first I would like to tell you about a couple of bottled beers I have had recently.
I still have a couple from the saaaarf, along with a Kelham Island one and some Freeminer BCA from Co-op. I will also update you on a couple of recent visits to the Blake at Walkley and another look at pub etiquette.
So, firstly, the bottles.
1. Brewery & Beer : Hepworth & Co Brewers Ltd – Iron Horse
ABV : 4.8%
BCA or none BCA : none
The final Hepworth offering for me to try, apparently, beer fetcher Keefy confirms the retailer purveying this selection of perfect pop is called The Offie, and is in Brighton, which is in the South, near London, Sussex, as you might say had you no idea about geography.
Iron Horse is a much more rounded offering than the others, perhaps even better than the Prospect on account of its warming flavours, appetising light hobnob brown colour and pleasant aroma.
The bottle claims that its traditional credentials means it contains roasted barley, and I am swayed to report I can smell that, apart from the fact that I wouldnt know if I could. It also claims the beer is a strong pale ale, highlighting an interesting gulf in personal perception between myself and the brewers. Perhaps the Yorkshire obsession with number 1 and 2 malts to give lager like appearance, and the joyous plethora of 5.3% and up awards pale beers available means I view this as a mid brown malty ale, but that does not stop me from appreciating it.
It has an aroma and lovely lingering background taste of toffee and burnt caramel, the latter likely from the roasted malt, but its not overly dry or bitter, it may even remind you slightly of toffee apple. Overall the malt is prominent and balances so well with the hops, their even representation in the mouthfeel means the beer although less hoppy than all the others I have tried probably presents the bitterness better – much better balanced than the Sussex for example.
No specific details of the hops used are provided although they are Sussex grown and may well be goldings and admiral as in other Hepworth brews, alas am not expert in recognising Admiral, even though I can usually pick out a golding flavour.
Largely, the beer shares a number of characteristics with other brews where goldings are prominent so that helps strengthen my certainty of the hop used most, and the mix of malts noted on the label likely contributes to the satisfying and very pleasing malt flavour, although despite this malt predominance, after a few mouthfuls you start to retain a lingering bitterness.
Overall a very good traditional beer which showcase's its ingredients well – just tell us what they are please !
2. Brewery & Beer : Weltons Brewers - Old Cocky
ABV : 4.3%
BCA or none BCA : BCA
Last time I ventured to try a Weltons bottle it had gone mad and mixed all the ingredients together, including the yeast, to make a soupy substance which somehow managed to taste of very nice beer. So promising, but hardly accomplished.
This time there were no such problems.
I stood the beer in the fridge for about 45 minutes and let it stand a further 10 before opening. The beer was clear in the bottle and I was able to see the yeast at the very bottom steadfastly secured to the bottle as I poured it out, leaving only a glass covering in the bottle.
The aroma was the first noticeable feature, the label proclaims gooseberries but alas I am not a goosegog muncher so have no inkling of what that should smell like - instead there was a citrus malt and orange assembly which reminded me of a toned down Thomas Hardy's.
The colour is a golden blonde, with, in the right light, a further orange influence, the head was lively enough to demonstrate the beer was living but not a foaming mass like in so many beers these days - Meantime, are you listening ? We aren't after champagne !
After a while the aroma mellows and the taste takes control, I tasted and smelt citrus hops and warm malt, plus at the end of each mouthful a lingering lemon flavour. However, the predominant taste was burnt marmalade - I think orange is too strong a flavour to identify here, more caramelised marmalade, possibly burnt like I said, with a treacle hint which quickly balances out in the overall taste.
In summary, a pleasing citrus orange flavour gives the malt a necessary boost and the hops make for a drinkable and refreshing golden ale.
So, the Blake again. I make no apologies for featuring said hostelry so often, because despite its relative inconvenience as a venue for me in Handsworth, I like the beer, love the atmosphere, and enjoy taking people to see it, especially those who live in Crookes or Walkley.
