Tuesday, 29 March 2016

An Easter pub crawl

Hello all,

            isn't Easter great eh? Every single last one of us gets four whole days off to relax at home. Um...apart from anyone working in the service industry. Transport, health, retail, pubs. Especially those in pubs. Despite this, myself and Matty had been chatting with Nathan from the Three Tuns and arranged to go out with him for pints on Maundy Thursday. I have no idea if he worked Good Friday. Am hoping for his sake he didn't....

We all finished work about 17.00 and met in the Three Tuns about 17.30. It was busy, and as Nathan  pointed out, it was like a Friday. Nathaniel is an affable 24 year old with two PHd's in Zoo-ology and hails from a town or village in Worcestreshire with a Bathams pub. Or Birmingham. If you know anything about the Bathams tied estate that actually limits the potential answers to where I mean. Despite my awful behaviour in October, we still get on, as he does with Meathumph.

We decided to show Nathan some of the pubs he hadn't been to before in Sheffield. In one night. I started as did Nathan on a pint of Brighton Bier Southern Bitter, a gorgeously dry bitter ale with stonking piles of hops and just enough malt in the background. Matty had two pints of something as well. The rest is history, and I am the historian. Help us, made up deity!

Our next stop was Fagans. Being yoot, Nathan and Matty eschewed the delights of real ale and went for Guinness which I understand people like. I went for a good old pint of Moonshine. We were advised where to sit by the landlord, (the comfiest seats) and perched in the corner chatting about pubs and beer and all things good. Fagans is a cracking city centre boozer. Its not changed as long as I have been going in, sells a decent pint and has a wonderful atmosphere. Just what you could want from a pub.

Just up the road is Regent Terrace, and Harrisons 1854. I was telling Matty and Nathan that I used to go there a lot but did not so much now Barraharri had left. Just as we entered I saw Bob and Linda the owners. It felt like coming home. I had Moonshine again, a pint, and Matty and Nathan had pints of Bradfield Blonde. The beer range is slightly better here but the bar is nothing like Fagans and doesn't claim to be. The music is good, its chilled out and is a good place to sit and catch up.

From here we walked down towards the Beer Engine and then turned through Decathlon to the Lord Nelson. It transpired that Nathan had been in once before,  but this did not diminish the pub's appeal. We all had a pint of an IPA at 5.something percent from a brewery.  It was maybe Pennine or Revisionist. It doesn't matter, which is good, since I can't remember. The pub was busy with darts on, and we sat in the room on the left soaking up the atmosphere.

From here we crossed the dual carriage way and headed for a new pub for us all. The Railway on Bramall Lane, which is not despite the article wording in Beer Matters, being run by Andy Cullen, has been taken over by a family and they have done it up and put on four or five cask beers. We all had a pint of the Chantry Kaldo Pale Ale at 5.5%. We sat down near the back and after Matty had discovered that once again the kid behind the bar was one of his ex school mates, we started listening to the Sheffield quiz, which didn't seem too taxing (although being a quiz, I insisted we did not take part). The Kaldo was lovely, and the pub looks nice inside. Good luck to them running this boozer.

Its not far from there, not even if you can't remember where the path over the river goes from, to the Sheaf View. We walked past and went to the Brothers at the top of the hill. I am told in here we all had a strong pint of something at 6.5%. I am sure we did. In a consistent line, I can't remember what this was at all. We did however have a delicious curried scotch egg each, and sat outside in the wet to eat it.

Next up was a pint in the Sheaf View. The pint we had was definitely made with hops and malt and water and yeast and tasted of beer. It might have been from Whim. Or one of the thousand other UK breweries. I am led to believe it was strong. I remember I enjoyed it. We sat in the back as the front to rooms were rammed and talked, probably quite loudly about pubs and drinking and inappropriate things which I cannot divulge here. We may have been slightly tipsy by this stage...

Our penultimate stop was the White Lion. We met Tash here who was already in with a seat and a table and a beer. I am guessing we all had pints of Dancing Duck Abduction at 5.8% or whatever it is. There was live music on, and the place was busy with a great atmosphere. I understand the Dancing Duck has replaced the Thornbridge Jaipur they always used to keep so well, no doubt because of cost. Although more recently, because it tastes pants. Far better to support Dancing Duck I say.

