Sunday, 22 April 2018

Two fat Fridays

....does not make 88.

It does however describe the last two Fridays and how they have panned out for me. Thus:

The last week was my fourth full time week back at work, the first two comprising, funnily enough due to leave and bank holidays, of just two days each. The amalgamated effort and requisite tiredness which ensued from ten full days made me really rather thirsty. Luckily for me, one of the joys of working in such a large organisation, and having such an excellent and kind group of friends, is that I have numerous who will take me out for a treat every now and then.

Friday the 13th was one such. I did a long day and left around 18.30 and headed for Shakespeares, my second home. There was a frankly excellent Almasty IPA on cask at 6.5% and so I felt obliged to buy a pint of that and sat with my friend, brewing legend Rich, who was planning his escape. We both loved the hoppy murky cask ale and supped it sat together at the back, but both had other plans. After finishing mine, I headed across the road to Bar Stewards as I heard they had the Verdant DIPA from Hop City available in cans. They did. Utopia!

WK shook his head in dismay when I told him the price and name of the Verdant DIPA, which was chugged back at Hop City like lemonade. Fruit car sight exhibition makes no sense to me, but had an appealing yellow label and an outstanding aroma and soupish appearance. I had earlier in the month supped a can of their Quiet Charge, a 4.5% pale ale which they had also brewed for Hop City. Interestingly, on the back it warned visitors to the same not to fall into the trap of drinking nothing but DIPAs all day, suggesting they had brewed Quiet Charge to avoid that. The latter may be true, but brewing the best DIPA I have ever tasted slightly undermines their position...

As I tried not to down my amazing spectacle of hoppiness (and it was very hoppy, which was a bonus, even if not a surprise) I invited my friend V down to join me. She arrived just as I was about to finish the can, and bought two more. She, likewise, was very smitten. We bought another, before branching out into the Wylam Night train to Byker TIPA, which was not really all that good alas, and the Verdant and Magic Rock we've met before IPA, which was excellent. Rumour has it I went to Shakespeares afterwards, but that is rumour and rumour only....

This last Friday my friend the musician David Howard messaged me and asked if I wanted to join him and others for a few after work drinks at my second home. I said I would love to, but advised that he would have to buy me a drink since it was so late in the month. He agreed.

I arrived about 18.00 at Shakespeares and bumped into a plethora of chums, opting to sit with Cis and Steve from the past, friends recently rediscovered whom to my surprise drink in Shakespeares fairly often. How had I missed them? (answers on a post card). I sat with them awaiting Dave's arrival before joining him at the bar to select a pint of the Pomona Island Pale on cask at a very respectable 3.8%. I have tried two of their hoppy pales now and loved them both. I went back to sitting with Cis and Steve whilst Dave mingled before they left and I got another pint of the same and joined him with his friends. Soon he was joined by Emily and I moved succinctly onto a pint of the excellent O/O 50/50 Citra chinook on keg. Far too easy too drink I have to admit......

Myself and Dave and Emily chatted for a long time, and Dave very kindly bought me a pint of the very boozy Abbeydale Deliverance DIPA on cask at 9%. For reason unclear Dave whispererd his order to someone behind the bar who asked him if the person he was buying for was drunk! Perhaps best he didn't mention it was for me, even though they had seen us at the bar, sober, an hour earlier....

Asking me how I thought I was getting home I told them I was walking to Waingate and they offered to get a taxi to the bus stop so that I didn't have to walk to catch the bus. Having seen me a trifle refreshed they instead got me another half of the excellent O/O and gave me the funds for  taxi home. A wonderful gift from fab friends!

So ended a second booze filled Friday, with a very different plethora of equally exquisite,  wonderful well kept beers on both occasions. And if I can sell some internal organs or the land my house is built on I will be able to afford to finish the month at Shakespeares Spring Beer festival as well, starting Thursday!


Wee Beefy

Tuesday, 10 April 2018



      is it not bonkers that I love a beer style with the description dank, murky, and soupy? When did I stop caring about pristine clear beer? And does beer have to be clear to be good?

Well, the answer to the last is a clear no. Of course not. Some styles, such as hefeweizen, dunkelweisse, saison and others are almost exclusively cloudy. And lets not forget unfiltered beers, or ales so heavily dry hopped that the hop residue never settles. The key is, I am talking about beer. All beer. In all climates, themes, styles and circumstances. Ever had a can conditioned can? Yes. It pours cloudy. And it should. The answer to the first question, ironically, is not as clear...

This is partly because I have been interested by a debate that has ignited itself on Faceache recently about DIPAs, and laterally, TIPAs. My good chum Danny started this off by saying that he was "over" DIPAs. For reasons unclear this really bothered me. But why? Am not a brewer after all. And surely, as it remains, one of the unending joys of beer is that there are so many styles, and so many different people who love different of them. When did I start to lose sight of that?

Sean at Beer Central also recently admitted concerns about the D and Tipa scene, and its products. Danny reiterated his position, and said that his issue with the style was that they all tasted the same. And that was it. I was now in a proper conundrum.

Had I accepted that all beer should taste like Wards, Stones, Tetley or Marstons, as it seemed to when I started drinking in 1990 (ish), then I wouldn't have undertaken the frankly marvelous, multifaceted, joyous journey of exploration that has underpinned my beer drinking life.  So it is definitely a bad thing that all beers of a certain style taste the same. some ways no. As with all alepinion, it depends entirely where you stand. I, as a person who is always more than willing to try new styles, or old styles on cask or keg not previously,   would still say that choice is the elixir. The choice to have a Fantome saison or a Buxton single hop IPA or a Black Sheep Bitter is inherently important, in fact crucial, to our freedom to enjoy the unending myriad of beers and styles available in the world today.

As it may be obvious to some of you, I absolutely love soupy, murky, dank IPas and DIPAs. Its one of the ironic facts of my battle with over consumption that I have "fallen" for a style where easy drinking characteristics are prized. As I said to a mate recently, its strange I should love a strong ale that is easy to drink. For reason of health and affordability, my best beer should be like near set concrete......

