Thursday, 30 July 2015

The Tramlines's.


     many people were disappointed with the Tramlines festival. One of my Faceache chums described it as a "mega corporate money grabbing c*nt fest", but another said "got a positive reaction from lots of new faces, which is one of the great things about Tramlines, and it gets better every year". The thing is, who cares?! Nobody mentioned, or grumbled about, the beers. The beers! Crucial to any festival. Here's what I supped and where....

Friday started in the Shakespeares. Hardly a revelation, but its near work and had music. Me and Tash enjoyed a fantastic pint and a half each of Kernel Mosaic on keg. Or it may have been Citra. It was ace. We heard a little of Holy Moly and the Crackers before leaving the festivities and visiting the Three Tuns. Here pints of Blue Bee Phantom Geek were tried, before Tash went to the Dove and I went home.

The next day I started late. I didn't get to the Brothers Arms until half past three. Turns out this was 30 minutes before the Everly Pregnant Brothers came on. I queued 35 minutes to get to the bar, and bought two pints, Burning Sky Aurora and the 7.1% Fyne Ales Superior IPA. I found Fluffy and Trudi and Sue and Col, who waited 45 minutes to get served, and stood in a crowd of thousands watching the band.

Half way through I went to the outside bar again - and got served straight away! A pint of Dark Star Revelation at 5.7% and a pint of Hammerton No.1 (£3.00 a pint, or £6.00 for a little bottle at Craft and Dug) and after a catch up with Carlos returned to my group. It was great to catch up, enjoy beer, and I headed next for John's beer tent at the bottom. Wild Fresh and Blackjack lager were on but I had a half of the Siren Liquid Monstrous, which was ace. John suggested I went to the White Lion next, but they were queuing on the main road to get in so I headed for the Sheaf View.

Here I got a pint of something pale and lovely and went to the loo. It was good to get some time to get myself together but I needed food! I stumbled to the Beer Engine and had the most delicious and tender burger, with coleselaw and handmade sweet potato fries, along with a half of Neepsend Red, before heading into town to meet Tash. We went first to the Dove and Rainbow where Tash bought me some Hambleton Nightmare, and then via meeting Dr Johnson we headed for the Dog and Partridge. A half of something in here, alas I was a trifle refreshed.

Penultimate stop was the Bath for two pints of Chiron and to watch a mosh pit and the Velcro Teddy Bears. Cracking finish to the set, but we only saw 2 songs! We finished the night in Harrisons 1854 but after getting our pints of Moonshine they soon stopped the DJ's - I forgot their license means they have to shut at midnight!

The next day we recovered and ate and chatted and finally left after 18.00 to go to the University Arms. We watched and absolutely lobed the whole set of Jungle Lion, whilst drinking pints of Thornbridge Halcyon at £4.50 a pint. It was a fantastic gig, and was great meeting Joanne and Tara. A pint of the excellent Burton Bridge Damson Porter followed.

Down at the Bath we caught teh last 4 songs or so of the Fyreflies, a folk rock band from nearby, before heading for Shakespeares. We got pints of the excellent Brew By Numbers Nelson Sauvin Saison, a deliciously refreshing 3.9% Belgian beer, and caught the last 6 songs of a guy whose surname was McSweeney -  a brilliant, haunting voice and a sharp wit made this a perfect close.

Chris B at Shakespeares stated he worked 45 hours in 3 days. I bet he was exhausted. However, I also think hat Shakespeares, the Brothers, The Bath and others made a fortune over Tramlines. Its once a year, it is rapidly becoming massive. And this year, the beer was outstanding.


Wee Beefy.

Friday, 24 July 2015

On the Edge Brewery beer fest and 3 very different pubs

     3 years ago last weekend I was the second customer. At the On the Edge Brewery launch. I met Geoff, Rich and Kath, Mark and John from the other side  (of the Pennines) and others. it was great fun, and I tried all the beers. On Saturday last, a celebratory event, 9Pin #2 was held. I was not the first customer. I was however, one of many.

Walking from High Street is easy for me. Not sp much for Tash however with her tendinitis, and the hot sunshine and wind making her hayfever play up. We walked along the Moor and up past the beer engine, then forgot where to go at the former Vine, but eventually found our way onto Sharrow Vale Road and into the Old Primary School.

