Saturday, 30 December 2017


Ey oop,

     some factions of the world that observes my musings may identify me as a singe de critique - as I do not speak French (which may be obvious) I apologise if the above says critical hairy potato in French as opposed to criticism monkey. Blame Google translate if it does. Its on those basis that I should clarify that the stick in the title is not a byword for criticism or other mumblous malcontent, instead its literally the shapen wooden thing I use to regain balance following my stroke. I don't really recommend having a stroke if am honest, but it has given me a new perspective on the lives of those with limited mobility.

Pre stroke, the idea of walking amongst the unobservant would already have boiled my piss, because I walked quite fast. Now that I have less ability to change direction or stop at short notice, streets awash with the impulsive directionless and stop start simple minded makes me even more annoyed. And thats before have even reached the pub.

 To be fair, as I drink almost exclusively in pubs where I know the owners and bar staff, most employees have been lovely and caring and worried about me, so that has been fine. And in the two places which don't fit that description my stick and sad face warranted similar concerns, and I was given longer to sit down and carry drinks. The only minor mobility issue I had was climbing the step into the Beer Engine when I first went out. I had to be almost hauled up it by Matty. Last night I found no such issue with the same, so am happy to let those people who don't improve as quickly as I have to continue to suffer.....

The main issue has been that in the scrum at the bar people pay almost, or indeed no, attention. In the Bath Hotel I was stood back from the bar to allow the two gents buying their drinks the space to get out. After 5 minutes with just the stick for support I was tiring and two lady children came in. clocked me, and barged into the space between the furthest customer back from the bar and me, almost knocking me over in the process. I did say "woah!" as they marched off but were likely listening to Joe Dolce and playing Donkey Kong in their heads, so that explains why they didn't hear me.

One issue is that am trying not to rely on my stick lest my walking style changes forever. That means I get some funny looks when walking to and from the loo. In Shakespeares I actually got abuse from a group of drinkers who assumed I was paralytic.

I had left my stick on the chair in the front bar with my coat whilst I went to get two halves. Whilst doing so a group sat in front of the table and seat so I asked if they could let me get through to sit down. It took a while to get their attention and the left arm is still not back to normal so as I tried to wobble through the beer in the glass in that hand spilt a little as it tilted. The guy I splashed said "Don't you piss yer fuckin beer all over me" as I struggled to clamber over his legs. I saw no benefit in responding and besides I was too tired to argue. Having finally reached my seat they moved to the next table and my arm started playing up again, so I had to use my right to prevent further spillage, and had to watch my left in case it spasmed outwards and knocked my drink over.

After 5 minutes of slowing down my breathing to settle my heart rate a lady in the group asked if I was alright and I said " yeah, its just have had a stroke and its affected my balance" and the whole group went ashen white and started apologising. They asked me to come and sit with them and if they could help, and apart from the unkind outburst they all turned out to be fine folks. I did make sure I used my stick to walk the short distance over to them though...

I have mischievously thought about using the stick, after I need it, at busy times to get a seat. However, I couldn't. Not for reasons of morality, but because using it would slow me down to the point where I might lose my mind.

The main impact has been on balance and resistance to alcohol so have seriously cut back and now go out less to avoid the wearying walks between pubs that I would usually undertake. On the whole, however, its been a mainly positive experience being a mobility impaired drinker in Sheffield's best pubs, which is a credit to them.

Your very best health

Wee Beefy

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Pre Christmas pints

Good evening,

     am sure regular readers will know that I don't go out that often around Christmas time, usually entirely based on outrageously drunk and crucially, rude drinkers, feeling that the time of year gives them the right to behave in any way or say anything they damn like. Obviously this revulsion has not lessened, but have been more aware of getting a seat since have got my stick, and am still getting tired walking, so pre Christmas supping has been further reduced. Luckily this period of comparative sobriety should mean some details of beers drunk and where are actually correct.

Two weeks ago I went out for the team Christmas meal to Las Iguanas. It was great to see everybody for the first time in weeks, and I had a couple of bottles of Alhambra Reserva with my meal. I had also arranged to meet Meathouse in the Bath Hotel afterwards. Alas he cancelled as I was heading up, but I decided to pop in for one anyway. I got a pint of the Thornbridge and Magic  Rock collab which may have been called Exaltation, and which was a 5.5% alt style beer. I somehow managed to get the last seat in th pub, but it was fearsomely busy so I decided to head off for pastures near.

The Three Tuns came next and mercifully there was a seat. There was a Blue Bee American 5 Hop on and I had most of a pint of that, and since it was the end of the barrel did so for free. Some of the world's loudest humans were in, but not too near, but I still opted only to stay for one, passing on my Yule best wishes on leaving.

My final stop was in Bar Stewards and they had the Verdant I played bass on that tune double dry hopped on keg, so all other beers were not in contention, despite its somewhat keen price. As I had expected, this was hoppier but just as well rounded as the none DDH version and tasted fantastic. A great opportunity to catch up with Charlie, and to sup great beer, as the bar came to closing time.

My final escapade came on the Tuesday with my good friend Mr G. Knowing how paralysingly crap the 52a had become for Christmas I gave myself a while to get there but was still 15 minutes late. I did however walk quite fast with my stick to find Mr G waiting for me outside Shakespeares. Its almost like he knew about my poor financial status...

On entering he looked for lower strength cask, since he was driving and I spotted a Cloudwater on keg. Being as it was on "the stout line" I asked Chris to confirm what it was and to my delight it was their collaboration DIPA with Dry and Bitter called Mobile Speaker. I'll have a pint of that please I stated, and was advised that it was £8.10 a pint. I thought about mentioning to Mr G that it was Christmas, and then did, but he had already agreed. We repaired with our drinks to the clock room, initially sitting at the knee breaker table before escaping to our usual spot, the long table across the back.

I have known Mr G for over ten years and its always good to catch up with him and to find out how, of late, his new job is going. He is aware that I only have a short period where I can buy us both drinks and didn't even quibble when I finished my first pint and asked for another. I fully intend taking him out at the beginning of the month in return.

The conversation ebbed and flowed naturally and he had another half, before moving onto soft drinks. On seeing my get to half of the second pint he asked if I wanted another half. I answered honestly. I wanted a third and final pint. One of the bar staff said, on discovering it was me, that I was unstoppable. "Apart from his stroke" Mr G quipped. I laughed my head off. Its the kind of joke that only good friends can have.

One of the best things about this night was that it involved just one pub, two friends and some frankly fabulous beer. It was undoubtedly the lull before the storm, but was quiet on that night, and all the better for it. In comparison to other near Christmas nights out, even at such an excellent pub, this was probably the best. Your very good health Mr G.

One thing that I intend to do if I manage ti cut down is still go to the best pubs in Sheffield, but perhaps just stick to one. Am looking forward to putting this plan into action in the doom laden weekdays of January ahead. Remember, your boozers need you.


Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Back to Derby


     I made this trip, with Davefromtshop, in mid November. Whilst slowly piecing back together the memories of this lupilous escapade I delayed writing it, and then had a stroke. There is a chance that this event may make some of my memories a little unclear, but that has been a feature of my blogging for many years now and salient memories are not going to make a sudden unwelcome appearance in my musings. Please therefore find below details of our trip to Derby, some of which may be subject to guesswork....

Arriving before 11.00 we found the Brunswick was more than half an hour away from opening, so went for a quick wander down the backstreets trying to find a starting point. That we did, at 11.00, which was the Victoria, possibly next door to a boozer called the Merry Widows. They had two or thirty five real ales on if I recall (I don't) but I know we bought a half each of Purity UBU and sat in comfy chairs facing the fireplace in the bar. A relaxing start to our soon to become scarcely achievable task.

We continued on a familiar path thereafter, heading round to the Brunswick next, where we had beer. For reasons unclear I made no notes whatsoever and also took no pics of pumpclips in this pub and two others. Even my Faceache posts suggest nothing about the Brunswick. All I know is that I had a pint of something pale, based on a pic I took. If you know what was IPAish and on there on 14 November 2017 then that is what I had.

The Alex had a rather smashing range of ales on and I had a pint of Littleover Epiphany at 4.1%, made of citra, simcoe and mosaic - it tasted as good as it sounds. I also had a half of Clouded Minds Dolce Vita West Coast IPA at 6.2 with Amarillo, Simcoe, Citra and Columbus to tickle the taste buds. After a pork pie, we headed through the park to the Smithfield where I had a half of Two by Two West Coast IPA, also at 6.2%. Its worth pointing out that at all three pubs Davefromtshop would also have had beer. I just don't know what it was.

To the Exeter Arms next where we sat in the house next door and had two halves of Tollgate Eclipse BIPA with malted Rye. An odd mix but quite an enjoyable drop, and as always, a pleasure to walk round the many rooms to admire the interior.

The Silk Mill came next and I had a pint of Pentrich Kiama which was a 5% IPA or similar, and this went down really well. This was three hours into our tour and we had consumed five pints. We tried to slow down consumption a little, before heading to the Peacock, which was Dave's first visit. Alas they have stopped selling Bass from the barrel (and at all) but they still usually sell good pies, and I had a pint of Oakham Citra.

Heading back into town we soon found Sadler Gate and went to the Old Bell Hotel. A first for us both, there were four real ales on offer and maybe some keg in this old and recently refurnished building. We both had halves of a local brewery beer, so based on guessing that Lenton Lane Brewery is, we had their Citra. It may have been Littleover though.....

A short wander followed and we found a venue called The Horse and Moon. I know this, because we planned on going there. So we must have, right? There were four handpumps, and as soon as we walked in the barman said "am sorry, all the real ales are not on today". Luckily my drinking universe has widened in my old age so neither of us complained, instead we perused the extensive can and bottle menu. Dave had an American brown Ale, possible from Firestone Walker, and I had a can of the same brewery's collab with Beavertown called West Side Beavo, which Google tells me is 6.5%. Both beers were lovely, and the barman recommended the Forge, craft beer burger bar in a courtyard just down the road. Here we had a half of something unwisely strong, before heading to what may or may not have been our penultimate stop, Suds and Soda.

