Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Cannonball Run 2018


      many pubs in Sheffield, and, no doubt Huddersfield and elsewhere, did the Cannonball Run this year. I certainly tried the new Neo in Hop Hideout and I know the Rutland also ran the three if not all four.

In case you are lost, the Cannonball Run is having all four, or in this case the three stronger, Magic Rock Cannonball beers. I don't think there is an order, or prescribed quantity. Its just a way of enjoying the Magic of the Rock and their excellent but boozy beers Cannonball, which I recall is a 7.4% American IPA, Human Cannonball, which is a 9.3% DIPA, Neo-human Cannonball which may also be 9.3% and a New England DIPA and the big sick daddy monster of them all, which is Unhuman Cannonball, a TIPA at 11.0%. This may at least explain the lack of insistence on quantity.....

On Saturday I got to Shakespeares, my second home, about 15.00 and bought a third. Not of Magic Rock mind. Of Cloudwater Citra DIPA at 8.5%. It was very very easy to drink, and its soupy orange hue looked wonderful against the dark green succulents (not sure of name) in the pot in the garden, splashed in glorious sunshine.

Next I took advice on my second beer - and had a third of the Cloudwater and Veil Brewing Chubbles TIPA. Although not doing so well at the Cannonball Run thus far, Chubbles is a simply fantastic beer. As I relaxed in the hot sun, waiting for the couple on the bench on which I must sit to get the last two hours of sunshine to leave, Vikkie turned up with a half of Human Cannonball, and soon bought me the same. So began a lengthy and fabulous run of frankly insensibly strong beers.

On my recommendation she had half a Chubbles next and myself half a Neo Human, followed by a half each of the absurdly quaffable Unhuman. The beer got louder, redder, and stronger, and the rays got hotter as we chased the sun to its final resting place on the wall on the left, and had another two halves, of unspecified potation.

We lost the sun soon after and headed for more ....sun, at Bar Stewards. V had a half of beer (am sorry, I can't remember what) and I had a half of the Lervig IPA at 7.something. We sat in the yard in the last of the bright sunshine and talked beer and barbecues and then went to purchase a can of Verdant DIPA Howl to share.

This features a few lines from her fave poet Allan Ginsberg (or one of many other human poets) and their poem Howl. As expected, Verdant had pulled out all the stops in making this a fabulous and stupendously easy drinking hoppy DIPA which went down far too easily.

We wandered back to Shakespeares not long after where we had halves of the Unhuman, or the Neo, or indeed any one of the beers we had already consumed. It was 20.00. We were sunned and tired. And we were thirsty. After a period of time the winged warrior arrived to magically spirit me away home and the next thing I knew I was getting up to do overtime......

For many reasons May has been a good month, notably the hot sunny weather, which has baked me nicely, the compny, which has treated me so well, but mostly the ale, which has stewed me similarly. The Cannonball Run is an excellent idea, and when accompanied by the quality of beer on offer at Shakespeares and Bar Stewards over last weekend, its quite impossible to resist.


Wee Beefy

Monday, 28 May 2018

Verdant and Cloudwater do colab. World can now end.


      I worry that the title of this post may identify me as a Cloudwater or Verdant "fan boy". I recognise that by the associations of ideas and things I like, that I may have fallen into a category amongst some readers whereby I am not to be trusted on some more patina heavy issues due to my perhaps foolish love of "modern" and worse still "craft" beers. To which, I would say - what is Craft exactly? As many have found, its a liquid word. Its meaning changes per utterance. Am not a crafty darling. I just know what I like. And I don't like the term Craft.

So, having got all that out of the way, lets talk beer. At the beginning of May 2018, or other dates, a collaboration DIPA was released having been brewed by Verdant and Cloudwater Breweries. Naturally, regular readers will have correctly assessed that I had to have this. And I just have. Although it took a long time getting hold of a can....many thanks to Dave from Archer Road Beer Stop for my early birthday present!

The first thing I have to mention is Expectation versus delivery. Being a fan (not boy) of both breweries, I naturally assumed that this would rewrite the story of beer. That was my expectation. Luckily that was tempered. Expectation versus delivery always ends in disappointment I find. It was time to expect to be underwhelmed.

My other fear was that they would do something completely off kilter, and that I wouldn't like it. A marmite gose. an aubergine Hungarian IPA, a caviar stout. Luckily, and the reason that I rejoiced, they stuck to type and did an excellent DIPA. And that made me very, very happy. Because it was like all I love bout their two breweries output but slightly better. And that is all I wanted....

