Sunday, 31 May 2020

Not like that boring stuff they sell at Asda, man says......


      so far in the last week I have received two large orders of tasty canned and bottled boohar. And although I still have plenty left I have to say that so far this experience has shown me the difference between the qualities and attributes of what I would describe as standard more mass marketed output, along with the delightful soupy happiness that I so enjoy.

I have, admittedly, never made the phrase in the title by the way - but I am well aware that although Asda near me sell a few good beers from BrewDog, FourPure, Vocation, Thornbridge and Harbour, the majority of their output is, as a large retailer, of cheap mass produced beers which people guzzle without any particular interest in how it is made or what it contains. I should point out as well that this is fine - I know that in the beer universe there is plenty of criticism of some people's choices - but that is not an issue that am explaining here. What am here to say is that my choice of beers this year especially, has shown me the benefits of the styles that I like, and alerted me to features in more traditional style beers that I like much less.....

I should first of all point out that I still like draught Bass and Marstons pedigree, especially if they are gravity dispensed from the cask. And when it comes to smaller breweries the list of favourites is never ending. In this case I should confirm that I have always liked Little Critters brewery beers in Sheffield. I know that some folks don't, and I admit that I have not really got on with their standard bitters, but their single hopped C Monster beers at 6% or similar, along with their excellent stouts and porters at 6.5 - 7%, have never disappointed. So whilst ordering a large number of brews from Dronfield Beer Stop recently I chose a can of Little Critters Incubus Series Vol 9, a pale ale at 5.6% made with Columbus, Citra and Waimea hops. Along with the other hoppy delights I had purchased from Turning Point, Pentrich, Pomona Island, Brew by Numbers, Northern Monk and the excellent Kernel, I fully expected this to be a cracking brew. But I noticed a specific difference in the hops, overall flavour and crucially the type of fruit and type of bitterness in the Incubus 9. And I realised that I was appreciating the outputs of other UK brewers far more....

I have recently tried a lot of other Sheffield brews by the way - including the wonderful Abbeydale Moonshine in a can. This is ironic because despite it's renowned lagery pale appearance, as well as it's excellent hoppiness, arguably in Abbeydale's portfolio this is one of the more traditional beers in their range. And having first drunk it in 1996 when not only my tastebuds, but also the expectations of the majority of other drinker's were different then, am happy to say that I still love it. I have also loved everything brewed at St Mars of the Desert in Attercliffe and they have often used Waimea and Citra in their excellent output, so this, along with firm favourite Columbus, persuaded me that I would enjoy this combination perfectly. Yet the beer was lacking any identifiable hop punch, and the fruitiness came out as a dry sweetness in the aftertaste. It seemed that it was a beer aimed, on the basis of this tasting, at a more traditional drinker. So overall I found it  underwhelming.

I did think that this outlook may be explained away at once by the excellence of boohar produced by the firms listed above, but after receiving my second delivery, from Archer Road Beer Stop yesterday, featuring a gamut of the excellent Gamma, along with wonderful Abbeydale Voyager, I had to accept that I really appreciate smooth, cloudy, fruity and citrus bitterness, and that the ease of drinking in all such products  inescapably satisfied my needs. Last night I finished my daily session on a can of Gamma Beep Boop Session IPA at 4% and found it had a simultaneously overwhelming but joyous hop and citrus mouthfeel. It was so easy to drink that I had to go to bed.....

I know that differences in appreciation of drinks are a natural response, and I have admittedly mocked myself for hardly ever drinking clear beers below 5%,  but these two latest deliveries showed me the amazing abilities of different micro breweries and the possible intent of their produce. Am not criticising the ideas and intentions or indeed the output of Little Critters at all, and I hope nobody thinks that, instead am simply acknowledging that their current beer styles seem to lack the punch and mouthfeel of others. And  that is fine, whilst also showing me the benefits of brewers such as the impeccable Gamma, producing quite incredible brews from their brewery in Denmark.

One of the few advantages of this lock down has been my available time and willingness to see what else is available online, as well as from excellent Sheffield stores and pubs to take out. Am thinking now that my choices have reassured me that some excellent beers are still available.