There were 9 beers from On the Edge, including 2 saisons, a couple of dark beers, pale ales and a red. Given our thirsty yomp up the hill, and leaving common sense behind we started on halves of the Saisons Houblon at 6.4%. It was delicious - not "too saisony" as Tom the brewer said, but incredibly light and refreshing and worryingly easy to drink. We sat in the hall and completed the quiz about beer and then got more.

Next up were two halves, one of the Sorachi pale at 5.5% and another of the Liquid Amber at 5%. Both were packed with flavour but the Sorachi was probably the better. We supped this sat in glorious sunshine in the playground, chatting to other drinkers. A perfect spot. Next we had halves of saison houblon again, before I grabbed an extra half of Green Bullet, a glorious grassy 5.8% pale ale which once again went down well. By now the Sorachi had run out, and although I tried and disliked the treacle saison, we both  finished on further halves of the Saisons Houblon.

It was good chatting with Tom and Luisa who run the brewery, and great to see the event well attended. Maybe 9Pin #3 is on the horizon....

Off next down a side street to the end of London Road and into the Beer Engine. Before we'd even assessed the cask ales on offer, Tom had pointed out the Bad Seed Brewery Pale ale at 7.0%. Even thought it was pricey at £6.00 a pint, it was delicious, so we had a pint each and went to catch the last of the sun's rays in the beer garden.

Tom also gave us a can of Roosters Baby Faced Assassin a 6.1% pale ale, to sample. Getting over my horrid memories of canned beer (with widgets in, no less....) is quite a trick, but this helped enormously. A tremendously complex yet equally refreshing hoppy pale ale, this is something I'd be more than happy to try again. We finished on sublime tapas, chorizo and patatas bravas of course, before heading into town.

Here we popped in the Dove and Rainbow on Hartshead Square. As is happening more often, they had Jaipur on from Thornbridge. We each had a pint, in keeping with our strong pale ale crawl, and got chatting to truck driver Ben, wearing an absurdly large wizards hat, in the beer garden. Those who know me well know that the Dove is hardly my favourite boozer - and I can't explain why. However, this visit showed they can serve good real ale, so points for that!

Our final stop was a bus ride away on South Road, Walkley. On my birthday, or just after, last year, I sat in the then temporarily open Walkley Beer Co and supped a Blue Bee beer which was rebadged (and crucially, re-hopped) as my Wee Beery birthday brew. I was impressed by the cask choice, the prices, and the bottled beers. Saturday was the first time I have been back since. With friends like me eh....!

Of the ales on offer the obvious choice was the 5.3% Weird Beard Mariana Trench, described by them as a Transpacific pale, this is a well rounded hoppy pale ale at 5.3%, using, one imagines, American hops. It was lovely. We also bought a half of the Beavertown Power of the Voodoo at 10% on keg to share. Although 50p a pint more than Shakespeares, you really only do need a half so it still represents good value.

We chatted at length with Kit and Rod behind the bar, and with the guy from Emmanuales brewery, forgetting of course that the pub shuts at 22.00 - we were the last to leave, and hopped straight on a 52 round the corner, all the way home! We wish the Walkley Beer Co all the best in their now permanent home, and promise we will be back in less then 13 months time.

So, a fab day of drinking at 4 very different venues, including some truly outstanding beers and great company. It will be a long time before we have another day out like that I'm sure.


Wee Beefy

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Fantastic crawls


      just a few words about two recent nights in excellent pubs.

The first saw me and Tash meet up in the Bath Hotel. Fiona was there as were a few regulars we know including Scott who Tash talked to at length about her work. She had started on a  half of the Brooklyn Hammarby Syndrome, an 8.0% keg beer with spruce fronds and, I dunno, bog myrtle from Brooklyn Brewery, on offer at £2.10 a half. I was on Blackjack First Deal, a darker but hoppy bitter with nags of flavour.

Tash had another half and I caught up, buying me a pint and her a half of old favourite Thornbridge Halcyon. This was a revelation, packed full of citrus fruit bitter-sweetness and heady alcohol. No matter what you might say about Thornbridge, Halcyon remains one of their best beers.

