Easter is a jolly time for me. I get 4 days off work and get to fill it with just about anything. Astute readers wil be able to quickly surmise what anything actually means. It means beer. Pubs. Travel. Hangovers. It's tremendously good fun and tremendously bad for the body, and probably the mind. Fish tank. Wibble.
Anyway, Easter, henceforth known rather less catchily as Ebrioster, isn't something one can tackle as a first stab. One must practise and train hard before locking the front door on Good Friday and setting forth to partake of potvaliant potations. One must know what it is to drink. What it means to travel across one city for an old beer, what it takes to get from West Street to the Sheffield Tap in 15 minutes, and what time they start selling hot roast pork sandwiches in the Bath Hotel. This is hard won knowledge. And this is no newby quest. This is a serious undertaking.
Tuesday night myself and Mr P went on a slightly abridged Wanderiains crawl. Somehow the arctic wasteland around work didn't tempt us to walk for miles and when Mr P suggested the Kelham Island Tavern I agreed. I was quite looking forward to it as well, since I haven't really been for a while. The first surprise was that there was no Nutty Black on. Perhaps this will identify the length of my absence, but there were plenty of other beers to compensate.
Mr P had a pint of Abbey Bellringer, and I had a pint of Yorkshire Dales brewery something with Saaz on the front, which was very nice indeed. The second surprise was that it was so quiet - usually its standing room only but we ended up sat in the back room by ourselves. It can't have been the beer putting people off because the range was excellent, so next Mr P had the Yorkshire Dales and I had a Bobs Brewing White Lion, a well balanced pale hoppy ale that went down well.
We finished in Shakespeares where I discovered that the delicious Raw Empire Ghost pale ale was in fact 5.9%. Not 3.9%. Which, in some ways explains why I nodded off in the Bath Hotel some 4 hours after finishing my third pint of it on Saturday. So this time, I sensibly only had two, with Mr P on a pint of the Axholme Mild. Price fans may be interested to note that the Raw was only £3.00 a pint, AKA bloody good value.
Yesterday I was fearful that a two day break before Ebrioster may prove too much of a gulf, so I gamely headed all the way to the University Arms to keep in touch with drinking, and try made up imaginary beer Blue Bee aged Tangled Up IPA. Obviously it wasn't on, because it doesn't exist. Luckily I had the excellent Nethergate Porter to placate me, and that was on good form.
I walked round to the Bath Hotel next where I got to try Thornbridge's collaboration brew with The Man of Ash. Baize, is a mint chocolate Stout. I shit you not. It came on whilst I was there, drinking a commendably bitter pint of Mallinsons Chinook, which was excellent as always. I waited for Ed to taste it and watched his facial expression carefully. Sadly he ducked out of commenting on his colleague's effort by saying that he hadn't pulled enough through. Seems I will have to bare that responsibility.
Baize isn't green, thank Christ. It pours a classic black with a lovely white head and looks great. It smells of chocolate mint ice cream, and promises lovely creamy minty flavours with chocolate and roasted malt.
The first tatste is just that - creamy mint, yummy chocolate, then roasted malt. Then bitterness. Then more bitterness. then, alas, it tastes of Rennie. Oh dear.
I only had a half because I didn't want to taste indigestion tablets for the rest of the night, but in it's defence its a bold idea and I'd like to think they would try and brew it again with a few subtle adjustments, like the removal of indigestion remedies. Still, there's Ed's offering to taste yet. Sometimes playing last puts you under more pressure...
Off down to the Tap in just 12 minutes next and I was there to see Fluffy and meet Dave, truly the finest of beer drinker's names, for a quick pint before they were off to Fluff towers for Easter. Dave very kindly bought me and Fluff a pint of the excellent Magic Rock Dark Arts (on cask), and we supped these in seemingly the only available place in front of the fireplace. Alas this was only a short visit as I needed food and Fluff and Dave had a home to go to.
In the Rutland next I spotted Mr N H Rodgers from the world of being younger than me, and once I'd got my long sought after pint of Blue Bee aged Tangled Up IPA we managed to grab a table and I sat down to await my large bacon sandwich. Said snap was truly excellent, as was the delicious Tangled Up, but this was unfortunately also a short visit since I wanted to very quickly get to Shakespeares. At this point I found out that there was almost no info at the Interchange, and that basically, but for 2 infrequent buses, First don't run services to Hillsborough. How very integrated of the public Transport shambles.
Having wasted nearly half an hour achieving nothing I walked to catch the 52 and ended up at the Closed Shop, just before 22.00, which was a bit later than I wanted. Here I had a pint of the Maypole Flannagans Stout at £2.80, a tasty dark beer that was just what I was after. I also bumped into Robin from Shakespeares and we snook across the road for pints of something Thornbridgey, before it all got very late and confusing and I finished on a half of Halcyon.
Now I feel fully trained up for the reckless abandon ahead. Hopefully everyone else who is out this Easter will have had the same level of training. Learner drinkers are a danger to themselves and others, after all.