There is no point my pretending to remember what we had in here, apart from concern about how hungry we had become. Am willing to bet it was delicious. Am certain we didn't go to the nearby Flowerpot, and our last Derby pub was the Standing Order where I locked myself in the toilet cubicle (whilst forgetting to push the unlocked door, like a complete pisshead) and we ate food, am led to believe. On returning to my seat Dave had left my stuff and wandered off, forgetting I was with him, but we were soon reunited in the square where that DJ from Derby filmed the video to I want to be your woman, or similar.

After a good sleep on the train I awoke at Sheffield and found a message from Dave, and headed to Shakespeares for a last one, at least one pint of the 6.5% Cloudwater DDH IPA, which I remember was fantastic.

Derby, as always, provided some excellent boozers, and a fine range of beers throughout. And we also got to visit three new pubs. Am also willing to admit that we probably had too much to drink. Almost half of my beers were 6% or above. I bloody enjoyed it though!


Wee Beefy

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Golden Pints 2017


     seems like a while since I did this. Am not sure its something one needs inviting to do but whether it is or it isn't it makes no difference, here are my answers (to the questions posed on John Clarke's blog since I don't know who's hosting it this year...). Have also added some I remember from the last time I did it, which occurred in the past, whilst I watched....

Best UK cask Beer.
Contrary to popular misbelief I do drink cask beer, quite a lot. There have been some fantastic beers on cask this year but the two that stand out are Neepsend Centennial and Northern Monk Heathen. The Centennial may actually have been brewed in 2016 by the way. But they are just numbers. It was incredibly well balanced and easy drinking for a stupendously hoppy pale ale and I loved it. The Northern Monk Heathen was over 6% and cloudy as a British summer's day, packed with an excellent hop hit, balanced perfectly by the malts and was overall a fantastic ale.

Best UK keg beer.
I could list many but the Verdant Maybe just one more PSi at 8.0% was a clear winner. Superb, hoppy, fruity, cloudy,  smooth excellence.

Best UK bottle.
Have probably drunk less bottled beers this year but of those that I have the Marble Imp of the Perverse was a highlight, approximately 72% alcohol and sliced when removed from the bottle. Another excellent product was the Weird Beard Holy Hoppin Hell at somewhere in the 9s. A fabulously ascorbic imperial ale with sufficient balance to make each mouthful refreshing and enjoyable whilst your tongue tingles.

Best UK can.
Oof. There is a lot to choose from! It has to be five day fresh Verdant Further for me. A fantastic 8% DIPA bristling with zesty fruit and hops, as easy to quaff as Vimto. The Northern Monk I want to Moob it Moob it was also a top drop, whether you liked the naked man artwork or not is another matter.....

Best cider or perry.
I don't drink much am sorry to say but the Cats Tongue at Shakespeares was very nice if I recall (the maker of which I do not).

Best Overseas Draught beer.
Stigbergets Bryggeri Sweden Amazing Haze IPA, which I tried at Shakespeares' stupidly delicious  beers tap takeover. It was wonderfully balanced and had the perfect blend of hops and malt to make a zingy satisfying hoppy pale ale.

Best Overseas Bottled beer.
I bought a gueuze from Hop Hideout that was rather special and quite rare, possibly a collab between Cantillon and other gueuze brewers. I can't for the life of me remember its name but it was fantastic. Alas this muddle of memories will have to suffice as an answer.

Best pub or bar(s).
Shakespeares. For achingly obvious reasons. Old Workshop as its a very interesting and innovative bar with fabulous beer and food. Beer Engine for virtually the same reason. Bar Stewards and Walkley Beer Co for being brilliant micropubs (amongst many) and Hop Hideout, where you can drink their range of excellent keg beers.

Best beer festival.
Sheffield, and any at Shakespeares. Always excellent!

Best book.
Am guessing beer books exist, so whichever you liked I may have.....

Best bottle or pumpclip label design.
Magic Rock or Odyssey.Excellent label designs from the latter, overall excellent branding from the former.

Best collaboration brew.
Cloudwater and Pilcrow Pub Missing piece IPA. A fabulous double dry hopped IPA from this excellent brewery and a pub I have not yet visited. Superb.

Best Overall Beer.
Verdant Maybe just one more PSi.

Best UK Brewery.
A three way tie alas between Verdant, Deya and Northern Monk. So many excellent brews from theses fine people!

So, there are my half remembered answers to the official and added question for the Golden Pints Awards 2017. I hope the winners of each receive significant adulation.


Wee Beefy

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Queens Ground, Hillsborough

Hello there,

       as you may know, my consumption of frol has been limited severely for the time being whilst I recover from my stroke. However, so as to not miss out on social drinking in pubs altogether I have been out a few times in the last two weeks.

On Tuesday I made my way to Hillsborough to meet Tash and Matty and Tash and I went to the cafe in Wortley to sing some carols with Mumraah and Martin. Not very rock and roll I hear you say, but we did sing Fairytale of New York, although my Mum went to the loo for most of it, bless her. Arriving back in Hillsborough we were cold so although I had suggested heading for the New Barack a god ten minutes walk away, we headed instead to the Queens Ground.

This is my fourth visit, the first being about 2010 when they didn't serve real ale, and the other two in the last year or so where I have enjoyed the real fire and numerous original features. Indeed, these are detailed in the new free to download Sheffield Heritage Pubs guide from the Sheffield CAMRA  website .

They currently serve four or five cask real ales and from the choice on offer I decided to have a few pints of the Bradfield Belgian Blue. I noticed its strength has dropped to 4.9, and am sure it was over 5% when it came out ten years or so ago. Its taste changed about four years ago and it has lost its deep warming notes a little, and am not sure why the strength has decreased. Five or five point five percent is standard strength for many beers theses days and I can't imagine they save that much money by brewing it weaker. No comparisons can be drawn with Whitbread reducing the strength of Tennants Gold Label and changing from gold foil to silver foil to save a few quid prior to stopping brewing it. It remains a mystery.

That said it wasn't a bad drop (I did have three pints after all) and cost about £3.10 a pint. I sat with my back to the roaring fire which they kept stoking and which remained at a good temperature throughout, and looked at the seating in the bay window where Tash was sat drinking wine. There was a shudder and rumble as the tram went past and I noticed that the Wards Wheatsheaf in the excellent Wards bay windows looked a lot like a mushroom....

We were joined by Matty and got chatting to the barmaid and one of the customers, whilst the fire kept me warm, and I went to the bar and toilets without my stick in order to build up my strength. The pub had a steady trade but was peaceful, mainly because it was about 15.30 when we got there.

The ales I have had on my recent visits have been well kept and sold at a good price and although they don't sell viciously hoppy or London opaque DIPAs like I love its still a cracking spot to nip in for a relaxing pint. Lets hope the pub continues to sell decent real ale and maintains its excellent interior features for many years to come.

Wee Beefy

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Shakespeares IPA Tap takeover 3


       some of you may know that I had an issue recently known as a stroke. Am telling you this now so that you can judge me and then read with a clear head. I am not for a minute suggesting I have been sensible in my recovery. So lets now get on with the gen....

I had heard about this takeover a few weeks ago and had already enjoyed two of the beers in can in the last month, so no amount of minor brain injury was going to keep me away. It did take a while to walk from the Wicker, and it was cold, but I had my stick my phone and company. The beers did not disappoint.

I started on two halves, of Northern Monk and Wylam I want to moob it moob it, and Cloudwater and the Pilcrow pub Missing piece IPA at 7%. The Northern collab was fabulous, very cloudy and tantalisingly hoppy and absurdly easy to drink.

I had heard some in the tiny village of my drinking universe suggest that they were tired of Cloudwater and of the DIPA style. I found this quite interesting. I realise that price is an issue (the Northern Monk Wylam collab was £6.60 a pint at 8.8 and the Cloudwater collab was £7.20 at 7% for example) and also that their DIPA series of 9%ers had probably run its course before it finished. However, their New England DIPAs and Double dry hopped 6% pale ales have been far better, in some cases amazing,  and the idea of double dry hopping a DIPA whilst also maintaining its balance and easy drinking smoothness brings the style to a whole new level.

The missing piece IPA with Pilcrow was very interesting and featured Citra, Eukanot and Mosaic and was double dry hopped, pulling off the hoppy and balanced trick perfectly. It was also thick yellow in colour - not that this matters, but it suggested different malts or yeast to usual had been used which perhaps contributed to the flavour. It was quite frankly exceptional. A proper hop smoothie.

I also tried the Weird Beard and Odyssey Brew Co Fuck you I won't brew what you tell me, a 9.2% West Coast IPA. I have a lot of time for Odyssey and the only thing that let this down was that the strength possibly gave the beer a noticable sweetness.

The final IPA I tried was the Deya Into the Haze, a wonderfully cloudy tropical IPA at 6.2%. This was perhaps the beer of  the night in terms of mouthfeel and taste, and its the only beer I had a pint of. Deya are another good brewery whose products thus far have not disappointed me. A fantastic, smooth, hoppy end to a short tasting. Alas I did not get to try the Chorlton Mandarin sour or the Amundsen from Norway, and I didn't try the Lost Industry Landlocked streets in the sky because I had tried it in bottle and didn't fancy its unavoidable sweetness (although it is a very good beer).

Having   missed two excellent pub fests whilst in hospital or recovering am glad I risked a trip to Shakespeares to sample some truly fantastic ales from some influential breweries. Looking forward to another which I would recommend should take place in February when am good and better.....


Wee Beefy

Friday, 1 December 2017

Fiddichside Inn Craigellachie, Moray

Hello all,

     I wanted to write a few words about the above pub, and its landlord Joe Brandie. It may seem strange to pay such a tribute when you discover that I only went once, but that visit was special and affecting. I heard last month that Joe Brandie had sadly passes away at the age of 88 and that the future of the pub is unknown. Lets hope that someone can be found to purchase and run it for many more years.

I visited the pub about five or six years ago with Wee Fatha on a trip up to Aberdeenshire. We had visited the nearby Arbelour distillery and were heading, I think, for the West coast and Seil Island from Fortrose. At least some of the above statements are true....

We stopped first at the Highlander Inn which has an astoundingly large range of whiskies and two or three real ales, which we both enjoyed. I don't remember if the Fiddichside had a car park, but I do remember walking over the bridge and along the side of the road before walking down the steps to the tiny pub to find it open, and landlord Joe stood behind the bar.