To me then, all D and Tipas tasting the same, which is a pervasive theme, if not literal fact, is actually fine. Its like finding my favourite Iberico chorizo, and then slowly discovering that all other styles of chorizo taste virtually the same, and there-everafter being able to enjoy this porcine prize. The downside of this dream is that there isn't actually the possibility for agricultural, geographical, cultural and financial reasons, that this could ever happen. And even if it were, the issue would be the elimination of every other chorizo style (and humongous, unmanagable herds of pigs in Iberican oak forests). The difference with the assimilation of style and to some extent tastes in the beer scene, is marked.

The gamut of choice on the beer smorgasboard is immense. There are too many styles to list here, and whilst through the ages some styles have dominated, the affect of that domination has been vibrant spring shoots of change. Remember when almost all beer except lager was brown? I do. And I knew nothing else until Kelham Island Pale Rider and Abbeydale Moonshine arrived,  some twenty years or more ago. Can you still get brown bitter? Yes. You may have to go to a specific type of boozer to find it but it remains well loved, and well drunk by those who love it. Did you have to seek out Kelham Island and Abbeydale in specialist guest ale bars when they started? Yes. And you have to do the same to find cloudy dank I and DIpas now.

Our beer universes, irrespective of personal preferences, are in fact very small. This does not for a second disprove the claim that all D and Tipas taste the same, it simply reassures us that other types and styles of beer are not only available, but are also being developed and released all the time. Am not suggesting dankness is a fad or short lived peak on the heart monitor of a dying industry. Am just saying that the same vibrancy that gave us dank, cloudy DIPAs and soupy IPAs loaded with hops is the same part that will, if we do get bored of them, save us once again from that self same repetition of style, format, product and taste by pioneering new styles.

The future's bright. The beer is cloudy orange.

Am now off to drink a soupy DIPA.


Wee Beefy

Sunday, 8 April 2018

A wander from Openwoodgate


    on Wednesday last I undertook my first post stroke wander round  Derbyshire and its pubs. I had done a very similar crawl five years before, as is shown in my post here . One thing I notice about this post from the past is there is certainly no coveting of blindingly hoppy keg ales.... actually that forms part of the theme for this visit, with at least two pints straight from the cask. Did I mention I still love Bass from the jug?

I caught the train to Derby, and then walked very quickly round to the bus station, arriving a few minutes before the 6.4. This takes you quickly to Belper, then waits before taking a tour of local housing estates before arriving at Openwoodgate at just gone midday. Noticing the Hop Inn wasn't open, and since I had come here specifically for the Black Bulls Head I headed in about 12.05 to find an unfortunate but luckily not lingering aroma of bleach. That it didn't linger, and that the pub is incredibly clean and tidy are both positives. As was my first pint, Oakham Citra, which I supped in about 8 minutes.

After having a wander round and listening to some interesting tunes, I had time to appreciate a pint of Oakham Green Devil, also on cask. Two excellent, well kept pints of cask beer served in excellent nick and at the prefect temperature. Having got directions for Bargate, I headed off two pints heavier after 35 minutes. An excellent start!

Up Sandbed Lane you reach Bargate, and the White Hart. Alas being mid week this pub doesn't open til 17.00 so I wandered on past in the fleeting rain. Soon I was in Holbrook and in the Dead Poets Inn. Still a wonderful boozer, and the Moonshine had recently run out to be replaced by Blue Monkey BG Sips. Nothing against the shine, but BG is my favourite Blue Monkey beer.

I supped that sat in the lending library near the bar. Alas the cellar steps had just been painted so there was no ale from the jug, so I had another half of the BG Sips before heading off down to the Spotted Cow on Town Street.

I have been coming to Holbrook for approaching 20 years and had never been to the Spotted Cow. Its a lovely old pub set back from the road which had been closed for a number of years. Its now  community owned and serves a range of about six real ales, with one or two available on pump as well as straight fom the cask. I went for a pint of Pedigree, straight from the cask, accompanied by a plate of black pudding and greens, and sat near the bar and the roaring fire drying off. A very pleasant stop.

Heading back up the hill I visited the Wheel Inn. I have visited about four times now and for whatever reason, I have never really liked it. Why is this? I don't know, since there have always been a selection of well kept real ales on, and a real fire. This time, whilst the beer was very nice, my gripe was the incessant chirping of a small bird in a large white cage in the room on the right. Shrill, and never ending, its charm quickly wore off, and in the end I was happy to be heading off for the excellent Holly Bush in nearby Makeney.

Its a bit of a walk by road from Holbrook - due to my unsteadiness, and having had about 5 pints, I opted not to follow the path through the fields which comes out opposite the pub, but instead risked my life walking down the narrow road to the junction just down from the pub.

The Holly Bush is rightfully on the National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors, has three rooms including the impressive snug behind the bar, serves excellent ale and food, has real fires. and recently has expanded its considerable range into keg beers. I had a half of the Blue Monkey anniversary beer on cask and a half of Easy answers IPA from Burning Sky on keg. This was to help wash down a giant black pudding pork pie. Absolute manna from heaven!

Whilst still chomping my way through it, and after taking many photographs of the stunning interior I went for a pint of Pedigree from the jug. I also finished, on a third of the Black Iris Lacerated Sky, a 9% Imperial Red on keg. It was very easy to drink, worryingly, although by now I was sufficiently lined by the huge pork pie.

I walked down the hill and alongside the fat rage of the River Derwent until I reached the King William Real Ale  Free House at Milford. Here, finally, I was able to get a pint of Bass from the jug. A glorious, easy drinking, flat, reddish ale which I supped slowly sat near the fire. Excellent.

A quick walk over the river and round the corner, found me catching the bus next to the now closed and fenced off Strutt Arms. About six or seven years ago this pub was selling Bass from the jug and a few guests, but now looks set to become important, critically needed, expensive apartments. Sad news.

