Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Wanders in Crookes, Walkley and the Upper Don Valley


          I wanted to tell you about two fantastic nights out I have had recently. Its important to point out that they are separate occasions, in case you should conclude that I drank 10 pints in one night. I did not. Not since 2009.....

Anyhoo, myself and Tash caught the 95 up to Commonside. We didn't fancy being in town with heaving crowds of football fans, and persons suffering from near hypothermia who assumed the sunshine at Midday represented the temperature at 20.00. We wanted somewhere homely, warm and slightly more relaxed.

The Closed Shop was quite busy as it turned out, but there were still seats and lots of lovely ale as always. I had a pint of Blue Bee Reet Pale, Tash a Crouch Vale Amarillo. We settled down in each other's arms and chatted about everything and nothing for a while before returning to the bar. This time, having decided the Amarillo was nice, but not as nice as the Reet, we both went with pints of the Blue Bee ale, which was about £2.70 a pint. We bumped into Saxbob who told us about a band on across the road, and also Jo and Neil. We had been intending to go to the Bake but having eard about the band opted instead to make the arduous trek across to the Hallamshire House.

The band were playing, and it was rammed. There was nowhere to sit apart from an odd steel here or there, and besides, we wanted to hear the music and see the band, so ended up stood up in the snooker room at the back. We had two halves of the Jaipur X which I think was about £7.00 a pint. Its worrying how many times I am paying that much for, albeit undoubtedly strong, and delicious, but ultimately expensive beer. Luckily it was on fine form. We finished our drinks, which were two more pints each of "normal" Jaipur, whilst the band who may have been called the Honeybee Blues Club based on a poster, finished their excellent set.

We also caught the 52 from town on a cold but sunny evening for a mobile celebration of crapulence. We started on Crookes top and made our way in rather odd fashion to Western Road and down Slinn Street to the Princess Royal. I haven't been for a whle so enjoyed the change of scene, as did Tash - its such a wonderful design of building, with many original features inside, and always serves real ale. As this was a short stop we had halves - we both had Welbeck Harley which, if my memory serves me right, I had last time I was in. We sat inside enjoying the music and banter.

From here we walked down to Heavygate and right and then down to join Fulton Road, down the end of which is Daniel Hill and the Blake. The view over Sheffield was superb in the bright sunshine, and this is a walk I enjoy doing immensely when the weather is clear. Inside we met Tuba John, who seems to be found in many places that we visit these days! We each had a pint of the pale ale from the brewery that is on earth somewhere and has an ABV. and sat down to chat with TJ.

Alas, that beer ran out for us and the pub so we changed to a half for Tash and pint for me of Pictish Fusion, which was on good form. Once again the atmosphere was good and the pub was a lovely place to pass some time. No pork pies though....

We walked another lengthy route, down Industry Street and up Tennyson Road onto the road where the Freedom View once stood. Down the side we joined Burnaby Street, then Burton Street en route to the New Barrack Tavern. We were only stopping for a half here, and both had halves of the Castle Rock Screech Owl, which was lovely.

Our next part of the journey involved waiting at Bamforth Street bus stop for 40 minutes to not catch 6 scheduled buses. We traipsed off along Infirmary Road cold and annoyed, and stopped in the Hillsborough Hotel. I have been disappointed by the Wood Street beers over the years and didn't think as much as I used to of the Double H. However, we were greeted warmly and offered tasters of 5 beers that were on. I had a half of Archer from Lincoln Green, and Tash a half of Lemmon from Wood Street. We sat down in the warmth to get our heads together before getting another half of Lemmon to share.

It was good to visit the Double H for the first time in a while, and hopefully we will return again soon enough - we have the Palm in Walkley to visit after all.....

Our final stop was following a walk along Infirmary Road and beyond to Shakespeares. As it was our final stop we opted for some stronger beers - Tash had a pint of the 5.1% Northern Monk Faith Pale Ale, and I had a pint of the delicious but strong tasting Mad Dog Kamikaze Hop Pooch at 7.4% - at least, that's what I can make out on my photo. With time getting on and the last bus uncatchable, we opted for another pint each of this beer, and although the Beefdozer cometh, we recovered sufficiently to catch a taxi back and fall asleep in our food. Awwww....stylish.

