one of the usual gripes about Christmas drinking is that pubs are "filled up wi twats oo dornt drink normle-h". Well, thats sort of true. Half slurping, G&T snorting, table hogging bores who get shit faced on a pint and a half and then ruin everyones night by puking and groggily stumbling about before being ejected, arrested or left to die in the street. An all too familiar blight, but one avoided by A: drinking in real ale pubs away from the town centre, and B: not going out Christmas or New Years Eve.
Against that backdrop, this year I intend to follow my own advice and so am now officially "done" for Christmas. The house is full of booze (more details to follow), the polypin of Deception has settled clear in 24 hours, the decorations are up, the warm lighting is set, and the food is bought in readiness. The last thing I want to be doing is fannying around in a pub.
However, to keep me from going insane without its social interaction, here's a round up of my pub visits and other booze news from the last week.
Wednesday saw me and Mr P meet for our last sup before the festival of lies. We headed straight for the Rutland where, mercifully, the excellent Raw/Steel City collaborations were still on the bar - not that we were tempted to risk our sobriety on them, as we had bigger plans ahead.
We opted instead for a pint of Blue Bee Nectar for Mr P and a pint of the excellent Foxfield Dark Mild for me. The mild is a decent strength at around 4.2% and was very roasty and smooth and malty, always a good sign in a dark mild. Unfortunately, a distinct but not unsurprising lack of relaxing space (although we did get a table) meant we opted to only stay for one. So erm, Merry Christmas to the Rutland, who is a person. Hope to see you before the new year....
Our next final Christmas stop was at the Sheffield Tap, although I had planned to return, but things didn't pan out. The Internet had told me that Oakham Green Devil IPA, seemingly a large number of peoples fave beer of 2012, was on the bar. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it had run out long before we got there. So I had a pint of the Ilkley licorice porter, which was excellent, and Mr P an Oakham JHB.
Despite knowing that people also rate JHB, I was surprised at just how fruity and bitter this was - perhaps its widespread availability has led to some less than careful stewardship because its been fairly disappointing whenever I've tried it recently - but this was tremendous. Mr P opted to stick with the JHB for the next round whilst I went for the big one. One whole half, at £4.20, of Magic Rock Bearded Lady. I also had a mitigating refresher - of Sunny Republic 5 malt hibiscus pale ale, which was, interesting, but needfully refreshing.
The Bearded Lady was just as extravagantly glorious in its sheer mass of flavour and alcoholic strength, and still, thankfully, as well balanced and rewarding as the bourbon aged epiphany that was the highlight of my birthday weekend. It still took 50 minutes to sup, but was pleasing and satisfying to the last drop. A spectacular beer.
We parted ways at this point and after refuelling I found time to have a quick half of Thornbridge Yule in DAda, a warming pagan potation that finished off the night nicely.
Yesterday was me and Wee Keefy's trip out to Derbyshire to buy a couple of last presents. After stopping in a ludicrously packed Bakewell to purchase whisky for Wee Fatha we headed for the Three Stags Heads at Wardlow Mires so that WK could pick up some bottles of Abbeydale Black Lurcher. This turned out to be a fantastic visit, not least because it was quiet and so allowing me to get a few pics of this excellent pub, which is on the national inventory of unspoilt pub interiors, but also because we got chatting to the barman and the landlord and a couple who had come to see his renowned pottery.
Coupled with being sat in flickering dim light opposite the open fire drinking excellent beer this was a great way to fill in an hour. And on the subject of ale, it was just a half for delicate flower WK, of Deception, and two pints (in the end!) for me - Brimstone at £2.60, and a very well kept Absolution at £3.00. Nicely dispelling the myth that the Three Stags is expensive into the bargain.
Alas we had to get on because we were off to Archer Road Beer Stop to pick up my Christmas polypin of Abbeydale Deception, and some bottles. Highlights included a bottle of bottle conditioned Ilkley Cranberry milk stout, 2 bottles of the legendary Fantome saison, a Thornbridge Thorny Goat, a Blue Monkey Fat Ape and Durham Temptation, which is now a firmly established Wee Beefy tradition.
Dave very kindly invited us in for a pint but we'd arrived at a busy purple patch so try as we might we couldn't make our respective pint and half of Bradfield Belgian Blue last long enough for him to get to talk to us. Still, it was nice to sample the Belgian Blue and briefly see Dave into the bargain.
So, that's its folks! Barring an amazing nugget of info or a life changing bottle crossing my path I won't be updating the blog now until after Christmas.
So I hope you have a fantastic festive period, and in case I am otherwise engaged in between times, a fantastic new year.