Monday, 22 May 2017

Milliguin at the Red Lion Inn, Wensley


       Its a good guess that very few readers will have been to the pub, sunk the "special" in the post title, or indeed have ever been to Wensley itself. For those who have not, a local song proclaims:

"At Winster wakes there's ale and cakes,
At Elton wakes there's quenchers.
At Bircher wakes there's knives and forks,
At Wensley wakes there's wenches"

Songs eh. What do they mean? In this case, perhaps something, but only from long in the past. I hope that has helped you gain an understanding about the local area. Although I doubt it has.

In more recent times, the post the title may raise a few questions - unless you actually went to this pub, which closed in or around 1998. I went in the 1990's having discovered to my surprise that the Crown, a coaching inn with a renown for food (according to Wee Fatha)  that stood in the square set back from the road had closed many years ago (seems in the late 1980s). Anybody who visited that pub, as well as this pub in its latter years, would probably be surprised that it was the Red Lion that persisted. Maybe not as surprised as I was by what I found.

Before continuing I am grateful to the National Inventory of Unspoilt Pub Interiors website, a link to which is here , the Wensley Peak District Villages website, an entry by Tom Bates on his "about Derbyshire" website which confirmed some of the pubby facts, and general comments on the tinterweb, for being able to expand on my single and my brother and Ray.L.F's single visit, to the pub. Its always good to find out more about a pub and its history and surroundings.

Wensley, it seems is a name derived from Woden, a Norse God of War. Its not clear how a small village between Darley Bridge and Winster was afforded such a moniker but it is, as am sure you are aware, not the only Wensley in the UK. Wensley Dale, a tiny fissure in the grand landscape, runs alongside the village. Having entered Wensley through that dale, I can safely say that footpaths aren't, and heinous sumps of mud are, prominent features. And prior to a little research, that and my visit to the Red Lion was almost everything I knew about the village.

Winster, Darley Bridge and nearby Elton are beautiful villages with Winster and Wensley sharing some similar features, namely a network of alleyways, snickets and undriveable tracks to link the houses. The other three also boast excellent pubs so its a shame that Wensley no longer has any. Am not sure in fact that other than a post and telephone box the village provides any services to the traveler. It is however well worth a stroll around, or rather along, to admire the architecture. You can always get a drink nearby.

On my visit myself and my companion had got lost following a public footpath from Bonsall Moor and had arrived with muddy hands and even muddier boots. A sign in the Red Lion doorway instructed us not to take our boots off, but to place them into plastic bags before we entered the premises. Am not sure if we did, I think we risked leaving our clodden footwear in the porch and went in our socks.

The interior was, I would assume, 1950's. There was cushioned seating, and coach station cafeteria style steel tables with formica tops. There was a lot of red, and an old Mackeson advert on the wall. Two old couples were in having sandwiches and pots of tea. A glance at the menu showed all sandwiches came with beetroot. Even the beetroot.

My companion and I went to the loos - she came out to ask for some water as there was none in the Ladies, and was passed a bowl of warm water from behind the bar to get the mud off. I ran the trickling cold tap to tackle mine. I can't remember what she had to drink, but I had a can of Youngers Tartan Special, as all the fonts were covered, apart from maybe one. We sat down at a table and briefly perused the beetroot heavy menu before asking one of the couples how far it was to anywhere more, um...foody. Or which served draught beer.

It seems the couple running the pub were not - they were Brother and Sister. The pub was no smoking from 1968 which is in my experience very unusual, and was at one time linked to the farm next door. I took one photograph whilst in the pub and the landlady reacted as if I had taken a bus to Be-elzebub. My excuse of snapping my companion at the time did not wash it seemed. After enjoying our interesting choice of drinks we left, never to return.

Wee Keefy and Ray.L.F visited a year or two after us, and this is the first I heard about the legend that was Milliguin. WK would have probably opted for a soft drink - they did have a working milkshake making machine after all, but Ray.L.F was to try the "special". Milliguin, since you ask,  is a half a pint of Guinness and a half a pint of milk in a pint glass. Am guessing you probably have to drink it quite fast because the milk would likely curdle. As something of an alcohol enthusiast and sure this presented no barrier to Ray.L.F. I am not aware that he had more than one however. Having drunk late at night in the Farfield when it was part B&B with guests in their pygamas, am also willing to bet that nothing about this pub seemed strange to him.

This was a very unique pub and one which I was very glad I visited. Its similar, if only in it's unusual idiosyncrasies, to the Three Tuns, when run by Lucy in Hay on Wye, the Sun in Leintwardine Herefordshire, and the Seven Stars at Halfway House in Shropshire. All remnants of a simpler and now seemingly forgotten style of pub.

If any readers know of any unusual, unspolt or just completely unmodernised pubs in the UK, serving beer or milk related beverages, then please do let me know.

With kindest regards

Wee Beefy

Thursday, 18 May 2017

A few pints

This, dear readers,

           is hopefully the only time I will have to tell you about naughty forbidden drinking whilst on meds. Less meds, admittedly, but still while am taking 8 Flucloxacillin a day.

I discovered early on that even having just a half a goblet of wine whilst on both sets sent my head into a whirring spinning myriad of angles and pain so was relieved in some ways, since I knew that would deter me if I ever wanted to try some beer whilst on my medication. However, now on my second week of enforced sobriety, I have been out on four occasions. I have had a few pints therein. I have felt OK, eating each time, but am acutely aware that this will have impacted on the effectiveness of my meds.

Having now come off daily IV antibiotics at the hospital I have gone out twice from a total of four. I realise this is foolish, so, to get over that, I thought it best to admit my failings and celebrate what  I have quaffed over the last six days.

Saturday I came into town on the X5 (a little walk but fast) to meet Tash and we went to the Old Queens Head. No Abbeydale alas, but they did have Emmanuales Ryejoice Pale on at about 5%. I got a bottle of Hartridges ginger beer and a pint of that and a wine for Tash and we sat outside in the sunshine. It was a lovely real ale, with a well balanced rye flavour and hops.

From here we walked up to the Rutland. They had recently had their Dry and Bitter Tap Takeover on and there were still three of their beers on sale. I had thought they were Norwegian but it seems they are Danish. Here is a link to their website to find details of their ales. They appear to be rated very highly on ratebeer and the two I tried were impeccable. I started on a half of Blue Bee which I recall was a single hopped pale but not which, and a half of the Dry and Bitter Uprising, a glorious 6.5% East and West Coast style IPA with mosaic and simcoe.

We sat in the beer garden to drink these, Tash with a pint of Damson cider, and really enjoyed them both. The Uprising was frankly wonderful, perfectly balanced and dryly hoppy. We finished our short visit inside where, despite confusing a member of staff by asking what was left from Dry & Bitter (and being helped out by Christy) we had a pint of the Dry & Bitter Fat and Fruity, a 6.2% pale with mosaic, simcoe, eukanot and citra and added oats and wheat. Sister brew to Dank and Juicy, this was a fantastic easy drinking and tropically fruity pale which went down a treat.  Well done to the Rutland for sourcing these beers for their recent tap takeover.

On Sunday I was out with Tash and Wee Keefy in Derbyshire visiting our Canadian Aunt and Uncles Jill and Mel. Its great to see them for the first time in a few years and having sat in the sunshine for a bit we headed into Ashover to the Old Poets Corner. We had a fantastic Sunday carvery and I had two pints - Ashover Font which was dry and hoppy, and the Littlemoor Citra. Both pints were kept in perfect condition, as was the Ashover dry cider that Tash had.

On Tuesday we met Matty in the Old Queens Head. Alas the Ryejoice was struggling by this point, and was ready to be taken off so I switched from that pint to a half of Pilsner Urqell and a pint of Wainwrights. Both were kept well and this was an enjoyable two hours spent with the Nedveds.

My final splurge came yesterday. Not related to the grim doom of Wednesday losing on penalties (shudder) but based on my wandering in Shakespeares at 15.30 and staying til nine ish. Am not proud. It was insensible. Although, I did enjoy it.....

I started on a pint of the Crate APA on cask and a half of the Howling Hops DIPA on keg. The Crate was marvellously refreshing. I sat with Charlie Steward and Walt and we mused over all and muchly for a while before Matty joined us. I got him a pint of the Shiny IPA at 7.0% and myself another half and he a first of the excellent Howling hops DIPA. I really like the Howling Hops output I have to say, and this DIPA was sublime, hoppy and fruity.

A further half followed as well as the same of Northern Monk Tropical Death Party Black IPA. I was joined now by Richard who promised to chide me about my nonsensical decision to drink. He did right of course. It didn't spoil my evening though. I finished on a bottle of kernel and a can of Magic Rock Grower owned IPA at 6.0% before heading home.

Am now abstaining from booze for a week at least and I remain completely aware of my decisions. Luckily, I also remain as aware of the joy I felt at sharing such ales with my friends and family, both close, extended, and pub based.