We got a taxi from here to Shakespeares to finish the night. I had two or three halves of beers with names that they were selling, and Matty probably had a bottle. Being a pub crawl, Nathan would also have had a drink, and everything. Memories eh. What are they? Like birds, nobody knows....

As Easter was busy I didn't see Nathan until Saturday and he had similar memories, or lack thereof, of getting home. Good lad! Overall this was a highly enjoyable pub crawl with three lovely people featuring excellent traditional pubs and ales.


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Beer tasting at the Bath Hotel and a Buxton Tap Takeover

Now then,

          this time last week I still hadn't sobered up from two nights of lovely ales and socialising - two nights which were part of Sheffield Beer Week 2016. I realise am a bit late posting this but have been otherwise engaged ever since. Here are some fragmented memories of both events.

Thursday 17th March is a well known date in Ireland. Its also a night when people in the UK drink Guinness in tents and realise they cannot handle their alcohol, whilst wearing outsize hats. Dear God. What a travesty. The Twat in the Hat night is one of my least favourite of the year but luckily this was when the Bath Hotel had their beer tasting of Thornbridge Hall bottles.

The night started well - I saw Jules in the back and told her I wasn't "here for the First pour, I don't want to try yet another disappointing Thornbridge beer". I was then telling her this was ironic, since I was here to sample their bottled fare, when she told me the other people on the table were the Thornbridge brewing team and owners. I told her I would not be changing my opinion.

Meeting with Matty and Mr Grant we sat down in a corner with a guy from Finland called Arnaut. Or similar. We were joined by Jules, and sampled a range of excellent aged bottled beers. We started with the Double Scotch Ale, at 8.5% and whisky barrel aged, which I didn't remember. This was an excellent Scottish style beer, and we followed this with the small bottled Russian Imperial Stout. This I do remember, and it was still in excellent condition. We also tried the Sour Brown, a soured American Brown Ale at 7% which in 2013 was a little before I started to appreciate sour beers - I now can, and enjoyed it.

 We continued next with a collaboration with St Eriks Brewery, a 10% Imperial Raspberry Stout which wasn't really to my liking, before finishing on the Bracia, bottled at 10% but now potentially a lot stronger. A wonderfully rounded, heavy, but tasty beer to finish on.

Friday was hazy but luckily I was off. I meet Tash and Mumrah in town for coffee and then headed to Shakespeares for a warm up to their Buxton Tap Takeover later. I had a half of the Buxton Bomba Generation bretted stout at 10% on keg, and a pint of Axe Edge on cask. In fact, I probably only had a third of the bomba, an intensely bretted, but wonderfully rich imperial stout.

After a quick pop to the newly opened West Street Ale House, and for some food, I bumped into Nate from Lost Industry Brewery and joined him and his friends back at Shakespeares at 17.15. The event started at 17.00. I queued to get in.

I started on another pint of Axe Edge and a half of Yellow Belly Imperial Stout on cask, based on claims it was about to run out - Chris tells me it sold in 52 minutes. This is a mighty 11% peanut butter biscuit stout (which is claimed to feature none of the above) and is the only time it has ever been sold on cask. I had a half to be on the safe side. Suffice to say, the beer was amazing!

I got sat down with Laura and Richard and Kirsty and talked and supped beer before spotting Buxton Brewer Chris who told us the other brewers would be coming to sit with us shortly. Colin and a man possibly called Rory came and sat with us, I talked to the man PCR for a while, as did my fellow drinkers. What a friendly, knowledgeable bunch they were.

Other beers tried on this night of exemplary Buxton brews were the matured Far Skyline Berliner Weiss which now tasted of white wine, the Wild boar and High Tor India Red on cask and the Belgian IPA on keg. By this time I had also bumped into Stef, Jules, Tony, Matt C and Nate again, and continued trying beers including another pint of High Tor on cask and a pint and a half of the Cloudberry Ice Cream IPA on keg, which was a far tastier and more beery beer than it sounds.

