Saturday, 29 August 2015

A Sunday sup in Sheffield

Now then,

             last week I went out for a few beers with lovable rogue Matthew, AKA Meathumph, Matty, Oi, and other names. The original plan was to meet at midday in the Brothers Arms, travel to some local and further away hostelries, and end up being joined by Tash. Only one of those concepts was correct alas.

Matt rang me and said he was hungover and suggested we meet at 14.00, in the Brothers Arms. Setting off at 13.05, it took me an astonishing 1 hour 15 minutes to get there by bus. I could have walked it in 10 minutes longer. Still, the sun was shining (initially), the weather was warm and I was thirsty. Me and Matty sat on the back in the sunshine drinking pints of Cromarty Red Rocker Rye Red ale and all was well. We even went back fro a couple of halves - more Red for me and a Pictish Wakau pale for Matt. Was good seeing John from the White Lion as well - must visit soon!

Down the hill the other way is the Sheaf View. A Red Willow Ageless Double IPA was on at 7.2%. We ordered 2 pints but it ran out so got 1 and a half, nearly, and paid for one. We sat initially in the child free beer garden, before, as it had Saturday, it started raining. Heavily. We sat in the back room and listened to the downpour and I went and got a half of Victory Dirt Wolf Double IPA at 8.7%. A truly stunning and brilliantly hoppy, slab of a beer.

We walked next along the river and headed for the London Road area. We paused at the Railway across from Sheffield United's ground. This was advertising "Coffee and Casks" on the windows - being a pub I have never previously visited, maybe a first one may have to take place soon.

Out onto London Road and we visited the Albion. Four Sheffield Brewing Co beers and a Clarkes were the choice - we both went for halves of 5 Rivers and settled down to chat and sup and receive phone calls.

Soon we arrived at the Beer Engine. Tom was in as always and we asked him what food they were serving. As timings isn't our speciality, its no surprise that they had stopped serving, but Tom very kindly did us two hot pork sandwiches with homemade apple sauce and roast potatoes on brioche. It was just what we needed!

Beers wise we had a couple each. I know Matty had a Magic Rock Salty Kiss, an excellent and unusual beer, and I had a strong cascade, possibly from Wiper and True, but am  not sure what we had on cask - I#m thinking it was a Neepsend Brew Co beer? Either way, the two keg offerings stuck in my memory a little more.

Next we visited the Brewery Tap next to Henrys. The latter is closed for refurbishment but the Tap remains open. Still the brewery is redundant, still the trial brews are, I imagine this time, poor. We both had a pint of cask each and it was pale and from Derby Brew Co, in fact we had one each of their offerings, but am unable to recollect which! Don't worry - there are memories later I promise.

We walked up to High Street beneath glowering angry black clouds, to catch the 95 to Walkley, and to walk down in the fading light to the Blake. A good selection of ales were available including Neepsend Brewery Co but we both had a pint of something different. To contradict my earlier comment, I can't recall what it was . It was £2.70 a pint whatever it was.

This was one of our favourite pubs but it could have been our worst visit. We got chatting to a Slovakian bloke called Filip. He offered to buy us two whiskies so we accepted, thinking at that points that he was not, in fact a racist violent lunatic. Alas he was. Its not often these days that you hear the word nigger in a conversation, but he used the word three times to describe his f***ing black b**tard doctor". We were quite shocked, and seeing this he said "don't you tell me I'm racist because you won;t live more than a few seconds if you do". Brilliant. A drunk, aggressive, racist simpleton. As we carried on listening and hastily finishing our drinks he went outside to make a call so we legged it down the hill. A revolting person that marred an otherwise exellent experience.

Our next stop was the Double H. Matty has never been to the Hillsborough Hotel so I thought this would be a good chance fr him. On the bar was the Potbelly Beijing Black which is a beer I really like but having a tried it tasted sour. "I don't like it, it tastes sour" the man behind the bar said. Well done = maybe its, Anyway we had a try of other mediocre beers and opted for two pints of Wentworth Clock ale or similar. From here we walked down the main road to our penultimate stop.

