee Ella and a half of the excellent Broken Dreams from Siren. I have never tried this beer on draught and, aged in (I think) Ardbeg barrels, this complex beer was fantastic.

Just up the hill I popped in the Red Lion. I had a half of their Moonshine and went to sit in the beautiful back snug. Its not, I think, always possible to enter from the street so its useful to know that you need to go behind the bar - not literally, to each the room. Once there its often far quieter than the rest of the pub which can get very busy.

Further up is the Wood Street Brewery run/owned Roebuck. I went in with some trepidation since often I have gone in and the beer has been poor. This time there were a mix of Wood Street and guest brewery beers on 5 handpumps. The pub looked much cleaner and was very busy. I had a half a pale from a large regional brewer and stood in the beer garden. The Roebuck isn't my favourite pub but seems to be improving.

I finished off in the Tap and Tankard. I had a pint from Atom brewery and a half, but alas, the exhaustion of numerous overtimes caught up with me, and away tp nod nod land crept the Beefdozer. Zzzzzz.....

This week we met, after I had been to the Bath Hotel, Three Tuns and Red Deer, at the University tram stop and went to the University Arms. This was busy, but we managed to get a seat in the conservatory, whilst smokers braved the cold air in the garden, and being locked out after shutting the fire door properly. On the bar we almost tried an unusual beer from Welbeck Abbey brewery but went instead with a dark ale and a pale - now, I realise that details wise this is poor, but I had already had more than 3 pints by this stage.

Down the hill we went next to Fagans. Only halves in here, of Moonshine, but we were lucky enough to sit in the tiny snug. I think you can get 10 punters in, but only small ones - am sure the max is normally 8. We listened in on a folk session in the back room including a song called "A pint of old peculier". I've not been in for a while and this was a worthwhile return visit.

We finished the night in Shakespeares and after getting a pint of the Raw/Steel City collab that has the word opposites in it, we finished on several halves of the excellent Kernel Centennial IPA at 6.9%. As mentioned previously, Centennial is one of my favourite hops so this was a no brainer to try. Others must have liked it too - it had run out the following night.

During which we came into town and caught the 95 up to Howard Road, and walked down to the Blake. We'd seen their beer mats in the Sheaf View on Tuesday and decided to make a return to the pub, which Tash has only been in twice. This turned out to be an excellent decision. Of the real ales on the bar we stuck with two - the Spitting Duck pale ale from Green Duck brewery, and the Welsh Black from Great Orme brewery. The pork pies were excellent and well priced as was the beer. Had we not been restricted to limited funds we could probably have stayed all night.

Instead after a couple of hours we walked down through Upperthorpe to the Wellington. Two pints of Flying Scotsman were purchased and we sat down in the room on the left in again, a very busy pub - or plans for a quite night were not met on these visits but I assure you that the Blake, Red Lion,l Uni Arms and Welington are all places where you can enjoy a quiet drink.

We finished at Shakespeares with more Steel City and a beer from a new brewery, followed by half a Sorachi Face Plant, a delicious grapefruity and lemongrass-ed pale ale at 8.1% from Weird Beard. Once again Shakespeares provided the perfect finishing point to a short pub crawl.

Our final pints came last night - we popped in the Great Gatsby where Tash had a pint of Staropramen for old rimes sake, and me a pint of Saltaire Bavarian Black. Although the inside was rammed there were few people in the beer garden, so we sat outside and supped our pints slowly.

We finished in the Bath Hotel and had halves of the Wiper and True Amarillo Amber, a fantastic keg amber ale, the Buxton Moor top, a refreshing 3.6% Pale ale and the excellent Oakham Ales Citra Pale at 4.2%. We were joined by Clare and Gav and Neil and his mate which livened things up, and I had an absolutely excellent roast pork sandwich - the price has gone up to £4.00 but the portion is massive. Another great place to end what was our shortest crawl (we started in the Rutland but it was rammed) of Sheffield's edge of city pubs.

Maybe see some of you later at the Brothers Arms beer fest.....


Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 25 March 2015


Now then,

            I recently spent some time in the pubs of Heeley. Well, I say that, I actually spent some time in three pubs within a few minutes walk of each other. I am going to call this area the Heeley Green Triangle of Ale. And I won't even charge for that service.

I headed off from work to a pub called Shakespeares, a pub I may have mentioned before. This, I would hope obviously, is not in fact, in Heeley. I was however expecting Tash to come back from her Doctors appointment at Heeley and to meet me in there for a pint. I noticed I had a text from her that said please ring me. That was an hour ago. I tried calling her but didn't get through. I decided to go ahead and have a pint anyway. It seemed the only rational reaction....

On the bar were numerous delights and I went for a pint of low gravity but brilliantly refreshing Love of Work, a 3.8 or 3.6% Earl Grey pale ale from Siren Craft Brew. It was £2.80 a pint and was deliciously refreshing - not too bitter, but hoppy and tangy enough to satisfy me. Whilst I supped, I hatched a plan to meet Tash at Heeley. And so a mini pub crawl came about.

Our first stop, as we walked down past the Victoria and Waggon and Horses (inside which appeared to be tables covered in bags....?) and after admiring the amazing sky and clouds we found ourselves in the Brothers Arms. It was rammed, and there were numerous treats to taste on cask. A very friendly and enthusiastic lass behind the bar immediately offered us tasters, and we settled on pints of Potbelly hazy Daze for me, and Cluster from Pictish for Tash.

We initially sat outside in the cold to watch the sun set, but with spaces diminishing we ended up in the small room on the left as you walk in. There were plenty of football fans in as there was a match on, and its not far to the ground of Sheffield's other football team. As a result, the pub quietened down after 19.00. We had two very large slices of a local sausage herb and beery jelly pork pie for £2.50 and then shared another pint of the Cluster. The pub was warm, friendly, packed with a wide range of different punters and was the perfect place to spend an hour or two on a cold night.

Just down the hill next, and we were in the Sheaf View. The man who I know who works there but don't know his name was working there, and there was a friendly lass behind the bar offering us tasters. I had the Steel City, which was a deliciously hoppy Black IPA (and kept in perfect condition), whilst Tash had the Portobello Brewery Ginger bread, a 4.4% pale ginger ale.

We sat in the room at the back and the pub was also busy, with us grabbing the last of two remaining tables to sit at. We enjoyed our beers, and then went back for a last one to share. Cornwall's Firebrand brewery had a keg Black Saison at over 6% for £4.00 a pint so we had a half of that . It was an interesting and enjoyable taste but am not sold on the idea of a black saison - although I recall making a similar remark about black IPA's some years ago.....

Down onto the main road our final stop was at the White Lion. Also warm, also busy, we squeezed into the wonderful snug on the left to meet the Portuguese water dog - originally used to catch fish - and its owner and some regulars, and settled down to enjoy 2 pints of excellently kept Jaipur. They now have a card machine, and the Jaipur is on at £3.60 a pint - am not sure that is cheaper than before but its not a bad price for a 5.9% real ale.

We soon got chatting to John behind the bar, and also Mo from Kingfisher Blue, and more Jaipur was bought and supped. John explained that he and Mandy had never run a pub before but had dome training and were committed to selling well kept real ales. John is fanatical about cleaning his lines and his cellar, and many regulars seem to have noticed an improvement in the quality of the ales. There was once again an eclectic mix of music playing, and I understand you can now order pizzas from the Italian restaurant next door.

This was our final stop and a great end to a wonderful evening and night drinking in he Heeley Green Triangle. Of Ale. Looking forward to many more happy nights in the three corners - which doesn't make sense, I realise. Also looking forward to the Brothers, the Sheaf View and the White Lion some time soon!


Wee Beefy

Sunday, 22 March 2015

A beer tasting and a meet the brewer - Sheffield Beer Week


           given that it was the end party yesterday I think I am quite certain that Sheffield Beer Week is now finished. Due to a lack of funds at times, I haven't actually been to many events, but before I forget (any more) I thought I'd write about two events I went to on Monday and Tuesday at Shakespeares.

