Sunday, 25 November 2018

Shakespeares Scandinavian Tap Takeover 2


   when my dear friend Vikkie asked me if I was going to this event, after first thinking I was a week further ahead and this was the Thursday of the beer fest, I said no. Having correctly established it's identity, I reminded her that I had already decided not to go because I knew I would be free of funds. Vikkie very kindly offered to buy me a couple, so I decided it would be a great idea to go. It was....

Arriving not long after 17.00 we were being sensible and started on halves. In fact, we stayed on halves. Some of the sensibility may have been undermined by our starting on half of the O/O Bangatan (which may have had an extra a on the clip), which was a deliciously easy drinking Nelson, Mosaic, Simcoe and Citra hopped pale at 7.5%. I really like O/O brewery beers, mainly because they seem so flawlessly produced and easy to drink. This was no exception.

Sitting in the front bar we were well placed to see a trail of people we knew amassing at the bar and enjoying numerous similarly excellent ales. Messers Marshall, Cheetham and S.o.J to name but a few, and I also saw Unpro just before he left, John, Tony and Jack. The S.o.J joined us briefly as well, also on the Bangatan, and we had a good chat about beer, beers had, and beers to try.

The next we tried was the Alefarm Standing Shallow, a 5.8% IPA hopped with Mosaic and Ekuanot. This is probably my first Alefarm brew and very enjoyable it was too. One thing I did notice about the Norwegian and Swedish beers we drank was that even their IPA's weren't pale in the same way Northern UK ones are with their number 1 and 2 malts. I wondered if this was to differentiate them from the pervasive appearance of Scandinavian lagers?

The Mikkeller Spontan Elderflower was next, a 7.7% sour beer aged in oak barrels. It was sour, but not acidic, and incredibly easy to drink. In fact, its strength was somewhat lost in the hazy refreshing mix of this excellent beer.

Vikkie stayed on her second Bangatan whilst I embarked on the Amundsen Marshmallow Psycho, a huge 12.3% barrel aged stout with a massive flavour, but which once again was worryingly easy to drink. As it was a school night this was the only one of the three 12% or above stouts which we tried, but it was well worth it.

Our final beers of the takeover were halves of the Amundsen Collective Arts Basket Case,  7.5% double dry hopped DIPA. This held on to its citrus hoppiness brilliantly, although am not sure what I think of the idea of a sub 8% DIPA - I realise the double does not refer to strength but instead hops or IBU but I want to know that I have drunk a DIPA and these days my starting strength is already 6%. Well, that's my keg starting strength any road. Cask is understandably easier to start low on...

We may have ad a second of the Basket case before heading oer't road to have a can of Verdant Photon Trails and a bottle of the Track and Verdant path of least resistance, a fruited brut DIPA, which was a very interesting and enjoyable combo of styles. I also went back the next day to try a couple of pints of the excellent Beatnix Republik session IPA which had a name, and was probably about 3.8% - a wonderful beer!

All the beers we tried at the Scandinavian Tap takeover were excellent, and its always interesting to try beers from further afield and outside the normal comfort zone of Verdant Cloudwater and Northern Monk. Well done once again to Shakespeares for putting on an excellent range of beers nor previously tried, and which told us much about the Scandinavian brewing scene.


Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Pour, Chesterfield Road, Sheffield


      am not sure how to describe Pour. So am going to list its qualities and go from there. A Vegan beer bar, selling vegan food, with a lovely atmosphere, that is dog friendly, human friendly and comfortable, in a former Italian restaurant. They probably sell vegan wine, they probably sell spirits, and I think they sell alcohol, or virtually alcohol free, beer. Its really rather fab. Pour aims to serve only vegan beer as far as is possible, and there is a link here to their Facebook page for details of current beers, food and other info - they are also on Twitter....

Having opened on a double digit Friday there was no way I would have sufficient funds to visit on the first night but after a walk with WK on Sunday I persuaded him to take us to Pour for a beer, and our first visit. On entering I spotted Gavin at the bar, and also the inimitable Mr Entwistle behind it. Whilst WK looked for something lower gravity I was recommended the Abbeydale Voyager, possibly number 19, and featuring centennial; simcoe and mosaic or similar for its hops. "Basically my three favourite hops" said Edd, knowingly. I was sold. And WK bought me a pint of this fabulous keg IPA.