Many references to Joe that I have read mention his enjoyment of welcoming visitors from all over the world, and that is one of the first things he said to me. He also didn't seem to mind being in my photos. Myself and WF got halves of Belhaven best and sat down at one end of the tiny, impeccably clean, basic bar room. Mr Brandie returned to his place, and stance, behind the bar. For five minutes we supped in silence before striking up a conversation about our route and destination. The silence, by the way, was easy and glorious.

The pub is on the National Inventory of Unspoilt Pub interiors and was likely unchanged inside for fifty or sixty years, maybe longer. The most amazing feature was just how small the boozer was. I recall the loos were near the entrance but can't remember there being a second room. The bar could probably hold about twenty people. There was a fantastic mirror on the wall facing the bar and a few small stools and tables and a bench that me and WF sat on, and that was it. Basic, unspoilt simplicity.

One thing that we didn't talk about was his wife Dorothy. Not that there was any reason why we should have done, having only just met. However whilst searching for info about the pub I learnt that she had been licensee for many years and had died in 2009 aged 89. The longevity of the couple is notable, but its quite sad to think that Joe would have run the pub by himself for seven or eight years.

I ended up buying some crisps and another drink, and found to my delight that he had started selling Cairngorm or Fyne Ales bottled beers, am fairly sure I had a bottle of Trade Winds to finish my visit.

The pub is in a fantastic rural location, sat in an idyllic spot just past the bridge next to the Fiddich outside the main part of Craigellachie. This factor may raise the price of the building and deter potential buyers from keeping it going as a pub. As yet there are no details of its future. I do hope it reopens, and remains as it appears to have done for so many years, unaltered.

Wee Beefy

Saturday, 11 November 2017



   am guessing that many Sheffield readers will know straight away what this post, or rather whom this post, is about. To those not in the know, Badges Andrew is the subject - known by many other names am sure, and according to Beer Matters, as Andrew Smith. I never knew Andrew's surname whilst he was alive. That is the same for many of the people I know and drink with in Sheffield pubs. Andrew passed away in October this year. Here are some thoughts on his drinking life.

I use that phrase by the way because I didn't know Andrew outside of pubs. That, as above, is something that applies still to many people I see in boozers regularly. One of the benefits, if you look at it so, of social media, is that you can often find out lots about people you meet in pubs by exchanging online details. I realise this is also potentially a bad thing. I met Andrew in 1994. It was ten years before I owned  a computer.

Due to my woeful UJR* I don't know what condition Andrew had. I spoke to someone recently who said he didn't speak to him because he thought he was a freak. I was quite shocked, since to me it was obvious that Andrew had some kind of illness or condition which determined the way that he acted in social situations. There was no malice in the chap. He was a jolly, unendingly enthusiastic, probably overly verbose and loud gent who loved his cask beer. He may well have had a behavioural condition, but one thing I would say is that this never stopped him coming out to drink. Sometimes too much. Sometimes too often. These are not characteristics I would criticise in anyone, for obvious reasons.

Andrew's passing is one where the term rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated is actually accurate. About five years ago he disappeared from the pub scene altogether and there were suggestions he had passed away. And then I saw him in the Bath Hotel, addressing the bar staff, as he always had done, as if they were about 30 feet away. It was impossible to miss Andrew. For a start you may have remembered him from working shifts at Sheffield Beer Festival for many years. And even if you went deaf you would always recognise his hat, weighed down and bedecked in number by badges. Unfortunately I never got to find out what the badges said since, alas, Andrew suffered from spouty mouth, a term I have invented. Lets just say it was advisable to cover one's drink with a beer mat whilst conversing with Andrew, lest one wanted a top up, consisting almost entirely of saliva.

I once met up with Sean in the Cask and Cutler and mentioned I was going to Chesterfield the next day with my other half. He had asked if I was going to Keighley beer festival. It seemed Andrew was also, as he loudly advised. As we were about to leave the Derby Tup the next afternoon I heard Andrew's distinctive voice. He was a trifle refreshed. I said hello to him on our way out and headed with my partner to the Red Lion on Whittington Moor. Or whatever the Old  Mill pub was called. As we were also a trifle refreshed we decided that Andrew was a bit too much for us and were therefore seeking  refuge there. I even jokingly said to the barman, that if he came in, could me and our lass hide behind the bar. Five minutes later he did, and so did we. He spotted us. He didn't think to ask why we were crouching behind the bar. He just told us, in great detail and with some volume, about the beers he had tried at the festival and the Tup. All of which had been very nice, really.

The final thing I want to share is from way back in 1994. Me and Helen and Ieuan and others were in the beer garden of the Fat Cat, along with Alan Gibbons. Andrew walked in and started telling Helen in great detail about something that had happened earlier that day (which would no doubt have been really really good,  or very nice actually) and then spotted Alan. And then, this happened....

Andrew: "Ooooh" Alan! Its funny you being called Alan Gibbons.....
Alan: silence
Andrew: "cuz you could have been called Alan Baboon!"
Alan: silence
Andrew: "Alan Chimpanzeeee!"
Alan: silence
Andrew: "Alan orangutan!"

I would like to think that Andrew's notable attention to detail meant he would have listed many other types of apes or simian creatures but I can't be sure. I do know that whilst we pissed ourselves laughing, Alan did not find this in the slightest bit amusing. Never before have I heard someone so enthused about monkeys, nor seen someone so stern faced in the receipt of such unbridled enthusiasm.

Back to reality, and I don't know how Andrew died, but am sad to see his passing. I have only been drinking for 26 years but have already lost many friend and acquaintances from the world of pubs which I started frequenting in 1993.

If you are out tonight, please raise a glass in tribute to Andrew. And do mention the simian possibilities of his surname to Alan Gibbons.....


Wee Beefy

*Usual Journalistic Rigour

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Sheffield Steel City Beer Festival 2017


       well, for the 24th consecutive year I have attended the Sheffield Beer Fest, and I think I have to admit that the Kelham Island Museum is my favourite venue. There have been many venues used since 1994, Nelson Mandela Building, St Phillips Social Club, Ponds Forge, Cemetery Road, Darnall Liberal Club (eek!) but the Kelham Island Museum trumps the lot. Its such a great Sheffield place - the museum exudes Sheffield history (as of course it should) and is sufficiently close to, and in, the Don Valley of beer to be ideal.

I was in at 18.00 n Wednesday as I had two arrangements to keep - one was to judge some of the beers, the other was to meet up with Wees K and F, with WF being a long term abstainer for reasons that in the proceeding years thereafter have become unknown. I will say now, I have no idea if WF enjoyed the beer festival, as I haven't spoken to him since, but at least he went and got to see what the festival is all about.

The tasting was for speciality beers. This is a broad church, and the standard was once again poor, which is surprising since every year I have been involved in the tasting I have enjoyed fabulous festival beers and roobish tasting/judging beers. So what did I sup as a punter?

I started on a third of the North Riding and Offbeat DIPA at 8.1% on cask. It was bloody excellent. This is one of only a couple of beers I tried twice. Rather than list (and surprisingly I can) everything I tried I will just concentrate on the best. I had the Neepsend Double Century IPA at 7.2%, also on cask, and it was exceptional - very very hoppy but well balanced and incredibly tasty - must have been the malt....

I also tried the Magic Rock Bearded Lady Dessert version Bourbon Barrel Aged at 10.5%, on keg. Like a meal in a glass, but a very luxurious meal. I tried and enjoyed the Abbeydale and Blue Bee are there hops in hell at 7.2% on keg and it was very nicely hopped with a wonderful aftertaste, and I also tried my favourite beer of this year, the Verdant Maybe One More PSi, also on keg, at a comparatively bargain price of just over £7.00 a pint - alas funds prohibited my purchasing that much.

The Steel City Demons are Back on cask was delicious, but strangely it was clear? What is going on Dave? I also tried the two Siren and To Ol collaborations on keg, the wonderfully hoppy Ten Finger discount at 7.4% and the frankly preposterous Tickle Monster Imperial IPA at 12%, a lupilous monster that currently also awaits me in my fridge. The Alpha state American pale was a surprisingly hoppy Kentish Ale, and the Thornbridge Cortiani, both on keg also, was made entirely with British hops giving a mellow bitterness.

Back to cask I tried the Anarchy Citra Star, which is a punchy refreshing pale, and my two pints of the festival were Fyne Ales Jarl and Buxton Battle Horse, the latter a bit of an unwise undertaking which proved difficult to complete.

Am fairly certain that the keg bar sold out, and when I left at 19.30 or 20.30 on Saturday there wasn't much cask left so am going to suggest the festival was a roaring success in terms of sales. It was certainly a success in terms of beer range, the picking of which is an undesirable art. I like a certain style of beer as you can tell, and not everyone else likes the same - I would have preferred more sours whereas many people I know won't drink them. Overall, for me to enjoy so many beers, shows a very good and varied range was available. There was only one I didn't like, which is why the list is so long.

A final mention must go to Matty whom this year got to wear the coveted red T shirt of a bar manager on the International Beer bar. He certainly enjoyed his shifts and will hopefully be returning to volunteer next year, recommending a no doubt fine selection of bottles and cans once again, or even casks or kegs.

Well done to all of the numerous volunteers who strove to make the festival a success for free, and of course, to the organisers for another exemplary showing, and for once more making Sheffield a fantastic beer festival.

Wee Beefy

Sunday, 15 October 2017


Hello there,

       verdant eh?. Verdant fields of green. Verdant skies wait. Cape Verdant in Africa? Erm...wait! Hoppy cloudy fruity zesty beer producers! That's them! Now its all coming back. This post hopes to explore details and my observations of Verdant Brewing, in that there far away Cornwall.....

Verdant are bloody excellent. A bold opening gambit, based on my promise of exploration, but in my opinion that is a cold hard fact. Absolutely bloody excellent. Never had a beer of theirs I didn't like. Never balked at the price (which is significant), never turned down the opportunity to sample their wares. Why is this?

Well, excellence is the simple answer, but it almost wasn't the case. I think the first time I saw one of their beers it was a wheaty type of ale on keg at my house, Shakespeares. I wrongly assumed they were American, for some reason, and immediately discounted the recommendation of Adam. Who wants to drink a Belgian-y American wheat beer anyway? I remembered saying to myself, inside my head. In the end, I didn't try any of their beers until a chance tasting of a very fruity beer at Hop Hideout, and a conversation with Seanio at Beer Central who recommended their Pulp DIPA in cans. I bought one. It was delicious. I was hooked.

