Monday, 31 October 2016



       I was out with Wee Keefy and Tash tonight for Wee Fatha's birthday meal. Over the last few years his birthday meal has been at the Hardwick Inn but this time we chose instead to visit the Crispin in Ashover.

Arriving about 19.40 we found the Crispin in darkness. We headed to the Black Swan, with two real ales on, and they advised they did not do food Mondays. By this time the Crispin had opened and having got parked I went inside - to find they had 3 real ales but were also not doing food. Luckily the Old Poets Corner was.

It was quite busy, and Halloween free in the Poets. I had a pint of Idle Valley "Gnarly" American IPA at 5.6%, Koof a pint of the Yeovil Ales Winner (or similar, at 4.5%), WF a half of Ashover Light Rale and Tash a pint of the Ashover cider, which was deliciously dry and earthy. We found a table and sat down to order, WF having a Derbyshire Beef Stew, WK ham and eggs, Tash Chicken in a herb and red wine sauce and myself braised liver in a rich onion and wine gravy with mash.

All the meals were excellent, and served in large quantities, and as we progressed through the meal more drinks were ordered and supped. I had a pint of Abbeydale Black Mass, and Tash a half of the Ashover cider as a "filler" before I bought WF a double Caol Ila whisky, WK a ginger beer and myself a pint of the Pentrich Northfield Garage IPA at 6.5%. All excellent ales, and well kept.

Ashover is a great place to go drinking since overall they have 5 pubs, albeit the Nettle being in Milltown. Even then, this is a great range of boozers for one village. For, perhaps, obvious reasons, I consider the Old Poets to be the best but the above goes to show that there are other places to sup in Ashover, and I understand the Black Swan serve food every day but Mondays.

An excellent choice of real ales in the Poets with lovely food was a great way to celebrate Wee Fatha's upcoming birthday. Ashover is, indeed,  a great place to celebrate that, and other events.


Wee Beefy  

Sunday, 30 October 2016

The 42d Steel city beer festival 2016


      am sorry I am late posting this, have been without funds and caring for Tash, and making meals from limited ingredients in this last lousy week so haven't had the heart, energy or desire to post. Noting has changed, except I may forget what I did at the beer fest soon. So here is what I can remember....

This year I went three times, Wednesday, Friday (ye gads!) and Saturday. On Wednesday Mr Christopher Bamfordshire kindly arranged for myself and Meathouse to attend a tasting session. Its free on a Wednesday, but you still have to pay for a glass and some tokens. Once inside we followed the aroma of serious imbibing and found Chris and tables of very serious folks sniffing, peering, tasting and scoring. I enjoy the tasting sessions but am surprised how guarded and often outright arsey fellow tasters can be - its not espionage! Myself and Matty joined two tables, one with a big lad from the Closed Shop who may have been called Chris and a guy I met last year, and another with a couple from California.

They now lived in Scotland. so having asked them if they preferred cold and rain they explained that they were studying. "Luckily" for them I followed them round for the rest of the night, and even took them to Shakespeares. The bloke's name began with R and his lass was called Sam. Lovely couple.

Beers wise the range of blondes we tasted was a little underwhelming. However, since there were something like 250 beers to choose from its hardly surprising that there was so diverse a range of flavours. Some were dry, some bitter, some burntish, 2 were eggy, but this wasn't a reflection of the quality I encountered when choosing my own.

I started with a half of the NZ Pale from Electric Bear in Bath, a sumptuously hoppy starter that woke up my taste buds perfectly. This was followed by a half of Jarl by Fyne Ales and a half of the strong Nothing but the blood orange IPA from Emmanuales.

Better than all this was the keg. Thats right. A keg bar (see "evil keg" in CAMRA parlance) at a CAMRA festival is a shock, but about bloody time. Bottles, wine and cider have never been real ale but are almost always available, so why not keg? I suspect there are numerous reasons (my favourite being that they worry it may be more popular, but nobody has actually said that to me) but that matters not - it was there. And it was ace. A half of Kernel pale at 5.1% with possibly Motueka hops was purchased, along with a mighty Double IPA from Brew by Numbers. An astonishingly tasty beer! Some of the keg was more expensive than I would expect but nothing was outlandish, and the main thing was there was keg available. Looking forward to seeing more of the same in the future.

