Saturday, 31 December 2016


Halcyon days.

          Warm summers, strong sunshine, autumn leaves, cold white frost an inch thick on frozen surfaces, huge downpours onto moist Spring ground, lovely rare steak and venison, lamb casserole, beautiful red wine. The feeling that its Friday morning when in fact its Saturday and you can close your heavy eyes and get back to sleep. All things that can easily, for me at least,  be associated with Halcyon. No longer, alas, with the Thornbridge beer of the same name.

I used to love Halcyon. It was, frankly, a completely terrific beer. Bundles of fruit and citrus hops balanced perfectly in a scrumptious mix to make the ideal fruity pale ale, but with beautiful lingering bitterness in the aftertaste. In 2012 I came back from a week of slightly less inspiring beers in Crete and went to the Bath Hotel for a pint. I wasn't actually enamoured with the selection of real ales and kegs so went for a bottle of Thornbridge Halcyon. I absolutely loved it.

This was the first beer that I loved in cask, on keg, and in a bottle. It was so well balanced, it hit all the right notes in my book for a wonderfully refreshing strong pale ale. Its arrival at any pub was a triumph of delivery over expectation because it was also almost always better than I hoped or imagined it would be.

Three weeks ago, likely more, I was in the Bath Hotel,  talking to Chris, or a man with a similar or entirely different name, who is currently running the pub. I have been going to the Bath less often lately but that isn't a reflection of beer quality, more of a different drinking pattern, less often being one feature. I noticed that Halcyon was on keg and was about £4.70 a pint, and ordered it with glee. And then I tasted it.

Um...someone forgot to add the citrus hops and mouthwatering fruit flavours for a start. And the bitterness was there, but was bleak and harsh and a little like paracetamol. I had expected a wonderful taste, and hadn't had some for a while, but this was a terrible re-enactment of a once wonderful beer.

I don't know enough about brewing to figure out what changes have been made to the recipe, or indeed why Thornbridge beer has become so poor - especially given the excellent pale they brewed back in September. I do think that an alleged merry go round of new brewers in quick succession may have destabilised the brewing, but if that is the case the solution is surely simple.... employ a good reliable brewer on a long term rather than short(est) term basis.

I am sure that running pubs makes Thornbridge more money than brewing beer does, so as a business I can forgive them for prioritising one over the other (if they indeed are) but I can't forgive them for ruining one of m,y former favourite beers ever, and making a rubbish version of Halcyon, worse even than the needlessly sweet Belgian version.

What lies ahead in 2017 for Thornbridge? I hope its better beer, simple as.

Yours in regret and disappointment

Wee Beefy

Friday, 30 December 2016


Hello all,

  I wanted to write today about Sheffield's Micropubs.

The first I knew of  ( in the UK) was in Kent. It was called the Butchers and was, am guessing, set in a former Butchers shop. It was definitely in Kent. And it could (probably) seat 3 people. It was open half an hour every week by appointment only, and had a pin to last that whole session.

OK, I made much of the above up. I have, after all, never been there. The first one I went to was the Little Chesters  Ale House in that there Derby. I really enjoyed it. I was surprised, however, that there was nothing similar in Sheffield.

In late 2013 or a similar sounding year the Crookes Ale House was,  to my mind, Sheffield's first pop[ up pub. I knew very little about ir and even after a description of its location I struggled to find it. I went in with Carlos the first time and Angie and Jackie and other peeps the second. I bought a bottle f the Courage Imperial stout which I may possibly still have, and loved it. Local ale was on stillage, and it opened for six days or less.

The next year this became the Walkley Beer Co. I didn't visit until my 40th birthday and I tried my specially brewe (well, dry hopped version at least) birthday ale, and spoke to Josh and Christy and Kit. The pub later or already had a permanent license and I have been going in ever since.

Tonight I had two pints, the Cromarty Brewing Rogue Wave IPA at 5.9%, a hoppy pale, and the 6.9% Wild Madness IPA. I saw Rob, Dan and the gent whose name I can't remember,. as well as Rhod and Kit and Imogen and a guy called Pete. The atmosphere and ale was as always, excellent.

I just wanted to say well done to the shop, or rather micro pub, and all Sheffield's others. Because its a fine feature of Sheffield watering holes that your service and range is required, and whats more very much appreciated.

As the beer capital of the UK, I am not surprised that Sheffield can support 6 micropubs!

With warmest regards

Sir Beefalot

Tuesday, 27 December 2016


Good afternoon Lazerngennulmern

        it occurred to me today (well, during a quiet period of reflection on Christmas Day actually) that it has taken me until now, or rather then, to realise the following.....

The "Reet Ale Pubs Company" sounds like the Retail Pubs Company.

Its taken me the three or maybe four or more years since their inception to figure this out. It explains, for one, the pronunciation used by Mr Stephens's. Its also "funny" because Reet Ale sounds like retail. And as a pub company, they retail not only ale, in their Reet Ale Pubs, but also retail Reet Pale Ale in their Reet Ale Pubs.

Its a pun!

Ha ha!

Ha ha!


And yes, I can confirm that Boxing day and today have been quiet, thanks for asking.

With warmest twixt winter solstice and years end regards

Wee Beefy.

Monday, 26 December 2016


Merry Chrissmuss yall!

         the title of this post is perhaps a little risky - although pertinent, I appear to have locally garnered a reputation for being some sort of criticism monkey, living in a tree of moaning in a forest of malcontent. So to make clear now, this isn't a polite way of saying Bastards. Its a way of saying Bar Stewards, but making it one word. You may not have noticed, but I am trying to stick to single word post titles this month, in order to be more punchy and, um,  rad, fo the yoot. I am quite old by the way....

Anyway, the Bar Stewards is Sheffield;s latest pop up pub - this claim is made on the basis of a lack of information about the Pub Inn which opened after I had already formulated the text for this post. So nehrrr.

Its on Gibraltar Street across from Shakespeares and is run by Al and another gentleman, who will have one of many thousand male human names, probably with an I in it. I dunno, Richard, Michael?

The pair have done a good job sprucing up the empty retail unit and have a bar with four handpumps and possibly some sort of keg dispense, with a well socked fridge behind with bottles and cans inside. There is also a snazzy toilet, and comfortable seating throughout. I have been in three times now and enjoyed each one, the first by myself, once with the lovely Kati and once with Mr Grant and Hux's friend whose name I have since forgotten. On that occasion the real ales on offer were Wild Millionaire stout, Tiny Rebel Cwtch, North Riding Mosaic Pale and Fyne Ales Jarl. The North Riding and Fyne were tried and both were on good form.

I understand the idea is to get a permanent license and open full time sometime in the future - it is rumoured there has been much red tape to leap over and clamber through which may be retarding progress. I do hope for their sake's they get a permanent license - the bar does feel just like a pub now (if that makes sense) and especially in December, when the wonderful Shakespeares is packed to the rafters, its often a little quieter in the Bar stewards.

One question you may ask is - does Sheffield really need another ale venue? The answer is - yes. Of course. Not just because one has recently closed either, but because all venues have their own unique atmosphere and offer their own brand of hospitality. If the nearby (ish) Pub Inn becomes permanent there will be six Micropubs in Sheffield and what that does is increase choice for consumers, which has to be a good thing.

In addition to the cask and bottles and cans they also sell wine and possibly spirits and crisps, and Mr Rich was there doing a quiz on Wednesday last so this may take off as a regular feature. Whats more, Bar Stewards is the perfect place to undertake support for Drinkuary, which I expect all of you to be involved in through the dark joyless January ahead.


Wee Beefy

Tuesday, 20 December 2016



       despite my recent inescapable slide into debt and trashed credit ratings, I got there only recently - as in, I arrived there, finally, after many years of effort. During more recent times, and since, mainly through the generosity of my friends, I have tried numerous beers from Cloudwater. The Manchester brewery may have a reputation solely for producing DIPA's. However, and whatever its repute, many people want to know what Cloudwater are all about. The thing is, I don't know.

I do however know what I have thought, tasted, enjoyed and observed of them.

I first heard about Cloudwater in 2015. Two brewers and two beer bloggers were discussing what they thought of a heavily hyped new brewery in Manchester. As I sat dewy eared in the Beer Engine beer garden, I was puzzled how a brewery could be so heavily hyped, and yet I hadn't heard a thing about them? Well, luckily, there was a Cloudwater beer on at Shakespeares the next day. It was low strength and fairly tasty. It didn't explain the hype or lack of though. It didn't really add up. And then, Cloudwater IPA's at 7 or 7.5%, started turning up in the Bath Hotel.

Many sessions during late 2015 were spent in the Bath Hotel sampling wonderful easy drinking Cloudwater IPA. Some of them were the best beers I had in 2015 and when I found one on cask at Shakespeares on New Years Eve I was very very pleased. More so, when I heard about their DIPA 1 celebration strong pale. I didn't get to try this on draught, but did very luckily get to buy the last bottle from the Walkley Beer Co. It was fab. Hoppy. Bitter. Backed with good malt that supported the hops without fighting against them. It had a slight "Manchester sweetness" to it and it was 9% and drank like Vimto.

For those not in the know, DIPA V 10 has recently been released. It lasted a day at Shakespeares, despite being sold at £7.50 a pint (which is actually a good price for the V10). It still doesn't drink like a 9% IPA and I note from the bottle labels that at least, up until V9, they added dextrose extract or similar, to the malt. This may of course feature in all beers but I wondered if that was what gave the Cloudwater DIPA that simultaneous new world hoppiness tinged with Manchester sweetness? Or is that simply the yeast they use? (they used Lees yeast in one brew, maybe 7...).

Either way, and no matter how "DIPA'd out" some of us may be, the recent announcement of more regular releases shows a commitment to bettering a single product. My only worry is, how will they do that?

Reading the back of a Cloudwater bottle is a little like looking at notes from a science class. Am interested, but not as much as I am in whether or not the beer tastes good. And so far, none have tasted bad. All have tasted good (even 3) and some have tasted fantastic. The interesting developments will come if and when they make more changes to their DIPA brews. Maybe change the template of the brew...

The one thing that jumped out of their recent blog about DIPA's is the idea that the beer keeps its hoppiness by not being exposed to temperatures above 5c from bottling to receipt. Their post claims that definitive flavours in beer are killed off by exposure to heat. It is something I have heard about before but am not aware of a brewery previously adapting this cold storage and cold distribution plan.

I have one bottle of unopened Cloudwater DIPA left - its number 8 (haven't got a ten yet). I intend to drink it on Christmas day.

Because no matter what they or others say, Cloudwater brew a bloody delicious DIPA.


