Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Shakespeares Ale and Cider House


         every Friday, and others, I have been in Shakespeares. Regular readers may think this is the shortest post ever...it is. Although, there is more....

I started the pay month (which was likely in May as it happens) in Shakespeares with Tash and Tony. We were joined by Anne and went inside for numerous silly photos and excellent beer. Main highlights were the amazing Siren Limoncello IPA at 9% and the Dark Star Revelation.

The next week me and Tash met Matt and I was already joined by Vicky and Simona from work. Cayti, Rachael and Ade turned up with Father to be Chis. If am to be honest, I can't remember what I had. I, and my many drinking companions,  enjoyed it though.

The next weekend I just realised I didn't go.....

The next was my birthday. Numerous pints, maybe including a half of Siren Liquid Monstrous, a Top Tackle Whisky, and a bottle of Double IPA were supped. Numerous people turned up to see me snooze. Sorry, booze. It was a great, late, long and enjoyable session.

Last week I went in for a half only, of North Riding Citra, and today I was in for a few with Tash on John's birthday. Once again, they gave the customer what he asked for, and all was well. Especially the intentionally brewed Steel City Brewing "When am 64".

Hats off to the Shakespeares, for providing excellent beers, often tasty snacks, and great value and customer service. A great way to end the month.


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Wadsley Wonderland

Now then,

              the weekend before my birthday Mumrah and Martin went away on holiday. One of their cats,  was ill and needed looking after - feed on sight was the answer we were told, because he "normally doesn't eat anything". This turned out, as we arrived Friday night and left Sunday, to be the most inaccurate assessment of a cat ever. It would have been worse, however,if we hadn't spent some time wandering round the local area sampling a beer or two.

Here is my assessment of a few pubs near Wadsley Bridge.

Having arrived after work we set about feeding the cats and enjoying the garden whilst planning where we might want to go later. In the end we opted to leave late and wander down Foxhill Road to the Railway at Wadsley Bridge. The Railway, as I reported only 4 years ago is, or maybe was, run by the inimitable Jean. At the end of this post is a link to that original assessment, which includes reviews of other local pubs.

The Railway then, and likely now, has reduced opening hours, is only open Friday to Sunday as far as I know, and has an older clientele, who enjoy the covers bands that perform in the back room. The pub still has its original layout, or at least, its 4 years old layout, of a room on the left, an area on the right, the bar, an opened out room on the left and then an extended back room further on where the music is played.

There were two handpumps both serving Bradfield beers - we both had pints of their Blonde (the other was Yorkshire Farmer) and it was in tip top condition,and excellent value at £2.60 a pint. We didn't see Jean to be honest but she always looked after her beers well so she may well still be involved. The beer was fantastic.

As it was warm and dryish we sat out in the back garden, listening to the band, supping 2 or 3 pints of delicious real ale and chatting to some locals. The Railway is a pub I think I should visit more often.

Next we diverted to a large supermarket and came back with supplies, dropping in on the Fox on Foxhill Road, formerly the Fox and Hounds. I never went in the Fox and Hounds and his was my first visit to the Fox. It was quite late when we arrived but we got served quickly - the only real ale from two pumps is Doom Bar. I can't pretend I like Doom Bar but at least its real ale. So me and Tash had a pint each, and then a further half before we went home.

We initially sat outside on snazzy reflective tables in light rain, and before long the precipitation forced us inside. There is loud music and telly on in the pub, which has a long bar area, with a pool table set back on the left and what I understand is the dining area on the right towards the back.

Regular readers may already be sensing my distaste at the design and beer choice, but actually, its an estate pub, doing what its customers want. It was reasonably busy, sells real ale, and I understand the Sunday lunches are lovely and great value. Estate pubs are becoming a rarity in Sheffield and this survival, selling real ale as it does, is to be celebrated.

The next day we woke early and sent a long time pottering around inside since it was throwing it down. After a short walk in the late afternoon in muggy sunshine, myself and Tash walked to the local Asda to get some cash, and then past another estate pub. The Basset*, sadly, appears to be closed. Tash used to go in and drink one of the two different real ales that the landlord used to put on regularly. That is, before he was dragged out onto parkland nearby by thugs one night and nearly beaten to death. Its a shame that nobody publicised the beers at the pub because I understand they were good in variety and well priced and kept. Such a shame to see another closed estate pub.

We headed on up tp Grenoside and up Skew Hill Lane to the Cow and Calf. I have been drinking in here since I was a child, and the interior of the pub itself seems unchanged. Granted, much adjoining land has been swallowed up by large new build houses, which is a shame, but it is stilll a beautiful old pub, selling very inexpensive real ale.

