firstly can I just point out that owing to not finding it fixed, I don't foresee photo's making it onto this post yet again. On-line techno sleuth and fellow blogger Clare is on to it, but the immovable force of Blogger stands in our way. Obviously, as soon as the problem's fixed there'll be pics a plenty on here (and if its sorted already I'll have to come back and delete this bit. Or perhaps I'll leave it in as a kooky little window on my pre-pic solution mindset...).
Anyhoo, talking of mindsets, Sunday is normally a day when the excesses of Friday and Saturday are washed out of my system by a lie in, a scan of some websites and something cooked long and slow in the oven. Normally by about 17.00 the bouts of shaking and breathless perspiration have lessened, some of the words I say are recognisable as English, and I don't list to one side when I walk round the edge of the settee. In essence, I've been a good boy and am ready for work on Wednesday. I do work Mondays and Tuesdays mind, its just that they don't really count. They tend to be more of a subconscious automatic action than a professional undertaking.
This Sunday however, I had just been paid. So it seemed silly to fanny around in the house, most likely doing cleaning or shopping or other necessities. So I jolly well pissed off to the pub around 14.30, for no other reason than I could.
First stop was the Rutland Arms, for reasons including proving that I wasn't in fact mentally unbalanced, and also, that I didn't care about ordering food after all. Although, after buying a delicious and sensible half pint of Jarrow Brewery Isis Blonde at 5%, I remembered that I actually did need and desire food, so I had one of the Rutland's fab bacon butties.
I also had halves of Blue Bee Bees Knees (with added students), my weakest beer of the day, but no less enjoyable, along with Magic Rock Highwire NZ on the inexcusable Keykeg (and at a decent price as well, less than £4.00 a pint if I recall), along with the excellent Dark Star and Magic Rock collaboration Rock Star, which was a very enjoyable Black IPA. Clearly Sunday was going to be a day not of rest, but rapacious consumption. Still eh.
Over to the Sheffield Tap next and I had halves again - there was just so much damn good beer around yesterday it would have been dangerous to attempt anything else, so I bought Tempest Cresta Black, Fyne Avalanche and the Fyne IPA series Ruvaal Blonde IPA. Drunk in that order, this quickly guided me back towards the 5 or 6% beers that would ultimately be my ruin. Oops. The Avalanche was excellent as always.
A surprise stop next at the recently taken over by Wood Street Brewery Roebuck. Nothing immediately obvious decor wise but there were as you'd expect, Wood Street ales on the bar. Here I was tempted to partake in a hot snack - the inexpensive garlic bread was filling and very tasty, just what I needed. The only thing that let the experience down was the rather poor Wood Street Pale Ale. Another sigh of disappointment in a glass.
Off next on the 53 omnibus to a new pub for me. The Forest, which used to be rented out for parties and before that was notable for being the last pub in Sheffield to get a spirits license, has reopened as a traditional pub selling real ales, called the Woodside Inn. The ad in Beer Matters proclaims 6 real ales and there are indeed 6 pumps. Last night one had cider, one is a permanent Black Sheep font/pump thing which I always think is keg, and there were three guests on the remaining handpumps - I went for a half of the RCH PG Steam, at £2.00 a pint. Not a beer to set the world alight but in decent condition and a good price. Certainly a venue to revisit I think, if nothing else to herald the arrival of a new sign.
From here I headed to the Gardeners Rest for a couple more halves, including one of the best of the night, against a fairly exemplary line up. The Ramsbottom Bitter was OK if a little sweet for my taste, but the Hackney Cluster was incredible. Whether intentionally or not, it tasted very much of cereal, but had an orangey zesty bitterness and very warming malts balanced perfectly in what was a very enjoyable beer. Certainly those Hackney chaps seem to know what they are doing.
My penultimate stop was to have been the Brooklyn Steak place round the corner but alas that closes early Sunday so I didn't even get to see if they sell real ale, so I headed on for the Kelham Island Tavern, which I don't seem to get to very often. From a great range, and perhaps wisely eschewing the stronger, darker ales on offer, I had a very pleasant half of the Ascot Ales Single Hop, which unfortunately did not confirm the identity of said bittering ingredient, but was enjoyable all the same.
My last stop was in Shakespeares, and here I found, in a close contest, the absolute winner, the very best beer of the day. Due to unfortunate instances of sleep I can't be sure how many I had, but 1 pint is a safe bet, and 2 pints would be reckless, but not inconceivable. Led to my choice by Robin leaning on the pump it was on, there was no contest when I saw Raw Chinook IPA, 6.2% (and £3.20 a pint) was on sale. An absolutely tremendous beer packed full of immense flavour, but somehow contriving to have a very accomplished and rounded finish. In a November of quite frankly astonishing beer quality, this welcomed in December (ignoring the fact I'd been supping on the 1st!) in some style.
If only one Sunday evening amble is spent drinking beers that good in the coming weeks then 2012 could end up being a benchmark year for beer quality.
Your very best health