In the last two weeks a lot of Verdant, which is pronounced Ver-dunt, as opposed to V-daant, as I have been miscalling it, has been spotted in Sheffield. Shakespeares had their Headband (which found its way into the Riverside of all places a month or so ago!) on keg, which is a 5.5% pale ale, and the eponymous Pulp DIPA, on at £7.20 a pint on keg at 8%. Bar Stewards meanwhile have had their 6.5% IPA Even Sharks need water, and two DIPAs, Jacob the Canary brewed in collaboration with Deya, and the truly astounding Maybe One More Psi, both DIPA's at 8%. Mind you, they were on sale at £9.80 a pint. That is new territory for me.

I tried the maybe one more Psi DIPA in can when myself and Matty had one of this year's many beer tastings. It was up against at least two Cloudwater DIPAs and other impeccable output but was probably the beer of the night. It is so fruity, yet gloriously hoppy. Its like a meal in a glass. A friend of mine described the Even sharks IPA as being "meaty". I know what she means. Talk about a beer you can get your teeth into.

I have long been a fan of unfined beers, and then Cloudwater started doing unfined DIPA's at 9%. All of a sudden, the world of easy drinking but stupidly strong hopshakes started to become real. A lupulin smoothie in a glass is a delight. And thus far every Verdant beer I have had is basically just that. A wonderful exercise in opaque beauty.

I have to say I was surprised to find they were based in Falmouth. I have been to Falmouth once, in 2008, and drank in the fabulous Seven Stars with the old landlord giving myself and WK a tour. I loved the pub, I loved Barrington which is what I recall his name was, but until the bookstore with a bar up an alleyway opened a few years ago I never associated Falmouth with good beer. To find that many hops in a Cornish beer was a surprise, but somehow the way they excellently blend with the fruit and other ingredients (oats?) makes sense, given they are brewing for the noticeably different Cornish palate.

That said, the fact that Verdant have now done collabs with North Brewing, and Wiper and True to name two, and are so sought after oop ere, shows their growing popularity continues unabated.

I am looking forward to trying numerous other Verdant beers, not least their license payers IPA, as shown on their website , brewed with the excellent brewery North, and indeed anything else they may care to brew in the future. I understand that this unshakeable belief in the produce of one brewery leads only, eventually, to disappointment, but for now, whilst it leads to boundless joy, its very much good by me. 

Hooray for Verdant. And hooray for dank, juicy, hoppy, cloudy IPA!


Wee Beefy

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Scotland 2017 - Diabaig, Applecross, Plockton, Roy Bridge, Innerleithen, Penrith

Hello again,

      this post finishes the details of the pubs ales and scenery encountered during myself and Wee Fatha's epic 10 day tour of the West of Scotland.

We awoke in Archgarve near Laide to a lovely breakfast, and were nearly eaten alive by midges when we left. We headed back past the Old Inn and nipped in to get  a card (since the phone number isn't in the ever so reliable GBG!) and then headed inland and out again towards Inveralligan and the mountain of the same name. The weather was glorious and the scenery was breathtaking throughout, and the "road" down to Inveralligan prepared us nicely for the other track to Diabaig.

In 1993 we parked at what WF calls Upper Diabaig across from the Post Office to walk 5 miles across bog in the dark to Craig Youth Hostel. Despite that description, that was one of the highlights in terms of location. This time, noticing no sign of the made up part of the village (although the address of the below is Lower Diabaig), we parked down by the front and visited the Gille Brigdhe, which as all you Gaelic speaking readers will know, is the Oystercatcher. The licensed restaurant, with a link to their website, serves high quality food but most crucially, has a range of about 30 all Scottish bottled beers to drink in or take away.  As fans of Scottish ales we bought about 12 bottles between us including Lerwick IPA, Cromarty Red Rooster and Windswept Weizen, and ate a fabulous large chowder each which was absolutely packed with beautiful seafood and fabulously creamy. Well worth a visit.

From here we headed towards Applecross and climbed the impressive Bealach Na Ba pass before ending up in Applecross in the car park. This was my third visit, and WF;s 5th or 6th, and inside the Applecross Inn I did have to laugh when the barman joked that a pub without beer would not be a pub. When WF and Mumrah visited in 1972 they asked to be seated for a meal and were told they weren't doing food. They opted for just a drink but were told the bar was closed. On asking for a room, they were told they weren't doing accommodation. Suffice to say, things have improved since.

I have never eaten here but I hear the food is excellent, and the views out over the water are amazing. There were two real ales on, Loch Carron Black Cow porter and Skye IPA. I had a half of each, since WF was driving, and enjoyed both. We got chatting to one of the, I think, sisters who runs the pub and thoroughly enjoyed our albeit brief visit. And then, we headed back up over the Bealach Na Ba and on towards Plockton.

Here the Plockton Inn serves a few real ales including Plockton Starboard. This was a well kept and very tasty golden beer, although we did not buy the bottles. Plockton, if you've never been, has a wonderful harbour and coastline, and we sat eating our chips in the car enjoying the view. That night, further on inland, we stayed at the Claunie Inn. Two real ales were on, Orkney Corncrake, and a red ale of unrememberable producer. I enjoyed our drinks, possibly five pints of the Corncrake, in the bar with a bloke called Alan, or similar, and a lady who may have been from Shrewsbury. I didn't enjoy finding an out of date English fiver in my change. Have now put it in the bank.  

The next day our first stop was at Roy Bridge in a real ale pub selling three real ales - I had halves of Cairngorm Trade Winds, and Wild Cat, whilst WF had a pot of tea. I had forgotten how sweet the Trade Winds was, but the ales were well kept.

Our next stop was to have been at the Hikers bar at the Kings House Hotel at the top of Glencoe - alas its being refurbished. There is a cafe and bar on site, and we had halves of a Swedish pale ale on keg with our quite substantial late lunch. From here it was a mad dash to Innerleithen after a brief stop off in the Falls of Dochart Inn in Killin. Fyne Summer Skies and Harviestoun Wheat Beastie were both tried, and on goo form, with the Fyne one of the beers of the holiday.

That night we got to the Traquair Arms just in time to order tea and I had several pints of the Tempest Pale Armadillo session IPA, and took away some bottles of theirs including the Loral IPL. I also tried the Stuart Ale from Traquair House Brewery. With thanks to the barman, who may have been called Alan or Adam or something similar, for his help and company. The Pale Armadillo was excellent.

Our final day featured few stops, apart from a half of Sam Smiths Extra Stout in the Eskdale Hotel in langholm - since the Crown was shut til 14.00. Our only real ale stop came in Penrith in the Dockray Hall Hotel in the centre, one time home of king Richard the third. Cumbrian Legendary Ales featured with four casks and one from Barngates which was a red, and three or four kegs. All the beers were well kept, and the Oakham Green Devil was a welcome hoppy surprise.

All in all the beer scene in Scotland continues to expand, improve and innovate, and we thoroughly enjoyed the ales sampled, well, almost all, whilst in the West of the country. Heres hoping we can get back again next year to sample more delights, and witness more breathtaking scenery.

Your very best health!

Wee Beefy

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Scotland 2017 - Loch Erisort, Lewis, Stornoway, Ullapool, Gairloch

Hello again,

          this post continues the details of our trip to Western Scotland and its Isles, at the beginning of this month. We were up very early - 5.00AM, to get out for before 06.00 following a continental breakfast, cereal and sarnies and tea! We just got to the ferry at Berneray for 06.55 and were on Harris a little later. After a quick drive and visit to Scalpay we arrived at the Loch Erisort Inn on Lewis for dinner.

When we had last visited, the man from Huddersfield had said that they only had cask beer on for a week every year - it now transpired that last year he had poured away as much as he had sold. He said there had been days when he could have sold a cask in two busy nights but there hadn't been sufficient of such when he had it on so he wouldn't bother this year. However, our fabulous dinner of smoked haddock and mussel chowder with bread and chips was washed down with a very agreeable bottle of Isle of Skye Gold.

We were soon heading for Carishader on the Uig peninsula on Lewis, and the sky cleared as we approached. Its wonderful scenery in the area, and we arrived at a decent time to get our keys and have a fantastic afternoon tea, before heading off to buy beer and wine from the Uig Community store. They sold a range of about 30 or more Scottish bottled beers including Jaw Brew and Cromarty so about 5 bottles were picked up and a bottle of wine. Our tour of the peninsula involved dead end roads that became tracks and was conducted in fabulous sunshine en route to Breanais, before heading back to the nearby former Loch Chroistean school, now an informal restaurant,  for a fabulous meal.

The next day saw another circular tour including Cliff and Vlatos before we headed across the moors to Stornoway. Short of time I agreed to head for the Edge o the World micropub run by Hebridean Brewing Co. I found nine beers on, three keg and six cask, plus bottles, and tried four. The Beserker is not really to my taste, so I had the Hebridean Black on keg, half, and halves of Moo Coo Broo and the barman's favourite which was possibly Highlander, on cask.

Its really good to see real ale in Stornoway but I only really enjoyed the Moo Coo, which had a description which suggested I wouldn't like it. The brewers, and owners I think, Alan and Lorna, have moved up from England and their beers are oddly thin and slightly sweet. I do wish them all the best selling real ale in Stornoway though.

We caught the ferry to Ullapool next and drank more bottles of Fyne Ake, and then intended to stop having heard that many bars in the town sell real ale. The Ferry Inn, where we have been before, had three real ales but apart from Deuchars it was Greedy King and Slaters. Really, we were after An Teallach which is brewed nearby. We followed the GBG advice and went to the Morefield Motel and they had three real ales on, although the Ullapool one was a "joke beer" with nothing but a charity tin on it, and there was no An Teallach apart from their keg lager. The Cairngorm Highland Gold was on good form but the Orkney Northern light was very poor, and WF was by now tired and hungry, so we headed for Laide and Archgarve where we were to stay.

I suggested we drove on to Gairloch which is about 20 miles further on from Laide, as the Old Inn may serve food later than the hotel nearby. The roads are fairly windy and single track and we took a long time to reach Gairloch, which we haired through before pulling up where we thought the Old Inn was - not to find it. With WF now fuming about "my stupid idea" we headed further up the road before we turned round and he accused me of taking us to a pub that had clearly closed down. I checked the GBG for info on the brewery since the pub is no longer in it, and noticed the address as Flowerdale Glen - just as we spotted a sign  for the Old Inn, now virtually hidden behind a gallery called Solas.