We went into the room on the right which was packed with guests, both human and doggies and sat at the back to read the bottled beer list. There was a Torrside super imperial stout on at about 11% but I think WK resisted and had a pale ale from Bad Seed. We both enjoyed our beers....

Food had finished by 19.00 I think and despite my attempts to persuade him I couldn't get WK to part with a few quid for some seasoned chips. However, we bumped into Barry Valentine as we were leaving and he shared a couple of slices of ham and mushroom pizza with us. It was just what we needed to put us on until we got home and was delicious. I: did not ask if it was vegan ham, but it could have been!

Alas as it was WK's shout and he had driven us to the Manifold Valley and back he opted to set off after our drinks, and having parked outside we were home in no time. Pour is a great place to drink great beers and if possible, with dogs. I realise that this is a short review, but I really enjoyed my albeit short visit and that's what matters! I am aiming to return on the second December with a friend for a couple of pints and really looking forward to it.

Pour is open right now, so go there! Looking forward to seeing you all there soon.


Wee Beefy

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Bar Stewards is Sheffield CAMRA pub of the month for November!


            Its been a long time since Bar Stewards evolved with an invite only, locked door personal party in its then nowhere near ready to open premises. I had been told by Rich Hough that I could join him but it sempt a bit rude and besides, I wasn't 100% sure where it was. Two weeks of guessing which of the recently reopened units followed before I spotted a sign outside. I ventured in on their second or third temporary license opening and had a choice of Blue Bee and two others on cask, served by gravity if I recall (?), or lager, but I liked the place, and soon it grew and improved.

Three visits in and I could remember which one was Charlie and which one was Al and I started to go more often. And then there was a wait for a full license before they opened in July 2017. Rich had a stint doing their quiz and I think they were sometimes joined by the brother of one of the owners (can't remember which!) behind the bar before another period of closure took place whilst they moved the bar from the left hand side to its present location, ordered some fridges and installed some keg lines. With the shackles of restrictive ranges off, the magic balloon of Bar Stewards sailed high into the sky like a soaring eagle. Or something.

Gradually, the hours were extended, Capn Space Maths started doing a quiz, the keg range matured and improved, and the fridge offerings increased in range exponentially. A typical night in the Stews now involved starting on a pint or two of good cask, then hurling myself into a DIPA on keg before finishing on a can or three. Many many nights were spent in there helping to reduce the backlog of suppable soup. Often it was only the pictures on my phone that told me how much I had drunk.....

In July they had their successful first birthday celebration where a fab range of ales including local brewery colabs was on offer, and recently Jay has joined from the Old Workshop, bringing with him a fab taste in music, a wealth of knowledge about beer, specifically beer that I like, a calm influence behind the bar and the ability to deliver his thoughts with a quiet honesty. The final piece of success lego in their castle has been the addition of bhajis and Wateralls pork pies delivered every Thursday.  Now fully fledged, the feathers of the Stews have been recognised and rewarded by Sheffield CAMRA.

I was there with a number of friends and long time acquaintances on Tuesday night. There was a stellar line up of keg cask and can as always and a new staff member called Jonathon who used to work at the Picture House Social. Even former barkeep PJ, AKA Keith, came down to say hello.

Fine free food was available and I drank more than one pint of cask and some hoppy colder soup which tickled my tastebuds perfectly. It was an excellent night with the whole, albeit small, venue absolutely packed out from about 20.00. Well done to Al and Charlie and Jay and the rest of the expanding team at the Bar Stewards for providing a genuine alternative to the busier periods at Shakespeares when its admittedly better to go somewhere else - especially now that the range and quality of ales available matches up so well to the giant goddess og glugging glory across the road.


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 10 November 2018

More Moorlands supping

Hello folks,

     as this is a beer blog am not going to allocate too much space to my Dad and his situation. Partly to protect his privacy, but also because, ostensibly, he is neither a beer, nor a pub. I may be 50% beer by now, but Wee Fatha drinks less than me. And his favourite tipple these days is Whisky anyway...