Thanking you all for your continued and appreciated support whilst I try not to drink in lovely sunny Sheffield.


Wee Beefy

Friday, 12 May 2017

Old Queens Head Pond Hill

Now then,

      I first went into the Old Queens Head in 1994. Or 3. Or before. Myself and Rob Noble were about to head out on a public transport omnibus to Yorkshire Bridge to scale the hill and walk down into Hope and we nipped in for a quick drink. It was old. The pub that is. The beer was probably Stones or similar (am sure they sold the cask version of Bass Light during Euro 1996) and the pub did not present much else to remember.

Since then I had nipped in a few times and found the pub OK but not prepossessing, serving better beers since Thwaites took it over, and previously having enjoyed bottles of the 9% Gales Old Queens Head Celebration Ale when the refurbishment was completed in 1994 when I went in with Mark. You know Mark. Yorkshire lad. Works in St Albans. Knew Suooz.....

Anyhoo, two or three years ago the lease or management of the pub was taken over for Thwaites bewery by Czechs. They did a rather fab job of cleaning it up, introduced better kept cask ale, and guests from outside Thwaites range (am thinking Bowland Hen Harrier) and as well as generally running the pub well also introduced traditional Czech food on Mondays. I have never eaten Czech food anywhere else so can't vouch for its authenticity but having eaten there three times now I can vouch for its quality. Matty took us all for a meal on his pay day last month - I had goulash with onion and potato dumplings and it was divine. The dumplings look like thick cut bread but as well as being incredibly filling are also the lightest I have ever tasted.

The main angle on this post is what I supped with that food, and on numerous other recent occasions. The Old Queens Head is now able to source and sell local real ales. Its always sold good quality Thwaites and excellent Pilsner Urqell but as well as a Blue Bee Chinook Red (to be pronounced in credibility leaching East Lancashire accent) they have concentrated on beers from Abbeydale brewery.

Abbeydale Hopfenweiss was the first I know of, which is a bold style for a new brewery to them, and was followed by the impeccable Black Mass and the delicious Abbeydale Absolution. The Old Queens Head now serves an excellent and ever changing range of quality cask ales to add to its already impressive portfolio. I understand they are chuffed to bits to be able to do this. In my opinion the freedom to source locally has been hard won and deservedly awarded.

In terms of details of the pub, I would suggest you go in and get a pint of quality Sheffield cask ale and look around the numerous pictures for information. One thing I can remember is there was alleged to be a tunnel all the way to the pub from Sheffield castle wide enough to drive a horse and cart down, which was used to transport Mary Queen of Scots. That, however,  is about all I have. This is principally due to gaps in my memory about the age of the pub. These gaps start at the beginning of the building's life and end about three years ago. In that time the pub has become a regular stopping off point for myself and Tash and Matty and we go there to relax and chat and now to eat. Mention must go, I insist, to the traditional garlic soup. I love garlic, and so does the writer of the recipe. Its immense.

I hope the current team continue their management of this boozer for a long time to come, and that the original sections of this ancient building, though altered, can be kept as preserved as they currently are. Most crucially, I hope they can continue to source local real ales, making this another excellent and convenient pub of choice.


Wee Beefy

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Drinking in the Drink Inn

Hello folks,

        I thought it about time that I made you aware of my experiences of the above activity, which prior to the unending death of medically engineered sobriety, took place quite regularly. I have to say, as well as being a thoroughly decent boozer, my visits are partly a tribute, especially not being keen on the Bankers, to the Three Tuns. It seems that their closing has impacted strongly on my drinking life, not least my trying the Drink Inn. Sure I still see Nate as he now works in the cradle of greatness which is Shakespeares, but I probably popped in the Tuns every other day....

Anyhoo, at the beginning of April I was orf to see Tash and waited 65 minutes for a number 40 to not bother showing up, so headed into town on the X5, alighting on Commercial street. Thirsty, after the near nine minute journey, I decided to pop in the Drink Inn. Having heard on Faceache that it sold mainly Carling and Bradfield I wasn't holding out much hope for decent beer but of course, ye Faceachers pulleth mine leg. Though reserved, there are a fine selection of slurps in the Drink.

I noticed he had a new-fangled keg ale on as well as some decent cask - I had a half of the Sheffield brewing Co Seven Hills on account of not having had any for a while, and a whole pint of the Beavertown Gamma Ray. To be fair, the Gamma Ray was over a £1.00 a percent at £5.60 for a 5.4% beer - so near Dev Cat or Sheffield Tap crazy prices, but it was my first visit and after being questioned carefully about what I wanted I decided to bite the bullet and gulp the juice. It was, in case of doubts, delicious. There's even a link here to details about it. I also quaffed a can of Wild beer which was on offer at something inexpensive, alas in the time since, I have forgotten its moniker....

My next visit saw me in for a quick one with Matty on his way to WF's. We each had a pint of the Hawkshead Great White cloudy wheat beer at 4.5% and £3.50 a pint. It occurred to me that this was also slightly pricey but in fact, you can hardly get any pint for under £3.50 in much of Sheffield now. The Drink is quite central after all, and being a micropub, relies on a small stock to get by. The Great White, by the way, was in absolutely excellent condition and went down far far too easily.

My third and fourth visits, with Tash both times, saw them running short of stock re wines, which is a shame, since Tash drinks more wine than anything else these days. That said, the gentleman did us a deal and charged us less for the more expensive one when the other ran out. I also had a fantastic can of BrewDog Neon Overlord chilli IPA, which I understand was quite difficult to get hold of. Despite the fears of Meathouse, this was very tasty and the chilli did not overawe. During the snooker finals a man came in claiming to be an American tourist who sang a couple of sings, although, it seems, on his last visit he had been Irish....

Our last visit together saw more wine shortages but Drone Valley Treeshekker dry cider was on so I think Tash had that and some lovely gin and tonic. This s also where I finally ran out of credit on my lovely card which I never had niver. A final stop off with Matty and Tash saw us enjoying Gamma Ray and some from a cask, which would have had a name, you know, in order to differentiate it from other products. We also had some rather fab Hobgoblin crisps from Burts.

The Drink Inn is deceptively large as there is seating at the back next to the bar, and has its own branded glasses. The beer has always been well kept and he keeps an interesting range of cans and bottles form microbreweries. The man himself is from Nottingham and has a name, I dunno, Rob, Richard, Pete, Ethel, one of those, or of many others. Since I normally call him Ay up it scarcely matters. Tash had a chat to him every time she was there and he seems like a decent genuine bloke. He told me they get big crowds for events and on matchdays so its well worth selling Carling as that is the most popular drink. A sensible business decision.

As soon as am off meds I will be popping into the Drink, in more ways than one, as soon as I can. In the meantime I wish man from Nottingham with a name all the very best, and hope you will also pop in for a drink. At the Drink Inn.

You very bestestest of health

Wee Beefy

Sunday, 7 May 2017

The Four Degrees

Now then.....

       no Lazerngennulmurn, this is not a post about a discalculate soul pop covers band, instead it is my musings on a rather magnificent collaboration IPA in a can which I purchased and supped before entering "the dark time" of no frol. Please find hereafter some observances about said luponic compound.

The first thing to mention is Boak and Bailey, erstwhile beer blogging legends, successful authors,  and persons who create a host of reactions queries and debates from readers by writing in a concise but simultaneously voluminous style. I ramble, Boak and Bailey subtly, but intentionally, ask numerous questions in 30 lines. Its quite a skill.

Years ago, in the past, they wrote a brewery map or family tree starting with Kelham Island and Thornbridge breweries. There is a link to the PDf about Kelham here. Using the much over-relied-upon meter of "facts" they sewed together a tapestry of links between the starter brewery and where their former brewers had since gone. Kelham Island, it seemed, had certainly set a lot of brewers careers in motion.

It was interesting therefore to find that the 4 Degrees of Separation IPA was based on a reunion of the current and three previous brewers at Abbeydale Brewery in Sheffield. Especially given that one of the founders of Abbeydale Brewery, Patrick Morton, used to work at Kelham Island Brewery and was featured in that very same article. Abbeydale may not be a brewing family tree, but it certainly has notable links between some excellent and talented brewers. The brewers involved in this were Abbeydale, Magic Rock, Northern Monk, and Siren Craft. All worked or brewed at Abbeydale in the early stages of their career and as the list above illustrates, have since gone on to start successful enterprises of their own.

Alas the can has insufficient space (although it features amazing artwork from Yasmina Kontiki) to tell you whom it is from each so am going to guess that Stuart Ross of Magic Rock was one, since he brewed in Sheffield - I know he did at Crown and am willing to guess he did at Abbeydale too. A prize of the joy of knowledge goes to anyone who can name the other two....