Wee Beefy

Thursday, 8 December 2016


Funds, Ladies and Gentlemen, what are they?

Like memories, I don't have them.

The above jokey statement in fact belies a foul, nidorous cataclysm of financial ruination that hangs above me like a cloud of crying, near dead, children. Whilst that statement is slightly over-exaggerated, it is however by no means easier to manage than its un-exaggerated reality....

Funds, as we know, are essential to life, essential to drinking and of course to paying debts. Funds are limited. Funds are scarce. Funds, for me, are a far forgotten dream.

This post is, therefore, not an exploration of the cost of buying beer. It is in effect a statement. Not a pious cry for help, not a whinging moping mardy about whose fault everything is, instead more an honest reflection. Am also not going to use this blog to make rash and unlikely predictions about my abilities to sort out and likelihood of solving my funding problem, which we may also refer to as debt - that would be reckless. I am however going to admit, dear readers, to you, what has mostly caused this situation.

Its me.

My debt is mine. I caused it. My lack of funds stems from my own reckless, wilful, degenerate over consumption of ale in fine public houses the land over.

For clarity, specifically, nobody else:

Forced me to go to the pub almost every day for the last 5 years;
Held me at knife-point and poured delicious real ales and keg beers down my capacious throat as if liquid itself was going out of fashion;
Made me buy numerous bottles of beer that one should maybe only buy now and again as an expensive treat;
Compelled me to spend my existing funds and many many more travelling the country with friends and family to visit amazing unspoilt pubs.


All of the above actions undertakings and happenstances took place with my consent, under my own yoke. Alas the weight of those decisions, mistakes, tribulations, misdemeanours and rash actions, has caused me to wither. Just a little. Maybe a lot. So I have to stop. I have if nothing else to think of these effects on those that I love.

Before Sheffield publicans begin contemplate suicide, I am not giving up drinking. Too much it seems, I love the social hub-ub, the sparkling marriage of the hop and the malt, the listening in on jocular, absurd, nonsensical and moving, in equal quantity, conversations in pubs, and the joy of finding that near perfect beer, good enough to sate you, perhaps fully, but not enough to stop you wanting to continue your search for the very best, to stop.

I will however be cutting down significantly.

So, like I said, the above is a statement. Maybe part proclamation, part paean for positively overindulging. Its where I am.

Your very good health

Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Recently, I have been mostly......


        Except, I now can't afford it, but never mind. Its all about the taste. And the location. Here are a few examples of that.

I went to the 2016 Shakespeares beer festival - details of which, late as always, will follow. IN the meantime I have noted a number of excellent beers, thus. It starts with Cloudwater DIPA 9 - a beer I have had in bottle and on keg. I had the excellent DIPA 8 at Hop Hideout and that was beautiful but the 9 edged it. Some have said they are tired of the DIPAs and I get that to some extent but its an interesting exercise in development. None have been woeful, many have been excellent, but I think maybe number 9 is the best yet. No doubnt I will say the same for number 10, but there ya go.

Last weekend they had Abbeydale Last Rites at 11% on at Shakespeares. It was for sale at £4.80 a  pint. To put that in context, I paid that or slightly more for it t the Moon festival in 2008. That is a very good price! Its also not clear how long they had it for, ageing in the cellar - Mr Chris W stated he "made the price up" after realising Chris B had bought the cask originally. Well worth a go - and its still on. Other highlights at the Speares have included an India red ale at 7% from Odyssey called Zombie Blood, a Simcoe Pale from Kernel at over 6%, the Black Iris NZ IPA on cask and the oddly coloured but very tasty Brew by Numbers Motueka.

In other news, the Bath Hotel has recently sold a Pig and Porter Red Saison on cask, which was on excellent form, as well as the Neepsend Pale which has  a name I have forgotten, an excellent cask pale which all three of us had with Richard.

Meanwhile the West Street Ale House has closed - I understand this is die to the impending demolition of the building so closure is inevitable but its still a shame, as it offered a choice not found in that area of West Street. The Hare and Hounds on Nursery Street has been demolished, so that's another Sheffield former real ale pub that I never visited.

In final bad news, it has emerged this week that Chris and Kate have not taken on the lease of the Boardwalk. Its a real shame as the ideas they had were fab but if they can find another venue then there is still the chance that an exciting new pub could await us in Sheffield!

A final mention goes to the Old Queens Head at Pond Hill where they had an Earl Grey IPA on from Thwaites Brewery. It was £3.20 a pint and tasted brilliant - another reason to visit this fabulous and oft overlooked pub near the bus station.

More news next week!


Wee Beefy

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

The 4th South Normanton Beer Festival


     last year me, Tash and Wee Fatha were driven by Wee Keefy to South Normanton to attend their beer festival. We liked it so much we decided to go again this year. Alas WK was orf to Cropton beer festival so was unable to drive us, and since he didn't want to drive there and have three thirds in 4 hours WF was encouraged by WK to go by public transport. Lets get this out of the way now - that was a terrible idea! However, let us also not worry about that. Lets talk festival.

Last year me and Tash had met Mick, Care and Bridget (and others) working behind the bar. As we got on so well, I became friends with them on Faceache. I met all of them this year, and that just added a little extra enjoyment to the festival. Arriving about 14.00 we found it was free to get in (woo-hoo!) and £3.00 for a returnable or keepable glass - there were a limited edition of festival ones this year. Being a poorpa, I bought me and WF a returnable one.

Tokens were 50p each so roughly two for a third, three for a half and six for a pint, with some extra coinage for stronger beers. As is commonplace for myself these days, numerous stronger ales were consumed. Well, it would be rude not to.

The festival is quite small admittedly, but showcases a very good range of local and some slightly further afield real ales - considering my hopheadedness, I have to say I was very pleased with the number of plus 5% IPAs available, but this style did not dominate (nine of the thirty two were IPAs). I started on a half of Thorley and Sons Pale and Interesting Pale Ale. Not seen or had their beers before, and this was a really enjoyable starter.

Having caught up with Clare and learned Mick was at a meeting nearby I decided to go for something stronger, and chose a half of Abstract Jungle Brewery Solo, a strong IPA at 5.9%. This was a very well balanced hoppy IPA and really hit the spot. Next I followed Clare's advice and got myself a half of the Torrside Brewing Katakana, a 5.2% Belgian Blonde style ale with Sorachi Ace hops - the strong hop flavour was in fact calmed by the Belgian yeast I think, and the beer was delicious.

I next tried the Black Market Illicit and Gaol No Prisoners, both pale ales but at different strengths with the No Prisoners at 5.7%. Both were tasty but also had quite earthy flavours. My next half was Dead Beard IPA at 5.5% from the Hairy Brewers, and his was probably my beer of the festival, although both me and WF enjoyed the Beer House from Hopjacker. I also tried Langwith Mozza at 5.9%, a blonde, and the Littleover Dazzler IPA at 4.5%. I also tried Lost time wheat beer from Torrside and Shiny Brewery Happy people. Every single beer I went for was available, but many had started to run out when we left about 19.00.

I finished the night on a half of the Bride Farm Yarlington Mill Dry cider at 6.5% and a half of the Double Vision Impaired Vision Perry at 7.4%. As well as the choice of ales, the cider and perry list was notable with some decent drys on offer. Thanks to Mick Bull for his advice.

So, an enjoyable festival with free entry, a good range of beers and ciders and friendly staff. Am hoping to go again next year.


Wee Beefy

Monday, 21 November 2016

Three Stags Heads Wardlow Mires


       a couple of Sundays ago I was out with Tash, and Wee Fatha for post birthday celebrations. We met him at the Abbey after 12.00 and drove over to Ashford in the Water for a snack and hot drinks in a Tea room. From here we drove up to Monsal Head, through Wardlow and the long closed Bulls Head, and into the Car Park opposite the Three Stags.

I first went to the Three Stags Heads with Wee Fatha in 1994. We did a tour of GBG pubs in Derbyshire and finished there for a pint of Hoskins and Oldfield, this being before Abbeydale Brewery started. The pub was, as far as I can remember, exactly as it is now. Except there is a young bloke behind the bar,  whose name I can never remember(Robbie?), and his Missus, along with Geoff and Pat, and the dogs are all new in the intervening 22 years....

My next visit was with CAMRA when I was a member so still last century and they opened the room on the left for a massive spread - am guessing a pub of the month award. It was incredibly rammed, something that also hasn't changed, and I remember having a pint of Black Lurcher, the Abbeydale strong blend dark ale, which used to, and may stil be, 7.2%. Since then I have been in numerous times, most notably four or five with Tash. We had a proper good Saturday session in there on our first ever weekend away. Its fair to say I have been a trifle refreshed on more than one occasion. We have also eaten there, and the food is exceptional.

Don't go to the Three Sags Head if you don't like dogs. There are and always have been, numerous of them sat on chairs, sometimes venturing onto the tables, and sitting on the floor in front of the fire. Customers bring their own, and the lurchers or maybe whippets or others in the pub are well trained, even if they do, understandably bark, at strange hounds. The pub used to have two or three huge black lurchers who often took up the seat on the left by the bar, and when we were in earlier this month one of the snaller dogs got on the table and started drinking Tash's beer. She didn't mind, the dog seemed to like it (only a little bit was had) and the beer was replaced.

On my last four or five visits i have always drunk Abbeydale Absolution. A gloriously easy drinking 5.3% Sheffield brewed pale, in case you have been living in a cave for the last 20 years. Its not session strength but is always well kept and is very good (and easy) to have several pints of. That was true on this occasion, as I finished my third pint as the lights came on, after it had become almost dark except for the fire.

I understand the pub opens three days a week only - Friday from 18.00, and all day Saturday and Sunday. Its rumoured that he sells more real ale in those three sessions than most of the local pubs do in a week - I have never had less then two pints when I have gone in and most other drinkers follow suit so I imagine this could be true. There is cider, and there are some bottled beers as well, which may include a fruit beer and a lager - but I might have dreampt that. And please be aware that mobile phones that go off or make noise are very much frowned upon, so please respect the opinions of regulars and staff alike and turn yours off before entering....

It was good to see Geoff and Pat and the others and once again become immersed in an beautiful  traditional pub atmosphere with real fires, real ale, real opinions and great atmosphere. Very much a no nonsense boozer. And despite and because of his recent ill health, I wish Geoff, Pat, possibly Robbie and Mrs possibly Robbie, the very best for the future. Lets hope they spend many more years at the helm of this wonderful pub.


Wee Beefy  

Monday, 31 October 2016



       I was out with Wee Keefy and Tash tonight for Wee Fatha's birthday meal. Over the last few years his birthday meal has been at the Hardwick Inn but this time we chose instead to visit the Crispin in Ashover.