My penultimate stop was in the Town Street Tap micropub in Duffield. Never having been in before I was surprised on entering to be unable to find the bar, until a customer pointed out that there isn't one. You simply sit down and a bloke comes over and takes your order. Although more modern and perhaps continental in style, this is the same arrangement as my friend Dimpled Mug's Grocers micropoub in Cadishead. My only complaint was I was sat where I couldn't see the beers written on the beam directly above me. I ordered from a list of about six beers, a lovely pale pint Alas, the amalgam of bose has made me forget what it was I had....

Back in Derby I walked slowly from the bus station to the train station and popped in the Alexandra. This has changed hands since my last visit, or at least managers, but the furore and reported horror on Faceache when the new management had just opened, complaining about a lack of pies and waiting ages to be served, seems over-exaggerated. The beer was excellent, one keg and once cask, with "names" and the cheap crisps and black pudding pork scratchings filled me up perfectly, whilst continuing a vaguely porcine theme.

This trip was a perfect reintroduction to a walking crawling and supping expedition, and featured some fabulous pubs, including two new to me, and some frankly sparklingly perfect ales en route.

I look forward to venturing out further over the coming months!

Wee Beefy

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Week Beefy, Sheffield 2018

Hello Lazerngennulmern,

    the title is an entirely fictitious event that I have invented in order to tell you about a period in which I have drunk almost every day, and which is in no way based on any recent similar sounding beer themed events in sunny Sheffield.

On Monday last I was heading home when I got a call from Matty asking if I wanted to join him and his beautiful Mother for a few drinks. Since I was only just on the bus I got off on the Wicker and walked back to meet them on Exchange Street. They had gone to the Dorothy Pax, which alas doesn't open on a Monday. Despite my suggestion that we go Tarlequin, we ended up in The Bankers, where I had some Conwy Black IPA and a can of Elvis Juice, before we went to the Dove for me to have a pint of Little Critters stout.

On Tuesday I secured some funds and went on a mini pub crawl with them. I started in Shakespeares with a half of the macchiato stout which was on cask and quite strong at about 8%. It was delicious, but I only stopped for one, and headed next to the Gardeners Rest. They still had a couple of Welsh beers on from their recent festival and I had a pint of what may have been a Cwrw Lal beer called Trog, but equally may not have been. It was only £2.00 a pint and went down very well. I had another half of that before heading to the Forest up the hill.

I only had a half in here, of a Toolmakers beer which I had misremembered as being pale and hoppy but was in fact a ruby red brown colour with little bitterness. It was only £2.70 a pint though so that was fine.

My penultimate stop was at the Wellington where I had a pint of Neepsend Pale and a pack of crisps and spent a relaxing hour sat in the room on the right supping it before heading to Bar Stewards. Here I had a half of the Wild beer of some description on cask, and a half of the excellent Verdant Pulp on keg. A fab end to a good night.

I had a break from beer on Wednesday and then met my Mum in town at dinner on payday for a coffee.  Walking down to the Rutland I bumped into Mr Cain and he joined me for a few pints in there. I started on a pint of the Hop City DIPA which was dankly cloudy and fruitily hoppy, just how I like it. I tasted a sample of the To Ol dangerously close to guava which was getting a little low, but on agreeing with the title I went for a pint of the DDH IPA from Evil Twin called something like these days I like IPAs more than people. Its not going to be a remit of mine but it was a very tasty IPA with wonderfully complex bitterness in its flavour. I finished on another pint of the Hop City brfore catching up with Chris and Jodie before I left.

I stopped off for a half in the Old Queens Head - alas I can't recall what it was, and then got a taxi to Bar Stewards to pay off a tab and to have a can of the Clouidwater and Half Acre collaboration Triple IPA at 10%. It was worryinfgly easy t drink, despite its strength, and made me feel a little lightheaded.

Surprising then that I headed to Shakespeares afterwards to buy an drink. Its safe to say that as yet, I have not managed to recall what it was. I just remember sitting in the school room and chatting with Steve Lycett. I also don't remember what about!

Details of the rest of the Week Beefy week of Beefy drinking in Sheffield will follow in my next post.


Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

I'm a silent partner by the way.....

..........said the weirdo.

Beefy! I hear some of you cry, that is so judgmental!

Well, only literally. I did judge that he was mental, after all....

If you had been in the Rutland about 16.00 on the 08 March you may also have heard this or similar words uttered by this very odd man. Here's how my "chat" happened.

There I was, enjoying my second half of he frankly excellent Partizan Dank IPA at 6.7%, and a man with dark hair  and a studious look said "is it OK if I join you?" Noting that he didn't have a knife, gun, or worse, a bible, I decided to accept this seemingly harmless offer. We sat at the table for what seemed an age before he spoke.

"Is there anything that you need doing for you in your life at the moment then?" he asked. I said "No, am fine, thanks" and he shifted in his seat, failing to hold the gaze I was unwilling to give him. "Ah, OK so you are completely self sufficient in your life at the moment then?" he replied.

I wasn't quite sure what to say, but I had already started to become concerned by the oddness of these two responses. This was an awkward exchange, but not one that appeared to have a destination. I replied "Yeah". I looked away so that he couldn't clamber into my soul through my eyes. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat.

" Just to let you know, I am a silent partner, by the way" he continued. There was a pause whilst I thought how I might get rid of him, and also, about what on earth it might be that he was hoping to achieve.

"That's nice" I said, with only the very slightest modicum of sarcasm. In reality I wanted to ask him what he was a silent partner in, but feared that this may unlock a torrent of misguided ill thought through ramblings. I returned to my far off gaze.

The man sighed, stared at the table and grumpily said under his breath "well I can see am going to get nothing here" and said goodbye, also grumpily before approaching the bar, where he said something unintelligible to the barman, who when enquiring what he had said or meant was ignored, as the fruit loop said he was going outside for a smoke.

