Sunday, 28 February 2016

Drinking and crawling around Ashover

Eh oop,

    myself and Christingpher recently bought a Derbyshire Wayfarer ticket ( from the station, because the Interchange doesn't bother selling them anymore) and caught the train to Chesterfield, then walked past numerous closed pubs to New Beetwell Street to catch the bus to Higham. Here we set off to walk to Ashover.

We tried this about five years ago and with no map I managed to get us lost and I think we ended up in Tansley instead. This time I had done the walk before with Davefromtshop and so knew the way. We set off towards the railway line in a very muddy and slippy field, with low cloud and persistent drizzle. We made rather slow progress. This was to be a feature of the walk. Having spent 15 minutes attempting to clamber down, and in my case slip arse first down a muddy bank which we then realised wasn't even part of the path, it took us a while to get to Brackenfield, and even longer to slip and slide and dodge pools of sucking mud out onto the main road.

Soon we were on Stonerows lane and heading through the hamlets in the valley down to Milltown. We went into the Miners Arms - the first time for either of us. Bedraggled and mud covered, this was a noticeable entrance into what is essentially a restaurant with a tiny bar serving one real ale. I went to the loo to get cleaned up and left Christingpher at the bar to order two pints of Marstons Old Empire. A decent start to our drinking at 5.7%.

I am sure the Miners is a lovely place to go and eat but we did feel slightly out of place and once we had dried off a little and finished our pints we walked into Ashover and the welcoming sight of the Old Poets Corner. Inside were about seven real ales, real fires, hearty conversation and comfortable seating. Had we the time, or the money, or means of escape, we could easily have stayed here all day. Christingpher had a pint of Ashover Littlemoor Citra and I a pint of a Blackjack and Hawkshead collab called Manuka, 5% and described as  a Belgian Ale. Both were delicious, and dispatched quickly.

Next up I had a pint of the Oakham Citra which was better still, whilst Christingpher tried a pint of the Manuka - pork scratchings were bought and Mr C dried his feet in the fire before returning for a third round. This time I had another Manuka and Christingpher a pint of the Shiny Sorachi dark, with a catchy marmite design for the word Sorachi. I actually like Sorachi, and this was a fantastic beer.

Off next to the Black Swan where a 70th birthday meant only half the pub was available. We went in the room with the dart board and a pint each of the Peak Ales Bakewell best bitter. It was good to get  in for the first time in a while, but alas our visit was short as we had to head up to Kelstedge.

I think the last part of the walk gets shorter every time we do it but we were there half an hour before the bus so opted to pop in the Kelstedge Inn. Only three real ales on this time, and if am honest I can't remember what we had a half of each. A very kind lady sat at the bar did however find us somewhere to sit and advised where we should catch the bus.

Soon in Matlock we headed straight for MoCa bar and had a pint each from Blue Monkey. The pub was busy but we still managed to get sat down, initially near the bar and later up the top sat in the window. This was Christingpher's first visit and he really enjoyed the atmosphere, and we spent a goodly amount of time drinking and catching up (possibly buying another beer) before realising we had missed the bus to Derby. There was a two hour wait for the next one so we caught the train to Duffield and went to the Pattenmakers.

The pub still serves Bass from the jug and guests, so we had a pint of Bass each and sat down in the room at the end to eat more pork scratchings and try and work out when the next bus was. The pub was not quite as busy as previously and I didn't fancy any of the guests but it is still a great place to enjoy Bass from the jug.

We finally got out to catch the bus and when in Derby walked round to the Alexandra to have a pint each of the Elland 1872 porter at 6.8%. Alas, in an unrelated event, the beefdozer cometh. In fact, later, when I rose from my chair, there was muted applause, since many thought I had died. Luckily I was compus mentus enough to finish my enjoyable drink.

Alas this snooze meant we missed the very early last train so had to call in a huge favour from Wee Fatha who picked us up about half midnight. Thanks! Despite this somnabulistic  hiccup, this was still an excellent day out walking and drinking in some fine Derbyshire pubs, and another great example of why Ashover is such a brilliant place to go drinking.