Friday was difficult to get in - Wee Keefy arrived just after 19.00 to find a long queue and a one in one out system. Figuring he could wait an hour or more, he met me and Tash in the Kelham Island Tavern. Like he said, nobody loses - the festival is full and therefore making money, and there are 50 or more excellent beers within a mile of the venue. We were on the Buxton Peach and Lemon IPA by the way - it appeared to be about £8.00 a pint, which is s surprising, since its only £5.30 at Shakespeares.....anyone know how much it was at the KIT?

Beers on Friday were limited to more Kernel keg, this time their excellent IPA, and Buxton Axe Edge (or maybe that was Saturday...). I also had Lizzie Ward from Lost Industry on cask along with Hopcraft we come in peace and a whole pint of cider. One thing to mention about the cider is there was no truly dry ciders on - you know, stuff that dissolves your jaw and leaves you gasping for breath afterwards. The driest cider one was a medium at best, although it was very tasty.

My final visit was on Saturday - I had an interesting experience getting in, and will say thanks, but am not sure why! I Had a pint of the excellent North Riding Mosaic on cask and then started on kegs, including Buxton Axe Edge and Kernel IPA again and then a Brewsmith or Horbury beer (no pen) before moving onto half a Buxton Tsar. Not a weak drop at 9.5% this was incredibly easy to drink, which is one reason, apart from the price, that I only had a half.

I also had a bottle of De Molen from Matty who was working his first beer festival. Well done to him, for working hard and showing a very good manner with customers. To be fair, he and all the staff worked really hard at the festival. Well done to all.

I would never criticise a person who volunteers to work a festival bar but I did laugh when I was trying to find the Sentinel sour beer. Having heard I liked a sour beer, and that said Rhubarb and rosehip gose had run out, he said "if you want sour, try the Stancil Barnsley Bitter - its got almost mp hops in it". I nearly laughed out loud, gawd blezzim.

Finally - food. A decent selection this year, mainly because there was a tent provided by the Beer Engine. After talking to them on Wednesday and Friday on Saturday I got me and Matty a portion of patatas bravas and a whole chorizo to share. Needless to say, and as expected, this was delicious snap, and well priced. Another new feature which I hope is repeated.

So, overall this was a fantastic festival. Love the venue, love the keg bar, love the beer range and the food. Ace.


Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Sheffield pubs - rare and first visits


     of late I have been branching out a little in my range of pubs. Not because am fed up of my regular haunts, far from it. Instead, I wanted to try a few new places to find out if I have been missing out. Here are some details of what I found.

I went to the Museum near Orchard Square recently. They were having an Oktoberfest - with no German beers! (they may have Becks Vier....) Admittedly getting German Oktoberfest beers in bottle or on draught is probably quite expensive, but their absence, and the fact that only two English Oktoberfest style beers were on, took the edge off the event. As it was I had pints of what I assume is Greedy King Oompah, having decided I wouldn't like the Milestone Oktoberfest beer on account of it being from Milestone. I didn't try the Curry Wurst with chips and salad for £7.00, but I was tempted. I probably only go to the Museum once or twice a year and I don't see that changing, but it was a decent pint . The pub was quiet, and it is better than All Bar One and the Bessemer nearby.

Another irregular venue is the Graduate on Surrey Street. This used to be a Mansfield House and sold their range of special real ales in the 90's which, if I recall, were all named after game - alas time and lack of access to beermats rids of me of any idea of their names but one had a stag on it and may have been called Royal Game or indeed stag, and one had a boar on it and was likely called Wild Boar....

Anyhoo, I did think that September after freshers week would be a bad time to go to this student boozer so it was two weeks ago we went, and found they were also having an Oktoberfest. Better than the Museum since there were 5 keg beers including Erdinger and another from Germany - I went for a pint of the West Brewery Glasgow Oktoberfest bier which was excellent, if a little pricey. And that's the puzzle for me, since its a student pub, why are the prices so high? Jaipur was on cask at £4.10 or 4.20 a pint, which is more expensive than the Sheffield Tap!

Tash was on the Sauvignon Blanc which was a nice drop and we had gone in for food - Tash I think had a spicy bean burger and I had smothered chicken. It was meant to be a chargrilled chicken breast topped with bacon, onions, cheese and BBQ sauce. It was actually burnt on one side and had no cheese on it! To be fair they replaced it without question with a less burnt one (I know what chargrilled means before anyone says) and it was quite tasty, but there wasn't much of it for £8.45 and it was served on a tray covered with grease proof paper, making cutting it difficult. Perhaps if I go in again I will stick to booze...

