Good evening again,
my mate Fluffy, who is called that, and everything, came up from that London over this weekend and on Friday I took him on a pub crawl, based vaguely on the route I took with Barraharri, except we were starting at 19.00 so had much less time to cram em all in. Here are the details I can remember from that night out.
as a Friday night meeting place its arguable that the Sheffield Tap is perhaps a little down the list of ideal locations. Its invariably full, to the extent that the welcome addition of two extra rooms now seems far too tame an undertaking when you see a sea of people covering every inch of floor and furniture ahead of you. Below is a grainy picture that singularly fails to depict the above described scenario.
Its also noticeable as you enter from the road, that the panelled room hosts a striking miasma of sweaty fog. A most unfortunate side effect of small crammed spaces filled with alcohol partaking persons. Sigh. Despite this I was spurred on by a parting of the sea of bodies and soon found myself stood at the bar behind someone who had just got served, so I was served pretty quickly. There was a selection of Magic Rock beers on, I really fancied a dark one but the Dark Arts was 6.6% - not an ideal starter for a pub crawl - so I ended up with a pint of the Curious, also Fluff's choice, and my starter when I did the crawl last year.
In here I met up with Fluff, Steve and Natalie. This was to be our band of beer troubadours for the night. We soon worked out that strict rules would have to apply on when people went for their next beer, and that the crawl organisers instruction to leave was final. We called Steve away from the bar to demonstrate the regulations in action, and avoid unnecessary delay, and headed for the Rutland.
Rutland Arms Brown Street
Not unsurprisingly the Rutty was also rammed. It was difficult to get to see what beers were on, and I had to be quite unsubtle in freeing up a bit of bar to stand at. Rule number one - never stand at a packed bar with your back to it - you are taking up vital space!
In here Steve had some Stowford Press cider (not ready for the hard stuff yet it seemed), Natalie got an amnesia, sorry, unrecorded drink, and me and Fluff had a couple of halves. I had Blue Bee Nectar Pale, he had Revolutions brewery Devolution, and we both had a half of the Steel City Brewing Dark Funeral. Its important to make clear at this point that Natalie isn't a real ale drinker. Its perhaps a bit harsh to make her come out on a real ale pub crawl, but to be fair there was a decent mix of traditional and modern, and she could have said no. Just to clarify that she wasn't kidnapped, since that's what it probably looked like....
Anyhoo, back to the beer. The Nectar was OK but I was glad it wasn't Fluff's first taste of the beer, the Revolutions which is a brewery that usually produces good beer was OK but had a weird aftertaste plonked on the end that didn't work. The Dark Funeral was about as subtle as a depth charge, but this was what we expected and desired. At this point, it became clear that somebody wasn't quite dressed for a walk. So me and Fluff set off on foot for our next pub whilst the others settled down for another drink and a taxi.
The Cranes was quite busy and there was some decent music on. There were two Blue Bee beers on but we found out the Bees Knees had finished so both had our second Nectar Pale of the night. It tasted a little better than it does at the Rutland so that was a good coup but we had to make a snap decision. It transpired that Steve and Natalie were not yet in their taxi and confused about where we were. Since we had decided to have halves in some pubs, we decided to direct them to Dada and make this a short visit. We stuck to our half each and stopped in the Cranes only a little while longer, chatting to Rick.
Right on cue, London living Sheffielder Fluff asked me as soon as I told him where we were going why it wasn't called Dee-dah, and I have to confess I don't have an answer. Perhaps its only a matter of time before this nickname becomes the real name?
Inside it wasn't too busy when we arrived, and our companions were already sat down drinking so we took a little time to decide on our important choice of beers. Fluff had a half of the Fyne Highlander and the Pub scrawl, me a pint of the same. Alas, the Scrawl had crawled lamely to the end of its life and we replaced it with the same quantity of Brother Rabbit from Thornbridge.
Brother Rabbit isn't really my first choice Thornbridge beer, I find it a but thin and it seems to play to its strength rather than defying it, so it was a surprise that it was so enjoyable. It probably helped that we had a lower strength beer anyway what with time getting on and many more stops to fit in. I did however via an informative chat with Emily, purchase the Thornbridge Steelmaker, only half, and which to my disappointment was a lager. Despite its strength, something about this beer made me feel let down; there just wasn't any of the flavour or taste I was expecting. Perhaps as if to embody this imbalance, here again the crawl became disjointed, as me and Fluff struck out alone for the far away treats of the 1854.
The Dear Old Deer
As we had picked up pace and were walking past anyway, and with no contact possible with Steve, we opted to pop in to the Red Deer for a quick half. Alas the recent flurry of guests seemed to have blown over and we were back to a more conservative range, so we had halves of the Moorhouses Blonde Witch. This was in decent form, and probably our only North West beer of the night.
Over the car park and we were entering the subdued lighting, comfy seating, eclectic but usually good music providing ambiance of the 1854. Fluff was on his first visit, and Steve did also catch up with us here as well. Having experienced frothy Deception last night I had my pint without the sparkler, a trespass of logic that flabbergasted and enraged Fluff, who has to suffer traditionally flat beer rather than choose it. He opted for sparkler on, which given that the beer had calmed down was maybe a better bet. Nevertheless it was still a nice pint and a good chance to chill out and catch up for a bit with Barraharri.
Our penultimate stop was the Arms, where I had a pint of Dark Star Hophead, Steve a pint of amnesia, and Fluff some Leadmill B52. Someone definitely had a half of the Raw Edge IPA, but to be fair, I have no idea who did, and given the fact that my notes had by now become artistic rather than informative, only a phone call to Fluff will sort this out. Importantly though, the beer was very nice. Unless Fluff didn't like his B52. Which I also can't remember.... no doubt the details of our final stop will be resolutely crystal clear!
Unsurprisingly, as is always going to be the case if I am in, I had a pint of a pale summer wine brewery beer - but wait, tell me oh magician of words, what exactly was that beer called?
Well, to report my notes literally, it was apparently " SWB Porside". So, using English, it could be Portside, it could be Portico, it could be, well, just about anything beginning with P to be honest. No doubt this will leech some of the credibility from my telling you that it was very enjoyable, but there you go. I know Fluff had a pint of Rudgate Grain of Truth and Steve a pint of the Gwynt Yr Draig Black Dragon cider so it just me who's unclear!
After this the last two survivors left and I went back to Dada, an unwise move since the DJ was on so I couldn't attempt my usual bar leaning chat trick. I abandoned ship and headed for the safety of Harrisons where, as well as having a rather inadvisable glass of wine, I ended up getting a lift home from Johanna - I think she must have realised I was going to fall asleep on the night bus that I kept repeating my intention to catch. Am very grateful for my safe return.
So, all in all, a very enjoyable wander with some OK beer but alas very little truly excellent beer, in fact I may be so bold as to suggest that the first pint was the best.
Luckily that whetted our appetites for doing something similar all over again on Saturday, the details of which I will impart tomorrow.