The Wellington was quiet but am not sure Sunday is a good day to judge any pub in terms of numbers of customers. Excellent real ale was on offer as always and we both had pint of the excellent Green Arrow from Little Ale Cart. Was lovely sitting in the room on the left getting our thoughts together and enjoying the refreshing hoppy ale.

Walking past the Ship Inn Matty found out he could catch a bus home any minute so I left him there and walked on to Shakespeares. I know I had a half, and maybe a pint of the excellent but hefty Mad Hatter mild at 7.4% but am not sure what else, although, by this time I was on pint number 9 of a rather thirsty day. And after leaving Shakespeares to get the last First bus home, the Beefdozer cometh, so I had to get a taxi back from Woodhouse Station.....

So, overlal this was a fantastic pub crawl with Matty providing good comapny and where we enjoyed some excellent beers along the way - best beer ramge probably came at the Sheaf View and the Beer Engine. I would recommend a visit to all of the pubs we tried, but some more than others.


Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Back street boozers


              if you have ever been lucky enough to visit the Hand & Heart in Peterborough or the Golden Ball in York you will have some understanding, and hopefully appreciation, of what a back street boozer is and can be. Often plain but with a number of rooms,usually a tap and a lounge and snug, mainly selling real ale and almost always full of characters, and, in the case of the above, possessing nationally noteworthy interior features.

Luckily, although we are only blessed with one National Inventory pub here in Sheffield (itself a back street boozer, albeit on a corner) we do have other notable survivals. Here are details of two I have recently visited.

The first is the Grapes on Trippet Lane. Granted, a back street boozer is often part of a row of houses or similar, but the Grapes stands alone only by virtue of driveways and demolitions nearby. Inside is where it really stands out as a back street boozer however. Trippet Lane is behind West Street and has 4 pubs on it, with the Grapes being owned, as the sign on the side proclaims, by the Flynn family. For years they leased the Grapes and ran the nearby Dog and Partridge until the pub company increased the rent to the extent where it was more profitable to take their own pub back under their control. Fixtures fittings staff and regulars alike moved a few doors up and we now have the Grapes in its current guise, showing its considerable original features off.

There are three rooms in the Grapes, plus the loos, and three real ales. There is also a decoratively tiled drinking corridor with a TV,  and a beautiful patio to sit on and soak up the sunshine. Or the rain. The beers are Tetley Bitter, Stancil Bitter and Abbeydale Moonshine. The Moonshine is perhaps the best I have tasted (apart from at Daves beer shop,  granted) and is served just cool enough to be refreshing without losing any of its flavour. The pub also sells the new Guinness Dublin Porter and Golden ale on keg, and the full range of new Guinness beers in bottle should the fancy take you.

The pub can get very busy and crowded especially if there is a wake on, and when busy there are often drinkers spilling out onto the street. The rooms inside are small but the pub is clean and well run and homely, just like a back street hostelry should be.

The other pub I visited recently is the hostelry known locally as Fanny's on the corner of Earl Street and Arundel Lane. The pub stands alone as the only residential building on a street of factories and industrial units. The Lord Nelson as it is now known is a compact pub which, although slightly opened out inside still retains its three room layout, and in rare moments of clement weather, there are seats and tables outside for drinkers.

For years it was a Kimberly brewery pub (and possibly a Stones House previously?) and now owned by Greedy King. In the mid noughties I used to go in and have Kimberly or Hardy Hanson Olde Trip, but on a couple of occasions this was on its last legs. Since then, the beer range has improved significantly, as has the beer quality.

Of the 4 beers available on Monday we all had pints of the Toolmakers Die Sage Bier, a hoppy pale lager malted ale at 4.2% (ish) and £2.80 a pint. The beer was in perfect nick and although I don't remember what else was on, it was well worth three pints for each of us. More importantly, it was lovely to sit in the tiny room on the right and watch the world pass by, listening to conversations or the football on the telly and generally relaxing.

In years gone by both of these pubs used to be in the Good Beer Guide, and although maybe overtaken by other pubs in Sheffield regarding ale, their stoic unchanging attitude, mainly in respect of their interior features, makes them well worth a visit.

Lets hope I can try out some other similar pubs in Sheffield as well.


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Mad Hatter on cask, Shakespeares, Indy Man Beer Con 2015 and other news.


         apologies for a lack of writing this month - have lacked time, inspiration, clear memories, time, inspiration....