Arriving late, I was given a "posh glass" from the bar and went to find the organisers and a handful of guests enjoying their first beer, which was an IPA called 11/08 from Brew By Numbers. I like their saisons, and I recall this was a session IPA at low gravity. It packed plenty of punch hops wise, but in comparison to other beers lacked the requisite clout - which to be fair, as a session IPA, its entitled to. Looking at my terrible photos I can see this featured Mosaic and Centennial hops - being two of my favourites that explains why I loved the hoppiness.

We were joined by Ed and there was Mr Cullen, John, Steve who I found out I'd met before, a man who left early, Nicci Peet who photographs breweries, Jules from Sheffield Beer Week, Sean from Beer Central and a Chinese media student. Although she didn't pay, she was kindly offered a taster of all the beers, as well as interviews with Chris and Clare and Jules. I don't think she liked any of the beers though.....

Next up was probably a canned beer - and the overuse of the word controversial. Frankly, I've not drunk beer out of a can since I was 19 and have no intention of doing so again, however, the canned beer, much like the kegged beer, you get now, is a whole different kettle of fish. This was Baby Faced Assassin from Roosters brewery. it was significantly stronger than the BBN and had  a much more rounded flavour. It relied heavily on Citra and it was noticeable on the nose and not as much as I'd expect in the initial or after flavour. It was, crucially, an excellent canned beer.

WE also had a beer from far away Without the notes I was promised (clears throat) I can't possibly be expected to remember what it was, although I do have some photos to look at......

So, as I wasn't saying, next up was Port Brew Wipeout IPA, a 7.5% American IPA - straight away I noticed the aroma, very much Belgian style but with that bite of American Hops. A much more impressive beer in terms of style, but actually quite heavy to drink. Sean gave us a detailed history of the brewer and brewery and this was something that he and Chris both did throughout. I think this beer was Ed's favourite.

Next up was further Camtroversy - an India Hells lager in a can, from Camden Town Brewery. They have probably tried to claim ownership of the word Camtroversey. Even though I only just made it up. Anyway, despite hype and background issues this was a very tasty and commendable beer style. Refreshing as it used lager malts, but with a punchy hop bite at the end. Just what we needed, in fact, to wash out our palates after the enjoyable but heavy Wipeout.

Next we tried Dugges HopBlack, an unusual Black IPA from the Belgium. Or Netherlands. Or neither. This was a lot of peoples' favourite, although no-one could agree on how to pronounce the brewery name. I am told there is no point searching it either as the beer does not even feature on the beer list on their website! So I haven't. Cho welcome.

The final beer was a fantastic treat - Siren Craft Brew Liquid Monstrous. Essential a stronger version of their Liquid Mistress IPA, this was a hefty but hugely complex brew. A monstrous black in colour (controversial?) the beer was delicious, but had far too many flavours for me to remember. In short, I can't, I was a little refreshed by this stage. For interest, the brewery have a website and the following description . To be fair it lists four amazing hops so I'm bound to have loved it. Its just the haze of alcohol that is shielding my memory from accessing the details of the beer....hic.

I realise this leaves me little space t tell you about the meet the brewer event the next night with the Siren Craft Brew. Well, judging from the number of photographs of me drunk, its hardly surprising that I can't remember much. In effect the event was to launch the only cask (or only one of 2 , can't remember) of Maiden 2014, a whopping 12% blended and different barrel aged beer of incredible flavours. We also tried a small tasting of Fortunata, their Christmas beer, and their unusual sour smoked wheat beer which I can't even describe - not because of alcohol, but because it tastes like no beer, and no thing, I have ever had before.

The guys from the brewery arrived to have one of them give a brief introduction and talk, before members of the team sat among us and told us more details about the brewery, their roles, previous experience and plans, and of course about each beer. The Maiden 2014 was still on yesterday, and despite its strength, I would highly recommend you go and try and try it. The overwhelming flavour for me was wine, with port and whisky and also red ale, for some reason. Its an incredibly complex and powerful beer, yes, but its easy to drink for its strength.