The above demonstrates (well, not the last bit) that Walkley and Crookes have worthy places to go drinking, as does the more renowned Upper Don Valley. Am hoping to return again soon to check out some of the other boozers in the area.


Wee Beefy

Sunday, 26 April 2015

A lovely weekend in the city of ale

Now then,

         do you see what I did? I put "the city of ale", knowing that those of you who live in Sheffield will at once correctly identify Sheffield as the city of ale, and that those of you who don't, may have other, erroneous assumptions about it. Its no more than a lure, of course. Its obviously Sheffield.....

Last Sunday, despite both of us being injured, myself and Tash decided to walk into town to meet Wee Keefy at the station. We took an unusual route, down to Darnall, over the railway, up to and over the Parkway and up Manor Lane to the castle then down City Road, Granville and along Norfolk Road to the station. Considering our injuries it didn't take too long. And once there, we headed for the Sheffield Tap.

Inside Wee Keefy was patiently waiting, and had been for 30 minutes. I got us both a pint of Oakham JHB and we chatted to WK about Scotland, the ttrip to which we were discussing and were given the tickets for. I thought about trying the non German and non mild German Mild from Kirkstall but went instead for delicious pints of Loki Black IPA from Tiny Rebel, in fact we all did. WK then lost control of his wallet and made a rash but ultimately delightful purchase.

We had been laughing at the absurd price of the Harviestoun Ola Dubh whisky aged reserve stout at 10.5%. It was nearly a tenner a bottle. Nobody would pay that wild they? Well,. WK did and got three third glasses and shared it between us. Gawd Blezzim! I understand from the blurb on the bottle that it was brewed in 1991. Or, at least, that is when they first did their increasing by 0.1% strong beer up until 2000. It could, therefore have been the 2000 brew, bottled in 1991 whisky casks, but to be fair its not clear. What was clear, was the absolutely beautiful beer the bottle contained.

Absolutely jet black, with a strong aroma of whisky - Highland Park casks were used - its difficult to convey just how easy drinking it was. At 10.5% you expect a bit of chewiness, but this was so smooth and ultimately very well balanced. Looking at the back of the bottle I see now - the beer was aged in oak barrels used previously to age Highland Park's 1991 vintage scotch whisky - and the front tells me it was bottled in April 2013. Irrespective of when the beer was brewed, it tastes amazing. It contains oats and barley by the way, but also is not a stout. Its a strong dark ale.

To finish, and now joined by Mr Devden, we had haves f the Magic Rock Human Cannonball at 9.3 %. I shan't disclose the price. It was a lovely end to a fantastic drink with WK in the Sheffield Tap.

Up next, after we had seen Matty off, we went to the Tap and Tankard. Sunday nights in the TnT are always quiet but all other drinkers had left by about 22.00. Me and Tash sat in the little alcove at the end of the bar for an hour or two enjoying perfect pints of the Hand Drawn Monkey Aussie Red, a deliciously smooth, easy drinking, but hoppy and bitter red ale from the Huddersfield brewers.

There was excellent tunes from female blues singers in the 30's to the 50.s and as it got quieter the atmosphere became more soothing, making us feel right at home. There were other beers on than the Aussie Red but we didn't want anything else. It was the perfect, mildly soporific finisher, to an excellent session of drinking.

Out of interest, we were given a free 3rd of the Harviestoun Old Engine Oil, which is more likely a stout, with our free food tasters at the Beer Engine a couple of weeks ago. It complemented the chorizo and sweet potato perfectly. I think I may have unknowingly fallen out of love with Harviestoun recently but along with Schiehallion their cask lager, I think the above displays a fantastic quality of products from the brewery. One to look out for, I think, across all formats.


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Post run pints


          its important to emphasise that, despite the post title, I didn't partake in the run that the pints were a reward for. I mean, I did run, well, jog...walk fast perhaps, from the bus stop to the pub, but it was my good friend Fluffy who did the Sheffield half marathon. After which, of course, the lad needed a pint.

We met at 13.00 in the Tap and Tankard. Coming into the dark from the bright but cold and windy outside, I struggled to spot anyone, before seeing Sue and Col, and found out what they were drinking. Sue doesn't drink real ale, alas, but Col does. Fluffy was away getting changed so I went for a pint of the Great Heck Treasure IPA. I think we were all on the same.