Anyhoo. in no particular order, here's a round up of some fantastic ales I have drunk in the last 3 weeks.

The day before pay day I was sat by myself in the clock room at Shakesepares. On the bar was an absolute crascker of an ale. Mad Hatter brewing's Toxteth IPA, on cask, at 6.5% and £3.90 a pint. Rather good value am sure you will agree. As I was taking it easy I only had two and a half pints but they were nectar - slightly fruit, citrussy and bitingly bitter hops in the aftertaste, but still well rounded and easy to drink.

I was in the Closed Shop recently supping Blue Bee Reet Pale and another delicious offering from Tynebank. Was good to bump into Mr Ransome and his other half whilst having a relaxing sup and a catch up. Across the road, the Hallamshire House has been a bit hit and miss of late but the Marble Pint (I am not sure about this...!) and the dry hopped Siren (or Cloudwater) Berliner WEiss on keg was a perfect combo. Apologies for fragmented memories of this session!

Sunday saw me and Tash in the York in Broomhill. The excellent Roosters Jasmine Green Tea IPA was on as well as couple pf their other brews, some True North and a red ale called Zakos or similar from Crate Brewery. Sat outside by ourselves we had a couple of pints each, 3 of them were the Green Tea IPA.

Down the hill we also visited the Beer House. Two ales stood out, both from Tiny Rebel. It seems their Cwch has won at the GBBF and Tash had a pint of that, whilst I enjoyed a pint of their Billabong Pale. The pub is quite barren in the back room when its quiet, but at least we had chance to catch up and keep an eye on the time. We had a second round of the same before leaving.

Last night in the Three Tuns we missed the Dark Star Hophead but enjoyed 3 pints each with Matty of the excellent Mallinsons Topaz single hopped ale. Not seeing Mallinsons as much these days so this was a lovely treat, and the hop, and indeed the beer, had a very distinctive and refreshing flavour.

We finished the night in Shakespeares with Rachael and Ade and Cayti and others, drinking pints of North Riding US Session IPA and the amazing cask Mad Hatters Mild, at a whopping 7.4%, and still only £3.90 a pint! Having tried their Dark Hares Black IPA at 7.0% the day or two before I have to say I am very impressed with Mad Hatter brewery beers, having first tried them in Liverpool at their bar last year.

Finally, a quick mention about the Indy Man Beer Con 2015, which rakes place in October from 8th to the 11th at the wonderful venue of Chorlton Victorian Baths. There is a link here to the website for details of tickets. I loved the event last year but have been quite late requesting tickets fr this year's event so may not get to go - not because I don't want to pay, but because there are very few tickets left!

For a taste of how the festival works and the amazing range of ales on in the frankly sumptuous venue, here is a link to my blog post from last year. If there are tickets left I highly recommend a trip.

That#s all I have for now am afraid, but will hopefully blog again before month end.


Wee Beefy

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Three different North Staffordshire pubs.


        after a bit of a health shock on Thursday (now recovered, thankfully), it was nice to catch up with Wee Fatha, Tash and Matty last night for Matty's first trip out to the North Staffordshire Moorlands. As it was his first trip out there, WF planned a less than expedient but thankfully beautiful trip out to show off the sunny scenery, which if nothing else, meant we arrived at our first pub hungry.

We set off around 17.00 and after an unexpected stop at WF's we headed into Chesterfield and then down to Baslow. We drove through Chatsworth then Youlgreave, Lathkil Dale to Monyash and then through Crowdecote and Longnor and onto Reapsmoor. Here, lit by only a single light in crisp evening sunshine, was the Butchers Arms.

On the bar, Carl had gone mad and put 2 pumpclips onto demonstrate what beer was available. Its an in joke at the Butchers, that you either have no punpclips, and he does or doesn't know what is on, or you have one and its something different. This time, the two were Clarks Number 19, which he described as "sweeter" and Island Hopping, a hoppy pale ale. This turned out to be from Orkney based Highland Brewery - there is a link to their website here. Easily the better beer of the two. And quite a surprise to see. Also, a decent price as well - 2 and a half of that and a pint of Clarks came to £8.60.

