I was supposed to be catching up with good friend J9 tomorrow, alas both f us have contracted housemaids knee, a debilitating ailment which makes us sniffle in a fog of malodorous germs whilst our faces run and our heads pound. Okay, its a cold, I admit. But I, for one, am at the losing my tastebuds stage. So I spent the beer money on vitamin C instead Prescient then, that I invested so heavily in birthday inspired refreshment s last weekend, the last installment of which is finally here.
Wee Keefy became a year older than he'd on April 9th 2012 yesterday. Every year he tries it on in attempting to be older than me, which is wearying, especially since you consider that every June I myself ratchet up another score. The benefits though are plentiful. At least one night out, and sometimes a pub meal.
We met in the Beehive which, not least because its on West Street, the official capital of twats, is going slightly off the boil. Only two beers on, the Honeypot which I assume is still a Blue Bee re-badge, and the Sheffield Brewery Five Rivers. Or it might have been Seven Hills. *clears throat...*
Still, at £2.50 a pop it wasn't bad and served at a sensible temperature, to boot, when we convened in the former shop side to catch up - myself, Jack, Carlos, Half Pint, Paddington, Lauren and, um, you know, her friend, and of course Wee Keefy, with his mate Adam. Bob. Dave? Jesus. It was a long night (not that I'm suggesting Jesus was an attendee, for various ideological reasons). Anyway, all of whoever us was were having a few in here before heading for a presumably larger range at the Hop.
Now, you may know that I find the Hop a bit like a slipper with a bit of grit in. It looks inviting enough but there's something nigglingly wrong about it. We entered to find the place 4 thick at the bar, and I opted for a pint of the Ascot Alligator Ale, and others variously had choices including Excelsior, and Abbeydale Prophecy. Alas the prophecy had not come to fruition, in fact, more likely it had finished altogether, and that was swapped, with no fuss from the staff, for half an Ascot for my mate, whilst I had a pint of the excellent Riverhead Deer Hill porter. It was fantastic, and a bit over £3.00 a pint.
Later as the glasses mounted up more of us headed Ascot and Ossett way and I had more Deer Hill, but then finished on the glorious Fernandes West Coast IPA, at 6.something percent. An excellent choice, promising and delivering everything I required.
A quick change here as we headed up to Crookes for the last pub, with Jack leaving and Martim replacing her. In the Ball on Crookes I had a very nice pint of the Kelham Island Gentleman Death Baltic Porter, in fact, so good was it, I had a few. Alas, the Kelham 20th century boy tasted like that was when it was brewed, but, in stark contrast to the customer service farce I suffered in the pub 3 years ago, it was replaced without fuss, and I had yet another pint of Gentleman Death. Still eh.
On Sunday, I knew we were going to a food pub, in the countryside, where beer is often an afterthought. Lucily I was rolling up in the Closed Shop at 2 for a chinwag so was able to stock up on great beer. I say stock up. I mean sup, obviously. Here, the Muirhouse Coffee Porter started promisingly but went a bit mental on my second pint, so I consoled myself with at least two pints of Blue Bee Tangled Up IPA, at 6.0%. I;m seeing a pattern here to be honest - and it's not supporting the theory that you drink less quantities of stronger beer. Probably time to remind myself that 6.0% is not, I repeat not, session beer.
Once in the beer wagon we headed out into the Peak District to the Yorkshire Bridge Inn. Rumour, or more likely confusion, suggests I've never actually drunk there of drinking age, so affronted was I by the price of Old Peculiar. Whether I did or didn't, the pub is no longer £1.20 a pint dearer than many around it, although still a little steep.
Inside the rooms on the right are kind of more bar like than the restauranty bits, but it's silly to think that this is a quiet haven for a pint. That said, there was a decent selection of cask ale available.
Here Wee Fatha had a half of Peak ales Bakewell Bitter which I think was a shade over £3.00 a pint, whilst Wee Keefy had a birthday pint of the same and a half of Buxton Moor Top, at a slightly painful £3.40 a pint (it's 3.5% or something). Given that the other local ales (Bradfield Bitter and blonde, Abbeydale Moonshine) are stronger and cheaper, it makes me wonder maybe the cost is being insisted upon by the brewery more than the retailed. Granted it wipes the floor with the others in terms of taste, but it's an uneasy equation.
Mind you, I had another pint or two with my absolutely ginormous ham hock. A stupendous mass of food.
The final Birthday fling came about not with Wee Keefy himself, but as a result of delivering his somewhat last minute gift. Having already popped in the Church House, seemingly even darker than before, but selling a decent Caledonian Dry Dock Stout, I found the inspiration somehow, to pop back in the Closed Shop.
Here I had a half of the Maypole Midge, a commendably hoppy pale light beer at around 3.5%, as well as a half of the Sheffield Brew Co Rustless, which was much more underwhelming than the Staybrite at the Woodside Inn. Across the road I settled on a half of Jaipur which was OK, before heading to the University Arms. Here two impeccable halves were consumed, Nethergate Umbel Ale, and, showing Muirhouse how it should be done, Dark Star Espresso, the cost of both coming to less than £3.00.
My final stop was in the Bath Hotel where I spotted the DAda folk along with other bar luminaries, and supped a pint of Whim Flower Power IPA (always an excellent choice) and a half of the Bristol Beer factory Milk Stout.
All of which means I can now safely send a few days off the ale without forgetting what it tastes like, whilst the fever rages in my joints and my eyes hurt.
Woe is me...