The label implied that the beer had been brewed at the Verdant brewery, and their signature sweet hoppy taste, maybe from the London Ale yeast they use, was prominent throughout. Despite obvious soupy orange and yellow hued comparisons in appearance, their beers are very different in how they are constructed. Verdant are sweeter, and less hoppy compared to Cloudwater. A tribute then that both of these characteristics featured strongly in Swifts or Swallows?, which is the name of the colab.

Having just drunk it I can report a lingering bitterness but also that lightly malt sweetness that frames their beers. They used Citrea and Columbus hops which may have added a lemony hint to the bitterness, along with Cloudwater standards of flaked oat and Dextrin, which are no doubt contributors to it being so easy to drink.

So two of my favourite breweries have made a highly acceptable soupy DIPA. And that makes me very satisfied. End of.



Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Infinity Vortex

Don't worry kids,

      my blog hasn't been hacked by Sci-fi nerds, or film buffs who love Star Wars. The title is actually the name of a beer of which I consumed quite a lot the other Tuesday at Bar Stewards.

I had started the evening across the road at my second home Shakespeares. I had a pint of Vocation Chop and Change featuring English hop Jester, which was a cracking pint, with a surprisingly citrus zest, followed by a half of Cromarty White Out session IPA at 3.something, which was an excellent palate cleanser with plenty of bite. Tastebuds awoken, I headed across the road to Bar Stewards.

I had heard about the Infinity Vortex beer from Sean at Beer Central who described it as the best IPA of the year. According to the board at Bar Stewards its 7.9%. Verdant DIPAs are usually 8% and Cloudwater's only .5% stronger so is this an I or DI PA? To be fair it doesn't matter. It was a chuffing glorious beer. Yet another significant notch on the headboard of the Patrons Project for the crew at Northern Monk.

Checking the tinterweb am satisfied that I may have misread that, as its 7.4%, and thus perfect IPA strength. Its Patrons Project 13.01, a DDH IPA with Citra, El Dorada, and, it sez, Cashmere tank petrol? brewed by Northern Monk, Other Half and Equilibrium breweries. I know I probably like my soupy hoppy IPAs a little too much but any beer over 6% that drinks like juice is a winner for me. And even though I don't know what Petrol tank or Cashmere petrol tank maybe in terms of an ingredient, something in that glorious mix made Infinity Vortex an absolute winner.

I had three, maybe three and a half pints of this superstar and may have finished on a can of the Cloudwater Chubbles TIPA. This in part may explain why I don't recall getting home. I absolutely don't regret this splurge of lupulin. It was the of money I have spent this year!

I remember when Northern Monk came out about five years or so ago and I didn't recall being particularly taken by their beers, but in the last two years their renown and my appreciation for their output has grown considerably. The Northern Monk tap takeover during Sheffield Beer Week at Bar Stewards helped cement that in my outlook, and last Friday I had three pints of the Northern Monk New World IPA on cask at my second home, an incomparable citrussy easy drinking hop bomb that was one of the most balanced beers I have had in years. Mind you, the beer is only 60 IBU (I think) so the balance must be what carries off the hops perfectly - a theme for a future post might be how I have come to not notice bitterness but fruity hoppiness in beer, possibly rendering IBU a meaningless measurement?

Well done to Northern Monk for once again making my drinking week with this excellent IPA, and to Bar Stewards for putting it on sale. I didn't get a can from Sean's but if he gets any more in I may get one as a birthday treat.


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 19 May 2018

V3 Vs V3.1


        finding myself with a surprise bank note in my wallet last weekend I was very pleased to also note that Cloudwater had re-brewed their V3 DIPA and released a new version, version 3.1. I had heard they were going to redo V3 and after a morning and afternoon of overtime I was more than happy to pop to Shakespeares, my second home, to have a third of each.

So which was best I hear you ask? Well, for me it was the V3.1. The reasons for that are set out below. Although am more interested in how I reached, rather than that, conclusion.

I can't remember. clearly, what Cloudwater DIPA V3 tasted like. It was released in March 2016 I think, and I have had a huge amount of beer since then, and the only appreciable difference from looking at the font clips was the strength, now 8.5%. Its not possible therefore to make a direct comparison. Apart from the minor strength adjustment, the only difference I was sure of was it seemed to taste sweeter than I remembered? This is interesting, because a chat with Sam behind the bar revealed that he hadn't tried v3 the first time, but preferred it of the two this time, despite its sweetness.

Chris meanwhile suggested V3.1 was a reflection of changes in brewing styles and processes in the last two years. This was a convincing explanation. V3.1 was hoppier, and far soupier. It also had a more mellow balanced mouthfeel and flavours. It was on par with the juicy DIPAs I love and consume. I was sat in the beer garden in bright hot sunshine supping two finely crafted yellow-orange hued strong pale ales and I was chuffed to bits.