I ran in whilst WF got parked and secured the last table to eat, in the family room, and ordered drinks. A pint of An Tealach Ale for me and a half of the Old Inn brewery North Coast pale were had, and on excellent form. The food in here was a little pricey but outstanding - the rare venison steak I had was cooked to perfection (which with such a lean meat is difficult to do) and I thoroughly enjoyed it, despite WF's moaning. Further An Teallach and Old Inn brewery beer was also sampled.

We got to our accommodation after 21.00 but that was fine and had a lovely breakfast the next morning before heading back to Gairloch and on towards Torridon. The final post about the tour includes the journey there and on back to home in fab sunny Sheffield, and ill come soon.

You very best health!

Wee Befy

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Shakespeares recognised as best pub in Sheffield

Good evening readers,

    regular visitors may have read the post title and assumed I had got stuck in some kind of memory relapse, and repeated my oft written assertion that Shakespeares is Sheffield's best pub due to some kind of recollective malfunction. Luckily, I have not. Sheffield's the CAMRA have voted Shakespeares as their September 2017 pub of the month. And rightly bloody so.

Interestingly, as a non CAMRA member and having been in the wilds of Scotland for the week preceding the award, I hadn't realised this was to be bestowed on my favourite pub, and also missed the presentation. I saw a note on Facheache and remember thinking " I must find out when that is" about an hour after it had finished.

Since returning from my trip to Western Scotland and its isles I have, its fair to say, spent rather a lot of time in the Shakespeares's. Recent lupolic highlights encountered have included  Fourpure Deuceboox tropical DIPA, Abbeydale Voyager 5 unfined IPA, a Beavertown and Basqueland brown, and Cloudwater NW DIPA Galaxy. There was also an excellent cask of Neepsend Pale which had a name, and everything, and a very agreeable North Riding, along with Wild Beer Co Jambo stout of many Vimtos. None of the above choices of beer reflect a lack of hoppy ales north of the border I should point out, rather they represent a stunning line up of ales to tempt my palate.

For the uninitiated, Shakespeares (still) does pork pies and sandwiches at 70p, so an after work pint can become a meal, and there is now a chip shop threatening to open after 20.00 across the road, so sobriety is much less unachievable. The beer garden continues to impress, and it still warm enough to sit out remember, and the line up of acts upstairs, along with the games room facilities, continue to impress.

The real qualities of my favourite pub however are represented in its staff. Admittedly I have not yet come to know or make nicknames for the two new yoot, but Chris, Nate, Adam, Derek, Rory and Brettmorgan continue to excel in their customer service, toleration of my nodding off, and knowledge and skills used to choose a frankly exceptional range of bose (lets not forget the excellent range of gin and whisky available).

I would in this rare moment of sobriety like to thank Shakespeares for putting up with me and for being so absolutely bloody excellent at being a pub. Now, rightly and entirely agreeably recognised as the best pub in Sheffield by the CAMRA. Finally bringing us into line with Ratebeer's assessment of the pub as being the best for beers in South Yorkshire this and last year. Hurrah!

I look forward to joining you all in said bowzer soon, or at least, as soon as I have paid off someone's  tab...


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Scotland 2017 - Tyndrum, Oban, Lerags, Barra and the Uists


      this month we went back - we being myself and Wee Fatha, to the West coast of Scotland, an area I hail from, and one to which we wanted to return. WF had ventured away in May 2017 and to be fair to him that was too early after his heart attack - he had said he never wanted to go to Scotland again. I knew this was not true. Two weeks ago that was proven.

Our first stop was in Moffat  at the Stag. Having previously been at the Star and been underwhelmed with the choice of real ale, we found two real ales at the Stag, a Greedy King standard and Inveralmond Lia Fail. A half of each was had, with me finishing most of both. WF was restricted to a half a day or similar so usually only had a few sups of each or a soft drink.

Next up after numerous traffic jams we ended up at the Village Inn at Arrochar, with five real ales including Fallen Just the ticket pale ale and Fyne Avalanche and Jarl. One of the Fallen alas ran out before I tried it but the range and setting at this pub is always excellent.

We didn't stop again until we finally reached Tyndrum to stay in a huge hotel full of coach parties. Food and Caledonian Highlander or similar was at the Tyndrum Inn. Despite its somewhat remote location Tyndrum is an incredibly busy place. The food was spot on, as was the beer. I even went to the hotel bar on our return for a half a Belhaven Saltire lager. It was as good as you would expect.

The next day we undertook the short drive to Oban and having booked in at the B and B we drove through the rain to Ellenabaich on Seil Island. The Oystercatcher was open so we went in and had pints of a Fyne ales red and their excellent summer skies - perhaps the most ironically named beer of the trip, but one of the best. We then caught the small ferry to Easdale and went for a wander and a few bottles in the Puffer Inn. Matt said they used to sell real ales on handpump but am not sure where on the tiny bar, but the range of bottles was excellent. Lawless Village IPA, Orkney Norseman Pale and Colonsay IPA were all sampled, along with lovely food.

Later that evening we went to the Barn at Lerags, down a resurfaced winding track from the main road. Two beers on here if I recall, and I had about three pints of the Orkney corncrake - unless it was the Fyne ales beer.  Alas the name escapes me. Our final stop on day two was in the Corrywreckan Wetherspoons in Oban where I had two Oban Bay brewery beers. They were OK, but not my style, but at least there are usually some on in this pub.

Day three we were meant to be going to Barra - but WF, exhausted by the drive on the first day, was really not very well. The kind owner of the Inverasdale bed and breakfast let WF go back to bed and put her guest up in her friends house next door, allowing WF some sleep and myself chance to explore Oban.

I started in the Oban Inn on a pint of Fyne Jarl. This is a beautiful old pub with an upstairs dining room selling three Fyne Real ales, Jarl, Highlander and Vital Spark. All three were tried and found to be on top form, as was the food I had there later on. The barman seemed interested to know what I thought and recommended two further stops selling Fyne ales in the town. My next stopping point was the Lorne on Stevenson Street.

Two Fyne Ales on cask here, Jarl and Highlander, but its nice to get to try the same beer in different pubs. I only stopped or a quick pint but the food looked and smelled delicious. The penultimate new stop took some finding - having forgotten its name I had to pop back in the Oban to ask, and then wandered  aimlessly for 30 minutes before getting specific directions from a local.

Marky Dans is a cellar bar down some steps underneath accommodation near the Gaelic centre. They do food all day and sell one real ale in the quirkily decorated bar. Here the Fyne Summer Skies pale was on excellent form. The music was good for the most part as well, and this seems like the sort of place I would like to go back to an a January Monday afternoon - potentially to have the whole place to myself.

Having checked on WF and found improvement, I returned to the Oban Inn twice, the later time chatting to fellow tourists from West Kirby and Helensborough, whose names I can almost remember, Karen and a tall man called Chris or Tom. Or John. Um..... several pints of Jarl were once again enjoyed and I got back late for our final snooze before the ferry.

As forewarned, the ferry journey, 5 and half hours long, can get quite rough once you leave the minch. I had already eaten crisps and a bottle of Fyne Avalanche before eating a curry as we sailed past Mull. As a direct result of the absurd rollercoaster journey I ended up wearing it. I only dared leave the table to get back in the var. Once I had removed all traces of vomit from my arms and facial hair, we met our accommodation owner Mari and set about trying to find food. The Castlebay Hotel was booked but we got a table at the Craigard Hotel. Caledonian Coast to Coast pale on keg was a decent sup, and the hand dived scallops in Grand Marnier creme sauce were exceptional. Good to see a poster in the dining room saying you are more than welcome to breastfeed in here - quite why people object to such a natural process is beyond me.

The next day we spent time travelling round Vatersay, and stopped at the Castlebay Hotel for a bottle of Skye Gold, and also a taste of the Barra gin - distilled in London using Barra ingredients its being sold to raise the funds to build a distillery on Barra.

A short ferry hop to Eriskay followed before we stopped in the Borrodale Hote in South Uist. No real ale, but two bottles of Hebridean, Clansman, and Beserker. Both off, had the first replaced but drank the second anyway. Probably should have gone to Polochar....

That night we ate at the Lochmaddy Hotel in Lochmaddy and they had St Kilda Challenge Ale on at 3.5% on cask from an unnamed brewery. I din't ask who it was as the beer was a little underwhelming, but it was our first cask since Oban. Afterwards we went to the Westford Inn at Clacdach Kirkibost on North Uist.

I had wanted to come here for so long, so tried hard to manage my expectations. I think the pub is incredibly popular and very busy, and the hassled tones of the lady on the phone was disappointing if understandable. On getting in we had pints of Skye Tarasgeir and Red, half a Skye Gold as well as more Barra gin for me. The Tarasgeir was not quite what I expected, but it had a very distinct flavour, the red was well kept, as was the Gold, indeed all were. The pub was still busy when we arrived at 21.00 and am sure the food is lovely, but we couldn't stay longer long due to an extra early start the next day. More details of our trip to Lewis Ullapool and beyond soon.


Wee Beefy

Tuesday, 29 August 2017



       its unusual for me to go away over the Bank Holiday weekend. Even more so these days, when an early in the month thirst has usually robbed me of all funds. So it was this year, and planning on working every day over the holiday weekend, when Wee Keefy invited me away I said no. I needed to work those days to get another overtime payout, but even as I said that, I knew it was madness. WK would pay for the petrol and camping anyway, and would give me some funds for food, and, um, refreshments. So I said yes.

We headed up through Bradford, Skipton and towards Keighley before heading to our first stop in sunny Settle. Here I used the amazing online National Inventory website to completely fail to find Settle's entry. At home on my PC the site is easy to navigate. On my phone its next to useless. Giving up (I thought the pub was the Royal Oak, we found one, but it was not the one I thought I was looking for) we followed signs for the Talbot Arms. Hidden away on a back street there were six real ales to choose from in this (probably) former Theakstons pub. WK had a half of Settle Brewery Railway siding or similar, myself a pint of Wishbone Ginnel Pale. We sat in the garden in sunshine and enjoyed both. A most acceptable start. Incidentally, the pub I am thinking of is not in Settle. And the pub in Settle is the Royal Oak. Fail....