Alas I soon had to go catch the last First bus so left just as Katie and Lee turned up, but this was a fantastic penultimate event at Sheffield Beer Week for me.

I can't wait to start the ball rolling again next year.


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Wednesday - Tiny Rebel and Great Heck, Sheffield Beer Week


     having missed the beginning of the bibulous event that is Sheffield Beer Week 2016 I was feeling a little better on Wednesday and opted to visit the Bath Hotel. They were having a Tiny Rebel Brewing tap takeover and meet the brewer evening. This was my first event at the beer week, and was very well attended.

Tiny Rebel Brewery are a small Welsh brewery with an interesting an successful range of real, keg and bottled ales. Starting after a warm walk up West Street we opted to try some keg first - I had a pint of the Fiasco Lupilus saison at 6.7% and Tash the Cali multi hopped Pale Ale. Both beers were distinctive hoppy and tasty, with the saison having an interesting taste in the background and the Cali being perfectly drinkable at about 5.7%. After we found a seat in the corner of the back room after finding the front packed, we set about sampling some other beers.

I did see the brewers, but in the melee it was difficult to find chance to chat with them. Stef, Fiona and the team were rushed off their feet and Mike P was around bringing bottles of beer in boxes into the pub kitchen, no doubt in preparation for the bottled beer tasting the next day. Myself and Tash tried Beer a birth, a sweetish barra birth cake inspired ale, along with a pint each of the Fubar and Dubbl Dragon, a Belgian Monastery style dark Ale at around 6%.

The Dubbel was quite a hefty brew so am glad we stuck to one, and the Fubar was hoppy with a slightly sweetish element - I remember that when I last visited Wales in 2013 I longed for a hoppy beer all the time I was there, with only a strong Celt Experience IPA really satisfying my need. That said, they are brewing for a market where less hoppy ales are still quite popular and lets face it Sheffield is still a place where predominantly hoppy beers are very popular. Overall this was an excellent start to my week with interesting, well kept beers.

After wards we met with Clare and Rich and Kath at the Devonshire Cat for the Great Heck Brewery  Tap takeover and meet the brewer - he wasn't difficult to spot with his red hat, although I did not get to speak to Denzil Valance either - or Denzil Dexter, the scientist form the Fast Show, as I mistakenly called hoim at least twice.

Here we were on pints of the Shankar IPA, and free samples of the Patrick stout which were being handed out. Accompanied by numerous packets of pork scratchings this was a fine way to celebrate the brewers craft.The Shankar is one of my favourite cask beers and was in fine form, and provided a fantastic hoppy end to the night.

Details tomorrow of Thursday and Friday;s beery adventures.


Wee Beefy

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Its Sheffield Beer Week!

Now then,

        I'm a day late, mainly due to having the plague and vomiting through my eyes for two days. Well, not really. But sort of. So thus far Sheffield Beer Week has yet to begin for me. For the rest of yous, it began yesterday on Monday. For more info about its reason for existence, its collaborators and event details, do please follow this link . I myself will, assuming am back at work tomorrow, be attending two events for certain.

The first is on Thursday at the Bath Hotel a pub I have visited before. They are having a ticketed (£5.00 each) bottled beer tasting using some of the gems in the Bath cellar. In case you aged beer fanatics get the wrong impression, they haven't knocked down a wall and found some sixty or seventy year old strong ales. They have however amassed a quantity of strong and now "older" bottled Thornbridge Hall beers such as stouts and a sour brown, which will be opened and tasted.

I usually don't like being in town on the Twat in the Hat night as  sadly St Patrick's has become, but don't mind making the trip out to an old favourite to try some strong ales.

The other event I am attending is at Shakespeares, a pub I have also visited previously. On Friday they are hoping to have twelve (or maybe more) beers on cask and keg from the Buxton Brewery. The event is a meet the brewer and a showcase of their ales, and is free to get in - just turn up at the pub and buy them.