The event was a £10.00 entry fee but were given at least that much to drink ( I think I am forgetting the broken dreams, which I bought a bottle of for a fiver) and the level of detail provided into the blending process was fascinating, even though I have "mislaid" most of it in my memory...

Overall these two events were very much in keeping in terms of quality, with others that took place last week. They mean I will have many fond, and indeed blurred, memories of it for a long time to come. Congrats to Jules, Clare Chris Bamford and Sean, and many many others, for all their hard work on Sheffield Beer Week.


Wee Beefy

Friday, 20 March 2015

Cask versus keg versus keg versus cask versus.....


       its the morning after the night before. My head has a dull ache, my mouth is socky, my eyes aren't functioning properly and my memory is shot. I found my sandwiches in my bag and some bits of food on the floor. What shall I do to remedy this malaise, I thought? I'll write a blog. Here it is.

Last night as part of Sheffield beer week I was at Shakespeares with Dan Baxter from Abbeydale, Robin Baker from the past, Sam from the Siren, two other Abbeydale brewers including one who used to brew at Mordue, Clare, Josh and the Shakespeares staff. On the bar was a cask version of Bigfoot red rye ale from Abbeydale. Along with a keg version of the same.


Bigfoot is brewed with hops. Yes, that's right. Hops contain lupulin and grow on bines. The hops used have names and I recall them being called Amarillo, and another one. And carafe, which may be a malt. My memory is not helping me out here. But this just increases the science involved. Well. It doesn't.....

The beer definitely had rye in it and used softer malts (my term - cho welcome) to do something with the rye. The worry was that the rye would hide the hoppiness. I think to some extent it did.

Having said hello to Robin Baker I quickly got a half of each of the keg and the cask. The cask had cleared fine but was, in comparison, a little muddy. The hops were indeed impeded in the cask version, but less so in the keg - and both smelled fantastic. The keg was, obviously, colder, and a little more fizzy. This is what lets down keg beers, but also improves the experience of drinking heavier and stronger beers in the format. The cellar temperature was about right which made the comparison a bit easier.

Mr Dan bought me a pint of the cask and I enjoyed it more as I drank more of it, and I kept a 3rd of the keg aside to enjoy and contrast. Later, when we had moved onto tasting other delights, a man who looked like Gary Numan bemoaned our judgement that in this one, and just this one, instance, the keg version was better than the cask. Thinking about it now, it could actually have been Gary Numan. I mean, he surely likes real ale....

Later we tried Hobo, a hoppy Welsh lager from Tiny Rebel, as well as the odd smoked sour wheat ale from Siren and of course, their stunning Maiden blended and barrel aged ale which I will write more about in my next post. As the night drew to a close I had some more keg Bigfoot and this confirmed to me that iy was better than the cask.

And so it was, that a science had happened.

So what does this tell us about the merits of keg and cask? Absolutely nothing. Apart from that, some beers are better suited to keg, and some to cask. Simples. Irrespectve of which, I intend t go on drinking both.

Your science editor

Dr Beefalot.

Monday, 16 March 2015



           as this is my day off work, I have decoded to use my time well. So, what better way than to relate some tales of excellent ales I have tasted recently Well, now I have said that, I can think of numerous better ways, personally, but lets not allow that to distract from this treatise on tasty tipples.

Although it has recently run out - it did Saturday when I tried to buy a half - the excellent Beavertown Holy Hoppin Hell made an appearance on keg at Shakespeares. This time it seemed to be stronger, myself and Doctor Pat remembered it being 8.5% last time, but this time its a whopping 9.5%. Being a that London brewer, and on keg, and 2% above the HSBD mark, it was £6.60 a pint. But given its more than twice the strength of beers half the price in other pubs I don't think that's bad value for money. And you wouldn't have wanted more than a pint. It had a vinous orangey quality with an aroma slightly of sherbet and citrus, and actually, the hops were obscured somewhat by the alcohol. It took me an hour to drink a half on Friday so that gives you a measure of its potency. Despite that, it is still far better than some of the clumsy depthcharge soups of the 1980's and 90's.

