another short entry am afraid as its late and I need to get to bed!
The Hop at West One
Rumour Mill Success on cards
I note from the latest copy of Beer Matters that the much anticipated and by me, feared dead in the water bid to open a new bar at West One has finally got the all clear and the venue should be open about today! Ossett brewery have got permission to open The Hop, a real ale bar, specialising in casks, pies and bands. The article I saw stated opening late November which by my reckoning means I could have gone tonight - watch this space for more info very soon.
Browns. Literally very.
After a taxing trek to Abbeydale and Nether Edge (finding the Union Inn in darkness, which I am sad to hear is apparently due to the landlord's ill health) and the Broadfield lit up but being refurbished, me and Chala arrived in town thirsty and fancying a change. I had campaigned for a trip to the Rutland but was rebuked, Chala was warming to my Henry's suggestion but en route decided that the sparkly lights and pastel darks decor of Browns at the top of Union street and the Peace gardens, was worth a look. I had heard it sold real ale but it was well down my list of preferences but I decided to acquiesce.
It was busy inside, with many people annoyingly sat in two's at 4 seat tables, and there was a prevalent, if unused waiting staff desk on entering, that threatened to scoop you into a dining area instead of allowing you to indulge in a sit down and a sup. Chala headed off to find a table whilst i ordered a pint of York Terrier and a half of Peroni for her. The staff were uniformed, but not exactly exuding character or personality, and laboured long over pouring the drinks, mid way through which Chala returned to report a surfeit of seating. So we asked if we were OK to sit upstairs, which the barman confirmed.
Beers in we headed off upstairs but spotted a table downstairs near the window was free so sat there, crucially taking up only a half of the available 4 seater space. Minutes later a waitress asked if we wanted a menu, upon the refusal of which she insisted that we move as this was an area for diners only. So we suggested we moved upstairs, only to be scalded for our ignorance, given that this was also the restaurant. Pointing out that we'd been assured this was OK fell on deaf ears even though there was no-one hovering for our seats so she could have let us stay there for the time it would take us to finish our drinks.
So like second class citizens we traipsed back to the bar area and found a place to stand at a high table, to be joined by a lady who bemoaned the grim quality of her spritzer and looked, like me, as if she would rather have been in Henry's or Platillos. As soon as the drinks were gone we gratefully headed off for Henry's, with ample seating, kind and friendly staff and barely audible music. Browns, I think, is a restaurant which begrudgingly provides drinks. I would stay well clear unless you are going in about 15.00 and can snap up a seat at one of the four tables for drinkers. Very poor.
Further to the above we spent an enjoyable evening in Henry's stopping for a bite to eat and some nice beer - I had a Fernandes bitter, and halves of Riverhead Liquorice porter and Castle Rock Black Gold mild. One word of warning though - the Bacchus Frambozen is an excellent example of fruit beer, and no doubt attracts some hefty import duty, but without a price list on show, charging £5.50 a pint is just plain cheeky. You need to sort that out Henry's - do that and get a better wine list and I'll be in once a week rather than once a month.
On a couple of recent visits there have been 2 Blue Bee beers on again, and the magical seemingly never to happen Stones cask has appeared on the bar at a reasonable £2.55 a pint. On my last visit the range also included the fantastic Blue Bee Lustin for Stout. The appearance of two dark beers in the last few weeks maybe suggests they are able to shift the darker brews, which most publicans baulk at.
Talking of which, the excellent Ship Inn at Shalesmoor had no such problems with the Spire stout, and this time when I visited they were offering Thornbridge Brother Rabbit, Bradfield Belgian Blue and a Sheffield beer which sounded like Abbeydale Daily Bread but looked like a Kelham clip. Either way I didn't try it, but the Blue was excellent. Its well worth making time for a visit to the Ship to remind yourself what having a free hand in beer selection can do for consumer choice, (especially real ale fans) and what difference an experienced landlord makes to a boozer. It doesn't open til about 19.30 in the evenings though - just to note.
A few recent visits have included offerings such as Hornbeam Black Coral Stout, and Kelham Island Stockwell Rocker, a 4.0% stout, to name but a few. Alas, I missed their recent beer festival but with 6 to 9 neers on all the time its unlikely you'll be unable to find a brew to suit your tastes. Look out for regular offerings from Summer Wine Brewery, who's excellent offerings can often be found on the bar, often with biro on paper pump clips.
That's all for tonight am afraid, but I'll be on again in the next few days to tell you about the New Inn beer festival at Cropton, amongst other beery details.