My next pint was one of the last of the Saison from Hop Studio. A 6.1% saison on keg at £3.80 a pint. that, dear readers, represents good value. And the saison was lovely - crisp, fruity, cloudy and refreshing - exactly what I didn't need on a cold day.

A taxi came - or rather, due to road closures, we went to it, and took us to Woodseats where we went to the Ale House. I went in not long after it opened with Davefromtshop and we talked Saltaire and other breweries with the landlord. I have been in a few more times since but not in the last two years, since I had been told it was locals only.

To be fair, when we arrived, the door was locked! Luckily, Fluff banged on the door and we were allowed in. I understand the procedure is, the landlord asks who you are, if you live local, and where you go drinking. Rumour has it, if you reply the Big Tree or Woodseats Palace you are asked to leave, and anywhere else you are informed you can stay for one and then leave. None of this is fact. Necessarily. The pub isn't closed to none locals, but access is restricted. Got a problem with that? Well, I got in, so I don't. I completely sympathise with anyone who does though....

On teh bar were 5 or 6 real ales and Fluff and Col went for the Dark Star Sunburst, which, given that it was sheeting down with rain when we arrived was ironic, and I went with a pint of Marble Lagonda IPA at £3.00 a pint. The landlord advised me that he paid more fro Marble beers, as his normal price is around £2.60 a pint. To be fair, £3.00 a pint for Lagonda IPA at 5.0% is another good value beer.

As time went by some more regulars turned up, one fresh from the half marathon, and Fluff chatted to them about race times and highlights, and I chatted to the landlord about Marble Dobber which he had coming on. I really enjoyed my visit t the Ale House. Lets hope I can go again.

We all left around 17.00 and I walked down to the Broadfield. here I bumped into Will from Hop Hideout and had a half of Black IPA on keg which I can't remember whose it was. It was very busy in the Broady, but the ale was nice.

I met Tash in town and we returned to the Tap and Tankard. We sat in the rocking chairs near the fireplace and supped pints of Kelham Island Bete Noire and Pale Rider, and had, inevitably, a Wateralls pork pie. Although I was a trifle tired, this was another excellent visit, even though the pub was now darker still!

Our final stop of the night was BrewDog. On a day of inexpensive pints, it seemed worthwhile splashing out on some, er...less than inexpensive pints. I had a half of the BrewDog Indian Summer, which was described as saison in style, and the excellent Hardcore IPA, while Tash had half a Weihenstephaner cloudy wheat beer. We took photos of the bar and the lighting (more fun than it sounds) and Tash also drank a BrewDog and possibly Mikeller colab. I think...

So, an interesting micx of different pubs, all once again serving excellent real (and keg) ales at a wide variety of prices. Thanks to Fluff for organising and well done for running his first half marathon. Hope to see him and Col and Sue soon in, I don't know, maybe the reopened Ship?


Wee Beefy

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Some short Sheffield pub crawls

Now then,

         just a quick round up of a few trips out I have enjoyed in the last week with Tash and others. With one exception I haven't had to travel far to get to these pubs, and as always, all have served excellent beers.

On Easter Monday Tash and I got off the bus in town and walked onto London Road, well Cemetery Road actually, and visited the Beer Engine. It was good to bump into my friend Mr Vintin, who I understand is assisting with the pub's social media, and it was nice to be able to sit outside as well. Tash had halves of Blackjack Fusion and another, and I started on a pint of the Thirst Aid from Exit 33. We finished sat inside, on a pint and a half of the excellent Bad Seed American Pale Ale on keg which was delicious. It was also our chance to try a free sample of the food. Chunks of chorizo with Spanish sweet potatoes in a piri piri sauce was a prefect match. Food now available.

We walked up London Road to the Picture House Social to discover they were selling their beers off at half price. We started with pints of the Blackjack and Arbor Live Long and Prosper, and then the Indy Man Beer House and Celt Experience Yes Way IPA. We finished on pints of that and the Weird Beard Decadence Stout - to be honest none of the beers were in tip top condition but they were all at least 6.0% and complex so that didn't matter so much.

