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!

Cheers

Wee Beefy




Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Dankers

Helloo,

      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.

Well.....in 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.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Sunday, 8 April 2018

A wander from Openwoodgate

Hellall,

    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 of....beer. 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