Arriving about 19.40 we found the Crispin in darkness. We headed to the Black Swan, with two real ales on, and they advised they did not do food Mondays. By this time the Crispin had opened and having got parked I went inside - to find they had 3 real ales but were also not doing food. Luckily the Old Poets Corner was.

It was quite busy, and Halloween free in the Poets. I had a pint of Idle Valley "Gnarly" American IPA at 5.6%, Koof a pint of the Yeovil Ales Winner (or similar, at 4.5%), WF a half of Ashover Light Rale and Tash a pint of the Ashover cider, which was deliciously dry and earthy. We found a table and sat down to order, WF having a Derbyshire Beef Stew, WK ham and eggs, Tash Chicken in a herb and red wine sauce and myself braised liver in a rich onion and wine gravy with mash.

All the meals were excellent, and served in large quantities, and as we progressed through the meal more drinks were ordered and supped. I had a pint of Abbeydale Black Mass, and Tash a half of the Ashover cider as a "filler" before I bought WF a double Caol Ila whisky, WK a ginger beer and myself a pint of the Pentrich Northfield Garage IPA at 6.5%. All excellent ales, and well kept.

Ashover is a great place to go drinking since overall they have 5 pubs, albeit the Nettle being in Milltown. Even then, this is a great range of boozers for one village. For, perhaps, obvious reasons, I consider the Old Poets to be the best but the above goes to show that there are other places to sup in Ashover, and I understand the Black Swan serve food every day but Mondays.

An excellent choice of real ales in the Poets with lovely food was a great way to celebrate Wee Fatha's upcoming birthday. Ashover is, indeed,  a great place to celebrate that, and other events.


Wee Beefy  

Sunday, 30 October 2016

The 42d Steel city beer festival 2016


      am sorry I am late posting this, have been without funds and caring for Tash, and making meals from limited ingredients in this last lousy week so haven't had the heart, energy or desire to post. Noting has changed, except I may forget what I did at the beer fest soon. So here is what I can remember....

This year I went three times, Wednesday, Friday (ye gads!) and Saturday. On Wednesday Mr Christopher Bamfordshire kindly arranged for myself and Meathouse to attend a tasting session. Its free on a Wednesday, but you still have to pay for a glass and some tokens. Once inside we followed the aroma of serious imbibing and found Chris and tables of very serious folks sniffing, peering, tasting and scoring. I enjoy the tasting sessions but am surprised how guarded and often outright arsey fellow tasters can be - its not espionage! Myself and Matty joined two tables, one with a big lad from the Closed Shop who may have been called Chris and a guy I met last year, and another with a couple from California.

They now lived in Scotland. so having asked them if they preferred cold and rain they explained that they were studying. "Luckily" for them I followed them round for the rest of the night, and even took them to Shakespeares. The bloke's name began with R and his lass was called Sam. Lovely couple.

Beers wise the range of blondes we tasted was a little underwhelming. However, since there were something like 250 beers to choose from its hardly surprising that there was so diverse a range of flavours. Some were dry, some bitter, some burntish, 2 were eggy, but this wasn't a reflection of the quality I encountered when choosing my own.

I started with a half of the NZ Pale from Electric Bear in Bath, a sumptuously hoppy starter that woke up my taste buds perfectly. This was followed by a half of Jarl by Fyne Ales and a half of the strong Nothing but the blood orange IPA from Emmanuales.

Better than all this was the keg. Thats right. A keg bar (see "evil keg" in CAMRA parlance) at a CAMRA festival is a shock, but about bloody time. Bottles, wine and cider have never been real ale but are almost always available, so why not keg? I suspect there are numerous reasons (my favourite being that they worry it may be more popular, but nobody has actually said that to me) but that matters not - it was there. And it was ace. A half of Kernel pale at 5.1% with possibly Motueka hops was purchased, along with a mighty Double IPA from Brew by Numbers. An astonishingly tasty beer! Some of the keg was more expensive than I would expect but nothing was outlandish, and the main thing was there was keg available. Looking forward to seeing more of the same in the future.

Friday was difficult to get in - Wee Keefy arrived just after 19.00 to find a long queue and a one in one out system. Figuring he could wait an hour or more, he met me and Tash in the Kelham Island Tavern. Like he said, nobody loses - the festival is full and therefore making money, and there are 50 or more excellent beers within a mile of the venue. We were on the Buxton Peach and Lemon IPA by the way - it appeared to be about £8.00 a pint, which is s surprising, since its only £5.30 at Shakespeares.....anyone know how much it was at the KIT?

Beers on Friday were limited to more Kernel keg, this time their excellent IPA, and Buxton Axe Edge (or maybe that was Saturday...). I also had Lizzie Ward from Lost Industry on cask along with Hopcraft we come in peace and a whole pint of cider. One thing to mention about the cider is there was no truly dry ciders on - you know, stuff that dissolves your jaw and leaves you gasping for breath afterwards. The driest cider one was a medium at best, although it was very tasty.

My final visit was on Saturday - I had an interesting experience getting in, and will say thanks, but am not sure why! I Had a pint of the excellent North Riding Mosaic on cask and then started on kegs, including Buxton Axe Edge and Kernel IPA again and then a Brewsmith or Horbury beer (no pen) before moving onto half a Buxton Tsar. Not a weak drop at 9.5% this was incredibly easy to drink, which is one reason, apart from the price, that I only had a half.

I also had a bottle of De Molen from Matty who was working his first beer festival. Well done to him, for working hard and showing a very good manner with customers. To be fair, he and all the staff worked really hard at the festival. Well done to all.

I would never criticise a person who volunteers to work a festival bar but I did laugh when I was trying to find the Sentinel sour beer. Having heard I liked a sour beer, and that said Rhubarb and rosehip gose had run out, he said "if you want sour, try the Stancil Barnsley Bitter - its got almost mp hops in it". I nearly laughed out loud, gawd blezzim.

Finally - food. A decent selection this year, mainly because there was a tent provided by the Beer Engine. After talking to them on Wednesday and Friday on Saturday I got me and Matty a portion of patatas bravas and a whole chorizo to share. Needless to say, and as expected, this was delicious snap, and well priced. Another new feature which I hope is repeated.

So, overall this was a fantastic festival. Love the venue, love the keg bar, love the beer range and the food. Ace.


Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Sheffield pubs - rare and first visits


     of late I have been branching out a little in my range of pubs. Not because am fed up of my regular haunts, far from it. Instead, I wanted to try a few new places to find out if I have been missing out. Here are some details of what I found.

I went to the Museum near Orchard Square recently. They were having an Oktoberfest - with no German beers! (they may have Becks Vier....) Admittedly getting German Oktoberfest beers in bottle or on draught is probably quite expensive, but their absence, and the fact that only two English Oktoberfest style beers were on, took the edge off the event. As it was I had pints of what I assume is Greedy King Oompah, having decided I wouldn't like the Milestone Oktoberfest beer on account of it being from Milestone. I didn't try the Curry Wurst with chips and salad for £7.00, but I was tempted. I probably only go to the Museum once or twice a year and I don't see that changing, but it was a decent pint . The pub was quiet, and it is better than All Bar One and the Bessemer nearby.

Another irregular venue is the Graduate on Surrey Street. This used to be a Mansfield House and sold their range of special real ales in the 90's which, if I recall, were all named after game - alas time and lack of access to beermats rids of me of any idea of their names but one had a stag on it and may have been called Royal Game or indeed stag, and one had a boar on it and was likely called Wild Boar....

Anyhoo, I did think that September after freshers week would be a bad time to go to this student boozer so it was two weeks ago we went, and found they were also having an Oktoberfest. Better than the Museum since there were 5 keg beers including Erdinger and another from Germany - I went for a pint of the West Brewery Glasgow Oktoberfest bier which was excellent, if a little pricey. And that's the puzzle for me, since its a student pub, why are the prices so high? Jaipur was on cask at £4.10 or 4.20 a pint, which is more expensive than the Sheffield Tap!

Tash was on the Sauvignon Blanc which was a nice drop and we had gone in for food - Tash I think had a spicy bean burger and I had smothered chicken. It was meant to be a chargrilled chicken breast topped with bacon, onions, cheese and BBQ sauce. It was actually burnt on one side and had no cheese on it! To be fair they replaced it without question with a less burnt one (I know what chargrilled means before anyone says) and it was quite tasty, but there wasn't much of it for £8.45 and it was served on a tray covered with grease proof paper, making cutting it difficult. Perhaps if I go in again I will stick to booze...

Until two weeks ago I had never been in the Penny Black. And now I have. The pub serves cheap food and the beer is also inexpensive however they don't sell cask or anything in keg or in bottles I would want to drink - this was very much a brief visit! Tash had a half of cider and me and Meathouse had halves of Greedy King IPA on keg. Now, making such an underwhelming beer colder and more fizzy is a recipe for disaster, and so it turned out. The beer was anonymous and lacked flavour, apart from a hint of background malt in the cream. That said though, the pub was busy, mainly with older couples, the food selection looked OK and apart from the crackling speaker above us the pub is in good nick.

The final irregular venue is the Sworddancer at Handsworth. They had three or four real ales on, and we had Stowford Press cider for Tash, whilst Matty had Birra Moretti and I had a pint of Abbot. Am not sure if its a case of my tastebuds having changed but it lacked the qualities that Abbot used to possess in the 90's when I drank it in the Red Deer.

We sat in one of the corners near the end of the bar and there was a group of lasses having a birthday drink in the area next to us. I have been in about 5 times now and never seen the pub rammed but as I have found out its not a bad place to pop in for a quick pint. Its probably busier in the evenings when they do food as well. I had another pint of Abbot as did Meathouse this time whilst I got Tash a double Sipsmith gin and tonic for not a bad price.

In Sheffield, it seems, there are all pubs for all people. And that is one of the (many) hings that make it a great place to live. And Sheffield Beer Festival starts tonight, hopefully confirming that fact.


Wee Beefy

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Everybody's leaving....

Greetings readoids,

      please can I just make clear that this is absolutely not a post about Brexit, Breaxfast, Brexbyes or other nonsense about European membership or not. This is about people. Real people. Who have left their posts in Sheffield's finest drinking establishments to pursue other careers. Or learning.

It all started with Stef. She left "Shef" in September, working her last shift at the Bath Hotel at the end of August, to go to Brighton to an MA or similar in stuff, or immigration studies. Luckily I don't know  anyone who works in that field so I couldn't forewarn her. Am sure it will be a blast. Am not so sure that a manager has been found by uber successful outfit Thornbridge to run the pub without Stef, but there you go....

