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