Until two weeks ago I had never been in the Penny Black. And now I have. The pub serves cheap food and the beer is also inexpensive however they don't sell cask or anything in keg or in bottles I would want to drink - this was very much a brief visit! Tash had a half of cider and me and Meathouse had halves of Greedy King IPA on keg. Now, making such an underwhelming beer colder and more fizzy is a recipe for disaster, and so it turned out. The beer was anonymous and lacked flavour, apart from a hint of background malt in the cream. That said though, the pub was busy, mainly with older couples, the food selection looked OK and apart from the crackling speaker above us the pub is in good nick.

The final irregular venue is the Sworddancer at Handsworth. They had three or four real ales on, and we had Stowford Press cider for Tash, whilst Matty had Birra Moretti and I had a pint of Abbot. Am not sure if its a case of my tastebuds having changed but it lacked the qualities that Abbot used to possess in the 90's when I drank it in the Red Deer.

We sat in one of the corners near the end of the bar and there was a group of lasses having a birthday drink in the area next to us. I have been in about 5 times now and never seen the pub rammed but as I have found out its not a bad place to pop in for a quick pint. Its probably busier in the evenings when they do food as well. I had another pint of Abbot as did Meathouse this time whilst I got Tash a double Sipsmith gin and tonic for not a bad price.

In Sheffield, it seems, there are all pubs for all people. And that is one of the (many) hings that make it a great place to live. And Sheffield Beer Festival starts tonight, hopefully confirming that fact.


Wee Beefy

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Everybody's leaving....

Greetings readoids,

      please can I just make clear that this is absolutely not a post about Brexit, Breaxfast, Brexbyes or other nonsense about European membership or not. This is about people. Real people. Who have left their posts in Sheffield's finest drinking establishments to pursue other careers. Or learning.

It all started with Stef. She left "Shef" in September, working her last shift at the Bath Hotel at the end of August, to go to Brighton to an MA or similar in stuff, or immigration studies. Luckily I don't know  anyone who works in that field so I couldn't forewarn her. Am sure it will be a blast. Am not so sure that a manager has been found by uber successful outfit Thornbridge to run the pub without Stef, but there you go....

Other lost Thornbridgians are The man of Ash and Beccy who have departed their stint at the Hallamshire House. I spoke to Beccy a few months ago at the Beer Engine and they are planning on taking on a pub in Chesterfield. There is every chance she may have told me which one, you know, its name. There is 100% chance that I have forgotten since. I wish them both the very best.

Jamie, or Siobhan, left the Three Tuns at some point to go and study poncing about at R.A.D.A or similar. Myself and Meathouse thought up an annoying and childish song, albeit catchy, which we intended to sing to Siobhan, which simply went "Mark's got a name, Siobhan's got a nickname", during which part we would give him the rods. For all our sakes, its perhaps best that myself and Matty missed his leaving do. He would only have turned up in drag and sang show tunes anyway. Best of luck though mate.

Also leaving the Tuns is David, AKA Kate. I have seen her in Sheffield drinking houses since, the most recent of which is Shakespeares. This is in some ways ironic - since Mister Christopher Bamfordshire is leaving there, and in fact, has left there, to set up a new bar or pub at the Boardwalk with Miss David herself. Am led to believe this has been planned for some time so am hopeful that the venture will prosper under their joint stewardship. Am sure it will be ace.

Also leaving Shakespeares, or rather, also having Sam. She also left to study things at University after what was probably a 4 month stint behind the bar. Derek, AKA Rebecca (I can't remember her real name am afraid, but Beccy is a good guess I think) is also studying, but bullishly remaining in employment at the great pub.

Some observers may worry that this sudden leaving spree may destabilise the great ship Sheffield pubs, but in fact Sheffield is a very steady and well maintained ship of ale and sails forth as strong as ever. Posts which may appear over the coming months will no doubt confirm that...

So, in fact, not everyone is leaving. Some people have left. Many remain. Godspeed you Sheffield pub staff! I look forward to drinking in your employers buildings very soon.