Once outside a man sat behind me came up and said "Did he tell you he was a silent partner as well?" and I confirmed he had, and we both shared details of our assessment by Lord Moron of Incommunicable Castle. It transpired that he had been in for some time and had spoken to about three sets of people. On going out to check what was going on the barman reported that he had left. I got another Partizan Dank, a pint this time. It was delicious.

I have started to realise, perhaps admit, that I spend a little too much time in the pub for my own good. And during that time I have listened in on and joined in many conversations, far reaching and varying from the heartfelt to the passionately absurd. The pub is, after all, a warm building where the mildly deranged often shelter. Its not surprising therefore that it oft attracts a certain calibre of crazy. One thing I do know is that I am reasonably good at communicating with folks, and hopefully, never make anyone feel as uneasy as this man did me.

I never did find out what he was a silent partner in....

Wee Beefy

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Sheffield Beer Week 2018


     late as always, here are my thoughts on the fourth explosion at a Sheffield beer factory that is Sheffield Beer Week. I did my usual number of events, and enjoyed every one immensely. Here are details of those events, and highlights.

Following a chance discussion in Hop Hideout I was able to get a couple of ticket to the Indie Beer Feast on the opening Saturday March the 10th. It started early and I managed to get in before 12.00 with my friend Mr P. It was held in the picture house part of Abbeydale Picture House, which I have never been in before. Mr P meanwhile had, when he was 8, to watch Sink the Bismark with his parents.

There were loads of people there I recognised, and many breweries serving a good range of ales, and. crucially for me these days, plenty of seating! Myself and Mr P sat in the oldest looking chairs towards the back of the auditorium and soon spotted Malc and Ally and others from the extended social hug of the Sheffield beer scene.

I think I started with a North Brewing Co beer - in one of a few nods to Indie Man Beer Con there was no beer list, but I  had already seen it on the Internet, in a process so cool it made my beard grow longer. I know my second beer was a wonderful DIPA from Mad Hatter brewery,. whom I had a quick chat with, and the third a third of the super dry hopped ale from Sierra Nevada.

I also had beers from Runaway (possibly), Torrside, Abbeydale, Black Iris, another from North and Mad Hatter and thoroughly enjoyed them all - I got to take the glass home as well which I have used for almost all my home tastings ever since. I finished off in Hop Hideout with a wonderfully soupy sour and a Magic Rock beer. A fab fest!

On Monday I was in my second home of Shakespeares trying a few of the barrel aged beers on offer. Being cautious I only allowed myself twp thirds - one of the excellent Harviestoun Ola Dubh, and the other a 15% Juel Maelke, which Chris told me meant Christmas milk, which I misunderstood as Chris's milk, a wholly less appettising undertaking....

I returned to Shakespeares and Bar Stewards on Tuesday, not for any events but just to drink excellent beer, including a can of the Cloudwater small Citra Ekuanot at the Stewards.

Wednesday I met up with Brotaar and we sort of attended the Atom brewery meet the brewer event at Kerbedge at West One. Arriving late I only got to chat to them for a few minutes but got to try a sour, a pale and a 7% dark ale which WK loved. We caught up with them again in BrewDog where amongst other things I tried the Lost Industry coconut cream ale and the Steel City Rogue one.

Thursday I was keeping up to date by once more visiting Shakespeares and Bar Stewards, before Friday night was the fantastic Northern Monk Tap Takeover at the latter. I started on halves of their Striding Edge 3% Light IPA and New World IPA at 6%. Very similar levels of juicy hop in both was a testament to the quality of the Striding edge. Having caught up with the sword of Justice and his mates I went to the outside bar and met up with Michael Sallot, who have probably not seen since my stroke. It was great to catch up, and also to try a Loka Polly beer on keg.

I went on to try three IPAs, Underworld, Helvellyn and the pick of the bunch Slam Dank, and got chatting to the brewer and marketing sales guy who I had a good long chat with before meeting Vikkie and Matt for moe Loka Polly and a great catch up, before a wobble back to the bus stop. A cracking night!

The final event I attended was the Cloudwater Howling Hops takeover at Shakespeares on Saturday afternoon. Although I really enjoyed the DIPA the two double dry hopped pale ales tried were also of note, and Adam recommended the Pale XXX from Howling Hops on "cask" which was a wonderfully easy drinking pale ale. I spent most of the time with the Lycetts, and then Rich and Kath, getting a trifle refreshed on my meagre funds, and courtesy of to the kindness of the  team Lycett.

Every year so far the Beer Week event has grown in stature and improved in quality as well. There were many many more events that I wish I could have gone to but as previously I still had a wonderful week.

Thanks and well done to Jules and all those involved in organising this wonderful event, showcasing the best of Sheffield, local, national and international beers and Sheffield's fabulous boozers!

Wee Beefy  

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Two new and three old faves


     yesterday, down exclusively to the kindness of others, I was able to complete another crawl in Sheffield featuring two bars new to me and one not visited for some time. I started at lunchtime where myself and Middlemarch were planning on going to the Bhaji Hut on Ball Street - alas they don't open lunchtimes on a Tuesday so we opted for the Stew and Oyster round the corner. As Middlemarch is a caring friend and is worried about my fragile hold on mortality she refused to buy me any bowze, so this is a short review. The stew we had was very tasty, as was the hot brownie and ice cream dessert. I will howver have to return to try some booze in there....

After meeting Matt for enquiries at the council, and a trip to Beer Central where he bought me my Christmas present, we nipped down o the Lord Nelson on Arundel Street.  Have not been in for some time, and they have had a repaint in this back street watering hole, but little else seems to have changed, and I recognise the guy behind the bar from my first visits in the late nineties/early noughties. A cracking pint of Sonnet 43 was my choice whilst Matty had a pint of Azaca from Milestone.

Next we wandered to the Rutland Arms where Matty got to espy the new bar arrangements and we had a half each - he of the Chorlton Double Sour, and I a half of the Ultje Double IPA. The DIPA was very easy to drink and had an aftertaste of goosegogs, although, my tastebuds are slightly sqewwiff at the mo so it may have been another fruit. The Double sour was immense. An exemplary proponent of the sour style.