Other lost Thornbridgians are The man of Ash and Beccy who have departed their stint at the Hallamshire House. I spoke to Beccy a few months ago at the Beer Engine and they are planning on taking on a pub in Chesterfield. There is every chance she may have told me which one, you know, its name. There is 100% chance that I have forgotten since. I wish them both the very best.

Jamie, or Siobhan, left the Three Tuns at some point to go and study poncing about at R.A.D.A or similar. Myself and Meathouse thought up an annoying and childish song, albeit catchy, which we intended to sing to Siobhan, which simply went "Mark's got a name, Siobhan's got a nickname", during which part we would give him the rods. For all our sakes, its perhaps best that myself and Matty missed his leaving do. He would only have turned up in drag and sang show tunes anyway. Best of luck though mate.

Also leaving the Tuns is David, AKA Kate. I have seen her in Sheffield drinking houses since, the most recent of which is Shakespeares. This is in some ways ironic - since Mister Christopher Bamfordshire is leaving there, and in fact, has left there, to set up a new bar or pub at the Boardwalk with Miss David herself. Am led to believe this has been planned for some time so am hopeful that the venture will prosper under their joint stewardship. Am sure it will be ace.

Also leaving Shakespeares, or rather, also having Sam. She also left to study things at University after what was probably a 4 month stint behind the bar. Derek, AKA Rebecca (I can't remember her real name am afraid, but Beccy is a good guess I think) is also studying, but bullishly remaining in employment at the great pub.

Some observers may worry that this sudden leaving spree may destabilise the great ship Sheffield pubs, but in fact Sheffield is a very steady and well maintained ship of ale and sails forth as strong as ever. Posts which may appear over the coming months will no doubt confirm that...

So, in fact, not everyone is leaving. Some people have left. Many remain. Godspeed you Sheffield pub staff! I look forward to drinking in your employers buildings very soon.


Captain Beefchart

Saturday, 8 October 2016

A Saturday Staffordshire pub crawl


        you know how it is readers. You mention to your unspolt pub and driving fanatic Father about a pub you hadn't visited in a while, and before you know it a 9 pub crawl is on the cards. That is what happened when I mentioned visiting the Royal Cottage to WF a month ago. Soon it was a fortnight ago on Saturday morning and at 09.30 we were off to pick up Matty and head into Staffordshire.

After what is always quite a lengthy trip - including a diversion as Eccleshall bridge was closed, we finally pulled into Peggs Lane and crossed the canal to the Anchor at High Offley. There was a group of 4 canal boaters from Aberdeen in already, one of whom may have been called George - hello man from Aberdeen on a canal boat whose name I am unsure of !

 We might have had a pint for me and a half each for Matty and WF of the only beer, Wadworth 6X, although Matty did get another half after the boaters had left, and we shared a very hefty bag of pork scratchings. The landlady chatted to us for some time whilst we took some pics and soaked up the atmosphere, before WF bought Matty an Anchor hoodie to wear. An excellent start to the day's drinking.

Not far away is the Haberdashers at Knighton. Its perhaps ten years since I was last there and it hasn't changed a bit. There were three beers on so we had a half of each - WF only having a few sips of his. Rowton Moonshine Mild, Rowton Bitter and Salopian Oracle, which was my beer of choice. The Rowton beers were traditional West Midlands in style and the Oracle was in excellent nick and well hopped. Although this was only a short visit its a pub I'd like to go to again.

Pub 3 was the Star at Copmere End. From a range of three or four me and Matty had a pint of Bass each and WF tried some Titanic White Star. The pub has a lovely exterior but is more modern inside, where food is served. The Bass was well kept and the landlady did very kindly tell us how to get to the Titanic pub the Sun in Stafford, which was our next stop.

The Sun is near Tescos and features about 9 real ales and some kegs. I had a half of the guest from a brewery in Yorkshire (!) and Matty and WF had or tried halves of the Titanic Plum Porter and a new beer. I also bought a half of the Speyside wheat from the Speyside brewery - probably the beer of the day with wonderful speyside malt in the mix. The Sun is an old pub with multiple rooms and caters for families and drinkers alike.

From here we tried to find a quiet road to park on to have lunch before visiting the Green Man - I may incorrectly have this down as Willington, as there is definitely one there but it begins with W and is in Staffordshire! Joint best beer of the day here - Holdens Black Country Mild, a pint of for me and Olde Trip for Matty and mild for WF as well. Brilliantly kept beer in this spick and span pub.

Pub 6 was a new one to us all - the Bore Hole in Stone is the Lymestone Brewery Tap. First time I have ever been to a pub on an industrial estate, and what a fantastic boozer it is ! Quite tiny, we had to sit outside but it was warm and a nice place to enjoy our 5 different Lymestone Brewery beers, which all had names. I also purchased a chicken ham and bacon pork pie to snaffle at home.

Pub 7 was the Brushmakers at Oulton. Now with a new sign, the pub sells Thwaites beers and possibly a guest - I had a pint of Wainwright in here and it was a little disappointing, perhaps just near the end of the barrel. That aside, this is a proper drinkers pub which serves the locals with real ale and little else, and was rightly busy for a Saturday night. One of my favourite Staffordshire pubs.

Our penultimate venue was the Black Lion at Consall Forge. Down a lane, then a track, park up, cross the river, the canal and the railway track and you are there. There were a few beers on and we tried the Connaught Pale (or similar) and the Dark Ruby Mild from their own brewery. Tim Taylors Golden Best came on after so we had some of that as well, to wash down our large meals - the mixed grill even defeated Matty!

The final stop was Cliffs, the Royal Cottage on the A53. Just him and a regular there when we arrived, and I had my usual bottle of Old Speckled Hen whilst Matty had Guinness and WF a J2o. Its been a while since we saw Cliff and it was good to chat about Sheffield and much else at in the beautiful bar room near the fire. The regular left about 22.00 and we continued to chat with Cliff until we left about 22.50, and Cliff closed and locked the doors behind us. He had done his three hours.

So ended a fantastic crawl of mostly old and unspoilt pubs in Staffordshire, with the Holdens Black Country Mild and Speyside Wheat the best beers of the day by far. Well done to WF for planning much of the route and venues.


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Sheffield's newest Micropub.... opening this evening, across from Shakespeares, if what Neepsend Rich told me is true - and why wouldn't it be? In the hours before that however, Sheffield's newest Micropub opened about 5 weeks ago and is the Itchy Pig on Glossop Road in Broomhill. That was where I was last night. That was where I met Neepsend Rich. That was my second visit.

I don't actually know, or more likely can't remember, what the pub used to be - I mean a shop, obviously, but not what type. The pub is small, it is a micropub after all, and seats about 18 people, with room to stand. Friday night you have to be patient to get a seat - I started off at the bar supping my excellent pint of Neepsend Snapshot talking to Rich, before spotting an end seat on the small table on the right.

The pub has 5 handpumps selling 4 real ales and 1 cider along with 4 or 5 keg lines including Curious Brew, Abbeydale Heathen and guests like Brew Foundation. The pub sells, in packet and in pints, 7 different styles of pork scratchings and has a deal with the Pizza shop round the corner, possibly called Roots, who  you can order pizza from to eat in the pub. The atmosphere is noisy, mainly due to high ceiling and hard surfaces, the bar is homemade (and has a coin under perspex top) and the decorations are subtle and beer or alcohol related. Its very much a micro pub.

The pub was very busy last night and two yoot came in - am guessing they were students, and immediately took their beer outside. The owner went after them to say they couldn't, and they sat down next to me with a giant bag of Sainsburys salt and vinegar stick crisps, which they started to eat whilst they supped their beer. The owner, whose name I have obviously forgotten, said "thats a bit cheeky, eating your own crisps" and asked them not to. Thereafter, the world's most boring man moaned about this for 45 miunutes to his hopefully deaf female friend. Apparently he hadn't heard the word cheeky since 2007 (?) and there wasn't a sign saying you couldn't eat your own food, and that he didn't see why the guy couldn't have just said don't eat your own food in here.

Now I've only been drinking for 25 years but I have known only two pubs where you could bring your own food, and that was advertised clearly as you entered. Everywhere else I would expect, especially since they serve their own snacks, that you couldn't eat your own. The funniest thing he said was "and its really expensive". I nearly said " try the York - where you definitely can't eat your own food". Anyway, the mindless chuntering of mewling children aside this was a great visit, and  I had another pint of the Sharpshooter and a half of the Brew Foundation to finish.  The bus 120 stops virtually outside and you can catch the 51, 52 or 52a to stops nearby. Give it a try!

By way of comparison I caught the 52 next and got off near South Road to visit the Walkley Beer Co - Sheffield's first Micropub. An excellent range of ales was available as always, and I had a pint or two of the Buxton Axe Edge pale on keg at £4.90 a pint. It as on impeccable form, and went down,  being about 6.5%, far too easily. Was good to chat to Dan and Mr Ransomne, and also to see Kit for the first visit in a while. The Walkley Beer Co is possibly smaller than the Pig, but is a wonderful place to visit to drink great real ale, take bottled beers out, buy brewing ingredients or books, and mainly to be part of the Walkley Beer Co community.

Best of luck to all the above - including the one which may open in 70 minutes time. More excellent reasons to drink real ale in Sheffield.


Wee Beefy

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Sheffield beer survey crawl, 03 September 2016


       I promised young Matty that I would accompany him, as young members secretary, on his part of the survey of the Sheffield pubs selling real ales on a particular day. The crawl is (mostly) chosen by CAMRA and is designed to reflect the largest number of pubs selling real ales, or rather the smallest selling the most, for the Beer Capital Survey.

Being the Young member's secretary Matty decided to rashly ignore my sage advice on how to get to the first pub, the Cross Scythes on Derbyshire Lane. He caught the 20, and the driver said he would tell him where to get off. Numerous stops later, when Matty asked, the driver said he had forgot about him and told him how to get back to where the short walk started. Matty arrived half an hour late. Luckily, the bar staff confirmed he was their first customer.

Being so late I arrived only 5 minutes after he had left - I had planned to meet him at the Abbey on Woodseats but instead hared up to the pub to have a very quick half of Thornbridge Clerks Well, an excellent hoppy pale at about 6%, one of the beers of the day, then nipped out to catch the bus up to the next pub which Matty was already at.

The Mount Pleasant Inn front door was closed but I knew to get in round the back. The pub is currently being run by Gwyneth, landlord Stuart's daughter, and her husband. Sadly Stuart passed away at the end of June and they have only been running the pub for three or four weeks. From the ales on offer me and Matty both had halves of the Adnams Samba City, a clear wheat beer brewed to celebrate the Olympics - its refreshing and very easy drinking.  Lets hope the pub continues to be a successful community hub.