Wee Beefy

Sunday, 21 February 2016

A Saturday crawl to the Beer Engine


       whilst yesterday myself and Christingpher spent hours battling mud and rain in the Derbyshire Dales, the Saturday before I was in town around mid afternoon and in need of somewhere to go. You know, to keep warm. And fed. And maybe watered....

I started in the Three Tuns where I bumped into the lovely Dave for a hug and to show her my valentines card for Tash. I had two pints of lovely Blue Bee Transatlantic Pale ale, a nice starter to an hour or five of supping. It was good to catch up with Nathan and later Siobhan, or Jamie, and I also had a delicious bacon sandwich. I did however fancy something a bit different so headed up to the Bath Hotel.

The pub was rammed when I arrived, with a  crowd of the noisiest people on earth stood and sat in teh front bar. After buying a pint of Blackjack I sat down with Dan Ransome and Kara and friends and told them that I had come for a relaxing pint - seems they had too, but this was not happening! They soon left and I sat by myself for a while before venturing to the bar to find out of Chris and Stef and Mark were OK, before finding out that long departed Dada barman Jamie would be in town and maybe the Bth that night. Alas I couldn't hang around to see him, maybe next time.

Whilst there I tried the hops and dreams from Brew Foundation on keg -  a great example of a beer that simply does not work on keg! Instead I had a pint of Blackjack and a half of Jaywick to tide me over.

Off next to the Devonshire Cat to try the rye IPA that Nathan had told me about - it wasn't to my liking, quite jarring and not very well balanced. It was either an Intrepid or Bad Co beer if memory serves. Instead I went for the pricey Siren Liquid Mistress on keg at over £6.00 a pint. As always this was a lovely flavourful beer, which I enjoyed supping whilst watching some rugby and chatting to Rich and Kath and Tom.

I was supposed to be heading home from here but on West Street I encountered a drunk mentalist supping Oranjeboom strong from a can - whilst doing which he didn't notice the 52 and ran into the road shouting and waving his arms. He then proceeded to kick the bus shelter and shout abuse. I was waiting for the 52A so assumed he would get on the bus with me so I jumped on the 95 instead and got off at the top of the Moor. A short walk took me down to he Beer Engine.

This is probably only my third visit this year but it ended up being just as good if not better than my last visits. Mind you, initially I was disappointed by the cask offerings, mainly dark or Intrepid or Bad Co or the now identifiably bland Hops and Dreams - which I can confirm tasted mainly of dreams. I spotted the Axe Edge on cask so asked for a pint but was told that had run out. In the end I opted for a bottle of Wild Sourbeast and supped that whilst talking once again to Rich and Kath.

At this point Baz turned up and asked me which one of the 5 beers he had on offer I wanted him to put on next. I immediately recommended the Bad Seed IPA at 7.2% on keg. By the time I had finished my lovely bottle of chocolate sour the keg was ready and I straight away ordered a lovely, thick, light orangey red IPA. It was tremendous. t may have been £6.00 a pint but it was worth every penny.

After a quick chat with David and Patrick and after Rich and Kath had departed I sat with Barry for a bit and had an enjoyable catch up. Another pint of the excellent IPA was purchased as well as a bottle of a Blackjack IPA at 10.1% which I am keeping safe in the fridge. I finished the IPA, now a trifle refreshed, and was very kindly assisted in getting home.

Once more, another fantastic afternoon, evening and night of drinking in Sheffield pubs ended perfectly.


Wee Beefy

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Two short Sheffield pub crawls


     in the last week I have been out a few times. Well, to be fair, its more than a few. I remain, as well as have been, a very thirsty chap lets face it.  Here though are details of two recent such ventures in libation, in sunny, snazzy Sheffield.

The first starts at a micropub. The Beer House on Ecclesall Road was Sheffield's second after Crookes Ale House and then Walkley Beer Co, and is very much symptomatic of its environs. That isn't a criticism, since Walkley Beer Co is as well. If anything its complimentary to recognize that a micropub manages to stick within the unwritten micropub "rules" as well as being popular locally. On this visit I had a pint of Bad Co Ace Gravity IPA and listened in on the conversations around me. Always a nice place to pop in, despite their Twitter claim of being Sheffield's first Micropub.....!