Its great that Abbeydale have branched out into the kind of full on, hop laden, citrus hop smack, fruity, cloudy, and dryly bitter IPA's that I drink so many of these days. Its better still that this type of production sits so comfortably in its portfolio along with Moonshine, Deception and Absolution. Abbeydale produce cask, keg and small runs of cans (I understand they hired a canning machine for this) and whilst they may brew more cask than anything else there is no detectable "battle" for style supremacy. What they have done is forged ahead into new areas of beer style and production, whilst remaining united behind all their products.

As a footnote to this, since you are probably justifiably expecting it, the beer was fantastic. It was very very easy to drink, cloudy, or as I call it "London opaque" (thanks Nate!) and had a wonderful lingering bitterness in the aftertaste.  From memory (AKA the can) I can recall tasting Amarillo, Cascade, Nelson Sauvin and Galaxy in the heady hoppy mix. That last line is simultaneously accurate and dishonest. Not because I couldn't taste any of the hops listed on the can, but because I had to look on the can to remember....

I did like as well that its initial flavour was slightly less juicy hopped than I was expecting but soon became overwhelmingly fruity and dry as I supped. It was a darkly orange 7% IPA of deliciousness, and the glass of it probably lasted me about 15 joyful minutes. A great testament to the drinkability and wonderful balanced flavours in the beer.

I understand some may still be for sale in Sheffield but I also understand it was a limited production  line so I would recommend that you grab some whilst you can. Well done to Abbeydale for not only setting the three protaganists on a career in brewing, but also bringing them back together to treat us to a fantastic IPA, made, of course, in sunny Sheffield.

Your very bestest of healths!

Wee Beefy

A Monday trundle


      last Monday, when I could both walk, and consume alcohol, I decided to fill in the time I had orf in a useful and productive manner.  That Monday I decided to utilise some of my hard earned overtime payments to go for a little wander around some pubs which are good. Here are some shards of the memories of that short but slake-d hike.

I started in Crookes and was delighted, after checking, to find the Punch Bowl was open. To be fair, Faceache had told me they were reopening on the Wednesday and I assumed this was not a one off so decided that any stumble should start there. The Punch Bowl layout has not changed, they still do Reet Pizzas and they still employ some of the same staff. They are however, run on a tenancy at will or similar sounding arrangement with Greedy King and have less access to decent ale. It having just been Bank Holiday weekend, as the exhausted manager told me, they had sold most of the better ales and were awaiting a full delivery to top up. I did, however, have a very decent pint of Harvest Pale.

The pub is being run by that man with short black hair who used to work at the Tuns and the Punch Bowl previously. He had a name, but had taken a break when I left so didn't have chance to ask him what it was. It likely comprises of sounds. The man who has short black hair and whose name likely comprises of sounds is hoping to take the lease on long term but in the meantime is running the pub, quite successfully, based on the first five days evidence. I would therefore encourage you to get up there and support him and his colleagues and the pub. Alas the Closed Shop has yet to reopen for various reasons which I won't make up, so that changed my planned route slightly.

Down Crookes and Western Road is Slinn Street and the Princess Royal. I noticed on the way to Crookes that the Uni Arms does not open on a Bank Holiday Monday. That is interesting since I know they are forbade from Sunday opening without the permissionn of their would be demolishers but this is surely a Monday? It seems the mystery of Bank Holiday Mondays is always how pubs and transport will treat them re hours of service. Luckily the Prinny was open irrespective, and I had a pint of Stancil Stainless from a range of three or four. The Stancil was very well kept and tasted fantastic and I supped it sat in the bay window area to the left, in this wonderful and largely unspoilt back street pub.

Off down Fir Street next and then down to Daniel Hill and the Blake. I had a very tasty pint of Shiny Equinox from a slightly underwhelming range, but this was on excellent form so I didn't mind. I sat by myself in the room on the left and tried to recharge my phone whilst relaxing with my pint and some lobster crisps. Get me! On a trip to the loo I noticed a bin ends list so my next drink was a can of the Vocation Divide & Conquer, a 6% or more black IPA. This was  a bargain at £3.50 and went down really well. Another excellent if less often visited boozer.  

Down the hill next and through luck and guesswork I found my way through the housing estate to the Hillsborough Hotel. I haven't been to the Double H for some time and was relieved to find that Tom was behind the bar when I got in. A pint of Wild Weather Ales APA at 5% and £3.10 a pint was had and I went to sit in the conservatory and soak up the warmth whilst arranging to meet Matty for a quick drink.  The Wild Weather was also on top form, continuing a theme of beers at the pubs thus far.

Off down the main road to the Wellington next. I sat in the room on the right supping and listening in on the numerous conversations in this excellent pub. I may well have had a pint of the Neepsend Amarillo but to be honest I stopped recording my drinks by this stage so its not clear what I had. To be fair, am willing to bet a slab of money that it was pale and hoppy - and delicious. Alas a lack of real funds meant I could only stay for one.

My mind tells me I also nipped into the Kelham Island Tavern. I am genuinely not sure if this is true. I know I needed the loo so would definitely have popped in somewhere first, and where I could have used a card terminal so the KIT fits the bill. In here, if I was, I would have had a drink from a pint glass and supped it down my throat.

My final stop was at Shakespeares. On my keg line, which I own, obviously, they had put on Firestone Walker American thingymadoodle or similar. I tried it but wasn't impressed. In the absence of any strong hoppy cask to tempt me I opted to buy myself and Meathouse a can of Magic Rock Psyhcokinesis IPA each in a 500ml can. We sat in the clock room and very much enjoyed our wares.  An excellent way to finish a crawl of some excellent boozers between Crookes and town.

Huzzahs for the bars, in shiny, sunny, Sheffield.


Wee Beefy

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Drinking tea in Shakespeares


            its important at the early stage of this post to confirm the above was not me. I do drink tea, yes, but that is one of many things that I do at home that I do not undertake in Shakespeares, or indeed any other pub. Trimming my facial hair, cleaning my teeth and stroking Benny* are a few others.

Anyhoo it was after overtime and two couples came in and the two Ladies of the group expressed concern at drinking more beer in another pub and it was, perhaps by them suggested they had a cup of tea. Chris said this could be done. All of a sudden they seemed quite embarrassed. Sensing their unease I decided it would help if I calmed them down. So I said "Its OK you are the second and third customers I have seen order a cup f tea in here. In six years.....

The group were from sunny Scunny and comprised Dave, Lee, Kate and Katrina, or another female name with a "c" or a "k" at the beginning. Or, it could be none of these. They had nipped into sunny Sheffield for a days drinking and were heading for the BrewDog bar next. Having established that they could now receive emails alright I had quite a good chat with them.

I was on Kernel Mosaic IPA at 7.1%. In a surprising development, it was chuffing ace. Cloudy, or as I now say "London Opaque" and absolutely bursting with hoppy juicy bitterness from the Mosaic. This was, quite frankly, an excellent pint. I had three just to make sure, along with a Red Willow Wreckless (or similar) at 6.6%. Although I had this first and enjoyed it, this could not match the excellence of the Kernel.

I had been drinking the same the night before on payday. Am fairly certain that I didn't have anything else to drink that night, apart from a pint of the Blue Bee Eukanot and two of the Hopjacker Beer House pale at the Bar Stewards. They have finished their stint of temporary licences and are well on their way to securing a full or at least long term license to sell bose. I wish Al and Charlie all the very best in their future operations at the micropub.

I went there three times this weekend, once to start, once to take Wee Keefy who had never visited before (and according to his camera to have a mini Beefdoze) and once for a pint and a bottle of Augustiner Edelstoff lager to take to Mr P's. A fantastic beer if you have not tried it.

My last mention this month goes to the Drink Inn micropub on Commercial street. One of the side effects of the Three Tuns closing is there are very few places to go near the tram line which serve decent real ales and aren't the Bankers. he Drink Inn fits the bill perfectly. I have probably been in about four or five times in the last month and enjoyed it every one. Especially the can of BrewDog chilli IPA that I tried.

Well worth popping in for a taster. As the Bar Stewards will be when they reopen in a month or three's time. Huzaah!


Wee Beefy

*Benny is a cat.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Revisiting Derby

Hello Ladies and Lentilmen,

     yesterday I took Matty to Derby for the first time. Its not the first time he has been, but the first time I have been with him to share my knowledge of its frankly excellent boozers. To make a change, I decided we should go to some new pubs for the very first time. Here are some details and guesswork about what we found.

We had intended to get to the Derby about 11.00 as Matty had to be in back in Sheffield for 19.00. In the end we were delayed by his long phone call to the leccy and we met at about 11.15. Soon on a train we arrived just before midday and headed straight for the Station Inn on Midland Road. It was closed. It was gone midday. This was a poor start.