Down Cobnar Lane next in torrential rain, we arrived at the Abbey. Before we got there, there were more staff than customers (6 vs 5) and the pub was very quiet. We both had halves of the Moonshine from a range of two - the range of four if the others had been on however, hadn't changed since they reopened. As we chatted a staff member spotted a small rogue crumb on the table next to us and raced over to swipe it from the tabletop. He then went to clean a clean door. I know it was crap weather and mid afternoon on a day with no home matches but this doesn't bode well.

Off to the Woodseats Palace next, my first ever trip. Unless it used to be Kwik Save....I had  a half of O Hanlons Yellowhammer and Matty Burton Bridge Top Dog Stout and we settled down to chat and plan the rest of our crawl. Both beers were well kept and possibly cost £2.60 a pint.

Down to Heeley next through the torrential downpour, and we ended up at the Crown Inn. Now refurbished it sells four real ales at a decent price. I had a half of something hoppy, Hop Gun which may have been from Everards, and Matt a half of the Lost Boot from Charles Wells. We dried off here and chatted to the landlady, who very kindly gave us a bag for Matty's notes. By now the rain was heavier still.

Just up the road is the White Lion and in here Matty had a half of Abduction from Dancing Duck and a half of something else, whilst I had a pint of Hopjacker's Vics secret. All the beers in here, apart from Tetleys, were £3.15 a pint, which is very good value for the stronger ones. We sat in the lovely front bar snug and I asked Dave to share updates from me with the beer crawl page, as we were, and remained, the only two persons on the CAMRA beer crawl. And I am not a CAMRA member.

Up the hill to the Brothers next and we had pints of cask and halves of keg. Regrettably the identity of the cask beers has slipped my mind (it was strong) but I recall having the excellent Rango Mango from Abbeydale on keg and loving it. The pub was busy inside what with the weather but was a great place to stop, and Matty chatted with the bar staff about upcoming beers.

Down the hill again, to the Sheaf View, where we had halves of cask which may have been the Neepsend pale ale, but also may not have been. We sat in the back and worked out our route to the next pub whilst enjoying the ales.

Its a short trek from here to the Hop Hideout - and it had virtually stopped raining. We bumped into Andy C outside (with 3 accompanying folk) and tried to ascertain where they had been and were going - we found out we did not need to visit the Broadfield. At the Hop Hideout Jules and Will were on hand to dispense two excellent halves of sour on keg - a 7.2% one possibly from Lervig Brewery, and the excellent 6.2% Oud Beersel Gueze were sampled. An excellent and palette cleansing visit.

Up the road next to the Union, a pub I have not been in for ages, and Matty may never have been. Halves of Moonshine I think in here, mainly because the Taylors was about £3.60 a pint (and the recently run out Absolution was £3.80!?). Its a lovely, if pricey place to stop, but we needed to head for London Road.

We followed the 22 route and turned down past the new Tescos and came out more or less opposite the Cremorne. Here we both halves of the excellent Alchemist from Pictish, and shared a half of Last Rites from Abbeydale on keg. As this was nearly our last pub we downed our quarters before we left, for reasons absolutely unclear. Our penultimate pub was to have been the Club House, but we popped into the Albion anyway. They had one beer on, probably Farmers Blonde, which we supped quickly.

At the Clubhouse at the end of London Road we had halves each of the Clubhouse Pale and I had something pale from somewhere. We met up with Wee Keefy and he joined us for a half before we headed to the Beer Engine, our last pub.

The pub was busy but alas we missed the food, so both had pints of the 7%+ Wild keeper of the peace pale ale on keg as a finisher, and chatted before being joined by Em R. My memories appear to fade in here a little, no doubt unrelated to my having another pint. After this we all went to the Bath Hotel, where I can't remember what we had to drink at all, before they went to the Dev cat and I finished at Shakespeares on two halves of the excellent De Molen beers from the Tap Takeover. One was the strong beer possibly called heaven and hell and over 10%, and the other was the Amarillo pale ale at 7%.  At about midnight I announced I was sober enough to catch the bus home, and got on and fell asleep, waking at Woodhouse. The things I do for beer....

This was a highly enjoyable crawl, in atrocious weather conditions to start with, but it was strange to me that nobody joined us - although, Matty didn't have any charge on his phone so maybe that's why he couldn't update the young or other members, but am sure the event is well known in CAMRA circles. I was assured that nobody joined Patrick on his crawl and other people did their tours solo, but that just suggests that the Beer Capital of Britain is a crown that Sheffield CAMRA doesn't want.  Combined with Sheffield council's woeful dis-interest in Sheffield's claims to be the best place to drink real ale in the UK it is clear that Sheffield is missing a trick.

Its important to point out that I have already discussed the above with David, AKA Kate, the Sheffield CAMRA wallah. So bear in mind that my concerns have already been lodged.

A shame, but nonetheless a hugely enjoyable crawl.


Wee Beefy

Sunday, 28 August 2016

A Sheffield crawl in August


      last week was quite a thirsty one - I mean, nowadays, all weeks are quite slakish but last week was particularly so. On Thursday I had a beer "none" crawl, supping in the Devonshire Cat all night with Mr Marsh. Strange that we both ended up on the roulette wheel of despair at the same place having initially worked in the nineties together. The beer I was drinking was delicious, as was Steve's - he on Yorkshire Blackout which is Cropton, or the Great Yorkshire Brewery, and £3.75 a pint on keg. I was on the Great Heck Yakima IPA at 7.4%. On cask. How much do you think that cost?

Well, to my astonishment, a cask beer below the HSBD limit (does that even still exist btw?) was an astonishing £4.90 a pint. Thats right. Take a step back and breathe in that price. Four chuffing pounds 90 pence. This is matching the absurdity of prices in the Sheffield Tap. It diminished an otherwise excellent night. Madness.

Wednesday myself and Mr P had a Wanderiains night. We met after work and caught the tram to Hillsborough, where we were stood for 15 minutes in logjam as two sets of lights failed. I was just about to tell Mr P how much quicker the tram was....

We got off at Leppings Lane and walked the short distance up Wadsley Lane to the Horse and Jockey. Obviously quieter than my first visit, I was now able to see what they had done with the inside. It looks very nice - a lovely long bar, hops and bottles on display, dark grey and black walls on the left and an eating area on the right (am guessing?) with a lovely old fireplace. We had pints - Mr P the Old Number 7 and myself the one that I still can't remember the name of! We sat on the right with a glass of pork scratchings for me and pack of cheese and O for Mr P, having initially sat outside in the last of the sun.

Once back inside I was recommended trying a pint of stainless so did, and Mr P bought a not too expensive bottle of Sam Smiths India Ale. Despite their often ridiculous behaviour as an employer, I do have a liking for Sams beers and the India Ale was just what I expected - flavoursome, lightly hopped and malty. Overall this was a great start to our wander - back into town.

Our next stop would have been the Riverside Bar but it was shut - am not sure they open Wednesday nights unless there#s a Wednesday match on. Instead we headed down to Penistone Road and along to the New Barrack Tavern.

The New Barrack has remained a god traditional boozer for many years and still has three separate rooms with drinking space out the back. It was, however, quiet when we went in. I think myself and Mr P had pints of the same - Castle Rock Screech Owl, a strong pale ale at 5.something percent. As we talked I looked at the beer board and noticed that the excellent Marble Lagonda IPA was on on keg at something like £4.30 a pint - remembering its a strong ale on keg that's a good price. So I ordered us a pint and a half to finish.

Up and along next to the Hillsborough Hotel. The Double H has been a feature of my drinking life since Del reopened it sometime in the late nineties - 1998? Its currently run by Tom and is a good place to stop en route to town. We had a pint each again in here - alas somehow these facts have been removed from my memory but both pints were in good nick, and we sat as always in the conservatory supping and chatting.

Our final walk took us past the now to be reopened (in October) Wellington and onto Shakespeares for me to have something expensive but excellent on keg and Mr P to have a pint of cask. He may well have had the Wild Weather United States of Whatever or the Vocation Chop and Change - both were excellent on other visits. I might have had the Firestone Walker Luponic Distortion - there again, I might not. Either or whichever way, this was a fine end to an excellent crawl of pubs.

Pub crawls - a great way to keep fit and tipsy.


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 20 August 2016

The Beer Engine is the best pub in Sheffield this month

Hello readers,

          the Beer Engine at the bottom of Cemetery Road round the back of Waitrose, in Sheffield, is the Pub of the Month for August. And, might I say, rightly so. I had been going in more regularly of late after a lull and was overjoyed to drink the amazing Fyne Ales Ragnarok Imperial Jarl, among other highlights, in the last month. So when I found out that Camra had recognised their achievements and awarded them pub of the month, and after finally catching up with Tom and hearing what he had lined up, I couldn't wait for Tuesday night.

Tom made it clear that the award should be presented to his staff - the bar and cellar manager, who have names, one of which begins with L, were therefore the recipients of the award, mainly to reflect their hard work running and stocking the pub, whose beer range continues to improve and impress.

I started the evening on the Wylam Jakehead IPA at 6.3% on keg. It was lovely and hoppy, but also well balanced,  and only a percent above my usual starting strength. I saw Rich and Kath and me and Matty sat with them and Richard, AKA Martin, or Dave Pickersgill. Am assuming he found this misrememberance amusing. I hope for his sake he does! Soon Tom came out with his kitchen garb on and asked when the other CAMRA members were turning up - more on that later. He went to get changed, and Myself and Matty got more beers and the excellent food was served.

Five types of pinchos on five large platters were placed on the bar, and on Tom's advice I tried the anchovy and green chilli one with the amazing Cloudwater DIPA6 - an excellent food and beer pairing. Myself and Matty had a couple, I think, and I also tried a third of the Redrum from To Ol, a red ale at 10% matured over rum barrel chips. It was amazing, and Matty tried some of the cask including the one from Sonnet 43 which was on excellent form. I also tried the Baltic, a pineapple and passion fruit sour which was incredibly refreshing - and a fantastic looking beer in the glass. The pinchos were fantastic, especially the chorizo one and the cheese with what seemed like perfect squares of pickle, and the tangy anchovies.

Well done to the team at the Beer Engine for putting on such an amazing spread, and continuing to source such excellent ales. It just goes to show what brilliant food can be served with what is a very  diverse range of beer styles.

I have to say however, that a big let down was Camra. I don't claim to recognise all of them but at the time of the award there were probably only 5 members there, including Matty. The do had also been rearranged for that night as the chairman was at the GBBF the week before, and now she was on holiday. Nobody had agreed who would present the award - this job went to Andy Cullen, who didn't therefore have time to prepare a speech specific to the pub, and despite there being numerous regulars there, there was way too much food, prepared with skill and love by the catering staff for the event, and specifically for the Camra members to enjoy.

