not ones that go crunch or pop, nor a oft used term for mental illness light, instead a description of three beers I have had in fine sunny Sheffield this last week. As you may have noted from previous posts, I am rather a fan of drinking excellent ales in Sheffield pubs - as are my bank and credit card firms. Whilst I negotiate repaying that slab of debt (and am nearly there by the way) I have recklessly used the last of my savings, funds, credit, and payments in kind, to secure excellent, or rather cracking, ales.
On Sunday I ended up in Shakespeares, in a radical departure from my established drinking patterns. The last three Sundays (I think, they are just numbers after all) I have been in after work and they have had a stunning Kernel Pale ale on. Its no exaggeration to say I have very much warmed to Kernel since early disappointments with their Table beer and a lingering distrust of filthy keg. Their 4 hop IPA at 6.7% was one of my beers of last year (it was Citra Centennial Mosaic and something else if memory fails). This one was Mosaic and Vic Secret. Given that Mosaic remains one of my favourite hops it was not going to disappoint. It did not. A sumptuous, refreshing, opaque masterpiece of hoppy goodness. I may have had quite a few pints. It was bloody fab.
Neepsend Brewery have been knocking out some rather fantastic ales of late. I blogged at a point in the past about their Century IPA which was a fantastic hoppy cask ale - probably more impressive in terms of the citrus, tropical hoppy bite given that it wasn't served on keg, which is usually the better way of serving such beers.
At the Three Tuns last week, as well as having the excellent company of the Director of Andrew Inns, I also had the wonderful choice of drinking the Neepsend and Hopjacker Breakfast IPA 3 - coffee black IPA.
I realise that those long in the tooth or indeed short in the patience with novelty beers may think the above described pottage is just that, but in fact its not a novelty at all - instead its a desperately clever brew. The coffee element in a black IPA is brilliant - giving it a roasted, smooth and hoppy flavour - which is surely what a black IPA should be (comments on what a Black IPA should be, as well as, the definition of "craft", are permanently closed). I had several pints including the last one with, as the barman honestly, if a little too so, put it "all the crud in the bottom". As I explained, I am not averse to crud. Not that kind anyway.
The final sharpshooter is from Blue Bee, another renowned and favourite Sheffield brewery. Arriving once again at the Three Tuns I noticed a new Blue Bee beer called the Land of the Long White Cloud. It featured Motueka, Rakau and Waimea hops and it sounded lovely but to my horror I noticed it was only 3.5%. Gah! Nearly half my starting strength! However, a man with facial hair and limbs and MC Miker G behind the bar both recommended it over the Intrepid Pale (which being that I had already discounted) and so I had a pint.
As the entry on the Blue Bee section on the Sheffield CAMRA website states "although low on alcohol this beer won't be short in flavour". Never a truer word spoken. A monumental wall of citrussy and, having been prompted, piney flavours hits you and lingers long in the mouth. There's plenty of bitterness but the resiny notes balance the brew perfectly. You could easily have this beer to follow a hoppy IPA as it holds its strength of flavour so well. I had two and a half pints last night and savoured every mouthful - I strongly recommend you go to the Tuns today and do the same.
Full marks as always to both pubs, and all four breweries for consistently producing, keeping and serving excellent and crucially. well balanced beers in cask and keg in Sheffield.