I walked from here towards town and then up to the Bath Hotel,  where I met Tash. I bought her a pint of the Hopjacker Steel City Brewing collaboration End of Days, an American Sour Brown. It was odd. Not as sour as I like it, but not as sweet or malty as a brown. Tash liked it more. After trying a pint of Blackjack which was quite tasty I tried the Jaipur on Keg - it tasted of paracetamol and soda water so I swapped it - very generously for a pint of Cloudwater Porter at 6.5% which was lovely. Any ideas what has gone wrong with Jaipur?

We caught the bus to Walkley next and went to the Closed Shop for food. We had pints of Blue Bee Ginger for Tash and Into the Void for me and both got Fish and Chips. Absolutely cracking! The tastiest fish I have had for a long time, lovely and tender with thrice cooked chips and mushy peas. Went down perfectly.

We finished the crawl over the road in the Hallamshire House. We had pints of Thornbridge Melba and Crackendale, and sat on a table with young persons in the back. We also tried a half of Thornbridge Jaipur X, no doubt expertly kept aside for months by the Man of Ash - this proved that despite experiences in 2016, not all Jaipur now tastes woeful. We finished on a bottle of Cloudwater IPA that I espied in the fridge - it may have been a bretted version, I couldn't read the label, but it was still lovely. A fab end to the night.

The next crawl started in Shakespeares - why of course! Myself and Tash were on pints of the ultimate sour beer, the Celt Experience Llamass Harvest at 5. something and £4.20 a pint. We thoroughly enjoyed it taking the enamel off our teeth and making our jaws and palates ache - and that isn't sarcasm.

Off for a change to the Ship Inn next, we haven;t been there for a while so it was nice to have a revisit. The pub no longer does food, or pork scratchings so the only sustenance is crisps - a pack of chorizo each followed with our pints, BrewDog Punk IPA for Tash and a Titanic White Star for me. Not as  busy as previously, although January and February weeknights are notoriously quiet, I was a little underwhelmed by the experience. I also didn't rate the beer range, as is often the case. A few older customers came in later and that livened the place up a little, but I think the next 6 months will be key for the Ship. Best of luck!

We went to the Kelham Island Tavern next and took advice on what was best and/or hoppiest. In a recurrent but unsurprising outcome I can't in fact remember what I had! It was however delicious. After I repeated Tash's pint order and we had devoured some delicious scotch eggs, we finished on a pint of the Kernel Simcoe Pale Ale on keg which was everything we hoped it would be. Fine hoppy goodness.

The above demonstrates the range of real ales and keg beers of all kinds available in just seven pubs in Sheffield, and we didn't even venture further than Ecclesall Road. Just a lovely way to spend a few hours each time chatting and catching up and generally putting the world to rights.

More information coming soon about a Saturday spent whiling away the hours in other Sheffield boozers.


Wee Beefy

Monday, 8 February 2016

Hillsborough Hotel Scottish beer festival and other ales...


       on Saturday I found out about the Scottish beer festival that was taking place at the Hillsborought Hotel. I had only been in three or four times since it changed hands despite immediately noticing improvements. Given that I had arranged to meet Matty, it seemed like a good place for us to go.

I paid on the 52 - I was in a rush, and then again, an astonishing £2.20 for the 8 minute journey to Langesett Road on the tram. I hoped, having spent £4.00 just getting there, that this would be good! Arriving before Matty at gone half seven I opted to try one or two of the six Scottish real ales on offer on the bar. Island Hoping from Swannay Brewery was the first. To be honest, I suspect Swannay brewery is linked to Sinclairs who own Orkney Brewery - or the other way round. Either way, that and Loch Lomond Kessog a dark ale were both tried and were very palatable.