Also on the bar is/was the Maori Red from Blue Bee Brewery. Although only 4.8 (or.5, not sure) the beer is packed with flavour and the red element makes it very rounded and easy to drink, with a hoppy bite in the background. Well worth a try since its out and about at present.

The Bath Hotel today should still have on Fraoch from Heather Ales. Sorry - I meant Williams Bros. I say this because I first tasted Fraoch, which a brewery rep told me is pronounced "Frook" in 1994 when I bought a rather nice labelled bottle of it from the Dram Shop in Commonside. It was brewed by Heather Ales, and called Leann Fraoich. Catchy.  It was, I have to say, very much unlike anything I had tried before. I have tried it on cask a few times since, and also been to the brewery in Strathven many years ago to taste their Grozet Gooseberry ale straight from the conditioning tank - well, not straight - i had it in a glass.....

The brewery has now moved to Alloa and seems to have quite an impressive marketing machine behind it - and it helpfully tells you what the beer tastes like. If you see their link here there is much info, although personally I think its sweeter and less herbal and floral than previously. Well worth a try on cask either way.

Also at the Bath hotel is a Burning Sky Saison. With one rare exception I have always loved their saisons, and this is another fine example.  Its 6.7% and on keg. Alas the Bath has less freedom on prices than say, Shakespeares, so I recall it being pricey but it is a great refreshing beer that due to being on keg , takes that little bit longer to sup, and a little longer for you to savour.   

The final recent tipple to take the eye, and one which was delivered throughout Sheffield recently is another Sheffield beer from Blue Bee. Ella IPA is made with Australian Ella hops and is an easy drinking, slightly less ascorbicly hoppy 5.0% IPA. They have used Ella before in their Reet Aussie Pale and I have found it really easy to drink. It may not be on now at the Three Tuns where I had several pints, but it will no doubt be in the better Sheffield real ale pubs now.

Hope you all get chance to try some of the above beers soon!


Wee Beefy

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Things to do and see


          now I have run out of money, its annoying to reflect on just how many events are taking place soon. or how many places are opening to visit, now. Its reflective of the vibrant pub scene however, and although I will be unable to attend most or all the events, I very much think you should. Here is sone gen thereof.....

Next week is Sheffield Beer Week. Although it coincides wit the overpriced SIBA Beer-x event, it is not connected. It has been set up instead by Jules and Clare, a couple of blogging friends of mine - I say this not for kudos, rather transparency. They are people I know and like. And that makes no difference to the potential quality of the events. Here is a link to their website which tells you things. Many of my regular haunts are doing stuff including beer tasting and meet the brewer events, including Shakespeares, Three Tuns, The Bath hotel and the Tap and Tankard. I think a visit to some may be well worth it.

One of the events that may or may not (but most likely is not) part of the celebrations is a beer festival at the Brothers Arms. Not even open a year, he Brothers has created itself a great reputation for quality inexpensive real ales and live bands, along with excellent local snacks - for instance, curried Scotch Eggs.  There is a link here to their website which is new and contains some details, and also confirms what I had forgotten - which is that its the week after Sheffield Beer Week. Um.....

Another plug is necessary am afraid. I do know people who run pubs. Publicans, as I believe they are called, run pubs as a living, and hope to make money. Sorry, this is rather obvious, but it suffices for background. Anyhoo, in order to do this, pubs have to be open, and two of them, run by good friends of mine are.

I think the above explains why I need to undertake some blog writing training....

Mandy and John have taken on The White Lion on Chesterfield Road at Heeley. I had seen a picture of them dressed as Coronation Street landlords on Faceache, but assumed it was a joke. How wrong I was! A first visit of the year last week found them manning the bar and serving a decent range of real ales - including Thornbridge Jaipur, which I almost always have whilst in there. Alas at that point they had no card machine, or indeed internet connection but once both are in place they promise to lower the prices charged for the beer.