The other thing that stuck in my mind was the fact that along with many others, I had ended up becoming slightly bored with the Cloudwater DIPA series. It had been ahead of its time in terms of pricing and the minute variances in each number had made me think my cash wasn't being well spent. Since then, their DDH pale series, small IPAs, TIPAs and wonderful missing piece IPA with the Pilcrow pub have proved that actually, a widening of their output has let Cloudwater brew some excellent beers, with flaked oats and Lallemand New England yeast taking centre stage in making their brews so much more easy drinking, and the double dry hopping hsowcasing the hops brilliantly.

On that basis, despite leaping for joy on hearing them announce the rebrew of version 3, there was actually little point in brewing it, unless it was to showcase the class and excellence f version 3.1.

That said, a comparator or not, it was still a very enjoyable drop, and the version 3.1 was a better drop again. I went over to Bar Stewards afterwards and enjoyed a can of Loka Polly Citra DIPA and a can of their IPA as well - how things have changed even since Cloudwater started brewing, that I now look at the casks, the kegs and the cans and bottles when I go drinking after work!

Long may the development and exploration of the DIPA style continue, and longer still may Cloudwater be matched and followed by excellent brewers striving to create the best and the better in terms of beer, in all its formats.

Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Back to where it all began


  on Saturday, which is officially less than a whole week ago, I was at the Sheffield SU's Beer Festival 2018 in the student union, Interval Bar and Interval gardens. It was the first time I have been for many years, especially since the last time I had tried to go they had ran out of beer on something like Friday night. No such problems this time however. And this, back in 1994, which is in the past, was the venue for my first ever beer festival, aged less.

Its a sign of how little I knew about beer that almost all the breweries were new to me then, and also that there was only one beer which I really wanted to try. Having previously been out locally and drank quite a lot of Wards, Kimberley, Stones, and sometimes Websters, apart from fledgling trips to the Fat Cat and the Cask and Cutler my beer exploration was pretty restricted. This lengthy caveat supports my suggestion to Geoff Macdonald or Dave Daykin behind the bar that I should start on a half of the strongest beer at the festival. Despite their attempts to warn me otherwise, I ignored them and went ahead having a half of Orkney Skullsplitter. At 8 point whatever it is. Followed by a half of Arkells 2B. I had a lot to  learn....

Funnily enough this year I also started on a plus 8% ale. Weird Beard Cardinal Wolf (I keep thinking it needs an e....) was an 8.4% DIPA served on keg, where hops are best, and was rather bloody delicious. Having bumped into club Lycett and Ally and Malc, I wandered up into the bright sunshine to join Clan Cawthorne and their birthday celebrations for Richard. Or another male human name with an A in it. The sun was baking, the company was ace, I hadn't needed to piss away any of my meagre funds on a festival glass so had enough for a few beers, and I was happy as a puppy with two cocks.

Up next came another Cardinal, and further sunning whilst I chatted to the assembled throng of folk and soaked it all up. I then decided to have a break from DIPA and went for some Neepsend and Regather Tilamook IPA at 6.2% on cask, which luckily was a little chilled. This also proved to be a good way of restraining myself from plunging into hapless inebriation.

I may have moved onto a half of the Tiny Rebel Can you smell what the Bock is cooking, a gloriously hoppy beer which I can remember the taste of but not the purchasing. I then moved onto Abbeydale Lost Souls 2017 stout at 10% on keg. Drinking Bearded Lady Rum barrel on keg in the Tap was what first woke me up to the idea that keg had merit and value and the same criteria applied here -  on cask, even lightly chilled, this beer would have warmed up far too much by the time you had sat in the sun supping it for an hour. On this occasion it was perfectly easy drinking, and the warmth of the sun merely served to release some of the more balanced and smooth characteristics.

I may have slipped in a further Cardinal but finished on a half of the Abbeydale Nelson Sauvin DIPA at 9% on cask. Far hoppier than their other cask DIPA, the only thing that let this down was a slight alcoholic sweetness. Mind you that perhaps necessarily buffeted you against the sledgehammer hit of the sauvin hops.

Now sober I realise there were far many other beers that I could have tried but actually, whilst the beer I tried was exceptional, this fest for me was about the excellent company of friends, baking in hot sun and feeling almost knowledgable about beer and what to taste. The whole experience wasn't even let down by the bizarre claim that I couldn't get money back for my unused tokens unless someone in the queue wanted to buy the same number. Luckily they did, but isn't that ever so slightly retarded?