Lets hope that we can get back to the excellent pubs in Sheffield soon, in order that we can enjoy this and similar beers together in sunny beer gardens once again.


Wee Beefy

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Goose Willis

Good evening, readers.....

      this is a bit of a different post for me- because this is about neither an IPA, DIPA, TIPA or even a standard pale ale. No, this is a post about a sour beer. And in case some of you think it's 1983 again ( I did drink some Banks' Amber the other day as am low on boohar....) I am happy to point out that it is meant to be sour. And the beer is in date. Beer fear is therefore not appropriate in this respect.......

First brewed in 2017 as a collab with the local Brewdog, this was first brewed and released by Brew York in what I think was possibly 2018 (their website list of beers does not confirm alas, and I only know for certain that they first brewed it in 2017 as  a collab). I did try and recall the last time I tried a beer with gooseberry in it - and struggled, although I did think that gooseberries are also called goosegogs oop north so am guessing that was perhaps it? That would have been a while a go, but the beer in question would have been Grozet - and if memory serves it was frankly very nice indeed.

The first thing I did upon opening the can was to smell it - and that wasn't difficult. Because there are a decent amount of hops (and it is dry hopped as well) in the nose as well as some fruit which as a person who does not often consume the same am certain may well have been the Gooseberry. The first taste was amazing - a big hit of fruitiness and finishing with a good amount of the hops which are Nelson Sauvin.  One surprise - although perhaps a benefit of the excellent skills in its brewing, was the lack of...sourness? I admit that there was sourness in the aftertaste but being one of the first canned beers I have had proclaiming it's use of Lactobacillus I was perhaps expecting a bit more. This also may be one reason that it was in fact a perfect beer to enjoy in the now warm sunshine in my back garden - because the entire 440ml was gone in ten joyous minutes.

It was 5.3% so not babbeh milk but the strength was not a theme as I supped it down. Because as well as perfectly showcasing both the gooseberry used as well as the dry hopped Nelson Sauvin, the overall taste and mouth feel was wonderfully refreshing. It was a maximum of  22 degrees today and sitting in the bright and strong sunshine I was very happy to quaff this down - an act which would have been completed far quicker if it wasn't for the fact that I only have one more can of beer left (a favourite of mine as well....) and I won't get paid for three days - a situation managed by a pop up to the shops on Friday....

I have always liked Brew York's output, indeed it was one of their beers that I first tried in the Oxbow micropub in Woodhouse back at the beginning of March.

On the basis of this and other products of theirs (and their popularity when a selection arrived at Sean's beer central last month) am absolutely certain that I will be trying their products again in the near future, and, with the greatest of hope, heading up to York to sample their wares at their fabulous Taproom.


Wee Beefy

Friday, 22 May 2020



        am willing to admit that after a short period without luffly bowze, today's delivery from Bar Stewards (and with the help of the lovely Laura and Anthony), may have stemmed a worryingly early desire to spout praise about "just another" boohar. But to be fair, the reviews on Ratebeer, for what that is worth, are very high, and even though am only just finishing my first ever beer from them, I have to join the melee of praise and compliments myself.  So what do I know about Arpus?

Well, firstly, the letter A should have a small line above it, similar to an Umlaut, but only because I know the name of that. Secondly, the folk making this glorious potation are based in Latvia - a country which I have both never been to, or tried beers from. I did pop on their website and Friendache pages quickly, but apart from finding out that they chose Arpus as the name of their escapade in beer because it was a local or at least Latvian word, am not sure where they are all from. For example, The Donkey brewery on Santorini (now called Santorini Brewing Co or such...) produce excellent beers, and this may stem from the number of nationalities involved in the beer's production. Regarding Arpus am happy to confirm that my lack of knowledge of such facts does not reduce my appreciation of their output.