I walked into the room on the left to made to stand aside for the presentation of the haggis by the Alternative Burns Night company, with pipes and a Scotsman in a kilt reading the address to the haggis in perfect style, followed by whisky toasts and an instruction to sit down if you had  a ticket for the haggis neeps and tatties. Mattt arrived shortly after and I got him a pint of the Tempest The Real Armadilo,. a pale hoppy beer from a reliable Scottish brewery.

As the food was served we were offered the chance to buy a ticket so I parted with a fiver for a bowl of delicious Haggis and trimmings, this after a quick chat with the legend in his own lycra that is Ron Clayton. We and Matty both had pints of the Fyne Ales Avalanche, always a favourite and went to stand in the conservatory.  Alas this closes at 21.00 and with the pub already rammed the influx into the two rooms made us decide to leave for nearby hostelries. Outside at the back there was another stillaged bar so am guessing the Cromarty, Pilot and other beers had been available from there. A cracking event nonetheless.

Just down the road we went into what Ron claimed was the now "owned by Birkett" Wellington. James Birkett who as you may know owns the Blake and Sheaf View, had been linked with purchasing the pub for a while - assuming he has, there was no change when we went in, same staff, similar beer range and customers. Suits me fine. Me and Matty had pints of the Atlantic Pale and Green Arrow from Little Ale Cart, before moving onto pints of the Stars and Stripes from the same.

The pub was quite busy and warm and relaxing and the beer was distinctively ale-cartish. I can't see that many changes will be made by the new owner, apart from maybe increasing and changing the beer range, and I hope he doesn't repaint or radically change the interior because I actually quite like it.

From here I left Matty at the tram stop and walked on to Shakespeares for a pint of Celt Experience Llamass Harvest, a gooseberry sour, and a half of something pale and hoppy on cask. Chris B warned me that the sour was very much so - he wasn't wrong! It was a wonderfully sour, sharp, teeth chatterer which I loved immediately and which grew on me the more I drank.

Having initially struggled to find a seat I got sat near the door at the back and got chatting with Katie who was in late. I got another pint of the sour (I think...?) and a drink for her, before at last orders unwisely purchasing a pint of the Double Axe from Buxton, a whopping 10.1% IPA on keg. This was actually quite difficult to finish but mainly due to being full of haggis! Despite that, this was a perfect end to a fantastic night out.


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Derbyshire Drinking Dawdle


  myself and Davefromtshop recently spent the day out travelling around Derbyshire, well a specific part at least, sampling the beers and hospitality on offer in numerous real ale pubs.

We started the day at Sheffield station and were quickly on a train to Derby. Arriving about 11.30 we decided to pop in the Brunswick for a quick half. The Brunswick, which I understand is now owned by Everards (or if its still Brampton they are unrepresented on the bar...) as usual offered a wide choice of real ales. Dave tried a half of the Bitter Lemon, the least lemony drink of that name, from Stockport Brewing and I had a half of the Hambrook Pale from Great Western Brewing Co. We sat in the main bar and decided some of the details of our route. We wouldn't stick to these - they were mainly suggestions....

Round onto Corporation street we spotted the bus stop and jumped on a Y1 to Smalley. The Bell is potentially still in the beer guide (I haven't looked at the GBG for a year) and has a choice of real ales mainly from local breweries. In the room on the left it took a while to get served and we had two pints, one of Black Hole Supa Nova Pale and one of Church End Fallen Angel. This was on fine form, but the gurgling sound the Black Hole made indicated it was rather poor and watery - so was swapped for the Church End. The Bell is a traditional boozer selling food as well, and  set back from the main road in Smalley. An excellent stop.

We caught a bus into Ripley next - alas, being a Monday, the Amber Tap doesn't open til half five so we were four hours early! Thinking the George on the hill may also be shut we instead quickly nipped in the Red Lion spoons to have two surprisingly dark halves of Elland Nettlethrasher. This is a malty dark amber ale with pleasing bitterness in the finish.

