Its been a quiet weekend, this one. Granted, it hasn't finished, but I have delighted in planning to do precisely nothing except a bit of shopping, a soupçon of social media gubbins, uploading some pics and watching telly. No beer. No public transport. No problem.
Part of the reason for this sabbatical from excess is the effects of Friday night. An absolutely great demonstration of how to end the week on a high. It wasn't an orgiastic spasm of gulping ale however, just a great night out with a friend, accompanied by astonishingly good beer. A bit like this....
We met after work, myself and fledgling pale ale drinker Middlemarch, and headed through the throngs of directionless dawdling folk around the markets to get to the Rutland Arms. We had come for food. It was just after 5. There wasn't a table to be had. The specials board had taken a hammering already as well, but we decided to get beer first, and then worry about a lack of seating. I ordered a pint of Welbeck Abbey Portland Black for me, and a pint of a Greene King beer, the shock of which' appearance made me forget what it was called.
Interestingly, a browse around their website searching for the beer's name indicated that Hardy and Hansons Dark Mild is available only in keg, (probably old news) and also, shows the pump clip for the Bitter next to it! I know that by owning a sizable chunk of Britain's regional breweries poor old Greedy King have a job keeping track, but given that their own XX Mild is only referred to as "other great beers" its surprising just how little interest the brewery has its low strength darker beers. Shameful.
Anyhoo, whilst discussing setting up a tab new guy (sorry new guy) informed us there was a table upstairs. So with tumultuous excitement we headed to a large empty room. It felt like we'd be sent upstairs in disgrace, but as it got ever more rammed downstairs other people joined us.
The food was beef and ale pie for me, which came with tremendous buttery almost sweet pastry, and a chorizo burger for Middlemarch. Both were fantastic, and really hit the spot. I also had another pint of the excellent Portland Black, before we headed off, via not spotting members of the Uni real ale society, AKA stalkers#1....
The Sheffield Tap was our next port of call and although also busy it was possible to sit in the brewery room. Middlemarch has never been in and was suitably impressed, and we set about catching up and admiring the architecture, watching a random mentalist shout at a door, and supping excellent beer. I was on a pint of Marble Stout, she on a ladies drink. Now, before you rise in uproar, I am even handedly including three possibilities in that category - soft drink; spirit and mixer, or fruit beer. Not being a research night I neglected to note which.
Next up it all got a bit silly. Middlemarch had a can of Maui coconut porter, which I had a bit of, and I got a half of Magic Rock Bearded Lady. Because it's amazing. Much like the price of the Maui.... I finished on a pint of Oakham JHB because I wanted something easy to drink, and it was once again on fine form.
I had to bade fare well to Middlemarch at this point and headed up to town. I popped in the Church House to address a need and found it, erm, exclusive. It was 22.00 on a Friday night and I think there may have been less than 20 people in. Much worse was there was no Caledonian Double Dark - in a move that the barman shared my surprise at, there was some other Caledonian guest, even though the Double Dark had been popular. I had a half of the XPA Gold, and retired to an empty corner to sigh.
My penultimate stop was the Bath Hotel. Here I was very sensible - apparently, if you have halves, then no matter how many they number nor how strong the beer they contain, that's responsible drinking. Putting this theory to the test, during an enjoyable chat with Ed and some people who adopted me later on, I had halves of Saltaire Hazelnut Coffee Porter and New World Red, and Thornbridge Juvenia and Halcyon.
The Halcyon was terrific, in that it tasted how it should, the Juvenia wasn't hoppy enough to call it a hoppy porter, but that's a trifling complaint as it was very tasty. Meanwhile the New World Red was really enjoyable, and the Hazelnut Coffee Porter was really a chocolate porter with hazelnut in. But hey, you can't win them all.
My final stop was at DAda where, in a relaxed frame of mind, I opted to not have another beer, but instead a cool and refreshing beer cocktail, Jive Juice with Chiron being the obvious choice, thus allowing me to quickly and easily sup a refreshing beer, and to be noticed by stalkers#2, Dronfield CAMRA.
This lengthy tale may perhaps serve as an illustration of why I need a couple of days of rest. A more positive message though, is that it shows the value of a great friend, and having great pubs to drink great beer in with them. AKA a Friday night in Sheffield.