We headed up to the Ribblehead viaduct and stopped for a quick picture before heading over to Dentdale via the Dentdale viaduct. We passed the pub in Cowgill and got to Ewegales farm about 15.00, and after getting stuck in and pushing ourselves out of, the mud, we met up with Sue and Kev and got set up.

Tea was a barbecue, and much needed, after which we headed out to the pub. Kev and Sue are currently looking after a rescue dog called Edie, who is a well behaved, older stray with a good temperament. Alas, the Sportsman's Inn in Cowgill does not allow dogs in. So we sat outside. Getting eaten alive by midges.

Now, I don't own a dog so am not that bothered but none of us expected a remote country boozer to ban dogs. They do serve food but am sure in a separate room. And if memory serves the floor is flagstoned. When we arrived there were only three other customers. Kev and Sue stayed less time than us, since none of us enjoyed being eaten by midges. This was an oddly Quiet Woman a Earl Sterndale type of situation which put a dampener on our night.

Mind you the two beers on offer were good. I had a number of pints of the Settle Pale ale, which had a name, and WK, Kev and Sue all had the Pennine Blonde. All beers are £3.40 a pint, which isn't a bad price. Once Kev and Sue had headed back to the camp me and WK went inside and caught up with the farmer of the farm we were staying at and it was an enjoyable nights drinking. It would have been far more so if we could have brought Edie into the pub with us.

The next ay I was up very early and went for a walk to Birk Rigg and back before breakfast.  We started the day looking at the Dentdale viaduct before heading back to the Ribblehead, or Batty Moss, viaduct. After a walk to the top of the far end we discovered that a steam train was due in an hour, so we decided to head back to the river and then come back later to photograph the train. Ribblehead is a beautiful, bleak place full of strange people. Visitors I should point out. Mostly super fit 50 year old Dads dragging their kids and partners along on exceedingly grueling treks. It reminded me very much, except that I was willingly involved, of my childhood. The steam train was ace by the way.

A dawdle followed, through a maddening Ingleton traffic jam and then along a gated road to Dent where we parked up for two hours. Its last century since I was in Dent and we soon found the brewery tap the George and Dragon. I had a pint of Aviator and WK a half of their Blonde and Towd Tup strong dark ale. Initially we sat outside on the steps in glorious sunshine observing the comings and goings of village life in the small cobbled streets, but we had to go back inside, if nothing else so I could charge my phone. The young lad behind the bar very kindly plugged it in for me and I got chatting to him and a guy called Adam.

WK headed to the local shop for dinner, which was a box of "oat flips" or flapjacks, and some bottled Dent beers, whilst I enjoyed another pint of the Aviator and some crisps and then two more whole pints of the towd Tup. I may have been a trifle refreshed. The pub and village was friendly and I would have spent longer in there were it not for a desire to nip into the other pub the Sun Inn.

Here I had half an Andwells brewery beer which also had a name, and a pint of Kirby Lonsdale Monument Ale as this was the hoppiest on. I went and sat outside in the sunshine and waited for WK to join me. There was an interesting mix of folks in the beer garden and the atmosphere was once again spot on. I really enjoyed my trip to Dent.

Later on we popped into the Moorcock Inn at Langdale End (or a Moorcock Inn somewhere else) for tea and I had a pint of something pale which was enjoyable. Alas my earlier slaking seems to have removed some facts about this beer, most noticeably its name and producer.

Once back at the campsite I made plans to return to the Sportsman's Inn but everyone else, perhaps understandably, decided to stay at the campsite drinking some Dent bottles. I arrived about 20.00 and immediately got a pint of the Settle Brewery Attermire session IPA at 4.2%. It was the hoppiest beer of the trip away by far and went down a treat, although I only had enough for a pint and a half and returned to the campsite before 21.30. The pub was empty when I left.

Its always nice to get away and to not have to work but even then this was a really enjoyable few days holiday to an area I scarcely knew. We didn't have a bad beer all holiday and the ale was sensibly priced. It was interesting to taste the Dent brewery beers for the first time in a while, but more so the Settle brewery, who appear to be a bit more "future leaning" in their styles of ale, whilst still producing traditional cask beers.


Wee Beefy  

Friday, 25 August 2017



       this post, in keeping with ongoing issues of procrastination, is fairly late. I went to Dronfield at the beginning of the month, but hey, the facts are still there. Those that I can remember at least. Not the ones I have conflated with other events at random points in the past. Not them. Um.....

So, I had been to Beer Central once again for my monthly catch up - where am introduced, in what is becoming a veritable smorgasboard of equal delights and surprise, to beers I may have said I would buy whilst online in the preceding week. s. As always there were some shocks, not in terms of prices, more in terms of my not remembering ordering some of them. There was also a lot of Cloudwater. Hooray for me!

I cut down past the Lord Nelson and wandered up to the Rutland to get a couple of drinks before I headed off. Continuing the Cloudwater theme I had  a half of their London Ale DIPA at 9%. Its come to something when you have to express surprise at a beer being on at less than £7.00 a pint, but that's what it was, and that is what I paid for. I also got a frankly sublime half of Lervig Passion Tang, a passion fruit sour at 7.0%. Having never disliked a Lervig brew this did not disappoint.  Both beers were on keg and in excellent condition. This was a good start to my trip.

Once at the station I didn't have too long to wait for the unfeasibly small Nottingham train to trundle into view and was quickly in Dronfield and heading for the Dronfield Arms. In the days before I had tried a number of pints of Hopjacker Stargoon on cask at Shakespeares - one of the best cask beers I have had this year. Alas there was none on cask at the Arms, and also no Edd, but still lots of excellent beers to choose from.

I started with a pint of Hopjacker beginning with M - it was about 3.8% and having lost some of my memory I have searched Google to find a suggestion of "mock draft". Is this even one of your beers Edd? If not, the one I tried still began with M. The beer was easy drinking, and accompanied some delicious olives which may or may not have been stuffed.

Next up I discovered that Stargoon was available, on keg. So I had to have a pint of that, along with a cheese and pickle pork pie. The pub was starting to get busier, and it was good to see plenty of customers with dogs. The Stargoon on keg was actually not quite as good as the cask at Shakespeares. Its a weird one, but that remains even now after other tries, the best I have ever tasted it. A cracking beer from a fab brewery.

Off next to find the Dronfield Beer Stop, which, it turns out, is about 3 minutes walk away. Spotting the lane the shop was on I then noticed the shop itself, and so headed in. The guy was friendly and chatty and didn't mind serving me a beer on keg, which I had promised to drink quickly, despite him soon being closed. The beer was from a brewery based not in the UK. For reasons of crapulence, I cannot recall it or the beer's name. We had a good chat about what was good and available and I bought a can of Verdant Some Fifty Summers, a 4.8 or similar percent dry hopped pale. I made it clear that I liked Verdant, as did the man, who had an identifying sound, AKA a name. Names eh......  

My penultimate stop was at the Coach and Horses down the road - passing at least two former pubs, one closed down and one now a restaurant (although that may not have been a pub.....). The Coach was busy when I got in and I initially sat outside with my pint of beer, which was definitely pale, and also owned one of those defining noises which one makes when identifying or remembering it. Neither of which I can. Alas it soon started to rain so I nipped back inside and finished my enjoyable but alas unmemorable beer.

I finished the day's supping back at the Dronfield Arms having another pork pie (plain this time) and at least one more pint of the Hopjacker Stargoon, a fabulously cloudy, hoppy, fruity American style and hopped (probably) IPA. I tried a pint of this last time I was in Shakespeares and it remains a truly wonderful beer.

All too soon alas I had to return to the station and get the train, and once back in Sheffield I ignored the draw of the Tap and went home to indulge in one of my cans of Cloudwater, which was a 4.5% double hopped pale if memory serves. It does, but alas it double faulted.

I am well aware that there are other venues to tempt me to Dronfield but in fairness this was something of a whistlestop tour so apart from my first visit to the Beer Stop I stuck with what I know. Luckily, when beer is as good as it is at the Dronfield Arms, there seems little point going anywhere else.


Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 23 August 2017


Hello folks,

     "when did people start giving a shit about how fresh a bottle of imperial stout is" I remember moaning, probably in early 2013, after reading the "Drink fresh" advice on the side of a bottle of Kernel. Then, less so now, I was into collecting beers, storing them for a period of time and opening them to find a changed and often much better product. I still have a bottle of Eldridge Pope Thomas Hardy Ale which I bought in 1994, and a few other vintages, along with other strong bottled stouts. The last thing I would want to do is drink them fresh.

Having checked my write up of that post about the tasting am afraid there is no mention of my horror, but in the four  years since I have started to hear more and more people comment, praise and rave even about the freshness of beers. As a libatious enthusiast, I have neither the time nor sobriety to look into "facts" or similar muddleheaded musings about the capacity of hops and malts to keep their flavours over long periods of time in a can or bottle. So instead am going to rely solely on observations, memories and, mainly,  guesswork.

At Tramlines's I was in Shakespeares nursing a two thirds of Siren in the clock room, which I own. In came Rodney who I know from serving him at Archer Road Beer stop years ago. He was raving about two brand new cans they had at Hop Hideout. The Cloudwater N.W DIPA (I think), and the Verdant Further DIPA, were both brewed within the last ten days and this had made him very excited.

We looked at the cans and as a massive fan of both breweries I started devising plans to go up and sample some of the same at the earliest opportunity.  I only bought the Verdant Further in the end, but that was absolutely fantastic. Did it matter that it was so fresh from the brewery? I would say yes. If nothing else, because of the style of beer produced -  a hoppy, cloudy, fruity IPA.

There is no discernible price difference (although both Cloudwater and Verdant are "high end")  so in effect you are now able to get the freshest beers straight from the brewery (almost). I think this improves the hops  - their flavour, bitterness and citrus notes appear to be more noticeable, and the beer seems, at least, easier to drink. I know this may seem like a hoodwink kind of plan by micro brewers but I would buy their beers anyway, so in effect all that is happening is I am enjoying their beers fresher, and probably all the more.