I talked to Tom after he took the chef home and I am sure he won't mind me telling you how disappointed, annoyed and let down he was by this. This suggests to me that CAMRA had the vote for the pub of the month and many voted for the Beer Engine, but those who did so didn't bother to turn up, and the rest stayed away. What kind of message does that give out? I realise people are busy but this poor turn out undermined what should have been a richly deserved award for the pub.

Anyway, luckily that didn't ruin the excellent food and wonderful beers we tried, and we finished the night sat in the beer garden trying the Northern Monk marmalade beer, alas the name of which now escapes me, and finishing the excellent Cloudwater DIPA6.

With my very best wishes to all at the Beer Engine for the event, and hoping to see you all again soon. Well bloody done the lot of you -  take this as recognition of your continuing hard work at the pub.


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Abbey, Woodseats, reopens, and nearby pubs

Hello all,

     first post for a while - mainly as have not completely fixed the virus I now have on the tomputer  -so don't follow any links! Just a few details of the pre-launch night I went to with Matty at the Abbey pub on Woodseats on Thursday, and a couple of other pubs.

Matty had been invited as the CAMRA Sheffield young members wallah and had a plus one ticket - I was his choice. There was no expectation I would write about it, but I am anyway. The Abbey is potentially my least visited Woodseats pub - from those open in 1994. I think I have only been once and I can scarcely remember that. I did remember it has a bowling green, and it still does. And thats about it.

Arriving after 18.00 we went into the small room on the left with a small bar featuring two handpumps. From a choice of four real ales I opted for Abbeydale Moonshine and Matty Farmers Blonde. They will have two regular beers and two from the SIBA list, which I understand has some decent ales on it. The other two beers were Doom Bar and Greedy King Abbot - not an inspiring choice for myself, but I don't think O am the kind of customer they are targeting. The moonshine was well kept and on at £3.20 a pint.

The ticket entitled us to a tour with manager Wayne Morton (I hope I have remembered that right!) who showed us the three rooms, including an upstairs function room with a handpump. The room on the left retains its fireplace and is cosy and traditional in style, the right had room is much larger, likely previously having been two, and has the bar in the middle. It was in here we talked to Richard Short, a CAMRA fellow, and got to try samples of the free food.

One thing that makes the Abbey stand out from its near competitors is the food. A bit pricier than the Spoons and the Chantrey for beer, the food is of high quality and comprised excellent steak, calamari, garlic cheese mushrooms, pork pies, sweet chilli chicken and others. The staff were friendly throughout and this was an enjoyable visit. If their two guest ales become a little more adventurous I will definitely pop in again.

Down the road is Archer Road Beer Stop. They weren't selling any real ale, and,. despite being a long time friend of Dave I didn't ask him if this was a long term arrangement. Instead we had cans of Chorlton Brewing Amarello sour, Beavertown India Stout and a Fierce Panther IPA that might have been from Sonnet 43. As we know Dave we were able to sit in the back and chat with him and sample the beers, which were sold for about £2.00 each. The Beavertown is a very hoppy stout and was enjoyable, and the sour from Chorlton was OK, but the best beer was the IPA at 6.3%. An excellent visit to the ARBS as always.

From here we walked down to the Broadfield. Rammed, as it always seems to be, we had pints of Acorn Gorlovka and a Wiper and True Pale - as the barman said, the brewery were far too cool to tell them which beer it was, but it was a 5.something% pale and it was delicious. It was. Matty wanted to try the keg Gorlovka as he is a massive fan of the beer on cask - if anything, he didn't like it as much as he did on cask. Another example of why not everything that works on cask works on keg.

Our final stop was a short bus ride away at the Beer Engine. Winners of the pub of the month (award Tuesday coming) this is a place I have been going back to a lot recently. As per my last two visits I and Matty had pints of the excellent Fyne Ales Ragnarok, Imperial Jarl at 7.4%. A wonderful mellow but hoppy golden pale ale which slips down far too easily - we had another two halves before closing.

Overall all the venues visited were excellent, and as regular readers may know, there are numerous other pubs nearby worth a visit. Best of luck to the Abbey on their reopening (following a £550,000.00 makeover) and to the other premises. Four more places worth a visit in sunny, slaking, Sheffield.


Wee Beefy

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Since I've come back.....

Now then,

       the day after Yorkshire day - that's what today is. And yesterday was brilliant. Nothing to do with the annual celebration of Gods own County, just because it was me and Tash's anniversary.  Not a lot of great beer was supped, apart from Cloudwater DIPA 4 and 5 - a separate post will follow on that. Instead of any of the above, I wanted to tell you about some of the things I have experienced since I returned from the Sudreys.

I went in Shakespeares a lot - no change there admittedly, but some of their recent keg offerings have been exceptional. As have their cask as well, recent highlights of both have included the last of the Omnipollo tap takeover including Leon, their 6.5% IPA, their Apricot Sour, and the Alesmith Double Red IPA. Also, the tremendous bite of the Wild Beer Hibernating lemons at Tramlines, along with a Cloudwater White IPA, cans of the Beavertown Bloody Ell, with the frankly excellent Abbeydale Hop Smash on cask. Numerous other highlights, alas, have slipped my mind....

I also went to the reopening of the Horse and Jockey on Wadsley Lane. Having never been there before it was a bit of a trek to reach, but well worth it when I got there. I arrived about 20.00 to find the queue for the bar out onto he street, and inside it was 6 or 7 thick. I met up with Gav and Clare and bumped briefly into Liz Askam form the Barnsleys, and immediately tried to establish what was best to drink. I opted for a pint of Sentinel on keg - the staff didn't seem to know what it was, but it tasted wheaty - and a pint of Stancill pale ale, the name of which escapes me. We sat in the beer garden til it went dark, and I had a fabulous chicken and chorizo pizza from the Nether Edge Pizza Co. It would be nice to go back when its quieter to see some of the inside but on this evidence it looks to be a very successful reopening.

I also went to the Walkley Beer Co - this, along with the Bath Hotel is the second regular haunt of mine to win a pub of the month form the CAMRA which I did not attend - Gah! Many many apologies to Stef and Kit at the two venues. It just goes to show how little I know about my favourite pubs! On my last visits to the two I had Hopjacker Ultravox Vienna IPA in the Bath, which was excellent, and Buxton Axe Edge and a pint of Tempest Long White Cloud on cask. Stellar offerings as always from both.

Other recent visits have included those to the Three Tuns and Kelham Island Tavern. I had the excellent if surprising Tempest Marmalade on keg, strong ale which tasted of...marmalade. And hops. I also had some excellent Hop Smash from Abbeydale there as well. The Three Tuns continues to impress with numerous regular appearances from Blue Bee. Their excellent 6.5% NZ IPA is on at present and has a massive hop bite with fruity citrus notes and a long dry bitter finish - an excellent beer to start and end any day.

More posts - I promise - this week.


Wee Beefy

P.S - if you see any arrows or links on this post, DO NOT follow - am having a few issues with a virus so they will be dodgy......

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Drinking in the Sudreys - the Ales of Arran


      the final part of our trip saw us head off from the Isle of Islay over to what may have been Kennacraig from Port Ellen. We had ages before the ferry from Claoneig so nipped to the Skipness seafood shack. Home made fish finger sarnies for me and crab meat sarnies for the others,. accompanied by bottles of Arran Blonde. A beautiful spot for a drink.

The ferry to Arran is quite small so we had no chance to et, just stepped up to the side to take in th views before arriving at Brodick. Tea that night was at the Ormisdale Hotel, which was serving 3 or 4 real alea and excellent food. I had a huge chicken curry and rice which was packed full of chicken along with numerous pints of the Arran Blonde from a choice of their ales including Gold, Ale and Ormisdale. Although, that may have been brewed by Isle of Skye or Ayr.

We finished the night in the Fiddlers where I had a bottle of Fraoch heather ale and Matty a pint of Scottish keg and a bottle of Arran.

The next day we went for a tour of the island and saw numerous sites on the coastal walk, having headed into Lamlash to look at the Holy Island. We returned after our walk and went to the Pierhead Tavern on the seafront. I think WF was getting tired by this stage - having accused us of being an hour when we walked to the Co-op, of not knowing where we had gone or for what, and then claiming the Pier Head was a pub for young people - because he couldn't hang his stock on his chair. This, as the rst of us, by far the youngest people in the pub, listened to an hour long mix of 1960's hits....

We had excellent food in here - snack size portions of the main meals and I had wonderful haggis neeps and tatties in a whisky sauce. Real ale wise there were two or three so I had pints of the Arran Blonde and an Isle of Skye one. There was also a fantastic range of bottled Scottish beers including Drygate to choose from.

We visited the amazing Machrie Moor stone circles and then headed for the Best Western Hotel at Blackwaterfoot - alas it was far too rammed to eat in but we did have Fyne Ales Usghe Dubha and Damh Ban. We finished the night at the Ormisdale Hotel once more and had more food and excellent real ales along with a selection of the Arran whiskies.

The next day it was down to Brodick to catch the ferry to Ardrossan - the bar on this ferry serves draught although the Arran was not available. On arrival we crossed to Sorn and the Sorn Inn where we had pints of Orkney Puffin Ale before heading south on the motorway and stopping at the Park end (or New Park) Tavern in Samlesbury for tea, washed down with excellent pints of Purity Mad Goose.

Overall this was a holiday with ample opportunities not only to sample beers brewed ont he islands but real ales full stop - and the range of small Scottish brewer's bottled beers is welcome and exciting. The fact that 4 of the 5 islands visited have their own breweries, all but one of which produces cask, is a brilliant situation - and long may it continue.


Wee Beefy

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Drinking in the Sudreys - the ales of Jura and Colonsay

Hello again,

         the two islands named above are easily reached from Islay, and we visited both during our 5 days on the island. In terms of size comparison both are minuscule next to Islay or Bute - Colonsay has a permanent population of just 135 (according to the island's website). Its also the smallest, being just 10 miles long and 2 miles wide. Jura on the other hand is significantly bigger, although probably with a similar number of inhabitants. (188 in 2001). It does however have a distillery, whilst Colonsay has a brewery.

The trip to Jura from Port Askaig is quite short and soon we were on the long winding the end of the island. After miles of rugged coastline and moorland the first, and indeed only large place you come to is Craighouse, found on the A846, the only A road i have ever seen with grass down the middle, and passing places. Here is where the distillery is, and also the Isle of Jura Hotel.