Off next to Anchorage for some rather more expensive beers. I had a half of the Oersor Sargeant Pepper Saison, a 7.1% delight, and Tash a half of the 6.0% Flanders Red sour from Burning Sky, which was £3.50 or more a half. Was this value for money? Well, comparatively, not at all. Were these the best beers of the night? Comparatively, equal. The peppered saison was a wonderfully refreshing ale and the sour was, incredibly soft on the tongue. Lovely.

We finished in the Devonshire Cat, somewhere we haven't been for a while. To my delight they had Griffin'd Ale on cask. The barman suggested this was better than on keg, but gave us a sample for contrasting purposes. The keg tasted different, but not better. In fact, the cask may have edged it. We finished on the last bottle of Grozet from Williams Bros, a delightful Gooseberry ale, and two halves of something saison ish in style. A brilliant visit.

The next night saw me wander up to the Wellington. Only having about £1.80 I had a half - of Little Ale Cart High and Dry, which was excellent. I supped this in the beer garden with three young blokes who had supped a few but where certainly enjoying their evening drinking.

Last stop was Shakespeares,  for a pint of Blackjack Topaz Gold. Once again packed with flavour, the beer was a lovely if heavy starter. I finished on halves of Totally Brewed  4 Hops of the Apocalypse, Kernel Citra on keg and also on keg, Beavertown Power of the Voodoo, Triple IPA.

The totally brewed was OK but slightly underwhelming, whilst the Kernel Citra was impeccable, very dry and hoppy but also cloudy and refreshing. At 10% and £7.50 or so a pint, the Beavertown was a sledgehammer of a beer, but one well worth savouring.

So, 5 completely different pubs and bars tried with wildly different styles and flavours of ales. Another  example of Sheffield being a fantastic place to sup!


Wee Beefy.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Sun Fest 2015 at the Rising Sun


        last year I missed the great July booze up that was Sun Fest, this year I managed to go twice. Now in its 9th year, here's what I saw, drank, and most importantly, remembered.

I met Tash on Friday in town. We've both had, and indeed still have, a cold, and some sort of fever. Tash didn't want to head straight off to the festival so I joined her in the Grapes. We sat in bright hot sunshine around 15.30 supping cool pints of Abbeydale Moonshine, and listening to the conversations on the back terrace. It was bliss, but I wanted a slightly wider choice of ales. I left Tash to acclimatise and headed for Sun Fest.

Arriving before 17.00 I remembered that you gain entry in a tent in the car park, and found it straight away. For a tenner, I got a glass and a voucher in £1's and 10 pences, and headed for the beer tent next door. First beer was a lovely refreshing 3.5% pale, Rune from Fyne Ales. I sat at a table in bright sunshine, and relaxed. This was a good start.

Next up was another good beer - this time from Chadwicks Brewery in Kendall, and their lovely Spring Hop. A deliciously refreshing, herbal, hoppy pale which went down well. I was now joined by Patrick and Kate, or David, as she is known in polite company. They had started on the Elland and something else, and both were OK, but thereafter all our choices started going downhill.

I tried some Sentinel beer next for the first time. It was really cloudy, but tasted OK, although am not sure it was very balanced. Zest fest was zesty, and hoppy, but possibly not quite ready.

My next beer was a half of the Black Iris and Hand Drawn Monkey smoked Chilli farmhouse IPA. It didn't taste of chilli. It didn't taste of IPA. It didn't taste of farmhouses. It tasted of watered down orange juice with smoke. It was initially interesting, and eventually vile. As the band FFS said - collaborations don't work . This would remain the case until the next day......

Meanwhile, Patrick tried the Cloudwater Grisette. Apparently, hype states that Cloudwater are officially the best brewery in the world. Luckily, I had seen no such hype - but still was mightily unimpressed with this beer. A very feint taste of hops on a sea of nothing. It tasted ever so slightly of saison in the middle but little else. Humph!

I spoke to Pat Morton next and asked him what he had liked - he immediately recommended the Single Speed Mosaic from Fixed Wheel Brewery. This turned out to be much better, and was a favourite of a few people.  I then tried some Astaroth on keg from Oakham Ales. Having always loved their beers I had high hopes for this - but it tasted strange. Tinny, disjointed, although when jointed, hopped lovely.

I tried a Quirky brewery gold next but that was poor so moved onto something far better - Mallinsons Cha cha cha. Well balanced pale and hoppy was what it said , and what it delivered. I finished the Friday night visit with a half of Acorn Gorlovka, always a go to dark ale, and it was lovely.