Wednesday I walked from home to the Brothers Arms - it took me about 1 hour 45 or 50, including getting lost on Manor Top. I had several delicious pints of Tiny Rebel Loki Black IPA in here waiting to be joined by Matty and Tash. Shame there was n food though! Down the street next to the Sheaf View and we once again got the last table to sit at. I knw I had an IPA but am unsure which! All the beers we tried were in good form though. Our penultimate pub was the White Lion, where we sat in the upper end and listened in on the end of the quiz. Pints of Jaipur and Hobgoblin were the order of the day here, along with some free sandwiches. We finished the night in Shakespeares enjoying some North Riding and Five Towns OAP DIPA at 9.6%. Just a pint and a half each....

Friday saw us up on Crookes for Wee Keefy's birthday drinks. Me Tash and Matty met first in the Bath Hotel to enjoy pints of Celt Experience Selurius (?) before heading to the Ball on Crookes to be joined by Alison, WK, Carlos, Paddington, Jack, Jo and Neil. Pints included Tempest Stout and their American 5 Hop IPA from Blue Bee Brewery, and we spent four hours here before hopping on a bus into town to finish in Shakespeares. Here, obviously, it was time for more pints of the OAP DIPA, and to meet Alex Paramore and his lady friend whose name I was sure I would remember but have not. Sorry Alex's lady friend whose name I was sure I would remember but have not....

So, apart from slack reporting skills, I thin the above demonstrates that Sheffield continuously delivers on choice of pubs, and the ales they serve. A fact hopefully proven by my meeting Fluffy in an hour at the Tap and Tankard.


Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Shakespeares voted only the 5th best pub in Sheffield by CAMRA.


             I thought today I might tackle the issue of the decision by the Sheffield CAMRA, who is a person, to vote Shakespeares the 5th best pub in Sheffield. The fifth?

Lets quickly remind you all that I am not a CAMRA member. Not since 1999 or 2000. I left for reasons including funds (mine), not actually giving a shit about Addlestones dispense methods, and mainly, because of a complete lack of interest from CAMRA in saving historical and locally important pub heritage, an area that Sheffield has been woeful at. I therefore don't any longer know what criteria the CAMRA apply to judging a pub.

However, I was in Shakespeares last night for a late drink. The two Chris's and the lass who's name I don't yet know were behind the bar, and whilst being served I found out that Shakespeares, recent pub of the year winner, was now only considered the 5th best Sheffield pub.

I disagree.

I was, once again drinking one of the beers of the year in Shakespeares, that being the OAP Double IPA brewed by North Riding and I think Five Towns. The one and a half pints of the immensely drinkable and perfectly hopped IPA at 9.6% was the perfect end to a night out. How many times have I said this before about a beer in Shakespeares? Obviously, the CAMRA judges have failed to enjoy this same experience quite as frequently as I have.

For info, the winner was the Kelham Island Tavern, for the umpteenth time, with the Blake, Fat Cat and Gardeners joining in behind. I drink irregularly in all the other four pubs. My intent here is absolutely not to slag them off. My concern is, what has improved in them and failed, in the eyes of CAMRA, at Shakespeares, in two years?

I don't blame CAMRA, a members organisation, for making this vote. Their members pay to make these decisions (or not, as am sure is still the problem). If nothing else this has stimulated debate, which is always a positive thing. The problem is, I don't see why any of the four pubs above are any better. I think until the CAMRA can reveal why Shakespeares boxes were not ticked. and which ones they are, we are left with a puzzling result that disheartens the hard working staff at Shakespeares and infuriates some of its devoted customers.

It is rumored that Sheffield CAMRA has 1400 members but only 60 voted. What I am certain the CAMRA would say is, if you disagree, join and vote differently. It makes sense, yes,  but its easy to say and I doubt those voting the Kelham winner in the recent past have now left. So would the results change if Shakespeares fixed and upgraded their loos and put in more comfy seats?

According to Facebook, people seem to think the following areas could be improved: Toilets, beer garden, and comfort. It would therefore be interesting to find out for definite the reasons behind the decision, from CAMRA judges. I really can't see how the pub could fall from first to second to fifth best in two years on the basis of price, and I doubt CAMRA would prefer one pub or four over another based on how comfy the seats are....

