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......