Our next stop was a new one again. The Dorothy Pax had slipped under my radar until last year when I read about it in the sheffieldalepubs blog after the gent very kindly named me his beer blogger of the year. It had not been open full time for long and it was only yesterday that I got to visit. Its good first of all to have a pub selling good beer down at Sheffield Quays. I never went to the Tom Cobleigh pub co venue there, but heard it was pretty grim so its nice to finally have a good reason to go.

Arriving soon after he had opened we found owner Richard ( |I think) Henderson apologising for his unkempt sweaty appearance and for any mess - I have to say I had noticed neither, but was immediately drawn to the bar. Abbeydale Daily Bread, a cider, a beer I have since forgotten and, as chosen for a pint by me and Matty both, Dark Star Hophead Loral, on at £3.00 a pint. I have no idea of Fullers plans for this fabulous small brewery but I foresee changes - best then to sup it whilst its still independent and brewing good beer.

The Loral was on excellent form and we got sat near the small heater and got chatting to Mr H and some of his regulars who may have been called Chris, or one of any number of other human male name. There was also a very large dog.

I tried not to describe the bar as a micropub because as Richard said himself, its just a space which he has imposed his own ideas upon, but in many ways its micropub in style. They are currently awaiting to have a keg 6 line font on the back of the bar, but before then its three real ales, three kegs and a cider. The Loral went down very well indeed, and it will be interesting to see what types of keg beers he gets on.

I finished the night after a lengthy walk through what soon after arriving became heavy snow to the Shakespeares, my second home. Matty had gone home by now and I finished off on a fantastic pint of cask Red Willow Weightless, as recommended by Adam and Brett-Morgan. I was somehow unaware of this beer having been on so regularly and rued having not tried it earlier. A wonderful, easy drinking perfectly balanced hoppy beer that I could have drunk all night....

Instead I had two thirds of the second BBno's DDH pale at 5.6% on keg, which was also excellent - very dry and superbly bitter. The perfect end to a fabulous night - and I got home safely in the snow....


Wee Beefy

Sunday, 25 February 2018

A short Sheffield pub ctawl

Hello all,

  don't worry, this isn't a post about short Sheffield pubs, its just the details of a short trip I had on Saturday to a few places to buy a small number of drinks. Being only yesterday there is a good chance I may even recall the details of all the beers I tried....

Having met relatives for a coffee in town earlier, and popped into Beer Central to pick something up, I headed for Hop Hideout, to wish Jules and Will a happy marriage (am not sure if that is what one says, but I said it to both!) and to have a couple of small drinks. I started on a half of the The Choice is Yours Export Porter, brewed by Blackjack, the Hop Hideouters and the Black Sheep Store at Blackjack Brewery in Manchester. Despite its strength of 6.7% the porter was really easy drinking - credit to all involved for a wonderful colab brew.

I also got a third of Magic Rock and Basqueland Brother Chucker IPA, a 6.7 colab with a wonderful aroma and a very satisfying taste. From here I caught the bus up to Archer Road Beer Stop. There were two real ales on, Wet Feb from Dancing Duck, and White Rose Blonde. As you may know you can't drink in but seeing as how I know Dave he invited me in for a catch up and very kindly bought me a couple of pints of the Dancing Duck beer, which was on top form.

From here I walked along Archer Road and up the road on the left Cawthorne Grove to come out and visit the Ale House. This is my third visit since it was taken over by new management last year and once more didn't disappoint. Here I had a pint and a half of Whitby IPA. I have never tried any of their beers before and so went for my default style, and the beer was served in a Whitby branded glass.

The IPA was hoppy, although not overly so, but was very well kept, and it was an enjoyable end to my rather short crawl of three Abbeydale and Woodseats venues.

Just a final note, and that is that next time am up in the area am going to pop in the White Lion which Jon and Mandy have now been running for three years! Congratulations to them on turning the pub round and making it into a top boozer once again.


Wee Beefy

Monday, 12 February 2018

Pints from the few.....


  the title is continued by the words "pubs I have been to this month". As a direct result of financial and physical (more financial) constraints, am going out much less these days, and thus have less to report. Despite the above, here are some fragmented "memories" (guesswork) of pubs visited and ales consumed, since payday.

On payday I met up with Tash to see Matty off, and to go for a wander and buy some food items. This turned out to be thirsty work and so we ended up in "an boozer" for refreshments. That was the Sheffield Tap, where Tash had a coffee and I a pint of Alechemy pale ale, which had a name and everything. Suitably refreshed we headed for the Moor and then for coffee before I headed for the Devonshire Cat. They were having their Lines brewery tap takeover, and I was interested to try their beers.

There were five of their beers on keg and I started on a pint of the hop flux, a New England IPA at 5.1% "on oats". I didn't get to speak to the brewers so had no chance to ask for more details of what was on the different other ingredients. Am willing to accept there were oats in the beer....

I Also had a half of their DIPA which had Nelson Sauvin Citra and Mosaic in it, but it was a victory for expectation over delivery, with the hop flavour too subtle for my liking. Myself and Mr P who had joined me also tried the Lignes de Brux on Ekuanot which was a 6.1% hoppy wild yeast ale collab with Trois Dames brewery. Mr P also had a half of the Brux Trois collab with Track brewing. All were very interesting beers, but not ones I would necessarily choose over more recognised favourites given the choice.

Up next to the Bath Hotel for a pint of something which has since escaped me, in a virtually empty pub, before heading to BrewDog for a half of something hoppy and of Tiny Rebel Imperial Puft imperial marshmallow stout.B oth were excellent.

On the 1st I popped in the Tap and Tankard for the very last time (not knowingly since had planned to go Saturday) and had two pints of Don Valley Brewery Hitch Cock pale ale. Bumped into Kev and Bill who told me the pub was not going to be demolished as John Lewis has not agreed to move so the road wasn't going to be built. Research eh!  After an emergency stop for a pint of Little Critters in the Huntsman I finished in the Old Queens Head for a bowl of garlic soup and a pint of Little Critters King Crow Imperial Espresso stout. Delicious!