I have asked on Facebook and Twitter for comments and so far, all are in support of Shakespeares. Below are a few quotes.

"beer quality should be highly weighted (by which I mean both the pub keeping the beer well AND the beers themselves not being badly brewed)."

"Sounds like absolute cobblers. Henrys has wonderful toilets..... Shakey is tops for me for beer and service. I try not to spend too long in loo and it's rarely nice enough to sit outside."

"I think for a campaign for REAL ALE (as opposed to a campaign for nice pubs) clearly nowhere near enough weighting is put on beer quality or range..."

"Shakespeares is by far the best pub in Sheffield. Never change keep doing things exactly the way you have been. The bogs are the only area where there is room for improvement. Still number one as far as I'm concerned"

Obviously, as the author of this post, I have chosen the above carefully, but looking just at mine and Chris's Facebook pages I can't really see anyone agreeing with the result, despite concern about loos and seating. Does anyone agree?

Many people insisted that beer - quality, choice and price - should be the outweighing factor when assessing a pub. I agree, and this is where the decision falls down. I like all the top 5 pubs but Shakespeares sells the best beer. End of. This year, more so than any actually, the best beers I have tasted have been in there and I don't expect that to change.

For interest, my Top 5 Sheffield pubs are currently:

1. Shakespeares Ale and Cider House
2. Bath Hotel
3. Three Tuns
4. Brothers Arms
5. Blake.

Finally, I always think a good conspiracy theory livens up a debate so have cobbled together some of my own.

One: following the excellent display of beers brewers and related loveliness at Sheffield Beer Week by Shakespeares, this non CAMRA event has put their noses out of joint.
Two: the CAMRA felt so bad about kicking the Gardeners Rest out of the GBG and almost never recognising the Blake that those two's scores were inflated to counter that.
Three: fear of change. The Kelham has won for the 24th time...!
Four: I dunno, something to do with keg?


Wee Beefy

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Two new pubs and a club


          I said on Friday that I wasn't going to drink. This may seem an implausible statement to make, but I meant it. I had said it Thursday morning as well - any FB followers will have recognised an emerging pattern of determination to remain sober when, in the end,  the slightest test of my strength, or indeed, a day at work, send me into a spiraling oblivion of libation. Anyway, with that in mind, soon after waking up I spotted two adverts from chums on Faceache regarding beer and pub type-a-things. And so, once again,  I decided to ditch my temperance plan....

Old people will remember that in the 1990's there was an "ale house" on the bottom of Cemetery Road, behind what is now the Chinese fireworks place, called the Beer Engine. I remember it for two reasons: 1. It was like an ale house, but not as good as the Ball on Crookes (then called the Ale house) 2. It was very Whitbread inspired expensive. It wasn't, to be fair, very good. It closed, and became amongst other incarnations, Dulo (s?) bar and Delaneys.

On Good Friday at midday it reopened as the Beer Engine. Run by Tom Harrington and with Alice from the Brothers Arms and other staff previously incumbent at the Sheaf View, the pub is returning to its former name and role of purveyor of ales. There are 6 handpumps, 4 permanent keg lines and 3 guest keg pumps along with handpulled and Aspalls cider. There will very likely also be food such as Sunday lunches - but not today.

The venue has three rooms, one on the right as you come in with books and a fire and lovely new wooden tables, one on the right towards the back, with the spacious bar area on your left, sporting a lovely looking bar. When I arrived, to find myself the customer behind Andy Cullen, the place still smelled of paint and varnish. There is something lovely and evocative about this smell. The sun was trying to shine. The music was grand. The staff were friendly. The beers were good.

To note which, I tried a half of Exit 33 Thirst Aid or similar, a quaffable hoppy starter, and followed this with a Bass. Tom asked me what it was like and I said it was OK, and it was. Maybe not as good, in fact not as good, as that at the Station in Derby, but it was a pleasant quaffable beer. I was joined by Angie and we sat and chatted, with her on Aspalls, and then I got a pint of Buxton Axe Edge on keykeg. It was £5.25 a pint and that is probably about right considering its 6.9% and from Buxton and on keg. And this was a fantastic finisher!