The next day I arrived about 15.00 to meet Rich Hough and friends. It was Rich's birthday and much was planned, starting at the festival. It was, by the way, also the birthday of Diane from the Fat Cat. Beers and best wishes to both. We were joined by Kath, Rich's brother Ed, Anthony, John Clarke, Mark, Steve, Yvonne and others to wish Rich well. And to drink of course. Which reminds me, the other thing that happened was that I tasted some far better beer.

I started on a half of the Elland Pacifica, a 4.6% Golden Ale, and this started things off nicely. I then tried a keg beer, and discovered one of the brews of the festival. Buxton and Wilderness Brewing Co in Arizona did a 6.7% brown ale called Bitter Recognise. Clear, crisp., hoppy and with lovely balancing malt, this was a fantastic beer.

I thought about trying the Burton Bridge Burton Ale but went instead for the Brass Castle - at least, I think I did. Alas, no memories exist of this beer which was, one assumes, delicious. Rich let me try some of his excellent Abbeydale Collaboration pint of Griffin'd Ale from Abbeydale and Griffin Claw in Detroit. Claims of it being a beast of an IPA were treated with some suspicion by me but by eck, it was packed with hops. Excellent! This was tasted whilst I supped a third of the Fernandes 6.0% Stone Circle IPA - a lovely balanced beer, although less hoppy than I recall the pre Ossett IPA's of Fernandes being.

My final two beers were Great Heck Black Jesus, a 6.5% Black IPA, which was on good form as Great Heck beers usually are, and I finished on a half of Siren Undercurrent Oatmeal Pale. This was perhaps a little over carbonated but as always with Siren beers was on great form.

Overall then, after a promising start and a very icky middle, I thought the beer range was very good, as it always has been. It just took me longer than I expected to find the best beers of the festival, which for me, were the Chadwicks Spring Hop and Buxton and Wilderness Bitter Recognise. Looking forward to sampling the wares on offer at the decade festival next year.


Wee Beefy

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Crookes valley of beer July 2015


          regular readers will note that I have written about this, the area and its pubs, a number of times previously. Whilst this is true, I wanted to tell you what me and Tash found when visiting the area last night.

We had been going to the Brothers Arms, by taxi with Norm. He, however, decided it was all too much of a frightful inconvenience to get in a taxi and get bought birthday pints, so insisted he wasn't going. So we decided to get a bus into town, and stayed on til Crookes.

We stopped first at the Cobden View. Usually there are regular ales plus 1 changing guest - Tash opted for a Bradfield Blonde and I a pint of 3.8% Wrights Bitter from SB Brewery - could this be Sleaford Brewery perhaps? Either way, it was a nice enough quaffable not particularly bitter...bitter. Although, coming past the other bar, we noticed Bradfield Sixer was also on. It was clear we wouldn't be staying for just one.

In the large beer garden they had been having a Family fun day. There were cakes for sale, competitions, there had been a BBQ and the beer garden was packed with drinkers and families. As you know, am not a fan of kids in pubs but I was impressed by this, nobody was pretentious or annoying or needy, everyone just sat around, happily chatting and supping.

As the band started playing I went in for two pints of Bradfield Sixer - it was £3.00 a pint. Excellent value at 6.0%. It was also bloody easy to sup, so 10 minutes later we were back for another couple of halves. So ended another enjoyable evening in the Cobden.

Off down to Commonside and the Hallamshire House, where the Man of Ash's claimed Cloudwater beers must have been in the cellar! However, he did have Blackjack Pokies on cask, and the excellent if pricey Kernel India export stout at 6.0% on keg. I had a half of that, Wee Keefy who had joined us was on Les's Bst and Tash was on Jaipur.

We sat in the room on the right and chatted about all sorts of things and as always happen in Commonside, bumped into somebody we knew, in addition to seeing Jo and Neil on the way down. Looking forward to getting back to try some Cloudwater ales.

Across the road we finished in the Closed Shop. Am not sure what we all started on but it was nice enough, just not especially hoppy. WK bought our next round and I had a pint of Blue Bee Reet Pale which is a favourite, and Tash went onto something unusual and strong tasting. The only problem I had was the whisky - I asked how much the Adelphi 25 year old was, it was £12.50, or £14.00 or who knows what else a shot. Initially however I was told ir was £7.00 so I ordered that.

