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.