I am led to believe that I should look out for numerous strong stouts, Bomba Generation and a cloudberry ice cream IPA, a collaboration with Omnipollo brewery. The brewers will be there from the start at 17.00, to discuss.

Assuming I race through my Buxton samples I could always also go on that same night to Hop Hideout for a meet the brewer and beer tasting with Founders Ales. Its £10.00 a pop per person but Jules knows her stuff and it promises to be an interesting event - maybe worth contacting them first though, to find out of there are tickets left, since the HH is a small venue.

One final thing to mention is the fact that Sentinel Brewing Co on Shoreham Street are hosting two events (maybe more). Here is a link to their Facebook page for more details. I think they only got their alcohol license on 24 February so suspect this may be the first time they are open to the public as a venue.

Whichever events you attend enjoy yourself. Sheffield is a brilliant place to drink, brew, taste and discuss beer. Lets make Sheffield beer week a reflection of that.


Wee Beefy

Monday, 14 March 2016

Drowning In Paradise Again - Cloudwater DIPA V2


         I named two Cloudwater beers in my surprisingly early best beers of 2016, back in January. I only heard about the brewery in August or September last year when the Two Beer Geeks and Rich were discussing the hype that surrounded Cloudwater. Hype I knew none - but I understand there was plenty. That week I tried a Cloudwater pale ale at the Shakespeares. It was about 4.2% and quite nice tasting. I wasn't sure if the hype was justified - but I soon became aware of their incredible quality strong beers.

The Bath Hotel had a number of their special IPAs, almost all at 7.4%, on keg and cask from October to December. On the 21st December I had a stonking gret pile of em. Hugely hoppy, well balanced and seasonal IPAs to tempt the taste buds. The same appeared at Shakespeares as well. I heard suggestions that the lower gravity beers were watery, but until recently I only tried one, and it was fine. More recently, the Juniper Table Beer at the Beer Engine at 4.3% was a masterclass in blending hops and other flavours. It was a perfect start to a wonderful night.

A few weeks ago I attended "an gig" at the Queens Social Club. Assuming, correctly, that there would be little I wanted to sup, I prepared for the visit in the Three Tuns, where I had four and a half pints of wonderful 5.7% Dark Star Revelation. In an hour. This highly enjoyable and equally impractical start to the evening more than made up for the bottle of Newky Brown and half a bottle of sweetish white wine I supped at the gig. Afterwards, Lee and Katie drove is to Shakespeares.

There, with pride of place (amongst four others) was the Cloudwater DIPA2 on keg. It was £5.10 a pint, I think, and tasted bloody lovely. It was late, granted, but I still had at least two pints, at 9.6%, as did Tash, of this marvelous hoppy ale.

Earlier that week I had posted a question on Twitter asking if anyone was selling bottles of the DIPA2. Am not suggesting that Josh read that, am just letting you know that the first thing he said to me upon my arrival days later, was that there were bottles of the DIPA2  available. I bought one for me and one for Tash and Matty bought many. It was striking how different the colour was - a dark orange as opposed to the pale yellow of DIPA 1 and a different taste, more rounded and maltier,  yet retaining that gorgeous hit of hops, blended to perfection.

Alas the stock of bottles quickly ran out and so in fact, I didn't buy any more DIPA tp take home, but the day after the gig I bumped into my friend Mr Grant. I asked him if he wanted a pint, and he did, so I suggested we went to Shakespeares. Not only was it a delight to catch up, but I had about four more pints of the DIPA.

I realise that this post may, rather than avouch the values and qualities of Cloudwater DIPA, suggest that I am a sot. Obviously, that is not the case (clears throat), but it does demonstrate, I hope, that I love tasting Cloudwater beers of all strengths, and that the DIPA versions one and two, are far away the best beers I have tried thus far this year.



Wee Beefy

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Lost Industry. Found Ingenuity


       in October Shakespeares beer festival featured a beer from a new Sheffield Brewery, qwich was called  Lost Industry. Oyl int rord (that is how I would pronounce it anyway...) was an oatmeal stout. It was in the upstairs bar and tasted good. I later found out that people thought the brewery was behind the Sainsburys at Wadsley Bridge. And I never saw their beers again.