After work Friday myself and Mr G caught the 31 and were in about 17.15 and enjoying pints of Potbelly Best and Bradfield Blonde respectively. There was also Kelham Island Bete Noire, probably my favourite of their beers, and I was soon on that followed by a Yakima IPA from Bobs Brewery in Ossett, and then back to the Noir.
We had a sandwich, a Kuppers Kolsh just so Mr G could find out what it was like and several Bete Noir before heading to the Hillsborough Hotel for something lighter, possibly the Hillsborough Pale. Our final stop was the Wellington, for a delicious pint of Salamander porter to round off an excellent evening of refreshments.
On Saturday i met old friends; Jules, Jack n Martin and Wee Keefy for beers and a short crawl. We started at the Princess Royal, trying 3 beers between us. The Sheffield Seven Hills was the least enjoyable as it was the end of the barrel, the Kelham Easy rider was memorably unremarkable, and the Bradfield Blonde perhaps the best - I felt a little bad about the dissatisfaction of the party with the beers since it was my recommendation - also the beer quality was a lot better when I was there back in February.
From here we descended to the Hallamshire House - we did not divert to the Heavygate for time reasons but most of the group assure me it has once again closed down, possibly for good.
Meanwhile, the Hallamshire is about to see a change of ownership or perhaps at least a change of stewardship, I understand from Mr C that Les is about to retire and there will be a new owner or landlord of this veritable old pub. Certainly Les' name is still above the door and the only change I can see is that I think the signage and front woodwork is painted red, although am unsure if that was the case last time. Inside we tried 3 of the beers, I and Martin had the Copper Dragon best which was very quaffable, the others Doom Bar and London Pride. The range seems good and mercifully the hateful spectre of Greedy King is missing from the bar so fingers crossed.
From here it was a shortish walk to the Blake. The pub was busy but we did manage to get a table. Most, in fact perhaps all, of yesterdays choice were gone, so I had a pint of Bobs White Angel, whilst the others sensibly tried halves, including Kelham its cold outside baby, Roosters rare Whiskey Stout - with a price tag to match, and Whim Flower Power.
I tried the latter myself and it was fantatsic, I also braved a half of the excellent stout which was worth its London price tag. The Flower Power occasioned a discussion with the barman re Cheriton/Flowerpots brewery's beer of the same name, the upshot of which was a suggestion they might try and get some.
All too soon alas our time ran out as M and J needed to releive the babysitter so we taxi'd it back to Crookes to their house via Co-op for a beer or two and some essential chorizo.
Finally, an etiquette observation.
Taking a cloudy half pint, in a full pint glass to the bar recently, I remarked that I thought the beer had come to an end based on its cloudy appearance and jarring yeasty taste - the barmaid concurred and poured me the pint I asked for. Now, its true that had I wanted a replacement it might have been awkward having taken half a pint to admit or realise the beers shortcomings, and I did not request such a reimbursement, but given I was willing to buy a round for 5 of us I would have thought the bar person could have said I could have half free since half (at least, in reality) of my pint had been undrinkable.
No such courtesy was offered, and some 30 minutes later the beer was still available for sale on the bar. Whilst I recognise that clarity is a useful commodity, I would argue that in this case a free half should have been offered. I also concede that I should have made that clear, but the fact that the barstaff were in agreement that the beer was off makes it all the more suprising that it remained on sale. Most landlords would be, and indeed should be, keen that the customer enjoys their beer, but on this occasion that appeared to be secondary to the desire to continue selling what was now a bad beer.
I think the pub in question were wrong. Even though I did not ask, it should have been clear ( well, literally, in the case of the beer ) that I had returned the half because it could not be drunk. A somewhat, and literally, sour note to the evening. And, by contrast, the taxi driver from the Blake took us to Barber road Co-op intead of Crookes so had to divert a longer way round - but without prompting, he knocked a quid off the price.
Anyway, thats all for now, do feel free to email suggestions about pub etiquette issues - its an interesting field since what constitutes such an arrangement is often dependent on where you are in the UK, but I would like to know of other examples where you think etiquette has been ignored or rigoroulsy imposed, either well or badly.