The other evidence in between 2013 and now about freshness, bearing in mind of course that all cask beer needs to be as fresh as possible once tapped, is that IPAs don't seem to work well when kept for any period of time. Its simply a style that doesn't suit ageing. I remember years ago when Blue Bee aged their 6 or 6.5% Tangled Up IPA in cask for 6 months or so. I tried it twice and found that the astringency of the hops had diminished, and the beer although more rounded, was more like a strong English ale. That is not a flavour or style that I want from an IPA.

When Shakespeares had a Cloudwater IPA on cask at New Year 2015 it had been ageing in the cellar for a period of months. Many regular drinkers, not all of whom were IPA fanatics I should point out, noticed that it had decreased in hoppiness and wasn't as vibrant as when fresh. Cloudwater no longer do cask beer but their kegs always say drink fresh. Their beers are invariably excellent, as are Verdant and Kernel's output.

It seems therefore, that another notable benefit of the excellence of brewing in the UK microbrewing scene is that fresh ales are becoming more popular, and since thus far they cost the same (if sell out quicker) I can only see this as a benefit.  And I still have numerous ageing dark or traditional English strong beers to enjoy when I want something heavier, for years to come.


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Punch, Stancill and the lash

Evening all,

      you may have heard from social media, Twitter et al, that Stancill Brewery, as well as taking on the Albion on London Road, are also taking over the lease of the Closed Shop, Commonside. This may at face value sound great. Its not if you are Chris Rogers, or the community who backed him to continue running the pub when Reet Ale Pubs went bust.

I saw Chris on Sunday, and found out his likely last day of trading would be Wednesday, assuming he didn't run out of stock. He had been given 10 days notice to leave, and thus needed to find accommodation for him and his family, and new employment in that short space of time. He had been asking Stancil for confirmation of whether or not he would be able to stay running the Closed Shop for some time. He hadn't been given a definitive answer until he received his notice to quit some time last week. Its not difficult to imagine why Chris might be a little miffed. When questioned on Twitter about this, Stancill I understand blamed Punch for keeping Chris and his staff in the dark (all the staff lost their jobs as well as far as I know).

Brewing and communication are very different skills I will grant you. However, finding new accommodation and employment in the timescale given, when you have a large family, is very very difficult indeed. Even if we take Stancill's explanation at face value, that simply means there are two organisations letting down the leaseholders, staff and community. I understand Chris already has plans, to open a micropub nearby, but as any of Sheffield's existing micropubs will confirm, permission to trade as and granting of licences for takes a long time. And it still doesn't sort out the accommodation issue, which is surely most pressing.

Concerns about staff and leaseholder welfare aside, I don't understand the decision from a marketing and potential financial benefit point of view. All the regulars I know are horrified by the behaviour of Stancill and or Punch, so am not sure where the core of visitors is going to come from. The community forum or organisation was set up by Chris to keep the pub open, and 24 investors paid cash to buy the Tenancy at Will from punch. In all there are 200 members on the group's mailing list, and am guessing most of them live nearby. I can't see that same community wanting to give Stancil any of their money after what has happened.

I realise the pub is to reopen mid August. So there will be an influx of students soon after, whom I am guessing Stancill are hoping won't know or if so won't care about this situation. If that was the case, that is doing students a disservice. If nothing else in Sheffield, pub wise, look at the reaction to the University Arms being threatened with demolition. ( although I realise that there were plenty of non students who did much of the ACV legwork)

The other issue is the staff that Stancill are to bring in from their other pubs. They are being given the opportunity to run a pub where they will have had no input into the treatment of Chris and his staff. I wish them as individuals every success, but have no intention of drinking any Stancil product in the future. I think the Horse and Jockey had a couple of guests on when they first reopened, but I didn't see any when I returned. So am not sure how I will be able to support another member of the licensed trade  doing well in the Closed Shop.

Best of luck to Chris and his staff in finding new roles, and accommodation. As per information on Facebook the Closed Shop has, once again, become closed. Lets hope something good will come from this situation, in whatever way that might be.


Wee Beefy

Friday, 21 July 2017

Short crawls in Sheffield


       back when I had money (laughs, then starts sobbing) I went on a few pub crawls in sunny Sheffield, mainly at the weekend, since I work, and nobody drinks on a school night. Well, apart from me, obvs. To be fair, in the good old days (pre October 2016) I used to drink virtually all the time. I digress however. Here is some more recent evidence of indulgence.

It was the first Saturday of the month and I nipped into town and to Beer Central to pick up my latest saves. Only the 6 or 7 this time, but as always some crackers amongst them. All now supped I hasten to add. I went straight from there to the Beer Engine and spoke to Tom about his new venture. I haven't seen him for a while so it was good to catch up, and having started on a pint of delicious beer that had a name I was bought another - in this case two halves, one of Lost Industry cherry and banana sour and Alphabet A to the K oatmeal pale (and Friendache, where I got that form tells me I had a pint of Toxteth IPA from Mad Hatter - proving why I post so many pics of beers I have drunk!). The sour was on especially impeccable form.

All three beers were as ever in perfect condition and I quaffed them outside in bright sunshine, before heading up to Hop Hideout for more sitting outside, this time supping something hoppy from To ol, and possibly something else. Or neither. I also bumped into Ron Patterson who is a beer historian and told him all about the Royal Cottage. He ordered food. That, is a fact.

I headed into town and then met up with Tash outside the Sheffield Tap. Here I had a pint, definitely of beer, and she had a cider. Or wine. We bumped into Katherine and I left them two to catch up and met them in the Old Queens Head, where I had a pint of the most local ale available. I also had half a bottle of wine. This may explain later "forgetfulness" in a style more apparent than normal.

From here I headed to meet Scott and Col and Sue and others in the KIT for Col's birthday drinks. It wasn't until Sunday that I figured out what I had, and why that had made me forget everything I had done in Shakespeares afterwards. I had a pint of the Brodies DIPA at 9%. This was not my most sensible move. It was good catching up with Col and Sue and Fluffy though.

Another trundle came the next day - having somehow done overtime I met Matty in the Shakespeares and bought a pint of something on cask am sure. We sat in the sunshine once again catching up before heading for the Kelham Island Tavern and having two thirds each of the Brodies - this was a clearly very strong tasting as well as strong gravity beer which explained memory loss on Saturday quite well. We finished this short and quick crawl in the Riverside where we had pints of a pale ale. This is probably the least revealing crawl I have ever written up. Luckily I can remember much more about the next.

A Sunday post overtime drink was arranged with Miss Middlemarch, but alas she cancelled as I was heading to Shakespeares so it seemed rude not to attend anyway. I sat in the sunshine once again, enjoying a frankly excellent pint of Kernel, although am not sure which, but it was on fine form. All too quickly however I had supped it and I returned for a further half before moving on.

My next stop was the Gardeners Rest. I haven't been in since Pat and Eddie sold it to the community and all that seems to have changed is there are now slightly fewer beers on. To be honest, I only ever seemed to go to the Gardeners when it was quiet, and with them being new owners as well this seems like a sensible move. They also appear to have a card machine, which am not sure was there before. Ironic, now that I only have once card....

I sat outside once again, talking to a guy about the local wildlife he had seen and supping a pint of Elusive, or similar sounding pale ale which was on great form. Its good to see the Gardeners still drawing in customers and serving excellent beer.

Just up the hill is the Forest, on Rutland Road. It was busy inside but nobody was sat outside - although there is now only one table to do so at. I got a pint of the Toolmakers Phillips screwdriver, some free crisps which were much appreciated, and went and sat outside where I was joined by a couple of locals who initially talked about holidaying abroad. It was lovely and hot and a fantastic place to sit, so I nipped in and got another half before heading off.

My final stop was at The Old Workshop. As I mentioned in my post yesterday I managed to sit outside, and I did indeed people watch. I got a fantastic pint of Kernel Citra IPA and supped that in hot sunshine watching the crowds arrive. I got chatting to a guy called Nick from Middlesborough who asked me to look after his pit bull, the Duke - named after a John Wayne character and film, whilst he got a drink. We got chatting to a group who came in and he offered to buy me a drink so I asked for a half of the Kernel but somehow the message got mixed up and he bought me a pint. The dog enjoyed the water in the bowl at least. Many thanks for the pint. I slowly finished this whilst the sun went behind the factories before heading home. A fine finisher.

I may have spent a little too much on the first and last but I enjoyed every one of them, and went to some cracking boozers en route. Once more, demonstrating the range of venues and beer menus available to the slakers of finest sunny Sheffield.


Wee Beefy  

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The Old Workshop


      the above is a new (by my journalistic standards at least) bar on Hicks Street in Neepsend. Where is Hicks Street? I hear 90% of you ask. Well, its off Burton Road, round the corner from Yellow Arch Studios and just past Wendy's chippy. Its also therefore near Sheffield Brewing Co, Peddler Market and the Forest and Gardeners Rest.

A month or two ago I bumped into Tom's sister in Shakespeares. She had a name, as a means of identifying her amongst other humans. I forget what it is. She confirmed that he, of Beer Engine renown, was involved in or opening a beer bar in Neepsend. I had heard rumours of this, but hadn't sought to find out any further information, but was pleased to hear that Tom was involved, with his excellent boozer the Beer Engine being one of the best places to drink in Sheffield. Of course, he will tell you this is all down to his excellent staff. Its still true either way.

On a Sunday towards the end of June I decided to pop down and take a look. I think its an exaggeration to say that Sheffield needs a place like this - but it certainly deserves a place like this. If nothing else, and separate from its own qualities, it brings us in line with nearby destinations for beer like Derby, Leeds and Manchester. Its a smart, popular, keg only bar with an excellent range of bottles and street food from Brazil and India. Or other countries in the world. Facts eh. What are they?

I have spoken to Tom briefly about it and he confirmed what Alan Steward had told me - that it was keg only not because of a dislike of cask, but because there is insufficient space behind the bar. Am fairly sure they don't have a cellar and the space behind the bar would indeed not fit a cask in - its also quite warm, so would be difficult to keep cask ale in tip top condition. Given that I drink cask and keg and bottle and canned beers I don't actually give a shit. Is the beer good? Yes. Thats all I need to know.

The bar is very nicely done out in what unsurprisingly appears to be an old workshop. Am guessing this is the inspiration behind the name. There is plenty of seating, basic wooden tables, a fantastic ceiling feature, and comfortable settees (or sofas?) at the front. I also understand the upstairs room is for hire. There doesn't appear to be any outside space, although, as a sun lover, I have perched on a stool at the tiny table outside at the side of the doorway.