Finding the bar is interesting as you need to walk through the back of the bar from the main entrance to reach it - I think there is another way in round the front. No real ale but an interesting range of kegs - along with the Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted they also had Drygate Gladeye IPA on at 5.5%. Despite continuous expansion and improvement in Scottish beer, am still surprised to find a really hoppy Scottish IPA - and this is it. We also got a bottle of their Red IPA to take away.

The bar was friendly and well stocked and the IPA was excellent - this was in fact one of the best bars we visited on the whole tour. That Jura is so sparsely populated, yet has such riches in terms of drinks, is worth celebrating.

Colonsay is further away from Islay and the ferry was packed on what was the hottest day of the holiday.  Arriving before the bar of the Colonsay Hotel opened - the only place to drink on the island bar the brewery,  we set off on a long tour of every road on the island, driving to Uragaig and the beautiful Kiloran beach (and meeting Walter and his dog Queenie) before returning to the hotel via the Colonsay Brewery.

I have to say I was a little disappointed by the brewery - they only had two beers from their range of three available in bottles or on keg at the hotel, and are only open 15-17.00. I do realise however that running a brewery on such a tiny island makes comparisons with  mainland breweries fairly pointless.  At the Isle of Colonay Hotel beer is expensive. Two pints of Colonsay IPA for me and Matty cost about £10.60 and the other beer, a Fyne Ales Haus lager, was £4.90 a pint if memory serves. Once again though, island life is different. And in this case, significantly more expensive.

Overall both islands were unique - Jura is rugged and barren in places, Colonsay is a haven for wildlife, and Jura had an excellent hotel. Both islands are very much well worth a visit.


Wee Beefy

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Drinking in the Sudreys - the ales of Islay

Hello again,

          this post continues the details of our trip round Bute, Islay, Jura, Colonsay and Arran. All very different islands with their own character, and crucially, pubs, bars and beers.

On our way from Bute we sailed from Rubodach to Colintraive and then headed for Glendaruel. We had hoped to nip in the Glendaruel Hotel, not neccessarily for real ale, but just a drink - alas this seems to have closed down sometime ago, now a weed surrounded relic of more prosperous times. Whilst in the village we stopped to look at the carved stones and then headed for Otter Ferry and the Oystercatcher pub and restaurant. The GBG said it was open Friday and Saturday only but this was a Monday. Luckily it opens all day on a Monday - thank God we tried it.

Two real ales on the bar, one Scottish craft keg and an astonishing range of Scottish brewed ales in bottle, along with an extensive whisky list, was what we found. Two real ales, Fyne Ales Lismore Red IPA at 5.5%  and their Cloudburst at slightly less, with the excellent Sanda Blonde IPA on keg. All three were tried and the Lismore and Sanda were both excellent. We also ate - WF had a house cured Gravalax, Matty had local oysters, Tash soup and myself calamari. WF bought a box of bottles to take home as well - all in all this was a fantastic first stop on the Cowal peninsula.

We headed next for Kames and the Kames Hotel. This sells two real ales and we had Jarl once again, on excellent form. We then sailed from Portavadie to Tarbert and stopped in the Harbourside Inn for a half of Jarl each. Tarbet is quite a large place so we stocked up on food before heading to Kennacraig to get the ferry to Port Askaing on Islay.

Although Islay like Bute and Arran has its own brewery, Islay is very different to Bute. Its harder to get to, less well populated, and perhaps as a result is mre expensive. It also has nowhere near as many pubs., and less of those sell real ale. On our first night we stayed in Bowmore and we went to the Harbour Inn for a drink. Two pints of West Lager (at least its craft...?) a whisky for Wee Fatha and a large sauvignon blanc for Tash came to over £22.00. Luckily, despite not selling real ale, the guy running the bar was able to advise where we might get some, and was also a good person to chat to about the Island. The bar shuts at 22.45 so me and Matty had raced round the corner to find WF and Tash and get them in, and even with the door locked we were only able to order one more drink - these were both whiskies for us all to try.

The next day we went to Jura - more of that in the next blog, and then on a tour of the distilleries. Not actually visiting them, rather to photograph them in the bright sunshine. That night we went to the best place to drink real ale on Islay, the Port Charlotte Hotel. We managed to get a table despite not having booked and all tried, except Tash, pints of the Islay Ales Finlaggan. This was a disappointing beer - tasting slightly but not nicely of whisky, it was a tired ale with an unusual aftertaste which sadly  none of us really liked. Luckily they also sold Fyne Ales Jarl so Matty and then I had a pint of that to accompany our wonderful meals - mine was seared Islay scllops for starters and a main of lamb shank in a drambuie sauce, sharing a cheeseboard for afters. The Port Charlotte is not cheap but you get what you pay for - the food quality is amazing. The real ale, for info, is £4.10 a pint.

The next day we went to Colonsay details of which will follow in the next post, then when we got back to Islay we went for a drive to some more distillerys includng Lagavulin and Ardbeg, before heading to Kildonan cross and then to Port Ellen, where we went ion the Ardview Inn on the seafront. The pub does not sell real ale but did serve bottles of whisky from all the Islay distilleries, so we had Kilchoman and Caol Ila whilst sat in the front bar.

We drove back from here to Bowmore and this time we did go in the Lochside Hotel, formerly Duffy's, and they did sell real ale. A favourite in bottles on the last few ferries the Islay Ardnave Extra at 5.5% was on sale. It was lovely - but it should have been at an eye watering £4.95 a pint. The Lochside still carries a wide range of whiskies - there is a whisky book - and many sell at over £500.00 a shot. The real ale is expensive, but it went down well, and they serve til midnight.  

Our final full day on Islay involved another lengthy drive and a coffee in Ballygrant past Bridgend. We visited Finlaggan in the rain (still worth it) and then headed to Kilchoman distillery for a tour, a taste and for WF to buy me a bottle of the 100% Islay limited Edition whisky. An expensive but incredibly enjoyable present! We then headed down what seemed like a road to nowhere - we found it - and then returned to the Port Charlotte Hotel for more Jarl, plus cans of BrewDog and excellent food. The Port Charlotte was definitely the best pub or bar we tried on Islay.

We finished our day at the An Tigh Seinnse in Portnahaven, which translates as "the Public House". Bottles of Ardnave were supped in here, although they do have a single Islay Ales handpull - when I asked, they said they sold real ale when its busier - so am guessing that means August.

So ended our trip to Islay - the next day we drove to Port Ellen via the Oa Peinsula, and caught the ferry to Kennacraig for a short journey to Claoneig and the ferry to Arran.


Wee Beefy

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Drinking in the Sudreys - the ales of Bute


       apologies first of all for a distinct lack of posts recently - a mixture of self imposed poverty and heady discombobulation through drink, as well as the holiday I will describe in this and the following three posts, has made me unable, unwilling and otherwise disposed not to post anything since June. What follows is an island by island breakdown of the ales we drank in the places known as the Sudreys - in this case, Bute, Islay, Jura, Colonsay and Arran. I realise there are other isles in the Sudreys but we visited the above only. For information, the Sudreys is an old Norse word for the Southern Scottish Islands, as opposed to the Nordreys for the North. There is a link here featuring more precise info on the Sudrejar...

We headed to Bute in rain and wind - the sun only came out on our first stop in Moffat. Here the Coachmans bar of the Buccleuch hotel no longer sells real ale only GK "craft" but the guy behind the bar did recommend two pubs that did, the first being the Star Bar which we were parked nearby. The Hotel Star is a tall, long, thin building on the main street. The bar is accessed down the side street and is also long and thin, although it goes across the building. They have two real ales on sale - the Old Speckled and the Old Golden Hen. We had two halves of each for myself, Wee Fatha, Tash and Matty. We also tried the 80 and 60 shilling Belhaven kegs.The Old Golden Hen was perhaps the best beer.

Our next stop was the National Inventory listed Old Wine Store at Shotts. The pub has had a new sign and some refurbishment since we last visited, but crucially keeps its original bar fitting with once used whisky barrels inset, and a small mirror on the other side which owing to its difficulty to find and photograph am guessing was for the staff only. No real ale here, but halves of Belhaven best for all apart from WF who had a J2o. Its good to see the pub popular and having had some work done on it, without losing its character.

Skirting Glasgow we arrived at Wemys Bay and opposite the delightful station we boarded a ferry to Rothesay. Going across the weather looked ominous but we arrived on Bute in glorious sunshine and temperatures around 20 degrees. We stayed at the Commodore, an excellent seafront B and B and quickly headed out to find food - we did, at a real ale pub in the GBG.

The Black Bull is a small multi-roomed pub overlooking the harbour near one of Zavaroni's cafes. They had three beers on, Belhaven Golden Bay, Inveralmond Lia Fail and Straad Ass, a 4.2% amber/blonde from Bute Brew Co. This was a fine pint on excellent form so we didn't try the other ales on offer, we just drank the Bute all night. We also ate here - and myself and Matty had perhaps the finest home made steak and ale pie ever. An absolutely stunning flavour, and washed down with the excellent Bute real ale.

Before returning to the B and B we visited the Scottish regional inventory listed Golfers bar - sporting a Bute Brew Co sign outside and a single hand pump. selling the same beer as the Black Bull. Myself and Matty had at least two pints each in here with WF on a half and Tash on wine - she has developed a bit or a reaction to beer (and cider) of late so was reluctant to have more than a try. The Golfers was heaving busy and we sat in the separate snug at the end with access to the bar. The pub has an excellent ceiling and intact long single piece bar back, as well as this screened off room, meriting its inclusion on the inventory.

The next day we visited Rothesay castle whilst WF went to the Esplanade - which also sells real ale, but only Bombardier alas. From here we drove through Port Bannatyne and out to Loch Ettrick, then wound our way down the island to St Blaines church. Despite persisting it down with rain we enjoyed the walk up the hill and looking around, before we headed to the Kingarth Hotel and Smiddy bar.

This roadside hotel does good food and two real ales as well as a good range of whiskies and Scottish bottled beers. WF had a half of Arran Dark and myself and Matty a pint each of the Fyne Ales Jarl, one of the best beers in Scotland - it did not disappoint. The food looked lovely so we booked a table for four and returned to Rothesay to pick up a change of clothes, and then came back for a fantastic meal, along with more Jarl. I think they also have a third pump for cask, and we tried three whiskys as well.

Back into Rothesay we persuaded Wee Fatha to drive us to Port Bannatyne to the Bute Brew Co recommended Port Inn. Arriving at 22.15 the landlady was about to shut so we ordered two pints of the Bute brew Co Scalpsie Blonde at 3.9%. It turned out that the pub would remain open a little longer, although we had to leave by 23.30 to get back to the accommodation - we had no key to get in! Many pints were supped as well as a can of BrewDog Dead Pony Ale (I think) before we dashed off up the coast back to Rothesay. The Scalpsie was an excellent session ale.