I also recently popped in the Three Tuns where I had a half of the Titanic Plum Porter, mainly because, alas, the Blue Bee had run out. Afterwards I headed to Shakespeares to await the arrival of Tash. I had a couple of pints of the Kernel Mandarina, Bavaria, Citra and Centennial IPA at 7% which was on wonderful form, along with a half of the Cloudwater DDH pale NZ Chinook and a third of the 2015 Buxton Tsar. All excellent potations to warm the soul.

Later I headed to the Bankers with Tash for a pint of the Little Critters Golden Pale, then to the Cavendish for two halves of Brooklyn East India Pale, and finished in the Bath Hotel with a half of the Electric Bear NZ pale.

My final jaunt was last Friday when Mr G very kindly invited me out for a few pints, knowing I had insufficient funds to buy my own. We started in Shakespeares where I had three pints of the excellent Kernel above, before some annoying people with loud voices and chips came into the Clock room, after an hour of which we decided to move on.

Bar Stewards was our destination and in here Mr G kindly bought me two pints of the excellent Verdant Bloom IPA at a price which alas was nearly £2.00 more than that of the Kernel which was stronger, across the road. As I reassured him, the beer would be beautiful - and it didn't disappoint. I also got to see Steve and Cicely or similarly/spelled named persons who I used to know years ago in Walkley. A fab night of excellent company and beers throughout.

Now begins the lengthy wait for next pay day, although I do have four cans of hoppy goodness in stock to tide me over until the money trickles back....

Your very good health!

Wee Beefy

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Second stupidly delicious beers tap takeover at Shakespeares


    I was really pleased to have sufficient funds to nip out yesterday for a few halves at the title event, which was held at Shakespeares. My second home was full to bursting by 18.30 with the event itself starting at 17.00. Here are details of the beers I tried and folks wot I sore....

I started on a half of cask North brewery pale, with Mosaic and Ekuanot or maybe neither. It was a zesty refreshing opener which woke my palate up perfectly for the somewhat heavier beers ahead. The pub was already busy so I ended up with the corner table of lowness in the Clock room -remembering of course to sit sideways as I can't get my legs under its so low. People I recognise but don't know came in and slowly started taking the other chairs from the table before Dave Unpro and his friend whose surname may have begun with a C came and joined me, eventually with the other guy crammed into the corner.

I had enough money to buy a pint on card so my second was a no brainer - Cloudwater NE DIPA Citra and Mosaic at 8.5%. No surprises in terms of consistency, clarity and citrus hoppiness but the taste far outstripped what I was expecting, no doubt down to the wonderful hops used in the cloudy mix.

Having spotted Ally and Malc and the man whose name I always forget, (sorry Darren, whose name I have now remembered) I saw renowned rapper, MC and Audiologist Professor G-Thame. He said " the main thing is be sensible Beefy" as we discussed the merits versus dangers of supping keg Evil Twin Even more Jesus at 12.0%, which was one of the recent portents of doom which made me a little unsteady. The rugged patois and clanging beats of his advice rang onerously around my head as I surveyed the list, and caused me to decline a half of the 2015 Buxton Tsar at 9.5%. Luckily Wee Keefy who joined me later bought a half and I tasted some of that - it was phenomenal.

Next up, and influenced slightly by the bose choices of those sat around me, I had two more halves, both on cask. One was of the Howling Hops IPA New England Special at 6.9%, and the other was of the Lost Industry and Steel City Mojito sour, which was dry minted to improve the flavour. This was absolutely fantastic. It may have been one of the least beer like beers I ever tasted but the mint against the sourness was a perfect combo and it was obvious that this beer worked best on cask. The Howling Hops was a little disappointing alas.

As it was rumoured to be running out I had a half of Brewski Pango, a passionfruit, mango and pineapple IPA at 6%. The fruits used blended perfectly and there was a really satisfying aftertaste to this unusual but excellently produced pale ale.

By now the Cloudwater had run out and WK having been tasked with fetching it chose a sour - am not sure which it was but the Omnipollo Blanco Mango Lassi gose is as strong a contender as the Wild Blend 2017, a blend of 3 barrel aged sours. This cleared my palate perfectly but was in fact the last beer I tried as I felt I had consumed enough to head home with hops and fruits and  souring acids awake and fighting in my mouth.

Well done to Adam and Chris at Shakespeares and their team for once more providing a stellar line up of cask and keg ales to tempt the tastebuds and blow the mind. Hoping to see you all again soon.


Wee Beefy

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Third pub victim of Sheffield Retail Quarter demolitions


      I don't want to become a Faceache beer blogger - that's my pet name for Facebook by the way, in case you had already decided faceache was a good description of my style. I say this because a post on the same is my inspiration for this article - apparently the Tap and Tankard pub is set to close in February after what may be four years in its current guise.

I have heard (also on Faceache, I kid you not) that the pub was on a short term lease, to be open only until the demolition work reached it. That can't be too far away now, since Henrys was demolished months ago and the bottom part of Cambridge street and Charles Street are now blocked off. This makes my original draught slightly wrong, since I tried to explain what might have led to the pub not making enough money to survive. That is clearly not why its closing, based on the above.

I hadn't looked at the proposals for the Retail Quarter development before, so was interested to look today at the wide reaching plans. One of the first links I found was the Hallamshire Historic Buildings website, including a section on proposed demolitions and a letter to the council from Historic England which opposed the planned scheme due to the demolition and loss of much of Sheffield's metal industry architectural heritage, shown  here. As highlighted, the protests of Historic England have been ignored, despite solid basis  including potential damage to and isolation of existing Grade 2 and Grade 2 star listed buildings on Cambridge street,  such as Leahs Yard, just up from the Tap and T. Sheffield council's previous disregard for protecting or retaining industrial era architecture in the city is well reported, so their rejection of the opposal of  Historic England comes as a sad, rueful but not remotely surprising outcome.