I finished the night in the University Arms with the Clan Cawthorne and a pint of Abbeydale Black Mass, at 6.6%  nearly the weakest beer I drank all day. I liked the SU beer fest, especially the weather, but also the lack of rigmarole and restriction on what I wanted and how I wanted to buy it. I returned my plastic glass when I left and felt happy that I had spent the afternoon with some fine folks. And also a trifle refreshed....


Wee Beefy  

Thursday, 3 May 2018

The Blind Monkey Whitehouse Lane Walkley


  on Friday 27 April 2018 the Blind Monkey finally opened its doors after what seemed an age of refurbishment work and very high quality refitting. Following replacing the roof and sourcing an extensive range of antique fixtures and fittings, the 1930's style speakeasy/gastropub reopened, and I went in on Tuesday for a look.

Its time first of all to witter on mumbulousy about its former guise. I used to live on Tennyson Road nearby, and in 1999 I visited all the pubs in Walkley and Lower Walkley, to see what was available beers wise. There were a lot of pubs in the area then, but very few of which sold real ale. The Palm, famously, even had a handwritten sign in the doorway stating they "do NOT sell real ale". Although I picked the sadly long demolished Freedom View as my favourite, and never summoned the desire to visit the Belle Vue, I did go in the Firwood Cottage. It sold cask Tetley at a good price, and had TV screens blaring out sport to almost nobody, and it appeared over the next year to have a new landlord every month, with the people barred by the previous returning every time to be barred all over again. I did visit twice more, and the last time it was run by a couple who may now run the Walkley Cottage. No real ale but it was a cracking atmosphere. Am fairly sure the pub closed not long after.

Arriving in bright sunshine the first thing I noticed was the intricacy of detail in the interior. Its very busy, but not jumbled, and fitted out to a very high spec. There are two rooms either side of the entrance with a bar counter in the on on the right, and then the main bar area is on the right beyond. There are 4 or 5 handpulls (these are just numbers after all) featuring on my visit Don Valley Gongoozler porter, Bradfield Ale and Timothy Taylors Landlord. Beyond is the kitchen and am guessing the wood fired pizza oven, with a third room on the left, the loos and the access to the yard.

A couple of friends on Faceache asked me what the pub was like after I posted a few pics on there showing some of the interior. One mentioned that he had heard the beer range was poor, which would be disappointing. I think the range is less exciting than I had expected.  In terms of regular Walkley haunts the Beer Co and the Blake the range is disappointing, but that presupposes that they are trying to compete. I would like to think not. The Blind Monkey does food (it sounds very nice as well) and is done out in a 1900's to 1930s theme. Neither of the other two do this. I would suggest a crawl could start at the Blake, up to the Walkley Beer Co and finish at the Blind Monkey for some snap. Although I didn't eat there....

Beers wise I had a pint of Abbeydale Heathen on keg, at £4.00 a pint. That is about right.  The beer was well presented and I have always liked Heathen, but this was only after I had asked for cans or bottles - the keg taps are behind the front of the bar with the handpumps and the range of keg beers of interest was just one. The bottled beer range is similarly restricted. I did have a pint of the Don Valley later and it was a very well kept porter, and WK enjoyed the Bradfield Ale.

Their website states they are a "New Age pub with an old fashioned heart" and in some ways that sums up their beer range. I don't think they could have reopened this former cask and then Magnet and Tetley smoothflow pub selling a wall of highly hopped keg IPAs and sours along with hazy cask ales. I think the rather restrained choice of ale suits the pub situation and locality very nicely. The only issue for me is that, whilst I love the decor and am tempted by the scran, my limited funds don't stretch to regularly visiting a pub with a mediocre range of ales.

That said, the pub was certainly busy. For 17.00 on a Tuesday it was nearly full. In some ways this vindicates their ale choice, and it seemed to be full of people who had come on foot as well. If they could get some excellent cans or bottles like Shakespeares or Bar Stewards I would be much more tempted to visit more regularly.

The pub is on Faceache and Twitter and have a website address, here. It may not yet be finished, as the beer and food menus are coming soon, but its worth a look. This also suggests that they haven't yet finished drawing up their beer or food selection, so am duty bound to go in again next month to see what has changed.

The pubs name, incidentally, reflects the name of Speakeasys during prohibition, according to the review in Vibe magazine, which include Blind Tiger and Blind Pig. So now you know!

So, here is to the Blind Monkey. Wishing them all the best in becoming established on the Walkley beer scene over the coming months.


Wee Beefy