Round the corner and down back streets took us to the Brunswick, one pub Matty definitely remembers drinking in on his previous visit. Here he had a pint of Brunswick Rocket at 4.8% and I halves of Kreft Brewing  Belgian Pale and Driftwood Spa Brewery JCS, a hoppy, Cornish, pale. By Cornish standards, there was quite a lot of hop in there but the Kreft was better. Matty got a discount as a CAMRA member, although despite him buying all 3 drinks am fairly sure mine was not. I don't mind, but that does seem a little picky if so. We sat in the room (one of) on the left and supped and planned our next destination.

In a surprising move we ended up in the Alexandra. I really like this pub, and as usual there was an excellent range of ales to choose from. I had a pint of Dark Star Revelation on account of it being fab and Matt a Lenton Lane Bluebird at something sensible like 4.2%. We also had a pork pie each, before realising that there was a range of scotch eggs including black pudding flavoured. We got chatting to a man who used to work at Rolls Royce, who had a name. He definitely had a name.

We headed off into town next and made our way through the streets to Friargate. I haven't been in this part of Derby for a while but found it easy enough, and as we walked along Matty let out a huge, happy, deep breath at seeing a craft beer and board games pub. Despite my concerns, we went into Alchemy, which used to be the Friargate I think, and while Matty got a bottle of Dancing Duck DCUK I had a pint of Franciscan Well Chieftain Irish pale. Its the first time I have tried a beer from this brewery and it was very pleasant. I also paid for a half and got a pint, so no qualms on price!

Just up the road is Suds and Soda, a "joint" recommended by Nate from the Shakespeares which delivered on all counts. There were 6 keg beers on from far and wide, most of which we tried. They also sell a rather excellent rang of cans and bottles from small brewers, mainly UK and European. It is, I have to say, rather bloody fab.

I had halves of the Belching Beaver orange and vanilla IPA at 6.9%, and the Les Brassuers Du Grand Paris Citra and Galctique IPA at 6.5%, from Paris. Matty had the Lost Industry Peach melba Yoghurt Sour at 5.7 and the Twisted Barrel Hmmm at 6.5%. All four beers were in excellent condition and offered a range of styles - its not every day you see a genuine French IPA. Matty also got a bottle of the local Neonraptor Brewery Endangered bourbon porter. I understand the shop does the publicity, maybe including artwork, and also distribution of this small breweries output. Its certainly not a beer I have tried before. An excellent place to go for a drink in Derby.

Up the road next to the Last Post, micropub. Having missed it last time I was pleased to find it this, and it did not disappoint. The pub sells four or five real ales and a couple of kegs in the tiny bar area which must seat about 15. Out the back is a fabulous suntrap garden where I went for a sunbathe with my pint of what may have been Stockport Brewing Cascade. It was definitely one of the four beers that were on....

Matty loved this pub as the regulars were so friendly and knowledgeable, and recommended two nearby pubs which we tried. Definitely a venue I will be revisiting.

The Woodlark was the first of the pubs recommended which we visited and in here we had a drink of beer - each. I can't remember which pub was which in terms of beer range between this and the White Lion (or Golden, or Red Lion....)* but in one of them we had pints of Tiny Rebel pale ale. We sat in the beer garden soaking up the sun whilst Matty delighted in telling me that the mighty Wednesday were losing to Derby. Only after we returned to the main road back into town did he tell me we had won. He a funny guy.

Our penultimate stop was the Flowerpot where my phone camera tells me I had a sandwich. We each had a pint of Oakham Green Devil here to dispel our disappointment of how it tasted on Friday night in Sheffield. Matty was suitably persuaded that this was an excellent beer, served in an equally excellent pub.

Our final stop was the Alexandra, again, where we had more beer and a black pudding Scotch egg, which met and perhaps exceeded our expectations. An absolutely excellent range of snap as always in the Alex, and a brilliant way to finish our crawl of Derby.

Its always been a favourite place of mine to nip to for a quick booze up, and after twenty two years of doing so its good to see that having visited five new pubs in Derby there is still plenty to discover, and much to enjoy in this fabulous city of pubs and ales.


Wee Beefy

*the Lion of many unspecified colours was the Golden Eagle, so Matt tells me. But whadda arr norw......

Friday, 14 April 2017

A fantastic Sheffield pub crawl

Hello all,

       apologies for the delay in posting, have had a few issue to deal with of late, not least my overdraft being taken off me and me slowly finding out which bills I haven't paid, since my card was retained when I tried to get a mini statement. Luckily I had saved some funds with Mumrah so have been able to buy food and get out now and again. Here is some of what I suspect may have happened.

I met up with Glen for the first time in years. We met at the Sheffield Tap which was rammed, and had halves of the Hawkshead Cumberland Pale or similar at 3.6%. It was well over £3.00 a pint. Very tasty and refreshing though, and not the most expensive beer of the night.

That was at the Rutland Arms where we had a fabulous pint each of the Lervig tasty juice tropical fruit IPA. Being Norwegian keg is why it cost £6.00 odd a pint, but living in the saaaaarf I imagined Glen would be unsurprised. He wasn't, but admitted that this was frankly fabulous. One of the most refreshing, hoppy, juice filled and thirst quenching beers I think I've had. We did think about stopping for food but funds were limited and I had two emergency vouchers for a nearby burger chain. And besides, we needed to meet Tash and head for Shakespeares, a pub that was closed the last time Glen had been drinking in Sheffield.

Regurgetated burger slithers munched we met Tash in the Bankers and let her finish her wine before heading off to Shakespeares. As always the range did not disappoint. It also did not stick in my memory. I may have had Ridgeside cask but am certain there was a fabulously hoppy Kernel on keg so me and Gen would have had that. Tash had a pint of dry cider, or maybe a glass of wine. Seems two days of human and unhuman cannonball from Magic Rock has rewired my memory....

We finished the night in the Wellington where we would have at least two pints for me of Neepsend Breakfast IPA Mark 3. We also tried a pint of their Centennial ( according to rich) and finished on more Breakfast IPA. A fantastic quick pub crawl of some of Sheffield' finest real ale pubs for Mr. W was had.

More posts soon about other bowzey trips in the steel city of sunny Sheffield.

Cheers and Huzzah!

Wee Beefy

Friday, 31 March 2017



     I was going to write this last post of March 2017 about two real ale pub crawls, a beer fest, incompetent fuckwitted staff at Wetherspoons putting their fingers in drinks, but now am going to address in some way, the demise of Reet ale pubs.

I say that, but in fact I know nothing about their demise.

There will be accusations, allegations and no doubt, recriminations, but I don't know what has happened. So instead I will try and provide an assessment of the three pubs affected before Reet Ale took over.

I should say first of all that there are some persons suggesting that declaring bankruptcy on the 30th or 31st of March is a beneficial way of doing so as it escapes or avoids some taxes or fines. Am not sure this is true, but if it is then so be it. This post serves ostensibly to celebrate.

The Closed Shop was a shambles prior to being taken over by Reet Ale pubs. The Hallamshire regularly supplied staff to lock up whilst the incumbent at the time was pissed, drugged asleep or all three upstairs. His tenure was rightly cut short, not long after I went in to find one real ale on, a nineteen year old manager who had started that day and no prospects of improvement.

The Punch Bowl was popular on Crookes but not necessarily with beer drinkers. Cask ale was limited to one or two and was poor in terms of choice. There wasn't any chance of an in house cooked pizza, and though it improved slowly the beer range after Andy took it over was far better than before.

The Three Tuns struggled for many years.  It usually had a few real ales but seemed to exist entirely for HSBC staff and local solicitors and so was a less often visited venue. There were numerous changes of owner with various similar outcomes of ale, food and design but to be fair, bar a rare visit at Christmas, I rarely went in.

As you may know, in recent years the Three Tuns, especially, has been one of my favourite pubs.

This makes the announcement today or yesterday that it (and am led to believe the other pubs) will be closed indefinitely hard to take. And that doesn't even start to address the issues and concerns of current staff at all 3 venues which must number fifteen or twenty. I just hope however that all involved can find alternative employment, and in some cases accommodation, elsewhere in Sheffield ASAP.

In short its a sad, sad day for Sheffield. However, Blue Bee seems safe, and the Rutland is in Chris and Dave's hands. So, in fact, all is not lost. What remains however is tainted.

Thank you Reet Ale pubs.

You did well in your role. Until yesterday.


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Weird Beard Tap takeover at Shakespeares


        am late with this as always since it was last Friday, but am going to tell you what I experienced at Shakespeares on the day when people wear hats and act like twats (mostly, but not all). I never like going out on St Patrick's day because of the twat in the hat element. Luckily, with Thrash band Regulus (I think?) launching their new album and playing upstairs, along with the Tap takeover, Shakespeares was T.i.T.H free all night....