This has to be a great development for this pub which, despite having some impeccable interior features, hasn't always been my first choice due to its high prices. And lowering them will also help compete with the Brothers Arms up the road. I don't know if either have run a pub before but they have a strong band of regulars and no doubt plenty of friends to pop in for pints. I wish them all the best.

Finally, the author of the Dimpled Mug pub photography blog has opened up a Micropub called The Grocers in Cadishead in Salford. Please note, I think its in Salford, but alas have never been to Cadishead.....

Neither it seems has real ale, not for many years, so the micropub on Liverpool Road is a great development. Known as The Grocers, I read that it was quite small - well, that is absolutely true if the pictures are anything to go by. Martin sells real ales and real ciders at sensible prices and I don't think he sells much else. Having enjoyed Sheffield's two micropubs and Chesterfield's recently, its obviously a movement that has some popularity - just somewhere to sit down, talk and drink beer.

If you want more details, and since I haven't yet visited, thankfully he has a page on Facebook.

That rounds up all the upcoming events that I know or want to share details of. Best of luck to all involved with Sheffield Beer Week, the Brothers Arms, and the White Lion and The Grocers. Lets hope I have some updates on all of the above in the next week or so.


Wee Beefy

There are, much better pubs, in the shire


      following my complaints about the poor customer service at the Peacock in Bakewell, I thought it only fair to point out the better side of pubs in the area. To say "the area" I must admit this is a large space, but all the pubs featured are in the shire of Derby.

Prior to Bakewell myself and Tash had traveled, in the pouring rain, to Matlock. Matlock gets very crowded in Summer and at Bank Holidays, traffic gets snarled up and my patience quickly wears thin. What a treat then, to arrive mid downpour. The streets were deserted. The park was empty. The only people we could find were enjoying the warmth of the indoors.

After a quick shop and dinner in a well known bakery chain, we wandered into the park to look at the river and make our way to our first pub. MoCa Bar is near the junction with Olde English Street and overlooks , if I recall, the river Derwent. Inside its modern, with a long bar bestowed with keg pumps and hand pumps. It sells coffees, wines, excellent sounding pork pies, and beers mainly from Abbeydale, Kelham Island, Dancing Duck, Oakham, Brampton and Blue Monkey.

On this occasions we had pints of the Blue Monkey Rhesus to be cheerful, and Oakham Bishops Farewell. I haven't tried the Oakham brew for a while but it was reassuringly bitter and very moreish. The Blue Monkey was simlarly excellent, not actually pale but more reddish in colour. Both beers were perfectly kept, and as a steady stream of customers and dogs came in, we were able to relax and chat and listen to some excellent music.

In Bakewell, we opted to try the Manners. This Robinsons pub is on the road heading towards Matlock and used to have, a couple of decades or more ago, a reputation for opening late. I hadn't been in for at least 10 years but I remembered it being a traditional boozer selling real ale - the perfect antidote to the greed and lack of customer service in our former venue the Peacock.

The Manners has been recently taken over and is a perfect local. OK, some of the decor is a bit odd, its is on places quite modern and others old, but that aside its a friendly boozer where you are treated well and not charged extra for halves. We both had Robinsons Double Hop from a range of 5 or 6 real ales. This was £3.20 a pint and in very good form. We sat in the room on the right and in the room next door a whole family had come out to eat. A friend of mine says that this is where the locals go in Bakewell - how accurate this is I don't know, but its my certainly favourite place for a pint and a relax in the town.

Recently, in less rain, we visited Chesterfield. Being creatures of leisure, and thirst, a day off does not see us up too early but we arrived about 15.30 and went to look at some charity shops. We also went to the excellent cheese factory for lemon Wensleydale and Innkeepers cheddar amogst other delights.

Our first stop was the micopub on West Bars. The Chesterfield Ale House has seating for about 16 or 18 downstairs and an upstairs room, and the bar is up some steps at the back. There are six real ales on, the strongest on the day being nearly £3.20 a pint but most being much less. Tash had a heavy but enjoyable Gyle...2...x..not sure from Lincoln Green Brewery, an Imperial Pale Ale in style if not taste, and i had excellent pints of something pale that probably came from Atom brewery. Although it might not have.