Up the road next and I made my first visit to the Picture House Social. About the time the Beer Engine was first around Bar Abbey opened. I went to see Spithead there, with their tracks such as  "Call the Police" and "Skascraper". I was young, skinny and in good shape and walked home half undressed after 3 hours or more of dancing to ska punk. I don't, however, remember much about the beers. Or indeed much else....

The bar is downstairs and features 3 rooms. The main room is larger and the bar is down the right, selling 3 real ales. to the end are the stairs up to the gents and an original Czech Staropramen advert, and there is a seating area and the kitchen. Immediately left is the room where a man from a cocktail bar was manning the festival bar. The Social club is, as far as I can work out, a pub. I don't think you can join, you just visit. The atmosphere as friendly, the lighting was subtle, and the food smelled amazing.

The pub had very helpfully printed a list of beers, which I have somehow contrived to retain. Since I wasn't drinking, and was meeting Tash off the coach a few hours later, I decided to have just a few beers. I started with Hawkshead NZPA at 6%. This was a little less hoppy than I had remembered or expected, but it was also a little young so would probably be perfect now. I also tried a half of the collaborative Blackjack and Arbor "Live long and prosper" a strong pale at 6.1%. They guy serving me said "of course, you know why its called that don't you?". Alas, the answer he gave me when I admitted I did not was not written down on the beer menu. Its something to do with a film. or TV show. or something...

I finished on a Fyne Ales and Siren Wee Milky Way milk black IPA - at least, there is a tick by it on the list. In fact, I actually finished on a 3 way collaboration, which therefore would heave been on keg. In reality, I have no idea hat I finished on. I bet it was nice though.

Yesterday Wee's B K and F along with Matty, Tash and Mum and Martin congregated in Crookes for a double birthday meal. Afterwards we were attending a wdding do at Whitley Hall near Grenoside - for info, no real ale, and Farmers Blonde a whopping £4.95 a bottle - prior to which Wee Fatha drove us across the back lanes to Oughtibridge and onto Wortley.

Wortley Mens Club is the recent recipient of an award from the CAMRA for being good at being a  club selling real ale. WF had forgotten to bring the article with the address on but Wortley isn't a big place so we thought it would be easy to find. Having driven down every street and not found it or a soul to ask we gave up and turned up the side of the Worth;ey Arms - and there the club was! Seemingly built onto the back of the pub (but am thinking its not) the beautiful and unusual building houses a friendly club with good beer. So we went in.

The book to sign is behind the bar - WF is a CAMRA member so can sign in, but me and Tash were allowed to be signed in with him as his guests. There were three real ales on - Landlord, Butcombe Bitter and Help for Heroes. WF had a half of the latter and myself and Tash pints of the Butcombe. The small wood panneled bar area was busy so we went and sat at the end of the large high ceiling room, behind which is the snooker room and the gents. The Association Football was on, and the beer tasted lovely.

As Tash pointed out, this was the most attractive working mens club she'd ever been to, and it was mine as well. Although we didn't have long to stay as we had to get off to the do, it was a really pleasant place to sit and relax and savour some quality beer. I understand they have a beer festival on the 18th and 19th July - check their Facebook page for details soon. It is a members club, but CAMRA members can sign in and they seem quite relaxed about who can visit, so it may be worth getting in touch for more details.

So rounds up details of 2 old but new and one entirely new venue, visited s far this Easter. Time for a rest methinks......


Wee Beefy 

Friday, 3 April 2015

A great start to April in Sheffield


        this blog will cover my refreshments and travels since Sunday. Admittedly April didn't start til Wednesday, but, yer know, you have to start somewhere....

On Sunday night, having woken up at Christ on a bike o-clock - that being 15.20 (!) I headed to town to catch a 53 up to Heeley. Alas, the bloody thing never showed up so I caught a 48 instead. You know, because the 48 goes the same way as the 47 doesn't it.... later, at the terminus, I asked the driver for advice and he told me he was now he 47 , so I went back on him and got off near the Victoria. An interesting, if frustrating, 95 minutes after leaving home.