The plans do make mention of new cafes and bars but thus far we have lost two real ale venues (am counting Henrys and the Brewery bar as two by the way) and a brewery (albeit which never brewed) , with the Tap and Tankard going next. There are therefore three licenced premises lost to the redevelopment. The building replacing the Grosvenor Hotel is said to house HSBC staff, whom are expected to shop in town and eat and drink after working hours, but there are already less places to do that.

It is also possible that the Cutlers was never reopened as a pub given potential nearby demolition - this has now reopened as an art space and programming centre run as a not for profit community space called Dina. Am not going to say I liked the Cutlers, and I don't know why it closed, but could it not have reopened as a decent venue had it not been threatened?

The letter from Historic England to the council is included in pdf viewing format on the Hallamshire Historic Buildings website link above, and makes for interesting reading. Its well worth using the buttons in the bottom left to view the document as a whole. Much is made of the responsibility of the local council/plan submitters to consider the preservation of historic buildings in relation to their importance. Given the unbending desire to build this new and intrusive development and previous poor form regarding historic buildings, am fairly satisfied that little importance was attached to the grade 2 listed structures, and they were therefore considered with appropriate care and rigour in regards to proposals that could affect them once development had taken place. Historic England's suggestions for developing Leahs yard as a museum or heritage feature are much more appealing than being made into a tunnel of turgid , no doubt replicated eateries, as seems fearfully inevitable.

There is a link here to the list of buildings and features proposed to be demolished when Fargate is extended to become Upper Fargate. I have to say I am concerned by the scope and area of the demolition. Not least since, as previously reported, John Lewis had not agreed to their relocation when the plan was submitted, so the proposals at that point seem mainly to benefit HSBC who will have a brand new building. The only others to benefit may be the multitudinous puddle of coffee shops and takeaways that will pepper the numerous units created in this decimation.

Am sure there is the potential for this development to out perform the combined takings of the numerous trading businesses threatened by the proposed Retail Quarter. However, I can't imagine any new multi retailer development on such a grand scale being much different to any other similar sized sump of standardised shopping selections in other cities. And am similarly unconvinced that the development will afford the construction or establishing of the type of bar or traditional pub that I like to drink in. Demolishing three such venues will of course make the latter even harder to achieve.

It is of course important to be honest about the Tap and Tankard. Although there were some high points and features to savour, it is interesting for me to reflect that the period the Tap and T was open mirrors the changes to my tastebuds. I now drink less cask, much more keg and far more canned ale. One member of staff who may have worked for Kelham Island brewery did strive to get hoppy real ales on there, at my kind of strength and at a competitive price, but he didn't work there long and after a while the beer range became quite timid and disappointing. As my focus shifted to the Tuns and Shakespeares I ended up being less attracted to Kelham beers, and the less exciting guests the Tap and T had on, and drunk in the area less often.

However, against the background of knowing it was to be flattened under a new road am actually quite impressed with what Kelham did with the Tap and T. Despite my beer choice gripes this was a great example of a traditional back street boozer in the city centre, along with the Bath and Red Deer, and was a great place to go during the day to have a quiet relaxing pint and an excellent pork pie.

The pub is set to close on Saturday night February 3rd and they are inviting customers old and new to go along and have a final rink before it closes.

I will be there for a slake myself, cursing as I do the council planners and the international language of banking, in the same hoarse, bitter, breath.

In sadness

Wee Beefy

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Little Critters Brewing Co


   I think its fair to say I was underwhelmed by my first taste of Little Critters beer. I may even have referenced the "full mash" brewing style beloved of Whitbread's regiment of brewpubs in the 80's and 90s. I was pleased to see that it was well priced, but it wasn't until they brewed their Hazelnut Milk porter at 6.0% that I started to take any serious notice. This has been joined in their range by the 6.5% C Monster, which, their website tells us, features Columbus, Centennial, Chinook and Cascade hops in the mix. Regular readers my realise that this combination of hops and strength makes me a happy chap.

I may be wrong but am sure there has been more than one version of C monster with different hops - there are certainly two pumpclips. If anyone can confirm that would be much appreciated. On Saturday I was meeting Wees K and F, Tash, Mumraah, Meathouse and Martin for a birthday celebration for my Mum and Tash at long time haunt the Ball on Crookes. The C Monster was on cask at £3.40 a pint at 6.5%. I had three pints, and it was excellent.

I had found recently that every time I went into Shakespeares, with few exceptions, I had looked at the keg line up first. The last time I was in they had the Kernel pale on at 7.0% or similar for £5.40 a pint. This has been the standard Kernel price for a couple of years now and represents  good value for money. Alas I cannot recall which hops were in the mix, although there may be a piccy on Faceache..... (update, their post says Mosaic, Simcoe and Ekuanot. It was absolutely ace, I can confirm).

The point is, there are in fact excellent cask hoppy ales, but less so than on keg and in can or bottle, which does not have a k in it. Northern Monk Heathen and Neepsend Double Centennial (or century) are notable exceptions but am drawn to cask less than I used to be. This means that the C monster, with a decent level of IBU and wonderful hops list, is a reliable fall back when in pubs of um...less stature. That regards beer choice I hasten to add, before anyone gets knicker-twisty.

For years we have had many small micro and nano breweries in Sheffield but apart from Blue Bee, Steel City and Abbeydale, very hoppy strong pale ales have been hard to come by in many pubs. Recently however the scope and reach of the three previously mentioned brewers has extended, as has that of Little Critters, meaning a hophead like myself now has a choice of decent quaffable lupilous pints in many more boozers.

Lets hope this trend continues, so that I am able to go out to different pubs once in a while and still come home hop sated every time.


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 13 January 2018

New Year's new beers

Good evening,

  I haven't been out that often this year so far. No Dryanuary nonsense or dark artistry at work here, just restricted by  lack of funds. I have however, tried lots of lovely new beers on those two nights out, thus.