Captain Beefchart

Saturday, 8 October 2016

A Saturday Staffordshire pub crawl


        you know how it is readers. You mention to your unspolt pub and driving fanatic Father about a pub you hadn't visited in a while, and before you know it a 9 pub crawl is on the cards. That is what happened when I mentioned visiting the Royal Cottage to WF a month ago. Soon it was a fortnight ago on Saturday morning and at 09.30 we were off to pick up Matty and head into Staffordshire.

After what is always quite a lengthy trip - including a diversion as Eccleshall bridge was closed, we finally pulled into Peggs Lane and crossed the canal to the Anchor at High Offley. There was a group of 4 canal boaters from Aberdeen in already, one of whom may have been called George - hello man from Aberdeen on a canal boat whose name I am unsure of !

 We might have had a pint for me and a half each for Matty and WF of the only beer, Wadworth 6X, although Matty did get another half after the boaters had left, and we shared a very hefty bag of pork scratchings. The landlady chatted to us for some time whilst we took some pics and soaked up the atmosphere, before WF bought Matty an Anchor hoodie to wear. An excellent start to the day's drinking.

Not far away is the Haberdashers at Knighton. Its perhaps ten years since I was last there and it hasn't changed a bit. There were three beers on so we had a half of each - WF only having a few sips of his. Rowton Moonshine Mild, Rowton Bitter and Salopian Oracle, which was my beer of choice. The Rowton beers were traditional West Midlands in style and the Oracle was in excellent nick and well hopped. Although this was only a short visit its a pub I'd like to go to again.

Pub 3 was the Star at Copmere End. From a range of three or four me and Matty had a pint of Bass each and WF tried some Titanic White Star. The pub has a lovely exterior but is more modern inside, where food is served. The Bass was well kept and the landlady did very kindly tell us how to get to the Titanic pub the Sun in Stafford, which was our next stop.

The Sun is near Tescos and features about 9 real ales and some kegs. I had a half of the guest from a brewery in Yorkshire (!) and Matty and WF had or tried halves of the Titanic Plum Porter and a new beer. I also bought a half of the Speyside wheat from the Speyside brewery - probably the beer of the day with wonderful speyside malt in the mix. The Sun is an old pub with multiple rooms and caters for families and drinkers alike.

From here we tried to find a quiet road to park on to have lunch before visiting the Green Man - I may incorrectly have this down as Willington, as there is definitely one there but it begins with W and is in Staffordshire! Joint best beer of the day here - Holdens Black Country Mild, a pint of for me and Olde Trip for Matty and mild for WF as well. Brilliantly kept beer in this spick and span pub.

Pub 6 was a new one to us all - the Bore Hole in Stone is the Lymestone Brewery Tap. First time I have ever been to a pub on an industrial estate, and what a fantastic boozer it is ! Quite tiny, we had to sit outside but it was warm and a nice place to enjoy our 5 different Lymestone Brewery beers, which all had names. I also purchased a chicken ham and bacon pork pie to snaffle at home.

Pub 7 was the Brushmakers at Oulton. Now with a new sign, the pub sells Thwaites beers and possibly a guest - I had a pint of Wainwright in here and it was a little disappointing, perhaps just near the end of the barrel. That aside, this is a proper drinkers pub which serves the locals with real ale and little else, and was rightly busy for a Saturday night. One of my favourite Staffordshire pubs.

Our penultimate venue was the Black Lion at Consall Forge. Down a lane, then a track, park up, cross the river, the canal and the railway track and you are there. There were a few beers on and we tried the Connaught Pale (or similar) and the Dark Ruby Mild from their own brewery. Tim Taylors Golden Best came on after so we had some of that as well, to wash down our large meals - the mixed grill even defeated Matty!

The final stop was Cliffs, the Royal Cottage on the A53. Just him and a regular there when we arrived, and I had my usual bottle of Old Speckled Hen whilst Matty had Guinness and WF a J2o. Its been a while since we saw Cliff and it was good to chat about Sheffield and much else at in the beautiful bar room near the fire. The regular left about 22.00 and we continued to chat with Cliff until we left about 22.50, and Cliff closed and locked the doors behind us. He had done his three hours.

So ended a fantastic crawl of mostly old and unspoilt pubs in Staffordshire, with the Holdens Black Country Mild and Speyside Wheat the best beers of the day by far. Well done to WF for planning much of the route and venues.


Wee Beefy