firstly, happy 2016 - seems very similar to 2015 to me, yer know, eleven days in. And no bloody dryanuary for me once again - really, f you must do it, at least buy soft drinks in the pub as well, thereby keeping pub atmosphere alive and profits near normal in January, the worst month of the year. Actually, this post serves as a reminder in many ways of just why going to the pub is so vital. I mean, if I hadn't how would I have tried five such amazing beers?
By the way, five of the best is restricted to a time frame, 31 December 2015 until today. They are the best beers I have tried in those twelve days. Maybe over a longer period. Not that I can remember....
On New Years Eve against my better judgement I left work quite late and met Tash and Matty in Shakespeares. We were intending to catch the last bus, but in a surprising outcome, we did not. I had heard that the Cloudwater Special IPA was on cask. When I arrived they were already drinking a pint each - something told me it was quite popular so I bought two pints and sat down and joined them Shortly after it ran out. It was, as I thought, a very popular beer.
Interestingly, Matty found it a little one dimensional, and Tony thought it had deteriorated in the cask over the months it had been kept. Cloudwater, he advised, brew beers to be drunk fresh. This is an interesting pint, since I can't think of many cask IPA's that have improved with ageing. On the other hand, I thought the beer was bloody lovely. An excellent end to the year.
On Sunday I was surprised to read that Walkley Beer Co was open. Having lazily plodded to Spasda for supplies I left it late to get there for 17.00 - I arrived at 16.53, just as Kit came out to call last orders. The cask had run out but the excellent Kernel Centennial Simcoe IPA at 6.7% was on keg at a fiver a pint. Kernel IPA's rarely disappoint - and this blew me away. A fantastic blend of citrus fruit and bitterness that I could have made last a lot longer, had time not been called soon after.
However, just before that I decided to buy a bottle to take out. I asked Kit what saisons he had and he pointed one out which I thought about and then saw some Cloudwater. I said "Ooh, Cloudwater! I bet you haven't got any Double IPA". Kit went quiet, walked to a small fridge near the bar and got me a bottle out. "its my last one" he said. I was so grateful. If nothing else because Tony had raved about this beer, and I had read their blog about it. It was £4.20 a bottle and m,e and Tash drank it later that night. It was wonderful - complex, bitter, refreshing, easy drinking, aromatic, punchy, strong - an exceptional beer.
Back at Shakespeares early the next week I tried two new keg beers. Described I think by Chris B as perhaps the hoppiest beer Siren have ever brewed, the rather oddly named Dippy and the Equinox is a wonderful, if strong and slightly pricey, keg pale or possibly red ale. Brewed with Boneyard Brewery in far away, it has heaps and heaps of complimentary hops and a wonderful zesty lingering finish. In the last week I have had several pints and enjoyed every drop of every one. A tremendous brew!
My final favorite came from The Beer Engine. Arriving the same night as the staff party meant I saw Tom for the first time in ages, and me and him had a conversation about cans - as per my last blog post. The beer that stood out here however was a 7.0% cask Ryesing Tides IPA from Siren. I remember having this beer last year at some point and hadn't actually had a rye beer for a while - which is strange, since I really like a rye IPA. The beer is strong but very easy to drink and reasonably priced at £4.20 a pint - bearing in mind that you don't need many. Siren are well known for well balanced beers (although sometimes they get it very wrong) and this was perfect example of a blend of rye and hops and I think red malt, making a delicious real ale.
Once again, a range of different venues purveying excellent beers in cask, keg and bottle demonstrate how lucky we are here in Sheffield to be able to find such a range of excellent ale. Lets hope this quality continues throughout the rest of 2016. Just don't stop going to the pub to find it.