Arriving about 18.00 I was not all that shocked to find it absolutely chuffing rammed. I spotted Dan H, Ian and Richard in the clock room which, of course, I own, and having failed to get a seat went and stood with them. Richard loved the Weird Beard Boring brown beer, a brown non boring beer on keg at 9.6% which he was sampling, and went back for another. I meanwhile was on a half of Holy Hoppin Hell on cask at 9.5% and a pint of Mariana trench American pale ale at 5.3. This was going to be a night of hops!

I was soon joined by my friend Mr G and he had a drink whose identity escapes me, whilst I went for halves of Fire, a smoked chipotle Rauchbier, and another half of Holy Hoppin Hell. This is one o the hoppiest beers I have ever had and only just escapes having a paracetamol flavour in the background - there is sufficient fruity tropical notes in the mix along with the giant slabs of bitter hoppiness to make this a beer to savour.

Mr G had a pint of the Little things that kill next, a viciously hopped pale at 3.9%, brilliantly showcasing the, am guessing, astringent US hops used at a very quaffable volume, whilst I had halves of Fade to Black Black IPA and Five o clock Shadow, a 7% American IPA.

By this time we had managed to grab some chairs and a table to sit at, and were enjoying the buzz, and loud thrash coming form upstairs - we even toyed with the idea of going up to watch the band play, where I would have bumped into my mate but in the end we decided about 20.30 to leave and head across the road to the Bar Stewards. It was slightly more quiet here....

I returned on Sunday for another pint of he HHH, and also a half of the Double Perle imperial coffee stout (this and the Five o clock may be the wrong days round by the way....). Given the number of excellent strong stouts available this was an amazingly easy to drink strong stout although the coffee was slightly lost in the overall flavour.

Once more Shakespeares pulled off another Sheffield beer week supershow, and although I did not get to meet the brewers (who may or may not have been there) it was still an excellent showcase of one of my favourite London breweries.  Well done to the staff at Shakespeares for a brilliant night and line up of beers and music.


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Serious Lervig


      I have now managed to attend a further two and a half beer week events in sunny Sheffield. The first of which came on Wednesday when, having planned and then not gone to Huddersfield, I ended up out and about with Tash and went to the Lervig tap takeover at the Rutland Arms.

Chris and Dave have not long ago taken over the Rutland and in my two visits thereafter little has changed - its still kooky, still has an excellent jukebox, still sells an excellent range of beer in all formats, and am assuming the food remains excellent. The other trait continuing is it being chuffing rammed. Always the sign of a good show of ale.

Lervig, or Lervig Aktiebryggeri, are a brewery from Stavanger in Norway with a cool slightly understated logo and who produce very tasty beer indeed. I first heard about them in 2015 when me and Tash went to Indyman beercon. There were four or five of their beers on offer, none of which, of course, I can remember, but I do recall them being very good, against a fairly stunning selection fo ales from elsewhere. That they had a tap takeover at the Rutty was reason to celebrate and of course, attend.

One interesting thing is Tash drank their beers all night. Those of you who know us well will be aware that since June last year she has really struggled to drink beer. She still can't touch more than a taste of cask and limits herself when she feels OK to strong keg and canned beer. Its easy to guess that yeast is the issue, but much of the keg and canned beer I drink is unfined so that's not so straightforward. Whatever the cause, or found solution, Lervig was acceptable to her constitution... #rhyme

When we got there we had already missed the Magic Rock collab Farmhouse IPA. To be fair I would definitely have had a pint, but in its absence we both had a pint of Hop Drop sour IPA. This cloudy 6.5% (remember kids, these are just numbers) sour hoppy potation which hit the spot nicely. On keg it was pricey, in comparison to cask, and crucially for me, was slightly above the horrid pound a percent mark. That said, Norway is a very expensive place to drink in and but beer from, and as the alcohol level became higher the value improved. The beer was, as suggested, terrifically hoppy whilst rejuvinatingly sour in the aftertaste.

Up next was a half of the Sverd I Fjell Double IPA at a whopping 10.5%. A relative bargain for that strength at £7.80 a pint, this was a wonderful strong ale with plenty of hops but a balancing tropical tinge and good malt in the background. It was, worryingly, far easier to drink than its strength suggested. It was am American style IPA so am guessing had American hops but am not sure which but I thin Centennial featured.

Our final finisher was a half each of the Lervig collaboration with Hoppin Frog,  Slipping into darkness, a huge 12% imperial stout made with chocolate malt and aged in martini barrels. Sumptuous, wonderful and not that sweet after the first drink it tasted fantastic. Although this was more of a challenge than the previous beers, it was a wonderful way to end our three hour stint at the Rutland, once again as part of Sheffield beer week 2017.

It will be interesting to see if Lervig show up in Sheffield again soon and what ales are on offer - there were three or four others on sale at the takeover. I understand one or two may still be on at the Rutty as well so do pop down and have a try for yourself.

More details of Sheffield beer week 2017 events to follow. Huzaah!


Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Sheffield beer week, thus far (ish)


        am writing this post partly as an apology for all those wonderful folk who have worked tirelessly to get the event off the ground initially, and running for its third year. Have not really planned to do much this year for various reasons, apart from the Beavertown and Weird Beard Tap Takeovers at the Hallamshire House and Shakespeares respectively. Meanwhile, all I have done so far is go to the Three Tuns and Shakespeares.

In there on Monday I found a slip of paper on my table as I indulged in some Berlin IPA from somewhere overseas. It was wonderful, very citrus hoppy which I hadn't been expecting. It was strong so perfect to start with, and had a very refreshing taste but with a big slab of hops in the background.

The slip of paper said Imperial Stouts cellar list, and listed three very strong dark beers. These were Abbeydale and Beer Ink Smore than a feeling at 9% (which I didn't have because it said it tasted of Smores, and I don't know what they are!), and Steel City and Lost Industry Pastor of Muppets at 11.5% which had communion wafers in the cask and is a pale stout blended, or perhaps brewed with the addition of, Chateneuf Du Pape, one of my favourite red wines. The final was Atom Neutron Star, a 12 or 12.6% vanilla coffee stout.

Halves of the latter were ordered from the cellar and I sat in the front room supping them, along with finishing my IPA. I spent much of that time talking to a Sheffielder called Matt - someone who I have no doubt seen many times but only just got to tale to. Hello! Please remember to be impressed that I think I can remember your name....

Beers wise, both stouts were excellent. What I like about the Atom brewery is that they know how to make surprisingly easy drinking very strong beers. Their philosophy of using herbs, botanics and flowers in their beers and am led to believe, almost no hops, makes them stand out, and this beer was no exception. It tasted its strength, of course, but didn't cloy or hang in the mouth. It was smooth and powerfully delicious, like a faerie oil slick of loveliness....

The Pastor of Muppets was also excellent - not so much pale, likely because of the hue of the red wine which if I recall is fairly dark, but sumptuous to taste - am not sure I could identify flavours of wine but this was, in a good way, unlike almost any stout I have had before. Another outstanding offering.

No doubt at some point I will google smores and attempt the Abbeydale beer as well. I finished, strangely with halves of Alechemy, just because I love their stuff, and what may have been the excellent Breakfast IPA V3 from Neepsend and Hopjacker. Both well below the percentages of the others. Five of the excellent ales that night were brewed in Yorkshire. Tha norrs.

Am hoping to have further updates in due course but as I said I haven't planned that much. And, for info, as well as the excellently East Lancashirely pronounced Chinooook from Blue Bee, the Three Tuns also had the excellent Blue Bee Waimau single hopped pale ale on. Not linked to Sheffield beer week I don't think, it was nonetheless an excellent beer which told me a lot about its inclusion in and the flavours it imparted in their excellent Land of the long white cloud pale ale recently.

For those of you more organised, dedicated, and perhaps with a surfeit of funds (!) here is a link to the list of events between now and the past and future.

lease do everything you can to support and enjoy this wonderful annual event.


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 11 March 2017



          its been over two years since I was last in Derby, in the daytime at least. I was there with Tash for the trade session of the Derby Winter Ales festival, a fabulous showcase of winter ales (and other styles) from around the UK which included numerous free samples. We got to a few pubs but after a few pints of Oakham Green Devil in the Alex we came home, sated. On Tuesday I headed down to see what had changed, if anything, in its numerous watering holes.

I started as I almost always do at the Station. Worryingly there was a sign outside saying "New landlord wanted" which didn't fill me with confidence about the present incumbent. As I went in there was one pump clip turned round and he was just putting a sign up to say there was no draught Bass as he'd had to send the barrel back. A disappointing bass-less start to my crawl.

Round a couple of corners is the Brunswick. I asked them if they still sold bass from the cask in the cellar and was told no. A surprisingly grumpy response, but the beers were obviously far better in here, and I had a half or a pint of Tres Bien Topaz, which I understand is brewed at Market Harborough brewery. This was a fantastic hoppy ale which started the day off well.