I picked up the other half of the humongous box of beers I had bought from Beer Central last week and headed to the Rutland Arms. I hadn't gone in specifically to see their new bar fonts but I have to admit I was impressed. New bar, same pub, great pub. Despite the longer length of the keg font displayeriser I was assured that they had exactly the same number of keg beer on, but now they would be easier to spot and choose. The handpumps are also more together. No problems with the beer range either, I had halves of the Northern Monk Patrons Project something point numbery which I recall was a citra lager. Facts aside it was excellent. The other half was better still - the Buxton Centennial IPA at 7.0%. Its the first of these single hop IPA's I have seen (I think they have Simcoe on at the mo) and since I love Centennial this was understandably a fabulous hoppy pale ale. All good at the Rutland it seems.

Not too far away I went to the Old Queens Head, partly based on info they posted on Faceache about a beer they had on. It was reasonably busy and I got the last table in the back, looking at the fine Christmas tree and over to the fireplace and sat down with some crisps to enjoy my pint. Hopjacker Medved is an imperial stout with a hint of chilli and weighs in at 7% but is troublingly easy to drink. So much so that I had two pints.

As any fule kno, Medved is Czech for bear, hence the ursine beasty on the pumpclip. Matty (who with Tash share the name of the beer, although Nedved is slang for bear am led to believe) was worried about the chilli as he doesn't like it in beer but he needn't have been. The roasted malt and creamy texture were simply tickled by an underlying subtle heat, finishing this excellent beer off perfectly.

My other foray was to home number two, Shakespeares. I had arranged to meet Davefromtshop there already, so was pleased to see on Faceache that they had the excellent Deya Falling into Place DIPA at 8.3% on keg. Arriving late, and as Adam noticed at pretty good speed, I was asked at the bar by a gent I didn't know if he could buy me a pint. Being short of funds I agreed and so started on a pint of the Abbeydale Voyager IPA. I started on a cloudy hop packed beer, and continued thus. Dave was somehow persuaded to buy me a further pint of the Deya and I may have had a third before moved onto bottles.

I tried the Basqueland and Lervig Nor Jose pale ale on Adam's recommendation, and it didn't disappoint, and we finished by sharing a can of the Evil Twin Even More Jesus imperial stout at 12% or whatever sledgehammer strength it is. A fab finisher, although I would suggest the emphasis should be on finish, since the amalgam of ale and cold air combined with my unsteadiness resulted in not one but four falls onto the ground in the short distance from Shakepeares to taxi and taxi to house....

So, Tryanuary despite its restrictions is underway, and I have already tried five new beers from a total of seven consumed. Don't give up the fight pub drinkers!


Wee Beefy  

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Once a year drinkers?

Good moaning,

       in a moment of lucid mollification earlier, an event which occurred in the twenty minute fight for warmth twixt waking and rising, I realised that I have been labouring under a delusion, or had fallen into the comfortable armchair of a pub conversation trap. Not subject to any malice you understand, but I had started agreeing with the claim that the worst people to find in a pub at Christmas and New Year are the much vaunted "once a year drinkers".

Firstly, the time of year I am thinking about this phenomena occurring is between Mad Friday and New Year's Eve. The three worst days in that period are Mad Friday, Christmas Eve, and New Years Eve. Straight away therefore, the phrase "once a year drinkers" seems awry. Unless these fearful of bowze roustabouts congregate in such mass that there are sufficient in their group to individually affront us on each of the above three days?

I spoke in my last post about the unpleasant nature and behavior of large groups of imbibers near Christmas, or in what am now going to called the new year era, or new yeara. The unpleasantness unleashed mainly on bar staff but often other customers (who may or may not be reguluzz) is widely thought to stem from once a year or novice drinkers.

Now I know a fairly large number of folks from different backgrounds, and with different levels of supping experience. I can only think of one who maybe only goes out in the New Yeara. They might fall foul of over indulgence, and perhaps also bail early upon that realisation, but the deplorable characteristics displayed in this period are not theirs.

When I was 19, so had been drinking regularly for two years (this is a fact, but not a boast I should point out) I used to go on a lengthy pub crawl on Christmas and new Years eve with  my regular drinking buddies. Did we get drunk? Yes. Was this because it was Christmas or New Year? Yes. We saw it as our duty to consume an insensible amount of alcohol because of religious doctrine and public holidays. We often screang (screamed and sang that is) loudly, although mostly in tune, in pubs and on streets (sorry if you lived in Crookes in the nineties and heard someone screaming Nirvana songs in the early hours, that was me....). We talked loudly, staggered and swayed, and made unprovable claims of our abilities in numerous areas of life, including insobriety. That was, however, the limit of our trespass.

I know time makes ones memories rosier, but I don't remember us ever getting into a fight, only once being asked to leave, and never being abusive to staff. Well, there was one time in the Springfield, but that was our regular spot and this in no way mitigates our behaviour, but there were ongoing issues. What am saying is, the New Yeara made us drink differently, but we were no booze babies, we had already become insufferably thirsty folk by this point, and crucially, the excess of New Yeara alcohol didn't turn us into aggressive, confrontational, twats.

I heard that prior to this Christmas a person I wrote a song about had been physically assaulted behind the bar. Having seen friends in the industry withstand absolutely unjustifiable amounts of personal abuse from revellers enjoying the immoral freedoms they wrongly assume they are entitled to, its a mark of respect to all that they haven't lamped a number of exceptionally rude customers. The thing is, to behave in such a reprehensible manner requires practice. Therefore, the mumblous miscreants I loathe are far from once a year slakers. They are, instead, regular drinkers but also, full time aggressive simpletons.

I think once a year drinkers, should they exist, should in fact be encouraged to come out, and find out what parts of our lives they are missing. I think more importantly than that, seasoned drinkers need to remember that whilst their drinking habits can change in the New Yeara, their behaviour should comprise respect, and forethought of speech. Its one of the things I absolutely don't miss about working behind a bar, and every year swathes of rude and abusive drinkers remind me of that fact.

Here's to a new year, and a new era of calmer, less rude drinkers.

Wee Beefy