Until, having a chat with a man in the same pub, I found out they were launching a new beer - a pineapple yoghurt sour. Tony told me he had talked to them and said that if as claimed they liked the same beer styles as him they should brew something a bit different. I can't give Tony credit for the beer, but I can Lost Industry . And I can for the other beers of theirs which I sampled at the Devonshire Cat on Thursday.

It wasn't especially well publicised, but there was a fair sized crowd of drinkers in the Dev when we arrived. There were 5 beers on, including the sour, all on keg - which I am told is the dispense method of Satan. Only its not. The other beers on offer were Biscosity, a Biscotti coffee Baltic Porter, Pacific Wheat, a 4.3% wheat beer, Chinook, a 5.7% American Pale, and Hyperion an 8.6% Double IPA.

I started on a pint of the sour - its difficult to explain how, but it really did feature a slight pineapple flavour, with something akin to yoghurt in the background, overladen with sourness. It was far far better tasting than I have described.

I spotted Jules from Hop Hideout and John from Shakespeares and chatted to them both, and Jules pointed out brewers Nate and Jim. One of them is a chef. I did not find out which. I did however talk to them for a while outside in the cold. I told them that in comparison to the Oyl int rord this new batch of beers was far better. More exciting. More innovative. More ingenious. And it was time I had another...

I bought a pint of the Chinook, and it was amazing. A wow beer. A huge hit of Chinook hops but with balance in the overall flavour, even though the hops were biting. It was a decent strength for a US Pale ale and I think carried off the style well.

Next I had a pint of the Biscosity. This was everything I expected of a Baltic coffee porter - thick, roasty, warming, with a wonderful coffee aroma. I seem to remember this beer was about 7.8% - although I had yet to try the wheat I was thus far moving up in strength order. The wheat would have to wait. The Hyperion was next on my menu.

I have mentioned before about the cost of keg beer in the Dev Cat. Its very high. When you sell Beavertown Gamma Ray (I think) at nearly a pound more than BrewDog nearby there is clearly an issue, and the Hyperion at 8.6% was virtually a pound a percent. Only the whopping Bearded Lady at 10.5% at the Sheffield Tap, Sheffield's most expensive pub, cost me more than I paid at the Dev for the Hyperion. It was a very enjoyable, tasty pint. And it was about £2.00 more than it should have cost.

Pricing issues aside, I can safely say the Hyperion was beautiful. It was however also an interesting Double IPA not least because of its type of hoppiness. It was hoppy, yes, in a well rounded way, but which didn't seem to stay throughout the drink. It was enjoyable, but not what I expected.

My last drink was the Wheat and this was exactly what I hoped for -  a cold refreshing wheat beer. Just right for cleansing the palate after the might of the Biscosity and Hyperion before it.

One issue for me was, apart from the prices, the lack of CAMRA involvement in the event. Don't get me wrong, I understand that the beer was all keg, but Lost Industry as far as I know, sell in cask, keg and bottle. They are also a small independent Sheffield Brewery. Don't get me wrong, some of the attendees could have been CAMRA members, including Rob (from Hoptimism beer shop - hello again!) but there was no visible CAMRA support.

This is a disappointing message to give two new young brewers. Especially since am certain many CAMRA members actually drink keykeg beers. They may even enjoy them. The excuse that ts not cask or real and they are the Campaign for Real Ale seems to be wearing thin now, with so many breweries of exceptional beer (like Burning Sky, Magic Rock and Buxton) brewing both cask and keg.

Anyway, that aside, this was a great event featuring an aspiring Sheffield brewery and a range of interesting unusual and high quality ales for the folk of Sheffield to try. I don't know if it was a joke but the brewery said they wanted to experiment brewing a Vass - an Eastern European bread beer, and are well underway with a chocolate biscuit stout. Well done to Liz and her team for hosting the event and to Nate and Jim for producing the beers. Here is a link  to their Twitter page. They are also on Facebook.

Am hoping and looking forward to seeing their beers again soon.


Wee Beefy