Wee Fatha's mobility is becoming restricted ever more and he goes out less. One thing he does therefore like is just that. Going out. If it hadn't been writ large on his face all night it was certainly clear in his smile in the photos we took whilst on our jolly. That and a bottle of whisky from his  untried list was the perfect birthday present.

Wee Keefy picked me up and we drove over to Wee Fatha's around 17.30 to head out to Bakewell, Monyash, Crowdecote, Longnor and finally on to Reapsmoor. WK had worried we may have arrived too early to pick up WF but we didn't leave until 18.10, and were booked in at the Butchers at 19.00. After a well driven trek across moorlands and through dales we arrived about 10 minutes late. Pulling up outside Ye Olde Butchers Arms Carl came out to welcome us, although he forgot that we were coming for WF's birthday, and closed the door behind me - luckily WF's glacial pace meant he hadn't yet reached the door....

Inside all three fires were lit and we got the big table facing the bar. Later diners sat in the room on the right, and as per previous visits, the room soon filled with smoke from the big old burner attached to the chimney - I meanwhile sat as far as I could from the raging fire next to me in case I set alight.

On the bar was one turned round pumpclip and two empty handpulls. The turned round one said Black Sheep bitter on it, but regular visitors will know that pump clips are a meaningless diversion at the Butchers. Much of the time Carl doesn't know what is on. If he does, or even if he doesn't, he doesn't share it with you. The beer was brown and bitter. It was well kept. It was £2.70 a pint, although the barman didn't know that. I had three pints.

We ordered food with Carl sat next to us - he asked WF what he wanted and was instructed that he just wanted a steak with a handful of chips and no veg or salad. I saw Carl write this down. He also said it was fine. When the meals came all three were piled high with chips, veg and salad. Carl said "thats ow we do um here mate, thats ow we alluss have". WF was not impressed but me and WK dipped into his chips and veg and Carl offered him the chance to take some home. Our meals were staggeringly large. As alluss.....

After fussing and feeding Thea and Sadie the two Alsations, WF slid off icily for a trip to the loo and me and WK got chatting to a couple nearby, and had more beer - well, I did, WK was on softs as he was driving. We didn't leave until nearly 21.30 and headed straight for the Royal Cottage. Alas the light outside wasn't on and the upstairs was so Cliff had clearly closed early. This just means that we will have to go back again...

Our final stop (I had hoped to visit the Packhorse at Crowdecote since its for sale, but that will also have to be next time) was at the Quiet Woman in Earl Sterndale. Being the first weekend of the month we figured it would be open, and it was. We found out that Ken is only two years younger than my Dad, and also some info which perhaps explained the food issue we had encountered at the Butchers earlier. There were three beers on and I had a pint of Wainwright, WK a half of Marstons Bitter and WF a half of Burton Bridge XL Mild.

I have observed before that Ken seems to be closing the pub slowly and laboriously, almost by default. He told us that Earl Sterndale had about 200 residents and they had 60 dogs. This makes his ban on dogs in the pub even less understandable. He also mentioned the lack of born and bred Earl Sterndalians in the village and suggested that many locals no longer came in. Disappointing as this obviously is, the beer already told the same story.

WF is no judge of off beer so I forgave him thinking the Mild was OK, the Bitter which is what I think Ken drinks, was fine, and the Wainwright was awful. I mean, I drank it, blending the sharp edges with the odd sweetness as if they were citrus and elderflower, but it was definitely not a good drink. I had to finish on a half of the Bitter. Did I mention it? No. I don't think there is any point. Not because Ken would contest the complaint, or refuse to replace the pint, but because I think its part of the subtle but noticable wresting free of the pub that seems to be happening, more obviously, every time we go. Am not 100% convinced I shouldn't have said something though.

Ken kindly came out with us as WF slowly and painstakingly shuffled off, his immobility and refusal to change somehow mirroring the steadfastedness of the excellent old pub. People in the village need to go in more often if the beer is to be maintained, and persons from outside of the area also need to visit more regularly. This is not going to put us off from going, not at all, it just makes us worry about the day in the not too distant future when we turn up and find the Quiet Woman quietly closed.

Next time I suggest we eat at the Packhorse, drink at Cliff's and finish in he Grapes at Longnor - maybe opening another chapter in our Moorlands supping story.

Your very good health

Wee Beefy.