As it was dry again, and muggy, we opted to have two pints of Sam Smiths Old Brewery Bitter and to sit outside. We talked about pubs and previous visits and drank more beer before eventually managing to secure a seat, at a tiny table, inside. Two more pints followed although these were near the end of the barrel - something that I find very easy to tell with Sam Smiths - so we moved onto bottles of their Oatmeal stout. The large (I think 550 or 560ml) bottles are slightly more expensive at £3.80 a go but the beer is delicious.

We attracted some attention form the locals drinking bottles, most of whom had never tried them, and another bottle and two more pints came. The landlord told me he was struggling to sell them, and wanted to get some Yorkshire Stingo - if you are reading this, please post on here when you get some!

We stayed late before we wandered back down the hill to my Mum's to have some wine and liver bacon and onions for a late tea.

This visit was admittedly only brief but showed the area has plenty to offer in terms of pub stock. Here is a link to my previous post about pubs in the area from 4 years ago for comparison.


Wee Beefy

*apologies - I mis-remembered this as the Beagle - now updated correctly.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Beer Engine, the


      thank goodness, regular readers must be thinking, at least Mr Beefdozer isn't going to report half remembered details of some beers he tried recently, or ages ago, or last night. No, this is going to be a forthright and informative post about that stalwart of the bar, the good old beer engine, tirelessly taking beer from cask to glass for centuries.  Of course, that would be an erroneous expectation. This is a post about a pub. And the half remembered details of some beers I tried recently, or ages ago, or last night.

I first went to the Beer Engine in 1994. It was expensive. It was £3.00 a pint for Orkney Raven. Actually, no, it was £2.30 a pint. A fortune in 1994. I went in twice, and never again. I never visited Dulos, so don;t know anything about it, but I did visit Delaneys a few times, and now am becoming a regular at the all new Beer Engine.

The pub has a large comfy beer garden, a bar, tables which attract debate and posts on Sheffield Forum, very tasty food, 5 or 6 real ales, key keg guests and regulars and bottled beers. I rather like it.

Having visited on its reopening day I was quite taken by the place, and went back soon after with Tash. I have visited with Mr P, and also with J9, on the day before my birthday. I've never had a bad beer in there and particularly appreciate the range of beer styles available - bitters, red ales, pale ales, stouts, sours, saisons, imperial IPA's. imperial stouts, wheat beers - you name a style and I reckon they will have had an example of it. There is also a good mix of local brewery fare, as well as interesting producers from further afield, such as Crate brewery in London, Bad Seed in Malton and others that, in a change from previous posts, I can't remember.

I can also recommend the tapas - its about £4.00 a dish but you seem to get plenty, and every time I've tried it I have gone for the chorizo, served with horseradish sauce, and the delicious patatas bravas. I realise there is a fear that tapas is pretensions and over priced - goodness knows I've had some that fits that description, but not at the Beer Engine.

Recent treats beer wise have included the Neepsend Brewing Co Pale Ale which featured Brewers Gold and Mosaic, Magic Rock Rapture, Hand Drawn Monkey Orange Cream Soda, Pioneer Special Edition Double IPA, Beavertown Red Rye IPA, Dark Star Revaluation and many more. As usual, the above claims are made on a mixture of guesswork, memories and a quick look at their Twitter account. I remember the Pioneer best as I had it last week....

So, if you haven't popped in yet I suggest you give it a go. Tom is in charge and likes beer and food, and many of the staff will be recognisable to Sheffield real scene drinkers. Its also a good finish to a London Road or Heeley Triangle crawl - the starting point to 2 of my last 3 visits.


Wee Beefy

Sunday, 7 June 2015

The 3 Valleys beer festival 2015

Greetings all,

    last year, having been out the Friday before and realised only at about 22.00 that the fest was on the next day, myself and Tash did not make it to the bus based Drone and other valley beer festival. We probably slept in late and then went out afterwards. This year I also remembered only on the Friday, having likely confirmed I was going on Faceache, but Tash encouraged me to go. What is a man to do when faced with this challenge? Decline? Well, not I. And albeit later than usual, I headed out.

It took about 3 and half years to get to town because the bus was full of pricks. People who couldn't get on, determine the fare or indeed their destination, or their reason or living. This is the first example of bus rage. Its something I will get over, one day. Probably....

I got the tickets at 14.45 and nipped in the Sheffield Tap for a quick half, of Magic Rock Rapture. I raced this down my throat outside in the sunshine, and soon I was on the 15.05 train.