The Alexandra was my next port of call - I had decided I had to try at least one new pub but couldn't remember the name or address of the new micropub. In here I had a pack of fish and chips, a half of Pipes Midnight IPA on keg and a half of Blue Monkey Marmoset on cask. The Pipes was not really what I expected but the Marmoset was in prefect condition and tasted superb.

On to the Smithfield where I did find some Bass, but it was on handpull. Instead I had a sensibly priced half of Magic Rock Inhaler juicy IPA on keg. I sat in the room at the back on a comfy seat and soaked up the wonderful flavours, and bright sunshine.

I nipped into the Exeter Arms next and had a half in here as well - not caning the bose, as I was actually drinking quite fast. The beer in here was from Hartsthorne (?) brewery and was a crisp and hoppy pale which I enjoyed sat in one of the smaller rooms to the right with the bar behind you. The pub have now knocked through one of the walls at the back enabling easier access to the amazing cottage attached to the pub.

I headed under the ring road next and visited the Furnace Inn. I understand Shiny have stopped brewing there and moved to a purpose built brewery somewhere else - whether this is true or not is of course another matter! Either way there was plenty of Shiny real ale on but to my delight there was also Fyne Ales Ragnarok IPA on keg. There was no way I was going to miss this so I got a half and went and sat to the left. I got chatting to a couple, the lady of which was from Sheffield and whom both had recognisable human names. Alas, recognisable is not the same as rememberable for me. Lets call them Tom and Helen. Their surname began with B. Or P.....

I discussed with them various subjects including language and communication, Eastern European language in the UK, and also the Station. Sadly, it seems that having retired to Skegness Dave who used to run the pub so well had died. Its such a shame to hear this and for this to happen so soon it seems after he finally retired from the trade.

Off next to the Peacock where I knew they would have draught Bass from the barrel - they did. So I had a pint of that and another pale beer from Hartsthorne, along with a slice of huntsman pie. All three were excellent, although when the landlord returned he gave me a free half of Bass as that on previously hadn't been up to standard. Great service and cracking food and ale in here as always.

From here I headed towards the bottom of Uttoxeter old road and the Last Post, postage Stamp, postage Inn or whatever the new micropub in Derby was called. With the "luxury" of home internet I have found it in about a second complete with its address which is 1 Uttoxeter Old Road - and photos of the outside which show I didn't have to go the way I thought I had to, and may even have walked past it on the opposite side of the road. Anyway, I didn't know and ended up after a long wavy walk with a need to address and popped in a back street local off Uttoxeter Old Road. I may have had a half of bass in here!

Just round the corner I found myself in the Rowditch which I knew was much further up but popped in anyway for a fabulous pint of hoppy ale, the name or maker of which I have no idea of. I decided at this point that it was probably time to head home, as my earlier speed slaking had caught up with me.

So no new pubs for me but an enjoyable traipse around some of the old favourites in Derby. Showing once again that time changes little, and Derby remains an absolutely excellent place to go for a pub crawl.


Wee Beefy

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Great tasting Gluten free beer shock


         I was in Shakespeares the other day (obviously) and having recently finished the last of the phenomenal cans of Magic Rock Clairvoyance - quite simply the finest beer I have had in a can for a long time - I was asking bar-meister Christopher Keith Wadsworth which can I should choose next. In a moment of apparent sobering madness he recommended Magic Rock Fantasma, a plus 6% IPA which was gluten free. I checked my pockets for smelling salts but none could be found, but his insistence it was good made me agree to buy a can. Am glad I followed his sage  recommendation.

Years ago, between one and twenty, I heard about gluten free beer. It had no doubt been around longer but we in the UK are often slow to recognise, possibly distrustful of, developments and improvements, especially regarding at that time lesser known illnesses. So the first one I heard about was from Hambleton. With the greatest respect to them (I love their Nightmare and their strong pale which has a name I have since forgotten) it was a noble effort to make such a beer, but it tasted rank.  As did the Greens, and less so the Wold Top one. The removal of gluten seemed to take away any resemblance to a balanced beer.

Magic Rock Fantasma is not that kind of show. Admittedly I was told it was gluten free and that came for me with its own raft of expectations, but am fairly sure if I hadn't know it prior to supping I wouldn't have known it was gluten free. The only minor difference to other Magic Rock pale ales of a similar strength was that it lacked...something, maybe a tang of sweetness from the yeast or malt used? What it did have however was a wonderful, and crucially balanced, blend of hops with a delicious tropical bitterness. It would am sure, stand up against peer pales in a blind tasting.

In a reprehensible display of lazy journalism, I haven't spoken to Stuart or anyone else at Magic Rock about how they made a masterpiece from such a potato cut outs and paint template of a beer style. And am sure if I needed to drink gluten free beer I would want to know, so if nothing else I could share that with other brewers. But I don't. And also I haven't seen Stuart in some time. Journalism, eh. Whats it all about? Like memories.

Anyway, one good thing that might come from this, as well of course of the opportunity to drink excellent gluten free ale,  is greater awareness of those who have to drink gluten free beer. I refer of course to coeliacs, although that may not be all those affected. Funnily enough I was discussing the restrictions of and improvements in such beers with Liz at the Devonshire Cat last year - she was intending to have one completely gluten free handpump at the Dev. I have no idea if this has been taken on board following the refurb but if so that would be a really positive development. I understand that gluten or its constituents can still be present in the lines following the sale of non gluten free beers so a dedicated line would wipe out such a problem.

The addition of an exemplary pale ale also without gluten is a similar bonus.  Lets hope brewers can start to push forward improvements in gluten free beer so it can become a product that coeliacs actually want to drink rather than feel they have to.


Wee Beefy

Monday, 6 March 2017

Broomhill crawl


     myself and Mr P went out on payday for the second Wanderiains of the year. I had more or less finished my tablets (although have started some more the day after) so decided that, and the arrival of funding, would be a good reason to meet up for bose. Having been at the osspickuw anyway, I asked Mr P to meet me in the York in Broomhill.

I first went in the York when I was 17. I had long hair and a leather jacket and glasses and sounded oldish. I was drinking Bass at that age in the York, and was only asked my age once when buying a cider for younger looking but older than me Rob Noble. At the time, the York was a 15 minute walk away, traditional boozer, in Broomhill. Soon it became a fake oirish pub (am guessing around 1994) and apart from having a decent jukebox, where I once played all of Faith no More's Angel Dust, it was a poor version of the former. After a few refurbs and different owners its been run by the Forum/True North Group since 2012 or similar.

The York looks fab in its new guise, but is prone to high prices and the staff don't always recognise words such as hoppy. That said, the food is excellent and they usually have some decent ales on - this time there were four from Shiny in Derby so I had a pint of their  Disco Balls pale and another pale called memory loss if memory is memories. Mr P joined me just as the Disco Balls ran out so had a pint of the Shiny Pail, one of their series of two or three hopped pale ales around 4.0%. This was a good start to the nights slaking.

Round the corner and across the road is the Itchy Pig micropub. Its a regular feature of recent Brummell visits and features four real ales, many local, and three or four kegs plus cider and, inevitably given its name, numerous types and flavours of pork scratchings. No Ted this time but the younger bloke was behind the bar, and he didn't need to recommend my choice - a pint of Dark Star Revelation, that gloriously hoppy 5.7% IPA from Sussex. Mr P got a pint of the Abbeydale lower strength special, and we shared a pack of cheese-n-o, sat to the right of the bar.

The pub got quite busy before we left, which means about twenty or so people, and we had two halves of getting (or don't get?) caught in the rain by Blue Bee on keg. Am sure Josh told me it was primed with pineapple, but whatever it is with, it creates a slightly odd balance of sweet and very bitter. Still a good choice for a keg Blue Bee offering.

Back up onto the main road we went to the Little Critters brewery Tap at the Fox and Duck. This is a place I have warmed to since my first visit last year when I was slightly underwhelmed - I admit that this increase in residual temperature is down partly to an improvement in their fare. The pub was busy when we got in, mainly due to football being on, and we both had pints of C-hop from Little Critters, which I think in this case was Citra. The beer is nicely hoppy and not too full-mashy (am not suggesting its full mash, just that their weaker beers remind me of Frog and Parrot output) and was a lovely last beer in actual Broomhill, which we finished whilst watching some footy with some yout (plural).

Further down the road, bypassing the Broomhill Tavern and the Notty, we went in the University Arms. I haven't been in much of late, and it was good to see it was still very much open, still serving real ales and keg, and still popular. We sat at the end of the main room and supped, beer, which came from a handpump, in glasses. I have to admit that my memories of the beers we had that night are at best disparate from here on. Whatever I had was pale and about 5.0%, which is about what I would expect.