The Brothers Arms was busy inside but virtually empty outside in the cold and wind. Having roused a member of staff from the caravan I got a pint of Mallinsons Spruce Goose, and halves of Siren Dinner for Three and Oakham Black Hole Porter. I then found a table inside and went to sup. The Mallinsons was not actually supposed to be a pint, but never mind, it was a tasty if slightly heavy brew. The Siren was interesting as well. Next up I spent longer grabbing the attention of the staff and had a pint of Buxton High Tor, and a half of Siren Liquid Mistress.

This time the Siren was the best, but the High Tor was an equally memorable pint. By now I was sat wit Dave Staves, who, and this is something that often happens these days, I realised I have known for over 20 years. It was good to catch up with him, for the hour or more we were both there. The final beer was a half of Salopian Kashmir, since the other beers had either run out or were a little weird! The guy behind the bar even went out to open the now closed outside bar for me., which was a nice touch.

On Tuesday, the day after his birthday, me and Matty met after work for a few pints. We started at the Shakespeares - I think! I only say this because it was late when we got to Commonside, which is where my notes start. Having left work at 18.45 I think we must have diverted to my favourite boozer first. Alas, I have no recollection of what we had, apart from, definitely, Sorachi Face Plant from Weird Beard.

We later arrived at the Closed Shop , and I had a pint of the Blue Bee rational Black IPA. I do like the beer, but it tasted a little smokey, slightly burnt - possibly the malt used or something? We also shared a half of the Siren Seven Seas which is, I think, a wheat pale ale. It didn't taste as I expected, but was still very nice.

Across the road and we saw the jolly bearded face of the Man of Ash outside the Hallamshire House. He quickly informed us that the Thornbridge Murmansk Porter was on. Given its strength, we divvied up a pint and a half, and sat in the snug on the left to catch up further. It was good to bump into the Man of Ash, who I have seen little of lately , presumably because of the arrival of the little one (this is a child, by the way, not a visiting midget...)

Off quickly to catch the bus and to jump in the Bath. Hotel. Matty had a pint of Brock and myself a pint at least, of Palasine (?) Pale from Bad Seed Brewing Co.  It was getting late, but the pub was still quite busy, and it was a great place to finish our drinking for the night.

Finally, Wednesday saw myself and Mr P on one of our monthly Wanderiains. We started at the Rutland - as always, the place was rammed, but we managed to get a seat. Alas this was near the jukebox, which I am sure they turned up when we sat down! I had a half of the Geeves Imperial IPA, and the Raw City Ceremony, or Criterion, or neither, of opposites, whilst Mr P had a pint of Reet Pale. We didn't stay after our drinks because we couldn't hear each other speak, so headed for the Sheffield Tap.

Here Mr P had one of the Tapped Brew Co beers and I went for something that has escaped me - I promise I made notes last night for my next blog post! We sat in the small room round the back as the large dining room was hired out for a do. It was relaxing and quiet in the back and a good chance to catch up .

From here we walked up to the Tap and Tankard. Mr P had a pint of Kelham Island and I had a pint of Bad Seed Cascade Pale Ale. I also tried the Kelham Island American Pale Ale on keg - I was initially sceptical since it was only 4.0%, and I was right to be. As thought, the beer lacked the character and depth of flavour to work kegged and was drowned in carbonation. Still, the Bad Seed was very quaffable and the catching up and discussions continued.

Our final port of call was at BrewDog. Mr P had never been - and I think he likes it. He had a sensible lower Gravity Red Willow beer - although, I thought he ordered a stout, and what he got wasn't dark at all - anyone know if Red Willow brew a white stout? Meanwhile, I had a very expensive drink. The BrewDog Paradox, Compass Box  stout. It was 15%, and, being kegged and BrewDog, it was a £1.00 a percent. That's right. It was £15.00 a pint. I very nearly didn't go for a third, but I figured at that strength, I would very likely not want another drink after wards. And besides, it was Mr P's round. Sorted!

The beers were both, as always in BrewDog, impeccable. The stout was obviously very strong but surprisingly smooth, and carrying a punchy peaty smoked aftertaste from the whisky used. Overall, this was a very enjoyable visit, and a great introduction to the bar for Mr P.

Hopefully April will continue to provide excellent ales in excellent pubs - I am heading to the newly reopened Beer Engine on Cemetery Road later to try it out - blog to come about that.


Wee Beefy