We were here mainly for food and soon had a seat in an initially smokey back room, and a menu each. The pub is very busy for food Saturdays so we had to order quickly. Me and Wee Fatha went for a couple of Barnsley lamb chops with minted gravy, peas and salad and chips (new pots for WF), while Tash had homemade peppered pork and chips and veg and Matty had an absolute doorstep of a meat and tatties pie and chips. The food worked out about £10.75 each and it was delicious. A great start to the evening. To note, no dogs were in the room when we ate, and more shocking, Carl wasn't wearing shorts! He must be unwell bless him.

From here we carried on and followed our normal route, except for diverting via the Mermaid, the ex pub high on the Staffordshire moors before coming out on the A53. Past the Winking Man, our next destination was ahead of us - the Royal Cottage. We got in before 21.00 and there were two customers already in. I had a bottle of Speckled Hen as I always do, and WF a Manns and Tash and Matty a Newky Brown each.

Despite sporting a recently repainted sign, nothing has changed inside. The bar front is still carved wood, the odd brickwork wallpaper still sits over the fire with old pictures and news reports and details of land sales, Cliff's chair still has the same covers on it, and there is still a Tetley keg pump on the bar. Given that he only ever used to put it on for the monthly folk nights, from two weeks ago, I didn't risk any.

Soon the pub became busy - a couple came in, and sat where Cliff would, and a guy called Martin. The older gent next to us left about 22.00 but three ladies came in who were connected to (but I don't think lived at) a nearby hall. I swear, on a none folk night, there were 11 customers in the Royal Cottage. No word of a lie, I have never seen this except on folk nights.

We listened in on conversations about land sales and farmers and weddings and local pubs, including stories about Carl and his Dad from the Butchers, and me and Matty shared another Old Speckled Hen. However, soon it was 22.30 and we had to head off to Ken's - after all, we didn't want to find him closed. Arriving at 22.44....he very much was. We even knocked on the door but no answer came. WK is camping at the Quiet Woman next weekend, so I will warn him to get back early!

Our final stop was just down the hill at the Packhorse Inn at Crowdecote. Given that it was shut before 2300 last time I hurried in at 22.55 and got served. We had three pints of Leadmill Sheffield Wednesday beer, and WF had a half of Byards Hop Dog - I may have mis-remembered this as there appears to be no such brewery!

We also had a half of Moravka the unpasteurised pilsner form Taddington, and settled down to listen in on a farmer and 2 lads discussing the attendance - or none - at a local 18th Birthday party. The ale was well kept and slipped dwn very nicely as the conversation swung from why we had come here all the way from Sheffield, to what punishment must be inflicted on the younger of the three if he didn't pass his driving test by November.

We haven't been in for a year so this was a good chance to catch up and once again to enjoy a good range of real ales, of which there are four, with plenty of good beers coming on soon. Different, granted, to the older farmhouse style boozers of the Butchers and Royal Cottage, this is still an excellent pub, serving good food and ales. The only snag is, it may not, in fact, be in Staffordshire! Well worth a try anyway, despite.

So, a second trip in the area saw us once again miss the Quiet Woman, which is a real shame, but revisiting the Butchers and Packhorse was well worth the somewhat arduous drive. Having passed so many closed pubs en route, it was also good to see all three doing so well.


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Leeds and York and nearer home


         this is a post about me and Tash's celebrations of our second anniversary. To the imbibe-minded this may be a worrying proposition, but don't worry, most of our celebrations, since we met and got together in a pub, were drink related. Or sodden.

On Friday it was Erika's birthday celebration. We headed off to the Harlequin for 16.00 and I had several pints of the excellent Exit 33 Stateside Pale Ale at 5.0%. I was joined by Tash, Lorraine, Lou and Gary and after 4 pints in 3 hours, we all disbanded, and me and Tash went to stalwart Shakespeares.

Here I had at least 4 pints of Buxton Bitter Recognise, on cask, a darkish 6.7% hoppy collaboration which was one of the star kegs at the recent Sun fest. Joined by Wee Keefy, and having caught up with Vicky C, WK bought us a bottle of De Molen Moord and Brand, a 10% plus Bourbon barrel aged stout which poured like tar but tasted like black gold. We had another beer after this as well, I am told.

