over the last week there has been a definite beer festival flavour. That's not going to change as tomorrow Shakespeares are having their beer festival, which promises to be excellent as usual - including a special from Arbor ( a collaboration black saison) and specials from Blue Bee. I mean, really, why would you want to be at home answering the doors to felt-tip covered urchins when you could be out boozing* at the best pub in Sheffield?
However, my post wasn't supposed to be just about that, it was mainly about a trio of visits to pubs...
Saturday was a family birthday and we were whisked off to Matlock. As it was a family affair I wasn't off round Moca and the Fishpond and the Thorn Tree et al, instead I was studiously following orders. In doing which, our venue for the meal turned out to be a pleasant surprise.
Barringtons at Darley Dale is a hotel and restaurateur with a bar. Granted plenty of pubs now fit that description but this place markets itself as a restaurant. thereby managing drinkers expectations. Approaching from Darley Dale station you can take a pleasant walk through Whitworth park, then round to the front of the building which is on the main road near where the Two Dales road joins the A6. Inside is a room on the left purely for diners, and a room on the right that whilst housing plenty of tables, also boasts a bar with three real ales.
Prices are about normal for Matlock at £3.10 a pint and they had Doom Bar, Pedigree and Peak Ales Swift Nick on when we visited. It was a no brainer as to what I would have of course, but I wouldn't have said no to a Pedigree if the LocAle hadn't been on. There appears to be a changing guest and I suspect the Doom and Pedi are permanent. The food was also reasonably priced and very good. Although its not strictly a pub, it reckon would be worth a stop off if you were wanting real ale and a meal.
Friday lunch saw me in the Riverside on Mowbray Street for the first time in ages. Initially we were a bit surprised arriving en masse about 10 past midday to find only three beers on - Krakken, Riverside Pale and Golden Salamander - but more came on as we were there, attending a mass leaving do. I had a pint of the Golden Salamander. It was a fairly average beer with few distinguishing flavours apart from a bitter finish. Luckily whilst we sat chatting and eating the other beers that arrived included the Great Heck Five, a former Sheffield beer festival award winner with plenty of lovely hops that went down alarmingly well. Both beers were around the £3.10 mark but the Heck was far and away the better of the two.
Finally, a round up of the attractions at the triumvirate of tremendous pubs which comprises the Tap, the Rutland and Shakespeares. Saturday night saw me and Miss N at the Rutland Arms. She opted for a pint of the Gorlovka, marginally less expensive there than at the Tap, and I two pints of the excellent Otley Oxymoron Black IPA. This was a good black IPA because it remembered it could show off the finer points of the dark malts used - if that means they should have put in more hops I could have my arm twisted but it certainly tasted well rounded and was very enjoyable.
Meanwhile the Sheffield Tap had a decent choice as seems normal these days - alas the star of the show had run out so I had a half of the Bristol beer factory Bitter Kiwi - the small measure supporting my theory that despite thinking I should, I wouldn't really rate it - and a pint of the Wild Raven. Miss N followed suit with the Raven as well. As ever this was on fine form and provided a very enjoyable end to a great night out.
Shakespeares also had a few beers on as you'd expect. I stuck mainly to pints of the Arbor Motueka which was on great form, whereas Miss N started on the latest dark Dr Morton's offering from Abbeydale. I finished on that, and in between times tried a slightly perfumed Revolutions Brew Super Creeps, a pleasing if slightly odd IPA at 4.9%. All sensibly priced under or just at £3.00, and still a decent range available just a couple of days before the beer festival (link to the FB page here with the beer list posted 25 October).
Detail of that to come in the next few days.
*for boozing, read "sampling different ales responsibly" If yer like.....