Am trying a can of DDH Nelson IPA, a worryingly easy to drink, and thankfully easy to enjoy, soup of Nelson Sauvin hops, unless there has recent;y been a new hop called Nelson, which I have missed. As with many new (to me) breweries I am happy to report that it may be the addition of oats into the beer, and perhaps its combination with the wheat used, which makes this beer so very easy to drink. Its also described (answering my previous question) as a double dry hopped Nelson Sauvin IPA. There is, in reality, very much to anticipate enjoying.

The other beer of theirs that I have but have not yet tried, is another DDH IPA this time with Nelson and Citra - as a proven Citra fiend I am saving that until later in the next week to treat myself to. Unless I drink it tonight.... I also saw that they produce an NE DIPA at 8% or so which of course I would very much like to try. With just a third of a pint of this left am willing to claim that the blend of flavours has settled superbly, and even though it has slightly warmed up, am not remotely disappointed.

I have to say that when I poured it I was initially worried about the strength of sweetness in the aroma - but I was immediately calmed by the simplicity of the ingredients, the fact that its double dry hopped, and also it's soup like appearance. Possibly due to the use of Nelson Sauvin, and oats, its also reassuringly more orangey than some UK brews I have tasted for the first time - exactly the right colour to persuade appreciation. Am not suggesting for a moment that I don't like pale beers of course, because as a fan of, what it pains me to describe as "craaft" based on the assumptions of others I have to admit - I realise that does come with an emphasis on the joy of pale. And this delivers a lot of joy in that, and numerous other, areas..

Looking at their list of products, whilst admitting an appreciation of certain hop types in DDH and similar beers, I have to say that I am very much looking forward to finding more of their treats in other venues here in fine sunny Sheffield.

In the meantime - if you spot some - I would suggest you buy it!


Wee Beefy

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Black. Lurcher.

Hello again,

       I am aware that aspects of this latest post may seem quite familiar to the one I posted last month about Matins from Abbeydale Brewery. Not least because memories - or a distinct lack of the same - are once again involved. This time however, instead of just memories and guesstimations, the real reason for my post is to share praise. For a classic beer brewed by Abbetdale Brewery, previously only available at a single pub, and due to the insufferable national closure of pubs, now available to all.

Back in the nineties, soon after Abbeydale started, and possibly on only my second or third visit to the same, I tasted some Abbeydale Black Lurcher in the Three Stags Heads at Wardlow Mires in Derbyshire. On my first visit the beers were all, or all apart from one, from Hoskins and Oldfield Brewery in Leicestershire. There was a bitter, a strong ale and an even stronger ale if memory serves. But when I discovered that Abbeydale Brewery in sunny Sheffield were supplying all their beers, I also became aware of a beer called Black Lurcher.

The first issue comes from strength. Checking on the Abbeydale Brewery website Archive of beers, Black Lurcher is listed as 7.0%. I also currently have a mini keg of this wonderous product and it is once again shown as 7.0%. Strangely I seem to recall it being 8%. And this is something I have found, on the tinterweb as well - including a blog called Beertalk. That said its not actually the strength of this fine ale that matters. its just it's fabulous taste. And that is in abundance.

The other thing to point out is the name - numerous websites (on the tinterweb, where everything is true, remember) state that the beer is named after one of the many pub dogs, one of which was the very same, a black lurcher. On my first visit I distinctly remember the lurchers - who are very large, and very dosile, most of the time - as well as a small dog which used to sit quite often with or near landlord Geoff. I understand the dog passed away sadly many years ago, but it is one thing that I specifically recall on a number of visits. Not how to spell the landlord's name alas.....

So, the beer - it is black. And it is, despite it's strength, a very easy drinking tipple. There is bitterness in there as well as dark maltiness and there is sweetness in the taste, but it sits soulfully and carefully at the front of the sup, and the aftertaste is mostly malty bitterness. And to state once again - it is very easy to drink. If you want to read other thoughts of mine about this there is something here... a point in time (2012 it says) when it appears that the pub bottled the beer themselves, a fact proven by my brother WK's visit in that year and never actually confirmed by the fab folk at either the pub or at Abbeydale brewery. I recall finishing there with WK, Chala and Christingpher in 2010 or thereabouts after a lengthy trip around much of Derbyshire and Staffordshire before Chris went down to Bath to study before becoming a teacher. Chris, a man of strong wills, definitely had a whole pint of this. His description of the beer was of it being an immense undertaking. It's also the Three Stags Heads where me and him went in late December 1999 and absolutely loved it.     

