Thursday, 17 May 2012

A crawl of some new pubs, and a new angle on Keykeg beers


       me and Davefromtshop met up to sample a few more beers in pubs that either he has never been to here in sunny Sheffield, or hasn't been in for ages. Measuring your last visit in decades in a city where almost no pub remains unspoilt means you may as well have never been in! So both of the above meet the criteria for our pub crawl (and we finished in some classics, for beer reasons). Here are the details of our trip out.

Bath! And the thirst is gone (sorry)...

We started in the "new" Bath Hotel and Dave had beaten me too it. He was already on the Allgates Napoleon's Retreat. I should really have tried it having not really got on with it first time, but I had my eye on the Thornbridge Frank as Apollo, brewed for the Nicholsons pub chain. This was a very pleasant bitter and seemed a little more balanced, by which I mean a smidgen less hoppy, perhaps to suit those delicate London palates?

We also had time for a half each of the Dark Star Revelation, which seemed to be running out unfortunately. This was every bit as good as I remembered it and Dave was I thought, suitably impressed.


On leaving it suddenly seemed as monsoon like as our last crawl so we decided that our next stop would be the Bowery. They started selling real ale last year, I thought maybe for the Tramlines festival only, but either way it was on now. Here we had two halves of Moonshine (£2.80 a pint) in a virtually empty venue. This is interesting for me because I'd never even seen the floor on my last couple of visits.

The Moonshine was a little cold but enjoyable enough, and as we were to find out quite a lot, it and other Abbeydale beers noticeable resilience once connected up was probably a deciding factor in just how many times we saw it throughout the night. There are also a decent range of bottled beers, and depending on your outlook, now and again some decent tunes.

Green Room

This was my second visit this month and once again I ended up with Moonshine, seemingly more reliable than the guests they have had on. Last time Abbeydale Resurrection was beyond being so, this time Kelham Island Riders on the Storm came out the colour of rainclouds, with a piquant olfactory bite to match. A shame, because i rate the beer, but it had to be swapped for Moonshine, on at £3.00 a pint.

This visit on a rainy Tuesday was also an opportunity to get to see the interior of the Green Room. Not least because of my strange battle of wills with them over the last 18 months (almost resolutely always missing the cask!) and also because last time I was in I had too little time to stop for a look around.

I was surprised just how spacious it was and with many different seating areas. They told me they have just started opening during the day, and they serve food during the day as well.

May be a great time to get in and have a look round, and enjoy a pint of the real stuff of course. Hopefully they can continue with the real ales and there will be another decent late night venue that you can go in and not be expected to part with cash for bland UK brewed copy lagers you don't want.

Wick at Both Ends

To give you a last visit timescale here, last time Dave was in it was the Mail Coach. So nothings changed then....

There was only one real ale on here so we both had halves of Deception, at £3.20 a pint. We found a table without school chairs and sat down for a chat listening to a decent selection of tunes. The Deception was on very good form, and although not trying them side by side, I can say quite certainly that I much prefer this beer to Moonshine. Hoppy, citrussy and with a little fruit, a perfect pale session ale.

Bungalows and Bears, of Sheffield and Liverpool fame

Our next stop was not actually a first for Dave. He had visited the Division Street Fire Station many many years ago. Once again, little had changed...

On the bar was Moonshine or Deception (sorry, can't recall, it seems equally likely to have been either) and the Robinsons Elbow beer, unlikely to be called that, but brewed by one of the blokes in the band Elbow (a popular beat combo from the North West I understand) who may also have a connection to the Hop Franchise. We found ourselves a table and set about reading the beer bottle menu, slightly less choice then the Bowery (and the Wick ,which is very good) and watching different people repeatedly make the erroneous decision to walk up some stairs to a barrier, then back down again. Little things...


Next we walked down towards the Rutland and along the way dallied with the idea of a visit to Henry's. Instead though we ended up in the Roebuck, which its a fair few years since I've been in, and longer than you need know for Dave.  Here we sat in what was a very quiet pub, which alas somewhat accentuated the vastness of the premises, and supped a decent half of Kelham Island Pale Rider (£3.20) from a choice of 2, on four handpumps.


Our penultimate stop was the Rutland, where it was possible to get a table this time, which was good because we were tiring by now. We each had a pint of the Blue Bee Turned out Mild Again, which Dave seemed very taken by. I also snaffled him some Phoenix Brewery beer mats (a tegestological treasure no doubt) and set about snacking and supping. Its probably about that time that elsewhere in the UK editors were putting the finishing touches to articles reporting the employment tribunal involving the Rutland. Without expanding on any details here, its clear that many people will have some soul searching to carry out in terms of how they and the Rutland continue. Enough said for now I think.

The Sheffield Tap

Our final port of cal was carefully organised so that we had time to try a few beers rather than rushing in before last orders and buying too many halves. Here initially we had a pint (for me) and a half of the truly excellent tempest Cresta, and a half of the Phoenix Black Bee. This honey porter was not really a hit with either us am afraid, it just started with honey and malt and then got sweeter.

Better though were our next round of beers. We had half each of the excellent super hoppy Summer Wine Brewery Kahuna 6.0%, a Camden Hells, and a half of the Magic Rock Brewery Rapture. I think this all came to £7.20, which with a keykeg or two thrown in and given the strength of the Kahuna isn't bad.

The real star of this was the unfiltered, unpasteurised (as written in pen I think on the font label!) Rapture . Gloriously cloudy, and with an amazing array of complimentary flavours that showcased the red hops brilliantly (although I wondered if there was red malt that was coming through?). Either way this was possibly the best keykeg beer I've ever had - the other contender also being from Magic Rock, their Magic 8Ball.

I confess that if there was to be any minor fault, it was a little bit too cold for me. That's one of the infuriating features of keykeg dispense it seems, in my admittedly limited experience. However, putting that aside, far and away the most incredible thing about this beer was the easy drinking quaffable nature afforded by its unfiltered and unpasteurised condition. Normally, as well as being let down slightly by chill, I find keykeg can also be a trifle over carbonated. This wasn't.

I can honestly say that this was a revelation - an easy drinking keykeg beer, and made all the better by the way its flavours burst through. It may be the case that some flavours are lost by colder or more carbonated serving, so the amazing array of malty and hoppy notes, pepping up in the drink intermittently like pogo-ing punks, bringing waves of fabulous flavour across the palate, was a dreamy surprise.

I came away thinking that if keykeg could become popular in this unfiltered form, it would be a much more appealling prospect for the real ale drinker. It would certainley be of equal interest for  me to taste an unfiltered and unpasteurised keykeg offering along with the finest cask beers. I just hope that Magic Rock and other breweries are interested enough to do more of the same.

This was a fitting end to a brilliant night, featuring three or four of the best beers I've tried this year.

Now for a much needed rest from imbibing, in preparation for a visit to the Gardeners Rest beer festival on Saturday.

Wee Beefy.

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