From here we headed to our final destination the Bath Hotel. Still, at the end of February, with almost no spirits (I understand the stock has finally been replenished) we both definitely had pints in here. Am not even going to guess what we had, but will claim it was incredibly strong. Since I remember Mr P saying "don't fall asleep" and then waking up by myself. Beefdozing is something am going to have to reign in during 2017.....

The above crawl is short in distance, but peppered with good pubs (and there are others of course in the area) and is, once again, another excellent demonstration of the quality of beers and venues in Sunny Sheffield.


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 4 March 2017



         not ones that go crunch or pop, nor a oft used term for mental illness light, instead a description of three beers I have had in fine sunny Sheffield this last week. As you may have noted from previous posts, I am rather a fan of drinking excellent ales in Sheffield pubs - as are my bank and credit card firms. Whilst I negotiate repaying that slab of debt (and am nearly there by the way) I have recklessly used the last of my savings, funds, credit, and payments in kind, to secure excellent, or rather cracking, ales.

On Sunday I ended up in Shakespeares, in a radical departure from my established drinking patterns. The last three Sundays (I think, they are just numbers after all) I have been in after work and they have had a stunning Kernel Pale ale on. Its no exaggeration to say I have very much warmed to Kernel since early disappointments with their Table beer and a lingering distrust of filthy keg. Their 4 hop IPA at 6.7% was one of my beers of last year (it was Citra Centennial Mosaic and something else if memory fails). This one was Mosaic and Vic Secret. Given that Mosaic remains one of my favourite hops it was not going to disappoint. It did not. A sumptuous, refreshing, opaque masterpiece of hoppy goodness. I may have had quite a few pints. It was bloody fab.

Neepsend Brewery have been knocking out some rather fantastic ales of late. I blogged at a point in the past about their Century IPA which was a fantastic hoppy cask ale - probably more impressive in terms of the citrus, tropical hoppy bite given that it wasn't served on keg, which is usually the better way of serving such beers.

At the Three Tuns last week, as well as having the excellent company of the Director of Andrew Inns, I also had the wonderful choice of drinking the Neepsend and Hopjacker Breakfast IPA 3 - coffee black IPA.

I realise that those long in the tooth or indeed short in the patience with novelty beers may think the above described pottage is just that, but in fact its not a novelty at all - instead its a desperately clever brew. The coffee element in a black IPA is brilliant - giving it a roasted, smooth and hoppy flavour - which is surely what a black IPA should be (comments on what a Black IPA should be, as well as, the definition of "craft", are permanently closed). I had several pints including the last one with, as the barman honestly, if a little too so, put it "all the crud in the bottom". As I explained, I am not averse to crud. Not that kind anyway.

The final sharpshooter is from Blue Bee, another renowned and favourite Sheffield brewery. Arriving once again at the Three Tuns I noticed a new Blue Bee beer called the Land of the Long White Cloud. It featured Motueka, Rakau and Waimea hops and it sounded lovely but to my horror I noticed it was only 3.5%. Gah! Nearly half my starting strength! However, a man with facial hair and limbs and MC Miker G behind the bar both recommended it over the Intrepid Pale (which being that I had already discounted) and so I had a pint.

As the entry on the Blue Bee section on the Sheffield CAMRA website states "although low on alcohol this beer won't be short in flavour". Never a truer word spoken. A monumental wall of citrussy and, having been prompted, piney flavours hits you and lingers long in the mouth. There's plenty of bitterness but the resiny notes balance the brew perfectly. You could easily have this beer to follow a hoppy IPA as it holds its strength of flavour so well. I had two and a half pints last night and savoured every mouthful - I strongly recommend you go to the Tuns today and do the same.

Full marks as always to both pubs, and all four breweries for consistently producing, keeping and serving excellent and crucially. well balanced beers in cask and keg in Sheffield.


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Toolmakers Brewery Tap, Forest, and Yellow Arch


  this is not a pub crawl I have done....

However, I have been to all three, two in one night once, and recommend you do the same. Here are some details (and guesses to fill in the blanks) a few facts and some opinion about the three venues above.

I was at Toolmakers earlier this month for Kirsty's birthday. You know, Kirsty. Kirsty? She is Kirsty who I work with. You are bound to know her....enniz, I went to the Toolmakers Brewery Tap for her birthday and really enjoyed it. My only issue is, I don't know when its open to just pop  in for a beer, if it is at all...? So although this serves as a review, I would consider calling the brewery or the Forest pub (there is a link here to their brewery website) to check when or how you can visit!

The bar room itself is long and has seating for 20 or 30 and a big log burner (although that wasn't working when we went so they had electric heaters!) The bar is at the right hand end and features three handpumps with two Toolmakers (Sonic Screwdriver being one) and a guest ale on handpump - at his time it was Steel City Forked Tongue so I was chuffed to bits -  a seriously hoppy pale ale at a birthday bash!  All the beer was well kept and sensibly priced at £2.80 a pint and, if memory serves, was served in large lined glasses allowing for a decent head.

It was my first visit to the brewery site and its quite difficult to find if you haven't been before, but you really just need to walk up Rutland Road to the Forest and Botsford Street is your next right, so behind the pub almost. There is a small metal A board/swing sign at the end of the street but it was dark when I went and I didn't see any signage! That said, there is almost nothing else on Botsford street.

Just round the corner is the Forest pub. Following brief spells as the Forest show bar (open for rent) and then the Woodside Inn, the Forest is now run by Marion and Olie, and has has had some work done on its interior and exterior. It sells three or four Real ales, mainly from Toolmakers but also one or two guests. I recognised the lady behind the bar at the Tap from the Forest who I think is Marion, and I understand her and the landlord run both.

The pub does Sunday lunches (or did) which I understand are very popular, and the beer once again is well looked after and sensibly priced. I went in after the birthday do and it was still busy, although I was only there for about an hour or so with my pint of Sonic screwdriver. A quick look on Google shows a lunchtime menu so I may try and pop in for a bite to eat soon.

The final place I want to mention is Yellow Arch Studios. I had heard about it for a long time but never went until September last year. I went to see a friend of ours Trev at his birthday do where he played and had other performers with him in the main hall.

The venue is easy to spot on Rutland Road and you enter through the arch and up some steps. It is  Moroccan themed inside and you walk through a corridor to the small bar and large performance area in front of you. The bar has three handpumps selling Kelham Island beers, and they sell a decent range of cans and bottles wines and spirits. It may have been Trev's influence but there was exceptional Greek food on offer in a room near the entrance - as a lover of Greek food this was very good quality I can assure you.

As with the Tap, I am not sure what the requirements are for getting to the bar - the bar is licensed, and it looks like its fine to simply wander in get a pint and sit down in the back room, however am guessing that the bar is only open when there is a band on so I expect you would have to pay to get in - for info, the link to their website is here.

In terms of the earlier mentioned crawl element, if you walk up Hicks Street to the left of Yellow Arch you come out on Rutland Road and its a short hop from here to either the Forest, Tap or in the other direction to the Gardeners Rest. All of which are worth a visit in Sheffield, the variously venued city.


Wee Beefy  

Saturday, 18 February 2017

The Bridge of Aln Hotel, Whittingham, Northumberland


        I was recently sent a link to a report by Tash from a Professor of Entrepreneurship and Regional Economic Development at the University of Northumberland. This was about the important influence on the happiness of locals versus the often equal frailty of the local pub, in small communities. The link is here, and the report uses statistical analysis and sources including the Office for National Statistics, and Actions with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) to support the claim, that pubs in small communities are a positive focal point within them.

What I found interesting was I was sent this a couple of days after reading that the Bridge of Aln Hotel in Whittingham, Nortumberland, an isolated community not too far from Netherton with its famous Star Inn, was currently closed. No details were provided, but I always worry when an isolated pub closes, especially one on the National Inventory. There is a link to the listing here which gives some details and beautiful photos of this unspoilt former hotel.

I visited in 2013 with Wee Fatha. We were staying in Long Framlington, a long finger of habitation on the A697 just down the road. Having eaten in the village we headed for Whittingham and then to the Star at Netherton. The Bridge of Aln didn't look particularly open and you enter through a door at the back, having parked in the courtyard. I don't think the large front door is any longer in use. There were lights on so we knew it was open but am guessing it doesn't attract much passing trade.

Having found our way to the bar we found a gaggle of locals enjoying drinks and conversation about local life - despite its remoteness, the area has numerous small villages and hamlets and it appeared all those drinking there were local. It was quiet (if that makes sense given my description of the conversation) warm and relaxing and the locals soon started asking us where we were from and going. I had a pint of Youngers of McEwans on keg and WF a soft drink and we went for a wander about in the actually quite large building. To note, the Whatpub website states it sells real ale - am guessing this is seasonal, as there was none there when we visited.

