Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Spoilt, by unspoiled beer


    its been a good week in Sheff for the discerning slaker. A few fine pubs have excelled themselves in terms of choice. And a new pub is set to open very soon. I say a new pub; a previously open pub that was on its last legs, and dealt a final death knell by well kept if slightly pricey Thornbridge beers in Commonside. But more of that in my next post.

I was in The Bath Hotel (I snigger if I say  "in the Bath" but then, I am slightly immature..) on Tuesday, and was tempted, having tried one of the excellent beers in particular, to stay there all night. I could easily have, had it not been for the allure of lamb chops, and no hangover. I managed to eat the lamb chops, at least.

I arrived around 19.00 and got myself a warming pint of the Dark Star Espresso Stout. It was ace. Everything that a coffee stout should be, roasty, heavy, thick yet drinkable, creamy, and it managed to be all of these. It also wasn't a bad price (not that I have dallied with triviality like what that was) and was served in a lined glass. I looked this time, see.

Next,. I tried the highly recommended Red Willow Sleepless Amber Ale. Usually a second pint lacks the pace of the first, as the body has had its much needed initial hit, but this lasted me about 4 minutes. It was simply incredible.

Two more pints followed, admittedly a little slower (it was 5.4%), and they confirmed that this was an amazingly well balanced tasty beer. Hoppy, but not daft. Malty, in an ingeniously smooth way, with a hint of sweetness that somehow blended in so well it didn't have a sweet aftertaste or overall flavour. It was quintessentially astounding. I believe they have another barrel, so you should get down and buy some. Plenty more Red Willow and Dark Star on the way as well.

After I left and purchased supplies I needed to nip in a hostelry for the facilities and did so in the Wick at Both Ends. Three real ales were available, including to my surprise, the newly re released Matins from Abbeydale. A swift half followed, plus a look at their Beer Menu. I can't claim they heeded my advice on this subject, but its a good idea. Alas no Brewdog at the mo but plenty of decent ale, including Saison Dupont. If only the toilets didn't reek so badly of urine this pub could be the shit, as the young folk might remark.

My final stop was DAda. Jamie was holding the fort and was overseeing an admirable range of ales. No Pollards alas but that was coming on - so I had a pint of the Dark Star Espresso again. I also had two pints (against my better judgement) of the excellent Marble Lagonda. A perfect blend of hops sitting on a fabulously complimentary malt background made this tasty and refreshing and pleasingly hoppy.

I finished on half of dear old friend Thornbridge Halcyon. Just as lychee peach and melon like as I craved, and still best supped in halves. A fantastic end to the evening.

A few things made me think after this - firstly, the Lagonda. Its £3.00 a pint on cask at DAda. Its £5.20 a pint on Keykeg at the Sheffield Tap. Now, there is a slim possibility that it's a stronger version on at the Tap, but that doesn't explain the £2.20 difference. Both beers are below the HSBD levee and, I think, the traditional excise standard (who knows if that means anything nowadays!).

I can't see the Keykeg version competing with, let alone being better than, the cask version. So why is it so expensive, comparatively? I suspect we'll never know, but am open to suggestions that the fault lies with more than one party in this respect.

In other news, I have contacted Thornbridge, and they are to brew a 3.1% mild with lots of caramalt and chocolate malt and only Target Hops. Its to be called"Madness" and will be served in specially rebranded John Smith oversized WMC pots that hold about 700ml to accommodate foam.

Obviously the above isn't true, but it made me laugh.

Finally, one year ago today we had to have our cat Bruin put down. In tribute to him that day I opened a bottle of Durham Temptation. Alas the beer failed to deliver the joy I expected, as I wrote here so tonight I have opened a three year old version to try and pay my respects. This version is much better carbonated and despite that weird, possibly bretty molasses aroma, and a disconcerting flavour of cheap cola, it has a very pleasing leather and coffee and treacle taste that reminds me of Courage Imperial Russian Stout.

A fitting tribute to the wee hairy boy.


Wee Beefy

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