I bumped into fellow Sheffield Beer Blogger Paul Holden - it was his first festival and he was meeting friends and his other half. As I was on a mission, I left him to ponder where this would take place and raced to the Dronfield Arms. Unsurprisingly, as well as the 6 real ales and keykegs in the pub, there was also an outside bar and plenty of seating on hay bails in the sunshine. I sat down on one with a pint of Steel City and Hopcraft Midnight in Antarctica and met up with Paul and his Brother-in-law o be Chris.  A further delicious half of Bad Seed pale Ale followed, before we began the bus horror.

I explained to Paul that I suffered from bus rage, how many times this had happened at previous festivals and how nonsensical the service would be. Sure enough, the first two buses to arrive were A and C. We wanted B. It was then that we bumped into some gents that Paul knew and secured a timetable, before popping into the White Swan whilst waiting. There was a bar in the packed outside, but it was a cider bar. Inside there were two real ales, Adnams and Moonshine, so we got a half each, served in a pint plastic glass with no lines on. I know the pub isn't claiming to be a real ale mecca but the barman did not even speak or look at us, and we weren't convinced of the measures. A disappointing stop.

Round at the bus station, two buses turned up about the time ours was due.  One changed from C to A and waited, the other remained as A and set off, allegedly to Barlow Brewery. Asking the driver of the other A where B was he had no idea. Luckily it did turn up - as a C. And not long after we arrived at Hundall for the Miners Arms.

Those of you who have visited Hundall before will know that its small. Very small. More a hamlet than a village. That the Miners Arms remains open, selling, I think, 4 real ales normally, is a credit to those running it. It does, however, mean that turning a large double decker bus round in the junction with some less than intelligent parking is a nightmare. Full marks to the driver for persisting the bus round the tiny gap.

In the pub the bar was rammed - they appeared to be selling 3 or 4 Pictish and  Saltaire Raspberry blonde, but Chris was sure they had a Titanic cherry bitter on. This was in the outside bar - not the cider playground up the top - but the small one round the back of the pub. An enviable line of ales included the Titanic, which was surprisingly bitter for a fruit beer and which Chris and Paul had, along with a fantastic Siren Craft Oatmeal Pale Ale which I had. Chris thought the beer was a bit lacklustre being served from the barrel, and I agree in comparison to being forced or pulled up through a tight metal tube it has no or little head, but if the beer is of good quality that should let the flavours shine through. IN both cases this is what happened.

We were joined by other halves here and bumped into Josh and Louise. They had rather more sensibly arranged a lift from Eric, Louise's Dad, and he was on soft drinks bless him. Josh had returned form a long wait in the bar with ta pint which he shared and I stood with them whilst Paul and Chris caught up with their group. I then got a lift to the Travellers at Apperknowle.

This was the star of the show, and, in fact, my final stopping point in the festival. As well as 5 or more real ales inside, there was a large bar in the car park selling 20 or so real ales. Many where from Scotland and all 3 of us wanted the amazing Fyne Ales Jarl - alas this ran out whilst we waited at the bar. Gah! Instead, the three of us had pints of the excellent Oakham Citra. All beers were £3.00 a pint as well.

The views and scenery around the Travellers make this a lovely spot to spend time, and coupled with the excellent beer range this was easily the pub of the festival, although maybe tied with the Dronfield Arms. I had another pint of the Citra and got chatting to Tim Higham. I was introduced to Tim and his friend, whose name alcohol has taken from me, a few years ago by Barraharri. We were on a short 3 Valleys Tour in Dave's car and I met them at the Three Tuns. I haven't seen Tim since Dave's leaving do but he came up and gave me a nod and a hug and having now lost track of Josh et al, I sat with them.

My final two beers were Windsor and Eton Conqueror and Skye Black Gold. I supped these with Tim and also caught up with Paul and his friends before heading for the bus. This time, the transport worked fine, and I arrived at the station before 20.00 to catch the 5 past train to Sheffield. I nipped into the Sheffield Tap at this point and bumped into Mr Morton, who had also been to the festival. He noted that he had gone to the first and other early ones and there was little comparison with the hugeness of the modern festival, which he felt was a shame.

I can see his point of view in some ways. There are some, albeit less striking, resemblances with the Trans Pennine real ale trail - people turning up just to get hammered, people drinking before and on the transport, people treating the venues with disrespect. However, overall, the above aside, I think the 3 Valleys beer festival is a resounding success. Each year more pubs get involved, and each year delicious beers are served from local and national breweries in pubs who, for the most part, make a real effort to provide for the festival goers.

I had a fantastic time, and so did all the people who I spoke to who had been, maybe with the exception of the buses.Long may its increasing success continue.


Wee Beefy