The pub became busier as we sat there and the beer range was of a very high quality, as were the snacks on offer and decent bottled beer list. However, as the light faded and the train time approached we scooted off for a quick half in the White Swan. We had halves of a saison and a Raw pale (work that out!) in our short visit, before jumping on the train to Dronfield.

Here we visited the Dronfield Arms, now run by our good friend Edd, previously manager at the Bath hotel in Sheffield. The two pubs are very different, clearly in terms of architecture, also in terms of tie as well, and in terms of customers.  Despite this, Edd seemed perfectly at home in his new pub, and there were dogs and people of all ages enjoying some excellent beer.

We also tried some olive stuffed with Sicilian chillies - to be far these were absolutely amazing and very moreish, as was the pork and apricot pie, and the beer we had three or more pints of - alas, somehow, in the weeks since, the knowledge of the name of this beer has escaped me entirely. I assure you however that it was very tasty.

Overall, its still well worth your while heading out in to near or far Derbyshire to sample cracking ale in traditional - or non traditional, real ale pubs. Lets hope this situation does not change.


Wee Beefy

Monday, 2 March 2015

Very poor at the Peacock


         despite recent moans, this post isn't in fact, about my current financial status. I mean, it may well be in two weeks time but at present I am getting by OK. Instead, this is a post about a practice which occurs in some pubs and not others. Its a practice that I can see no justification for, and, had I not noticed, would have, at least made me marginally more poor.

Yesterday me and Tash found ourselves in Bakewell. As far as I know all Bakewell's pubs (so I am not counting the Thornbridge selling bar by the river) sell real ale, and often the best choice has been at one pub, the Peacock. As we had an hour or two to fill we went in the Peacock, based on previous experiences, and ordered a pint and a half - Peak Ales Chatsworth Gold , which is 5% I think. This came to a rather surprising £5.60 but we didn't really think about it until later.

As a guzzler I was well ahead of Tash and so went back to the bar for a quick last one and ordered a half of Peak Ales Swift Nick. This is a slightly less pale 3.8% session beer. The barman pulled me a pint, which I pointed out was not what I wanted, then he poured half into the correct sized glass and asked for £2.00 which I gave him without thinking - although I didn't know it was so weak and had been thinking it was stronger. Even so, £4.00 a pint for a local real ale is steep.

After returning to sit in the snug with Tash I figured the barman had made an error. Well, two, if you count assuming I wanted a pint. So as Tash left I went to the bar and asked, politely, how much Swift Nick was. I was told it was £3.60 a pint - they all were. I asked him, and a barmaid now as well, why he had charged me £2.00 a half and he said "because that's how we do it".

So, a drinker wanting only a hakf - maybe a car driver, someone elderly, someone who simply didn't want another pint, pays an extra 20 pence. Just for having a half. What? The actual?

With Tash waiting outside I plumped not to ask further questions of the barman, or manager or landlord, who looked very much like he wanted an argument, so I walked out, but then fumed about it for the rest of the night. People have previously claimed to me that half pint glasses cost more to wash up so you round up the cost by 5p to cover that. This is absurd. Others have told me that it is to "encourage" drinkers to have pints, like in my post here (although that isn't stated, but someone said it might be the thinking. Whatevs...).

Whichever unlikely reason you attribute its an extra tax to pay which you shouldn't have to. There is no justification for ripping off people drinking a half. If the bar person had been honest and warned me (two halves, different staff) that would have made a difference. If the price list (and there is one) records it that is marginally better, although I didn't look at it because the writing is too small. However, to just say "that's how we do it" is terrible customer service, and is neither an explanation nor justification.

I don't know what your experiences of paying extra for a half are but I'm willing to bet that you weren't told about the needless surcharge first, and also, that it didn't amount to an extra 20p on an already overpriced beer. Luckily, other Bakewell hostelries came to our rescue.

In the meantime, my advice is, don't go to the Peacock. Not even for once of their bargain £23.00 12oz steaks.....

Wee Beefy