From here we caught a nines bus to Little Eaton - except, we got off in Coxbench. This is an error we have made before..... We walked down the pleasant lane and stopped off for a half each in the Bell and Harp. The pub was open but we were the only customers and we had halves of Banks Sunbeam - which I thought was Everards, but maybe not. The beer was very lively but settled OK to reveal an amber ale with a little hoppiness. We sat in the window area overlooking the fields and the brook. I get the feeling the pub sells food, its very much set out in a dining style, but it was comfy and an enjoyable stop.

Next followed a protracted amble round Little Eaton trying to find the Queens Head. Having taken the east specific instructions (correct, as long as straight on means turn left) we happened across a man in his garden who told us where the pub was, and said he would be in there later. On the main Alfreton Road the pub is large and long inside with modern but subtle decor and has recently been taken over by Derby Brewing Company. Its probably the only pub I know in Derbyshire with a blacksmiths next door....

We started on pints of the Hop til you Drop from Derby and spent a while determining where the hops were. To be fair, hops come in all manor of forms and strengths of acidity and citrus notes and although the pint was more of a traditional pale bitter, there were some hops in there. Whilst here I noticed my phone battery was almost dead having fought for signal since we left Derby, so after phoning Tash outside I turned it off. No more access to bus timetables for us!

We ordered food - two omelettes and chips and salad came to £10.50 so we ordered that and had more pints of the hop til you drop and then moved onto halves of Red Tom and Dashingly Dark. I have to say the Dark is usually a favourite Derby beer of mine, and I really should have had it from the start. Never mind, this was another enjoyable stop and the food was much needed.

Round the corner we found a bus stop and started asking locals what time the bus came. Some said ten past, some said 10 to - in the end we asked a lady who had access to the building next to us and she leaned out of the window 10 minutes later to announce its imminent arrival. Having tried to catch the school bus the 7.1 pulled up behind and we caught that, alighting in Openwoodgate.

The Black Bulls Head is a cracking pub that I have been to twice before - admittedly on the same day. From a good range of regulars and guests, to our delight the Oakham Green Devil was on, at 6.0% and £3.70 a pint - or maybe £3.60. We both had a  pint each and went through to the other room, where I frustratingly missed a step and spilled at least 50ml of the precious liquid on the floor. Sorry!

We sat on comfy chairs in the back room and tried to find out when the next bus was to Holbrook. Alas, it was in 20 minutes - and we had hardly started our pints. Despite this we soldiered on and although this was so far the best pub of the day we only stopped for half an hour, in order to to get the bus.

Back on a 7.1 we alighted at Holbrook Moor and walked down to the Dead Poets. Another classic Derbyshire pub, we both had pints of Pedigree from the jug in here. We sat in the small room at the back and supped and chatted and warmed up nicely. Its rare I get to the Poets but this is a fantastic back street boozer. Alas we could not stay longer, as we had a walk to undertake.

It was windy and cold on Holbrook Moor as we headed down the lane to Makeney. We were soon heading towards, and into the excellent Holly Bush. Its probably Bass from the jug in here, to be honest am not certain, and we sat in the private bar snug (well, its not actually private) and supped these , warmed by the fire and the fantastic curved seating. Had we been less pushed for time this too would have been a longer stop, but we had to get down to Milford for a last one.

Which we did, about half an hour later, and we were at the King William 4th. Here we had pints from the jug once again - to balance things out and going to claim they were Pedigree, however, if am to be honest, we were a trifle refreshed by this stage. We sat near the fire in the front and restarted my phone to check what time it really was. This long possibly part subterranean pub serves cracking beer and as me and Tash found out, excellent B and B. Well worth a visit.

Soon we headed for and caught the bus into Derby and fragments of my memory suggest we went in he Alexandra for a half. If that is the case, I will have to ring Davefromtshop to ask him what we had!
We arrived back in Sheffield sated and happy and were even early enough to get buses home. Once again we used a Derbyshire Wayfarer ticket to travel around Derbyshire and visited some excellent traditional boozers, and apart from the one we took back and swapped we didn't have a bad beer all day - the best probably being the Oakham Green Devil and the Bass from the jug.


Wee Beefy