The beer range features kegs of all strengths and tastes, with a goodly number of sours and gose to tempt you - the Chorlton sour that I tried the other day was fantastic, however, the Five Points DIPA and excellent Kernel Citra were also ace, and served in peak condition. As you may know, I lurve Kernel Citra.

Despite being in a location people know about as well as Nether Green, its actually a brilliant place for a bar to be - walk across Burton Road and over Ball Street bridge (or stop off at the Bajhi Hut or similar spelling) and you come out at the Milestone, with the Fat Cat, KIT, Riverside, Harlequin and Shakespeares and Bar Stewards nearby. Its definitely a great place to include on a crawl, or to go after work - that said, at present I think it only opens Friday to Sunday.

One slight word of warning is that if you are allergic to hipsters I would approach with caution. On my first visit I saw a guy in flip flops, tight denim shorts and a fair isle jumper, with a top knot. I initially wanted to vomit, but actually, he wasn't doing anything. He wasn't going to sit down next to me and start talking about bus braking systems. He was just out with his mates. In fact, its another good feature that it attracts an interesting and diverse clientel. People of all ages and cultures and styles throng here, and its a fantastic place to people watch.

Well done to Tom and the staff who run the Old Workshop. Its a fine place to go for a drink, and am certain, to stop off for some food, and the music is often very good as well. I expect to be popping in to sample their excellent wares in the very near future.


Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Rising Sun Sunfest Sheffield 2017


     I understand this year's Sunfest was the 11th, and am fairly sure I first went in 2009 or 2010, likely my first ever visit to the pub. That said, am not sure how long Abbeydale have had the pub - so can any Abbeydonians tell me if Sunfest was run when the Rising Sun was not an Abbeydale pub? Am guessing it was. I have had a lot to drink since 2009 however.

Could I also quickly point out that as far as I know the Rising Sun is at Nether Green. I say this because a surprisingly high percentage of my friends either don't know that or don't know where Nether Green is. Its not Ranmoor. Its not Fulwood. I hope I am not wrong on this point!

I arrived about 18.00 on Thursday night with the threat of heavy thundery rain hanging over me - I can confirm that not a drop fell that night. It was gloriously hot in the sun, but the beer was very well kept - not too cold, but with a slight chill that kept it cool and refreshing without destroying the flavour. A big well done to the bar team at the festival for their hard work. It was £10.00 tokens and a hired glass again which is fine - being short of funds these days I may have preferred a £5.00 card but am well aware that you got a refund on both card and glass if you needed one.

My first beer of the festival was not recorded using my highly efficient ticking the programme process - but am certain it was Half Moon brewery York Midsummer, a 3.9% pale ale with Elderflower. A perfect, light, easy drinking palate opener which I supped in about 5 minutes. I moved straight on to the excellent range of keg beers and had a half of Abbeydale Strong and Stable - its a pale and hoppy American style DIPA from Abbeydale at 8.4%. Brewed with much Mosaic so I loved it, and described as dank and delicious, despite its name I spilt some just as I was heading to speak to Dan Baxter, head of talking and many other things at the Brewery. Seems the beer, not I, was strong and stable.

Having tried the Birdhouse tea beer at 4.2% from Abbeyda;e, which was interesting, if not that brilliant, I moved onto Burning Soul Brewery OCT IPA at 6.9% on cask.. Bags of flavour, but not as citrussy as I'd hoped, this was still a perfect beer to follow the SandS. I bumped into Ethan, he of previous Three Tuns fame, and Robin, and sat down with Richard, Bex, Jodie, Darren, Laura and a man with a fab beard. Laura suggested I tried her Princess Rara, an 8.1% naturally hazy vanilla and raspberry pink coloured beer. It was a very enjoyable mix, and thankfully not too sweet. There was also a hint of sharpness from the rasps which balanced the beer well.

Next up was keg Verdant Headband, a 5 5% golden beer from Falmouth described as bitter and sweet. Its the third beer I have tried from Verdant and I have loved every one - their can of Just one more Psi that I tried last month was the best of a range of 13. This did not disappoint. I also tried thirds of Cross Borders Braw on keg at 5.2%, which was too light a beer for keg, and the Fintry Clachertyfarlie, which was alas, too light to register at all. Things improved with Torrside Snap Decision 5.2% pale however, and I finished on a half of the Elderflower Deception. Or Cosmology. Its not clear....

Saturday I was back in the afternoon and met Rich, Kath, Beck, a lady, John, Mark, someone who may have been called Andrew who drank cider, Jon and Mandy, a man called Yannis, Andy M, the Sword of Justice from work, Pat J, Diane and Pete and Carol, and Laura BH and many others. It seems daft to list them all but for me that level of recall is amazing! Now....what beers did I have?

Well, having carefully returned with someone else's blank festival programme am going to have to guessmember. I definitely tried and enjoyed the Boundary Brewing Forever Ago NE IPA at 6.0% on keg. Northern Irish beer has been slow to make it over to the mainland and I had never heard of Boundary before, but this was an excellent starter.

I had a third of the Wilde Child Opaque Reality pale at 5.9% (and over a fiver a pint on cask!?) which was good, but really should have been. I also tried a half of the Beer Nouveau Government Ale at 3.7% - I was looking forward to this since Beer Nouveau are a small Manchester based brewery housed, I think, near Cloudwater, but all I can say is I think it was a "response" to the Government reduced strength Carlisle State Bitter. It tasted of virtually nothing! ( I have since read the listing and this is, virtually, what the beer was, coming from a McGees recipe of 1917. It was still very disappointing.....)

The Fallen Brewing New World Odyssey at 4.1% was good and refreshing, (although people seem to think its pronounced Fallon?) and I had another half of Princess Ra Ra which went down very well. I also enjoyed the Abbeydale Orange you glad its summer on keg, an 8.5% orange spiced saison which was very refreshing and dangerously easy to drink. I tried a half of the Abbeydale Voyager 3 IPA at 5.6% hazy IPA with Centennial, Galaxy and Lemon Drop hops which was very enjoyable.

I think I may also have tried the Double Brimstone Barrel Aged at 8.1% - am thinking this must have been near the end of my visit, which happened as the crowds became incredible in mass, and some beers started to run out.  

Overall I really enjoyed my two visits, and although no credit can be taken for the weather, the sun at Sunferst was amazing! I didn't try any of the food alas, so can't comment but all the ales were well kept, even the ones I didn't like, and the range was incredible. Well done once again to Abbeydale and the Rising Sun staff and numerous volunteers for putting on a cracking festival once again.

Hoping to see you all in 2018.

Wee Beefy

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Staffordshire Moorlands hat trick.


       for many yeas myself and Wees Keefy and Fatha, sometimes with Tash and Matty, have been heading out to the Derbyshire, North Staffordshire border for a meal and a few pints at three excellent local pubs. In the last three years though making both of the last two has proved impossible, as per this post from 2015. Different pubs have been our starting place but after leaving Cliff's we have recently ended up somewhere else on the way home. Last Saturday that changed.

We met before 17.00 and picked Wee Fatha up and headed out via Bakewell to Monyash and then through Needham Grange to Crowdecote. The sun was shining and it was warm and the Packhorse pub wasn't too busy when we got there. Having said hello to Nick who may actually be called Mick (I will listen more carefully next time....) we set about ordering.

We all went for pints (WF a half) of Storm Silk of Amnesia, a darkish ruby pint with plenty of flavour and somewhere around 5%. The beer was impeccably kept and we stayed on this for the duration, apart from WK getting a soft drink since he was driving, and me trying the Derby fruit salad fruit pale which was far better than its name suggested. All pints cost £3.40 which is good value for the area. We also ate - WF having a fish pie, me gammon and WK a steak. The food was excellent. The beer was too.

Next, given recent early closing incidences, we headed up the lane past the pub to Earl Sterndale. The Quiet Woman was open, and there was a couple in the bar enjoying the last of their pints when we arrived. I had a pint of dark, alas I can't recall whose it was, and WK and WF each had a half of the Marstons bitter from a range of three. WK dutifully bought a now more expensive box of beers and we sat near the entrance.

One interesting  fact is that the pub door has a sign on it saying No dogs. Royal Cottage regulars claimed this had been there for years but three large groups of potential customers turned up whilst we were there and read the sign out loud - all of whom had dogs. One group put their dog in the car and sat inside enjoying their beers and the pub, and the other two groups sat briefly outside with far less beers than they would otherwise have had if they had been able to come in. I know that Ken had two or perhaps three dogs since I have been going, all of which have now sadly passed away but not taking the sign down is restricting trade further in this already quiet pub.

After a good sup and loo breaks we had to leave Ken to it and headed off to the Royal Cottage for about 21.00. There were a few customers in already when we arrived, and we had a quick chat with Cliff - unusually he don't say he thought we'd died, two which WF would have responded with "I nearly did". Instead he asked us how we were and WK bought our drinks - Manns for WF, lemonade for WK and a bottle of Old Speckled Hen for me.

We sat in our usual spot and got talking to a guy who may be called Dave and regular visitor Ivel - a proper old fashioned name if ever I heard one. As well as the interior not changing its pleasing to note that the conversation topics also never change. Local farms, farmers, families, relationships  and land sales once again were the feature, including the Salt family who allegedly lived in the mines years ago. As always, the conversation was interesting, and the atmosphere was excellent. And it was good to see Cliff in good health.

Shortly before we left a large group of people turned up and having ordered drinks stood and sat over by the back window. It was notable that for the second or third time in recent years there were more than ten people in when we left late on a Saturday night. This may not sound many, but the pub is quite small and for many years there were never more than three people in, so this is an improvement.

For information, in nearby Longnor, the Grapes has reopened following many years of closure, so there are now two pubs open in Longnor - unless the Horseshoes has reopened, which looking at it am guessing it hasn't. We didn't have time to visit but I understand it sells a few real ales so will hopefully pop in next time we are out that way.

I wrote in 2012 about the large number of local pubs in the area closing or changing hands but the Red Lion at Thorncliffe has also recently reopened so there seems to be small improvements in the pub scene in the Staffordshire Moorlands area. All of which means more trips out and different routes await in the months ahead.


Wee Beefy