The next day we were away from Bute on the ferry and that part of the journey, and Islay, will feature in the next blog post.


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Cheshire and Salford revisited


       I got Wednesday off work in the hottest week of the year so far so me and Tash could accompany Wee Fatha to Tatton brewery to buy some bottled beers. Naturally, as a rambling sot, the only thing to do whilst undertaking this task was to visit some other pubs. As Tash has never been with us to Cheshire there are some repeated visits from last time, but it was well worth doing so.

About 2 hours after setting off we arrived, having come past Manchester Airport into the rural idyll of Ashley, in Mobberley. No getting lost this time, we passed the Railway where Matty and WF went last time and headed for the Church Inn. I understand that apart from the Railway the 3 or 4 other pubs in Mobberley are owned by the same firm. This is disappointing, as it could stifle competition, but to be absolutely honest, none of the three pubs we visited were bad.

The Church Inn is just across the road from, um..the church, and is a large rambling premises serving food and four real ales. We had halves of Tatton's Ale Glorious which I think is brewed for the pub (or rebadged), half a Wizard dark mild and a pint of Brightside Your Town pale ale for me. We sat in the garden admiring the views and deciding whether or not to get food - in the end we didn't as only Wee Fatha was going to and the starters were all sharing plates. The beer was well kept and unsurprisingly the Brightside was the highlight for me.

Further into the sprawling village we came to the Bulls Head and the Roebuck. The Bulls Head car park holds about 6 cars so its good the same firm owns the Roebuck where we parked. We also went in for a drink, since it had only reopened the weekend before. One thing that is slightly annoying about all 3 pubs is that someone greets you on the way in - this is to establish if you want to eat, or simply have a drink. I know some people like this kind of greeting but I would rather find the bar and wait to be served by a friendly barkeep. In this case, the bar is hardly that - so we would probably have talked to the guy anyway.

We had halves of Dunham Deer Beer and one from Tatton which I think was blonde. Having opened the gate to let WF climb less steps into the garden we got sat out in the sunshine and decided to get some food, starters of Ratatouille for WF and Dunham potato chips for me and Tash. Was the food pretentious? Yes. Was it tasty and reasonably priced? Yes. A decent place to stop, and to leave the car as we popped over the road.

The Bulls Head is a little older looking inside than the other two - am certain that much of the antiquity is imported but I like the tiled floor and the panelling, real or recent, in the pub. The bar had 6 beers on so we tried thirds of them all - this included a pale ale from Wincle, Wobberley Mobberley which I think is also brewed by Wincle, Cheshire Cat Pale Ale, Dunham Bulls Head Bitter, Weetwood Oregon Pale ale and Wizard (or Merlin?) Merlins gold. We supped them outside in the warm sunshine and enjoyed them all, especially the Weetwood.

From here we drove to Tatton brewery for WF to buy his bottles of beers, of which there were many, and then onto Lymm to visit the Old Post Office, or Lymm Brewery Tap. The beer range comprised Dunham Massey and Lymm brewery beers and we had halves of Dunham Stout, Cheshire IPA, and Lymm Dam. The later was 7.2% and a copper coloured strong ale, which was easy to drink, as was the Chesire IPA. We had free olives with the beers (even tempting WF to try a few) and bought some local pork scratchings. Always a good place to stop off, and playing some decent tracks including Mark Lanegan.

We drove out to Winnick and Burtonwood next to visit the Fiddle ith Bag Inn. There were three beers on including one which everyone went for but since WF and Tash were staying alcohol free I went for a North Blyth Seafarers Pale. I sat outside and soaked up more beautiful sunshine whilst Tash took a tour of the numerous artifacts inside.

Our next stop was the exccllent Grocers Micropub on Liverpool Road in Cadishead, run by Martin, AKA Dimpled Mug. We parked just down the road and entered to find the tiny pub busy, mainly with customers anticipating the quiz. I had two pints of the excellent Dunham Experimental #2 and Tash likely had some Wilson Potter, and we sat down in the right hand corner to soak up the atmosphere and listen to the buzz of conversation.

A steady stream of customers came, few went, and it was obvious that the quiz was a very popular event. The beer was on great form and it was good to catch up with Martin and to congratulate him on winning his local branch pub of the year. Really must try and get back there sometime when we have more time to sit down and have a proper sup!

Our penultimate stop was the Star at Higher Broughton. Am not sure if the pub is brewing anymore but they had First Chop AVA and Abbeydae Moonshine on so we all went for the first, apart from WF, now on J2o. The pub is still community owned and has a basic interior with three rooms, including one at the back which seems to have been brought more into use as a games room, and may have lost some original features as a result.

Our final stop was in Chorlton at Pi. Its somewhere that serves food til 22.0 and the pies are quite nice -  a simple meal to fill us up before the trip back to Sheffield. I had something locally brewed in here - I said that about Pi in Macc as well, but I wasn't after having much and enjoyed whatever we had. Tash really enjoyed her coffee as well. Pi is part of a chain as you may know and its an interesting if frustrating mix of hipster and trendy staff and ethos. However the beer seems well kept and its a good place to fill up when you are on a lengthy pub crawl.

Pub of the day was, clearly, the Grocers Micro Pub, but the Star and the Bulls Head were close runners up. A great day out, and a superb way to wrap numerous pub visits round visiting Tatton brewery fr 20 minutes.


Wee Beefy

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Unspoilt country pubs - a Sunday tour by car


        on Sunday myself and Tash were taken out for the day by Wee Fatha on a tour of some classic unspoilt pubs in Derbyshire and Staffordshire. We started our journey travelling to Beauchief Abbey in Sheffield to meet WF who gave us a quick tour. We then got into the car in bright sunshine and set off.

We were soon heading through Chatsworth out on to the A6 and then down to Darley Dale, through Wensley and Winster via some absurd driving by fellow visitors, to arrive at Elton, and the Duke of York. It was shut. It only opens during the day on a Sunday but arriving at 13.55 it was firmly closed. Despite the maniac actions of drivers in Winster nearby we returned there and got parked to visit the Old Bowling Green pub.

I haven't been here for some time and was glad to find that not only was it open but the bar was open all day. We sat outside in bright sunshine supping a pint each of Peak Ales Chatsworth Gold for me and Tash and a half, of which he had less then half, of Abbeydale Daily Bread for WF. The pub serves food and three real ales, the other being Abbeydale Moonshine, and claims on its sign to be from the 15th century - I think it said 1472. Its slightly modernised inside, mainly to extend the amount of seating, but is still a pleasing old style inn.

Off next on a perplexing ramble via Newhaven, Biggin and Hartington to the Manifold Valley. A beautiful drive along the road and up brought us to Grindon and then finally to Wetton, followed by a trip down into Milldale and up onto the main road before finally heading through Thorpe for Ilam. here we took the beautiful road cum track to Throwley and on into Calton before arriving at Cauldon and the Yew Tree.

I can't remember how long it is since I last visited, maybe three or four years ago, and although the pub still retains its collection of amazing antiques, and still sells there real ales, some things have changed. For a start, although landlord Alan East is still on the premises the bar work is mainly carried out now by his son in law and, one assumes, Alan's daughter. They also now have a card machine - which made our visit longer and more thirsty and of course, more excellent.

I started with a pint of fresh on Burton Bridge Bitter, and bought halves of Rudgate Ruby Mild for Tash and WF.  I then went to buy another pint along with a large for WF and a small for me, pork pie. This took quite some time to eat and both were lovely, as was the Bitter. Having been for a wander round and nipped outside for a look at the garden, I then came back to use my card for a further two pints of the Burton Bridge, one of which I shared with Tash. It was good to spot Alan, standing almost transfixed by his ancient polyphon playing in the entrance. Be it bank holiday Sunday or not, the pub was packed throughout.

Our next stop was in Hanley a 40 minute of so drive away. The Coachmakers was threatened with demolition many years ago, despite its listing by English Heritage and CAMRA as a pub with a historically important interior. Since then the new bus station that its clearance was to bring about has been built, yet the pub remains standing. On our visit many locals were sat on the benches outside the pub and inside the beer range was reduced considerably, being just Bass and Black Hole Black rising or similar, a strong dark mild. I had a pint of Bass , Tash a half and Wee Fatha some of a half of the Black Hole.

We were sat on our own in the front bar room with the gentle hub-ub of conversation in the background and the sound of the barmaid serving customers to keep us occupied. It was good to relax in here, although disappointingly the wall of beer mats seems to have been changed into one painted dark grey. Despite this, little else has changed in this National Inventory pub - including the threat of demolition. Still well worth a look if you have or haven't visited already.

We had been planning on visiting the Quiet Woman but decide instead to return to Elton and made our way back to Alstonefield, then the same way from Milldale and then headed to Parwich. As I had a pressing need we stopped there at the Sycamore. This traditional Robinson's house is still very much part of the village and we had a half for me and Tash, one being Robinson's Double Hop, and a tomato juice for WF.

The pub has three or four rooms and serves fod and real ales, and Parwich is a great place to start or finish a walk in the area. I first went about twenty or more years ago and still enjoy a visit - alas we were heading off for our last stop so did not stay around long.

At gone 22.00 we arrived in Elton to find the Duke of York open. Whilst Tash and WF locked the car and got coats on I ran into the pub to order a pint and two halves of the only real ale on which was Marstons Bitter at £2.75 a pint. As is unsurprising, nothing has changed in the Duke of York since I first visited last century - apart form the main bar duties are now carried out by Mary's Nephew.

I discovered whilst there that at present the were not open Sunday lunchtimes because Mary had been very ll in hospital - there are no plans at this time to reopen Sunday lunchtimes, so its 20.30 til 22.30 (or later) most nights of the week.

The beer was also fresh on here and tasted lovely, so much so that I had another pint, and took Tash outside up the old sloping steps to see the toilets - an unusual feature to have outdoor toilets these days. Inside the fire was lit and the locals were chatting to each other about all sorts of things, and the barman as well. Lets hope Mary gets better soon and we see her behind the bar once more at this fantastic old boozer.

So ended a lengthy drive round five brilliant unspoilt or at the very least old pubs in Derbyshire and Staffordshire. Its difficult to pick out a favourite as all have distinctive characteristics but I think as a group we probably liked the Yew Tree at Cauldon best of all -  a cracking traditional pub that has managed to adapt to modern times whilst losing none of its considerable character.


Wee Beefy