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 of...um...no 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