The last point to make is that I also remember that around the same time that Black Lurcher - and indeed Last Rites - was produced, that Abbeydale produced a strong beer called King James the....third? Or James the....number. It was brewed especially for former brewer or employee James who had taken on the running of the New Barrack Tavern in Sheffield, also in the late nineties.  Unfortunately the brewery website Archive is a very long list of beers and so whilst it may well be on there, I did not find it before finding the reference to Black Lurcher.

Finally, its one of the few benefits of this awful undertaking of pub closures that Abbeydale had some Black Lurcher spare and were able to sell it, and both myself and Wee Keefy were able to purchase a mini keg of this fabulous brew.  Long may this beer last in my house - although am afraid to say it will probably all be gone by tomorrow. Meanwhile, long may Abbeydale continue to supply it to the excellent Three Stags Heads at Wardlow Mires after they reopen, and long may they continue to brew it. If it is still available I would strongly suggest that you purchase some......

A classic beer for a classic pub.


Wee Beefy.

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Hop City


           a week before I went on leave, and then into self isolation, I found out from my chum and colleague S.o.J (that's the Sword of Justice - you need to pronounce the w, and everything) that this year's Hop City, had been cancelled. I can confirm that I personally have never managed to attend either this, or it's sister gathering Dark City, previously, so that is something I may have to attempt to achieve next year. In the meantime however, I recently discovered that during a moment of online uncertainty, or just happiness, I had purchased a can of the Northern Monk Hop City. That, alone, is one reason why I hope to attend very soon.....

Hop City is a frankly wonderful collaboration between hosts Northern Monk and other breweries to showcase and celebrate the wonderful choice of hops, and suppliers, in tasty brews. And this year's offering in no way disappointed.

The first thing I noticed on the back of the can was the name and logo of Yakima Chief Hops. As most of you will know this company, based in America (and I may be wrong but I suspect it's based in the West, although my brain states California, so am not sure) who supply, grow, research and release new and existing  brands, of the wonderful ingredients in our luffly bowze. A recent Abbeydale beer featured HBC 472 and HBC 692 in their excellent Deliverance DIPA, and these are new brands, in terms of release at any rate, researched and released by Yakima Chief.

The three breweries collaborating were German Frau Gruber, and a brand I had never heard of before (accept on a Smashing Pumpkins album) that being Soma Beer, as well as another new (to me) enterprise called Popihn in France. With perhaps one or two too many sups in the past, I have to admit that it's very difficult to come across a collaborative brew where I have never previously heard of two of the three cohorts, and am pleased to report that this, as well as the amazing list of hops used, produced a fabulous beast of easy drinking hoppy delight.

Oh - and I should point out that it kicks in at 9.5%. It's described as a double dry hopped (DDH ) DIPA, and looking down at the mesmerising list of products used shows how appropriate the DDH aspect was. When I first started drinking in the 1990's I can confirm that almost all strong beer was brown or black, and anything pale was gruesomely sweet.  Using such excellent ingredients, as well as the knowledge of all involved, completely removes any such fears.

The Hops used were HBC692 T90, Cyro Sabro, Cyro Citra, Sabro T90 and Citra and Simcoe T90. I wrote earlier in the year about my appreciation of Sabro as a hop ingredient, and have always loved Citra and Simcoe, but the combination of all six ingredients produced a simultaneously challenging (in a good way), and ultimately enjoyable, mass of hop bitterness and fruity flavours, rendering this output amazing. I am also aware that I may come across as somewhat easily swayed by "drinkability" but honestly, when you reach that strength and it's as refreshing as beers at 5 or 6%, then I have to say that is amazing.