The bar is 1950's in style, as are much of the furnishings, and one of the doors (maybe for the bar?) has a sign stating "Select Bar" on it. This is a feature I have never seen before and am guessing it relates to its former days as a hotel.  We didn't get to see the rear right room but it looks rather fine on the National Inventory pub website. When we got back to the bar we explained that we were going to see Vera at the nearby Star at Netherton and we were told to hurry as if there was nobody in around 21.30 she would shut - we arrived just as she was saying goodbye to the last customer so just in time!

Another pub in the area that, alas, I have not yet visited, is the Star at Harbottle. It is only 3.8 miles away from the Star at Netherton and is similarly isolated. I was disappointed to read that this pub is also currently closed - especially since the pub has diversified to provide a tourist information service, and sell crafts as well as becoming the local shop. In his report, Professor Ignazio Cabras states" this positive effect increased threefold between 2000 and 2010 (the period examined) - possibly because pubs have become increasingly important as other local services such as post offices and village shops have closed."  

It is interesting that both pubs are in Northumberland, given the provenance of the report, and that in this case, the diversification has (temporarily I hope) not kept the Star at Harbottle trading. Especially since in other rural communities the pub taking on the shop - such as the Sycamore at Parwich in Derbyshire, seems to have helped keep the pub open, and strengthened its place in the community.

Perhaps the details in the report show that, sadly, the pressures upon rural and isolated pubs are increasing ever more since 2010 and that even necessary diversification of the business is no guarantee of pub survival. In the end, you still need footfall. If people aren't coming to the pub to drink it will close. Lets hope both pubs reopen and continue to serve their communities, and that both communities in turn do their best to support them.

Your very good health

Wee Beefy

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Can conditioned

        You might like this one Beefy - its can conditioned....

So were the words, or similar sounds, uttered by Sean Clarke at Beer Central. I had been into collect a can of Big Dipper and decided I wanted something else - to be honest, its apparent conditioning didn't attract me as much as the fact that it was Moor Brewing Entanglement Red IPA at 9.something percent. It was only when I got home that I thought - what the chuff is can-conditioning when its at home?

In an inescapably poor situation of no research whatsoever (stick with what you (don't) know after all) I don't actually know what can conditioning is. I can hazard a guess, having drunk cask conditioned, and bottle conditioned (and ruined) beers over the years with yeast sediment present. The beer in question was excellent, and poured cloudy, but that doesn't mean there was any yeast in it. What I can say is, for a strong over 9% beer, it drank very easily. It was smooth, but not widget artificially smooth, rather pleasant and refreshing.

Bottling with yeast is meant, in perfect conditions at least, to make the beer fresher, and more carbonated and to continue to "brew" in the bottle using live yeast. Bottle conditioning is not, in my experience, a guaranteed art. Its fraught with potential hazards, probably more so than cask, where at least a decent proportion of those handling it have some idea about what to do with it. So far, by way of absurd comparison I have tried two cans of can conditioned beer, both from Moor, and liked them both.

The other was their Illusion session Black IPA, and this was more casky, if that's a word, than the stronger one. I understand Marble also condition their or most of their cans, and another well known brewery that aren't well known enough for me to recall have also taken the practice on board. There is promise therefore that the practice may take off, at which point a more accurate comparison can be made.

Meanwhile I am still not sure about the likelihood of exploding can conditioned cans, probably down to discombobulation about brewing processes, and a general lack of relevant knowledge re yeast. I know there is no point putting live yeast in a keg (so said Stuart from Magic Rock, probably) because it makes it too fizzy, but that hasn't been my experience of the two Moor beers.

The best thing that I can see coming pit of this is the fact that the CAMRA may now start taking canned beer seriously, now its no longer Worthington Creamflow and Skol. Obviously one can never tell in such areas, but to me there are now four excellent ways of serving perfectly brewed beer and at least three should meet one or other definitions of real ale.

Which means more choice for the consumer. Which is, after all, what we all want.


We Beefy

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Neepsend Brewing Century IPA


    a while ago, although probably this year, I was in a public house with Rich, erstwhile member of the Neepsend Brewery brewing team. He was enthusiastically telling myself and Tash about a new beer they had brewed which was going to be monstrously hoppy. Dry hopped, pre hopped, wet hopped, with kilo upon kilo of hops in the mash and at every stage.

OK, some of the above is guesswork. My memory is not geared up any longer stuff and thus all I can remember is Rich looking elated, laughing, and drowning us in brewing terminology. He may have told us what it was going to be called, but if he did that fact has also since escaped me. Until, that is, this week. In Shakespeares, pre and sadly post antibiotics (I know, I know) I had a pint of the 6.5% Century IPA from Neepsend Brewery on cask. It was £3.60 a pint (or similar) and tasted amazing.

I don't know if that same beer Rich was enthusing about so was, in fact, the Century. I also don't know which century is being celebrated in this lupuloid loop the loop. I also don't care. Because Century IPA is a humongously good beer.

Am guessing it may now have run out, as have I of days to drink now am taking 8 antibiotics a day for an infection. It will of course be on somewhere else soon. It may well have been, or will be, at the Wellington, and the Sheaf View. Wherever you try it, and am assuming you will, I trust you will love it.

By way of description it has a dry and then citrus hoppy finish after an explosion of hops. Don't let that put you off - the hops are fantastic but well balanced, and the beer is incredibly tasty. Whatever dark hoppy practices went into making such a beer they should be repeated. To make a beer of that strength so overwhelmingly hoppy whilst retaining a balance of bittersweet and dry hops in the aftertaste is a trick worth pulling off again.

I remember trying the Neepsend Sharpshooter when that came out last year (or earlier) and thinking that for a beer of its strength it carried quite a hop punch, whilst retaining, and this is key, a balance of flavours. I have no idea what hops were used in either brew but I would suggest that the Sharpshooter was a precursor to, or practice for, the Century.

Well done to Gav and Rich and other persons who have names at Neepsend for making a wonderful ale for me to chew and delight in.

Your very good health.

Wee Beefy

Tuesday, 17 January 2017



        and a very Happy New Year! Aah, a phrase best about 16 or 17 days ago. But never mind, have been otherwise engaged and this is my first blog post of 2017. Here is what happened when myself and Mr P did our first Wanderiains of 2017.....

Twas the first Friday and I met Mr P after work to catch the 20. Didn't wait long, didn't take long, and we ended up at a pub I have never previously visited, the Sportsman on Harvey Clough Road. I know the late, great George, or rather Keith Laycock went there to do the quiz - although that may have been the Mount Pleasant, but either way, it was my first visit and Mr P's first for a couple of decades or more. For info, before setting out, George often used to say "am just going to change a tenner" or, "am just going to see a man about a dog". We all knew he was going to the quiz....

Inside I understand little has changed, Mr P recognised the layout, and on the large bar there were two real ales, of which we both had halves of Abbeydale Moonshine at a price which may have been below £3.00. The beer was well kept and this was an enjoyable start to our crawl. I also paid on card for two halves, which very much suits me down to the ground.

Nearby we visited the Mount Pleasant. In through the front this time (!) and I didn't see Gwynneth (?) or her Sister behind the bar, instead a jolly lass who was discussing the merits or otherwise of the Chrizznussly themed ale from a National Brewery. I think Mr P had a pint and I had a pint of the excellent Adnams Ghost Ship.

The pub seems unaltered since my first visit five years or more ago and that's to its credit. Its has a   traditional layout with a lovely lounge on the left and a very small bar in Room. An excellent place to stop for a beer as always.

Further down the Road Mr P asked if we could go in the Prince of Wales. I can't say I was blown away by it last time but I agreed, if nothing else to hear him read his poem he wrote after being told not to come in anymore when he was in his late teens. An excellent poem, I have to say. On the bar this time were two beers and I think one of them was from Wychwood, which we had a half of each. It was OK, a bit Wychwoody, but that's not a criticism of how it was kept.

Further down the road is the Cross Scythes. Still a Thornbridge pub selling numerous real ales and kegs (and flavoured pork scratchings), I went "mad" and bought myself a pint and Mr a half of the 7 or above% Huck from Thornbridge.  I have to say I really liked it, but agree with Edd that you could expect more from a hoppy pale ale at that strength.

Having bumped into Steve in the loos, we headed his way - down Derbyshire Lane, to the main road and walked along to the White Lion. A guy whose surname I think is Miles (who I saw at the Bath Hotel do an excellent version of John the Revelator, unaccompanied of course) was doing a set at the back. We got pints - myself am fairly certain of Abduction., and sat near the stage having watched the first five or six of his songs from the steps.

As always the Abduction was on top form and it was good to see the pub absolutely heaving - testament of course to the sterling work done by Jon and Mandy since they took over (and Jon may have lost an H, sorry Jon....)

So ended an entertaining and enjoyable crawl of some new and old favourite boozers in Sheffield to kick start Drinkuary in fab sunny Sheffield.

Drink! Drink! Drink!

With regards,

Wee Beefy