Having been poured the shot Jasper admitted it was actually 5 years old, but 67%. Interesting though this was, it wasn't what I ordered so they gave me that for free and offered me another. I went for a shot of Tomintoul which I haven't had for years. I don't think it should have tasted as strong as it did however. It was terrible! Admittedly I should have taken it back, but never mind.

After last orders we wandered back to Wee Keefy's to see Carlos and YouTube videos and for WK tp give me a can of Polish Bock. It was very strong and not especially subtle - but would have been lovely in Winter.

So, with the upcoming reopening (or at least being bought by another owner) of the Springvale, it will be interesting to see if changes are made at any of the pubs above. Certainly the Cobden appears to have improved its range, as has the Hallamshire House, but am not as impressed as I used to be with the Closed Shop. No doubt, as with many of the pubs visited Friday and Saturday, a return visit is required.


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Meanwhile, sales, openings and other news

Now then,

     I have been concentrating on writing about a couple of pubs recently, but I assure you I have been to others. Here are some details of some of them, the beer I drank (possibly) and the news I know.

Last night the Three Cranes on Queen Street reopened. It has been taken over by Tracey and Kevin (note, only looked at sign once). I noticed soon after getting in that in fact they ran the pub before, after thingy and whats his name went bankrupt. There were 4 real ales, Black Sheep, Robinsons Trooper, another and what I had a pint of, which was Sharps' Atlantic IPA.

Am certain this used to be stronger and more hoppy - I realise in the years since I last tried it (6) my tastebuds have developed but it tasted really sweet and not very hoppy. Still, all real ale was £2.60 a pint and I went and sat in the roof beer garden in the shade to enjoy my pint.

Couple of differing visits to the Three Tuns - went on the hottest day of the year to find, unsurprisingly, that it was boiling. The Blue Bee American 5 hop was OK, but cloudy and almost warm. I expect the old pub is difficult to chill but that was a shame. Popped in last night to find an improved beer range including Mallinsons SPA which I had a half of ,along with an excellent Silver Dollar from Tyne Bank. Pub was busy as well.

Went in Craft and Dough recently for the first time. Some people like, others don't, and I am not sure. I have to admit that it was full of the most nauseating hipster pricks, and I tried hard not to let this distract me. The beer was nice - Abbeydale Mosaic on keykeg, although even using that dispense,  £4.50 a pint is a lot for that beer. The range of bottles is impressive but pricey, some on the best list are absurd. Probably worth choosing carefully if you go.

Have also been regularly supping in the Brothers and Sheaf View. However, what has happened to this  duo? The Sheaf View, initially knocked back by the popularity of the Brothers Arms, has slowly and quietly gone from strength to strength with an excellent range of ales. Meanwhile, whilst still having the best beer garden in Sheffield, what has happened at the Brothers?

Unhappy staff, brown beers only and stouts, and less snacks - two crucial observations from my last two visits. Speaking to one of the beer Geeks recently they pointed out that the pub pulls off a clever trick, by being part real ale pub and part traditional boozer. I agree, but am surprised the beer range has suffered so much. Maybe I visited on the wrong day.

Have been spending a lot of time in the Wellington of late. No probs remembering what I had here, its the same every time - pints of the Little Ale Cart Flying Scotsman at 5% and £2.60 a pint. Delicious. My only concern is that there are so rarely new people in there - its brilliant to have a band of regulars, but, in small numbers, that's not a long term survival plan. Maybe that is why I heard that someone was going to buy the pub, bearing in mind the owner is selling his pub in Worcester.

Recent visits to the Bath have seen decent beers including Anarchy Blonde Star, Bad Seed Cascade, Thornbridge Tart, and lighter if less hoppy guests from Blackjack and others. Shame the cask selection has gone down a bit of late, as this is still one of my favourite pubs - no doubt the fast approaching end of summer will bring about a change in fortune.

Finally, the Hallamshire House can now sell guest beers - I understand the Man of Ash has a whole range of Cloudwater beers available. Its always been a great place to try Thornbridge beers at their best but the addition of guests is a brilliant boost. No doubt the soon to be reopened Springvale will draw more ale supping customers to the area....


Wee Beefy