The day itself saw us potter around and leave at tea time for a luxurious coffee before heading to the Bath Hotel. I can't remember what pints we had at first but they might have been Bristol Beer Factory. Or Arbor. Or neither. Afterwards we shared 3 halves of Cloudwater IPA at 6.7%. It was a fantastic cloudy IPA that went down far too easily - described accurately by Steff as fantastic and expensive. It was very much both.

From here we caught the bus up to the Walkley Beer Co. They had run out of cask but had Victory Hop Devil at 6.7% on keg at £4.20 a pint. Despite the strength, we had two pints each, and took a bottle of lemon saison home. We finished the night drinking Lebanese beer and wine in a nearby restaurant. All I can say is, the wine was OK!

On Sunday we raced or rather, the bus dawdled, into town to catch the 11.21 train to York. We got on the platform as it pulled away. With bus replacement services on almost all trains we opted t have a coffee and decided to go to Leeds, and maybe onto York from there. Our first and as it turned out only stop in Leodis was at Friends of Ham. Now twice the size, with ample seating up and downstairs and a larger bar, this is still a fantastic, if expensive, place to start a day out.

We caught up with Emily, now free from the unfair pay structure at Thornbridge, and ordered 3 tapas dishes each and two pints, both pale ales from Alechemy in Scotland. This 8 piece cost us £30.00. Luckily, the quality of the meat and cheese and pickle and ale is so good, I didn't mind. Three cheeses included Welsh sheep cheese and a delicious blue, along with laardo chorizo and others, was our snap, and every last lingering mouthful was superb. We also had two halves of keg, one Alechemy Double IPA  at 9.1%, and 1 of Hawkshead NZ IPA at 6.5, an astringently biting bitter pale ale with bags of hops.

Soon we were on a rather expensive return journey to York. Our first stop was a shop, but better was to follow as we visited the House of Trembling Madness. Following the signs upstairs to the pub, we found an incredibly old building with a tiny bar and limited seating which was heaving. We both got pints of the excellent Bad Seed Brewery Eldorado Pale before halves of the Mad Hatters Toxteth IPA. We got sat down at a table and soaked up the atmosphere, conversation, and noticeably, the warmth. The shop down stairs is also well worth a visit for bottled beers.

We walkd to Fossgate next but decided against visiting the Blue Bell - the road was closed and people were sat on tables outside in huge numbers. We didn't fancy the scrum so walked on down to the bottom and turned back up towards Parliament street and then towards the river. A short relaxing stroll followed before we sat down in the shade, then headed over what might be Skendergate Bridge to the Swan at Clementhorpe.

This beautiful National Inventory listed corner pub has a drinking corridor, possibly known as a West Yorkshire drinking corridor, and a compact lounge on the right of the bar, with wonderful tiled floors and a fantastic beer garden. We sat outside with a half of Moonshine for Tash and a half of Prescott Simmer for me, and caught the last rays of sunshine near a covered area where grapes were growing. We went back for two more halves of the Prescott, before heading to Cromwell Street and the Golden Ball.

This is another unspoilt National Inventory pub, with a tiny snug on the bar rights and three larger, basic rooms including the bar. As it was a hot day we sat outside and supped some of the many beers on  tap. This included one from Ainsty Ales and Kettle Drum best bitter from Treboom brewery. We sat in the sunshine then shade for a while before taking up residency in the bar, and eating a ramekin of chilli and honey peanuts. Locals played dominoes and chatted quietly in the basic bar room, and we could easily have stayed all day. The Golden Ball is community owned and is an excellent example of such an arrangement.

Our penultimate stop was in the Maltings, now boosting an outside seating area. We had pints of a Roosters hoppy beer and a half of the excellent Magic Rock Grapefruit, then sat outside and got chatting to a couple form Chester Le Street. The Maltings certainly needed some extra space and this is just another string to ots bow.

Our final stop was in the York Tap. About 14 cask ales to choose from, I think we had halves of a Magic Rock or Waen beer, but this was a short stop as we had to catch the train back to Sheffield using our two sets of tickets.

All in all, an amazing three days of impeccable beer in three excellent Yorkshire locations. A lovely way to celebrate our anniversary!


Wee Beefy