Overall, whether you are searching for hops, bitterness, fruity citrus flavours or ease of drinking, then you will be very impressed by this brew, and that along with previous occasions of missing out, makes Hop City itself an ideal place to head to when ever it's next on.

In the meantime, your very best of health.


Wee Beefy

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

North Eastern Breweries


      when I first started drinking in 1990 ish the main North Eastern and Newcastle area beers came from Scottish and Newcastle, Big Lamp, (although that may have been later) and of course Vaux and Castle Eden. Castle Eden Ale was, in fact, the first beer I had bought for me in a pub - in 1989 with a meal WF bought me a half. Am thinking that this was OK, and he bought it and the place we were eating in was full so am certain it was....

In the early nineties I made a couple of trips up to Northumberland, and discovered Longstone Brewery. Memories as always are a bit vague but I always recall it having a blur pump clip and a lighthouse on it - am certain there is still a Longstone Lighthouse. In it's short history one of their beers was called Old Grace Bitter, named after Bamburgh born lighthouse keeper's daughter Grace Darling. I only ever tried one of their beers, somewhere in Northumberland, which was a 3.7% one called Hotspur. And I never saw their beers again.  

Its at this point that I should point out my understanding of the North East as an area - I am in fact referencing everywhere from Middlesborough to Berwick. Am certain that is not everyone's idea of the same description but it is broadly accurate.

Meanwhile, I know that High House Farm and Wylam set up in the noughties, along with later on Anarchy Brew Co and Allendale, and also that Hexamshire was set up in the nineties and is still trading, but in the last couple of years we have seen both Almasty and Errant breweries set up, both producing excellent beers, and supplying output to a number of pubs including the excellent Shakespeares in Sheffield, AKA my second home. And recently, my latest selection of cans from local shops has pointed to a few more.....

First up is Full Circle Brew Co - I had a can of their Lake of stars pale ale at 4.5% and as well as being incredibly pale I also found it very easy to sup - there was bitterness in there, as well as oats, and although hardly a session ale, as well as not a strong ale, I found that it didn't last very long. A look on the tinterweb, where everything is true, suggests that its well regarded and also that they opened both a micro brewery and a tap room in Hoults Yard Newcastle, last year. Probably due to their newness, and also maybe because this appears to have been brewed with Brewgooder whom I thought may have some involvement with BrewDog, this is the first beer of theirs that I have come across. Once again the lack of information generally available about their products suggests I may have to unfurl the horror of Untapped at some stage.....

Next up is another new one on me - that being Play Brew Co in Middlesborugh, a place that I, undoubtedly incorrectly believe was or still is, in North Yorkshire - please don't hate me if this is not true! The beer of theirs that I tried was Lazy Daze, a 6.5% NEIPA featuring Mosaic, Eukanot and Amarillo hops. This once again did not disappoint in terms of flavour, and lacked any of the oftentimes appearance of sweetness which many North East and North West brews sometimes contain. Darker than the Full Circle, but 2% stronger, the calmer colouring did nothing to take away from the excellent mouthfeel within.

The final brewery is one that I have another of their cans paid for and pending in fine sunny Sheffield. Alpha Delta Brewing are based in Newburn in Newcastle upon Tyne and their Selene Galaxy DIPA at 8.2% was sensational. I have to clarify that appearance of cans does not on it's own pressurise my choice of beers, but also, that a good  design can often make me more willing to give one a try. The Alpha Delta can is black with a white A and triangular D letter below it, and it tasted fabulous. Possibly due it being Unfined, Unfiltered and Unpasteurised, this beer ticked all the boxes in terms of its appearance - a soupy cloud of delicious orange gunge which was not only easy to drink for it's strength, but if I hadn't had been taking care of my intake last night I imagine I could have supped down the beer in about ten minutes. Instead I let the flavours on show linger, and enjoyed every single minute of this.

I have discovered that there are also now a large number of other microbreweries in Newcastle and beyond in operation, and these are ones I ill take the opportunity to sample in the next year or so, but these three examples alone demonstrate that the North East area brewing industry is blooming and improving regularly.

Keep up the Good Work!

Wee Beefy