after the melee of Christmas and New Year slaking and the weighty spectre of expectation sitting on the shoulders of all expecting a better year ahead, its been reassuring to know that the reckless merry go round of drinking and general revelry can be continued into January. Not only that, but its all for a good cause!
In response to the sanctimonious imploration by Enjoyment Concern for a "dry January" (surely a more apt meteorological wish given recent events) people, who are real, have come up with the concept of drinkuary. This idea draws a clear correlation between the efforts of Enjoyment Concern and zealots in the health lobby to make people stay off alcohol of any kind for a specific period, with the ongoing decline in the fortune of pubs, the seemingly unstoppable tide of tax rises, and the general spiralling cost of drinking responsibly.
If you forgive the slightly odd misspelling of George Galloway as George Galway, who sounds like he ought to be an Irish folk singer, its an interesting idea, and one which fits in nicely with my intention to continue my normal pre Christmas drinking patterns. Anyone who runs a pub or knows people who run pubs will be aware that January is a write off month - ideally you combine the sales of all of December and January and average them out to make January less of a waste of time. Against which backdrop, the last thing the struggling trade needs is a dearth of custom, so I am pleased to have so far lent my support to the following establishments...
Friday night was Chala's choice so we started in the Church House. Its probably important to clarify that I do actually wish the venue every success; and despite my amusement at its bizarre customer profiling concepts, its still a nice place to have a decent pint of real ale (especially the Caledonian Double Dark, which is fantastic), after work. And that's what we did. Two rounds of Double Dark for me and Birra Moretti for Chala. A pleasant repose.
Off next for a surprise toilet inspired (the need, not the decor) stop off at Popolo's. Despite arriving in time for the drnks offers, nothing beery really caught my eye, at least, nothing in the offer list. So Chala had a half of Staropramen and myself a bottle of Brooklyn Brown. I don't know that I'm really a fan of this beer. It seems oddly sweet and sort of, I dunno, weirdly caramelised. Maybe it was a skunked bottle? Although being refrigerated to near freezing probably does it no favours.
The Rutland Arms on Brown Street was our next destination, for food and beer, and also the opportunity to engage in another Blogosphere meetIRL. After 18 months of hunting, I have finally spotted a SparklePete. A thoroughly nice chap as well. Only 20 more bloggers to meet now....
Drinks wise, Chala tried the Freedom Wheat again and to be fair it was lifeless and even weirder than New Year, so I gamely offered to finish it, and bought Chala half of the very drinkable Freedom Organic lager, which was on top form. I meanwhile ignored the advice of everyone in the know, which was to drink Jarrow Best, and went for pints of Wincle Wassale, Ilkley Mary Christmas and Magic Rock Cannonball, this time to remind myself why its not as good as the Human Cannonball which was amazing when I tried it in the Rutland last year.
There was a slight issue with the Leffe that Chala tried. Its an awkward one to call because realistically, who drinks enough Leffe to know if its right or wrong? Chala was adamant that it was not right, having a cough medicine type flavour and sulphury smell, and did get it swapped. Whilst I have torn loyalties here, I have to agree with young Paultous, who quite sagely pointed out that it definitely wasn't off, and that despite not claiming to be an expert, it tasted nice. An awkward one to call. Incidentally, and unsurprisingly, the food was excellent. Must eat there more often.
Our final drinks were in the Sheffield Tap, where, after discovering to my surprise that they don't sell a single saison (the silly was out of stock, but its not a good beer in my opinion) I decided to go KeyKeg and Cask and came away with a pint of the excellent Kirkstall Black Band Porter, and a half of the even more excellent Camden Hell(e?)s. Chala meanwhile finally got tp try a bottle of Vedett wheat, which was very much to her taste. An excellent way to finish the evening.
Yesterday was meant to be a day of lost pub research - but a much needed lie in saw to that, and I was out mid afternoon to start some rather more local investigations (Ooer!) at DAda. On the bar were two excellent real ales (4 in total, including the weird new St Petersburg with peated malt or whatever gives it that unfortunate edge), those being Red Willow Directionless and Amber Ales Derbyshire Gold.
The Gold was really refreshing and subtly hopped (but in a way that the beer benefited from) and the Red Willow was an intriguing blend of malts and hops, a fantastic drink but one that defied categorising. It was very very good, so that's what matters.
The Red Deer was my next stop, and I had a half each of the two guests - Celt Experience Celt Gold and the St Peters Best Bitter. I probably should have had the bitter first because it paled into insignificance against the amazing golden hoppiness of the Celt Experience, a rarely seen but often enjoyed brewery. Good to see both in Sheffield.
Harrisons 1854 was on my route so I popped in for a chat with Barraharri, but alas as the alcohol was mounting up and I'd had no scran I opted for only a half in here - Farmers Blonde, which was on good form, from a range including Best and Abbeydale Moonshine. It was nice to get back in my spot, even if it was only a pit stop.
The nearby Bath Hotel was following DAda's lead and also had some Red Willow on offer. I had a couple of pints of the Fathomless, an excellent oyster stout, and a half of the Heartless from the cask, another extremely quaffable and excellently executed Red Willow beer. It was also my first opportunity to try one of the Bath's sensational hot roast pork sandwiches - well worth the 8 month wait I'd say!
I managed to find a corner to relax in and spent sometime catching up with Steph, who, poor lass, had been working so hard that she imagined me to be much older than I am. I'm being as gracious as I can here, in the face of extreme provocation.... I finished off with a very tasty pint of Thornbridge Chiron before the allure of my home patch called and I headed off up to Crookes.
After securing fuel I met Wee Keefy in the Princess Royal. From a range of about 5 beers we both had the excellent Sheffield Brewing Co Christmas Pudding Porter, a tasty 5.2% dark beer on at a bargain £2.00 a pint. We sat in the far corner near the jukebox whilst a good covers band played some more unusual tunes including Nirvana and System of a Down.
Things were going rapidly downhill next - literally. Me and Wee Keefy were on Bates Street, and finding it a little slippy underfoot, WK suddenly let out out an "aaargh" and slipped sideways off the pavement. Laughing, I said "what bloody footwear have you got on, I've only got these crappy dress shoes" then took one step and fell flat on my arse. Must not gloat...
The Hallamshire House was our final stop and although initially overjoyed to spot Thorny Goat unfortunately it either wasn't that or someone had put bloody chilli in it. Yuk! Luckily they still had Heather Honey stout, and knowing WK has a sweet tooth I bough him a half of that and me an unusual version of Jaipur, which must have been different, because it was absolutely chuffing delicious! We grabbed a seat with friends Jo and Neil and caught up and supped before I made a joyless, frustrating and lengthy trip home, marked out by utterly backward public transport provision.
So, that;s my first campaigning work in the name of Drinkuary, lets hope I can continue to help, ahem, "them" for the rest of the month.