Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Wanderiains

Hullaballoo,

        and a very Happy New Year! Aah, a phrase best used...um about 16 or 17 days ago. But never mind, have been otherwise engaged and this is my first blog post of 2017. Here is what happened when myself and Mr P did our first Wanderiains of 2017.....

Twas the first Friday and I met Mr P after work to catch the 20. Didn't wait long, didn't take long, and we ended up at a pub I have never previously visited, the Sportsman on Harvey Clough Road. I know the late, great George, or rather Keith Laycock went there to do the quiz - although that may have been the Mount Pleasant, but either way, it was my first visit and Mr P's first for a couple of decades or more. For info, before setting out, George often used to say "am just going to change a tenner" or, "am just going to see a man about a dog". We all knew he was going to the quiz....

Inside I understand little has changed, Mr P recognised the layout, and on the large bar there were two real ales, of which we both had halves of Abbeydale Moonshine at a price which may have been below £3.00. The beer was well kept and this was an enjoyable start to our crawl. I also paid on card for two halves, which very much suits me down to the ground.

Nearby we visited the Mount Pleasant. In through the front this time (!) and I didn't see Gwynneth (?) or her Sister behind the bar, instead a jolly lass who was discussing the merits or otherwise of the Chrizznussly themed ale from a National Brewery. I think Mr P had a pint and I had a pint of the excellent Adnams Ghost Ship.

The pub seems unaltered since my first visit five years or more ago and that's to its credit. Its has a   traditional layout with a lovely lounge on the left and a very small bar in the...um..bar. Room. An excellent place to stop for a beer as always.

Further down the Road Mr P asked if we could go in the Prince of Wales. I can't say I was blown away by it last time but I agreed, if nothing else to hear him read his poem he wrote after being told not to come in anymore when he was in his late teens. An excellent poem, I have to say. On the bar this time were two beers and I think one of them was from Wychwood, which we had a half of each. It was OK, a bit Wychwoody, but that's not a criticism of how it was kept.

Further down the road is the Cross Scythes. Still a Thornbridge pub selling numerous real ales and kegs (and flavoured pork scratchings), I went "mad" and bought myself a pint and Mr a half of the 7 or above% Huck from Thornbridge.  I have to say I really liked it, but agree with Edd that you could expect more from a hoppy pale ale at that strength.

Having bumped into Steve in the loos, we headed his way - down Derbyshire Lane, to the main road and walked along to the White Lion. A guy whose surname I think is Miles (who I saw at the Bath Hotel do an excellent version of John the Revelator, unaccompanied of course) was doing a set at the back. We got pints - myself am fairly certain of Abduction., and sat near the stage having watched the first five or six of his songs from the steps.

As always the Abduction was on top form and it was good to see the pub absolutely heaving - testament of course to the sterling work done by Jon and Mandy since they took over (and Jon may have lost an H, sorry Jon....)

So ended an entertaining and enjoyable crawl of some new and old favourite boozers in Sheffield to kick start Drinkuary in fab sunny Sheffield.

Drink! Drink! Drink!

With regards,


Wee Beefy  

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Halcyon

Halcyon days.

          Warm summers, strong sunshine, autumn leaves, cold white frost an inch thick on frozen surfaces, huge downpours onto moist Spring ground, lovely rare steak and venison, lamb casserole, beautiful red wine. The feeling that its Friday morning when in fact its Saturday and you can close your heavy eyes and get back to sleep. All things that can easily, for me at least,  be associated with Halcyon. No longer, alas, with the Thornbridge beer of the same name.

I used to love Halcyon. It was, frankly, a completely terrific beer. Bundles of fruit and citrus hops balanced perfectly in a scrumptious mix to make the ideal fruity pale ale, but with beautiful lingering bitterness in the aftertaste. In 2012 I came back from a week of slightly less inspiring beers in Crete and went to the Bath Hotel for a pint. I wasn't actually enamoured with the selection of real ales and kegs so went for a bottle of Thornbridge Halcyon. I absolutely loved it.

This was the first beer that I loved in cask, on keg, and in a bottle. It was so well balanced, it hit all the right notes in my book for a wonderfully refreshing strong pale ale. Its arrival at any pub was a triumph of delivery over expectation because it was also almost always better than I hoped or imagined it would be.

Three weeks ago, likely more, I was in the Bath Hotel,  talking to Chris, or a man with a similar or entirely different name, who is currently running the pub. I have been going to the Bath less often lately but that isn't a reflection of beer quality, more of a different drinking pattern, less often being one feature. I noticed that Halcyon was on keg and was about £4.70 a pint, and ordered it with glee. And then I tasted it.

Um...someone forgot to add the citrus hops and mouthwatering fruit flavours for a start. And the bitterness was there, but was bleak and harsh and a little like paracetamol. I had expected a wonderful taste, and hadn't had some for a while, but this was a terrible re-enactment of a once wonderful beer.

I don't know enough about brewing to figure out what changes have been made to the recipe, or indeed why Thornbridge beer has become so poor - especially given the excellent pale they brewed back in September. I do think that an alleged merry go round of new brewers in quick succession may have destabilised the brewing, but if that is the case the solution is surely simple.... employ a good reliable brewer on a long term rather than short(est) term basis.

I am sure that running pubs makes Thornbridge more money than brewing beer does, so as a business I can forgive them for prioritising one over the other (if they indeed are) but I can't forgive them for ruining one of m,y former favourite beers ever, and making a rubbish version of Halcyon, worse even than the needlessly sweet Belgian version.

What lies ahead in 2017 for Thornbridge? I hope its better beer, simple as.

Yours in regret and disappointment


Wee Beefy

Friday, 30 December 2016

Micro

Hello all,

  I wanted to write today about Sheffield's Micropubs.

The first I knew of  ( in the UK) was in Kent. It was called the Butchers and was, am guessing, set in a former Butchers shop. It was definitely in Kent. And it could (probably) seat 3 people. It was open half an hour every week by appointment only, and had a pin to last that whole session.

OK, I made much of the above up. I have, after all, never been there. The first one I went to was the Little Chesters  Ale House in that there Derby. I really enjoyed it. I was surprised, however, that there was nothing similar in Sheffield.

In late 2013 or a similar sounding year the Crookes Ale House was,  to my mind, Sheffield's first pop[ up pub. I knew very little about ir and even after a description of its location I struggled to find it. I went in with Carlos the first time and Angie and Jackie and other peeps the second. I bought a bottle f the Courage Imperial stout which I may possibly still have, and loved it. Local ale was on stillage, and it opened for six days or less.

The next year this became the Walkley Beer Co. I didn't visit until my 40th birthday and I tried my specially brewe (well, dry hopped version at least) birthday ale, and spoke to Josh and Christy and Kit. The pub later or already had a permanent license and I have been going in ever since.

Tonight I had two pints, the Cromarty Brewing Rogue Wave IPA at 5.9%, a hoppy pale, and the 6.9% Wild Madness IPA. I saw Rob, Dan and the gent whose name I can't remember,. as well as Rhod and Kit and Imogen and a guy called Pete. The atmosphere and ale was as always, excellent.

I just wanted to say well done to the shop, or rather micro pub, and all Sheffield's others. Because its a fine feature of Sheffield watering holes that your service and range is required, and whats more very much appreciated.

As the beer capital of the UK, I am not surprised that Sheffield can support 6 micropubs!

With warmest regards


Sir Beefalot

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Reet

Good afternoon Lazerngennulmern

        it occurred to me today (well, during a quiet period of reflection on Christmas Day actually) that it has taken me until now, or rather then, to realise the following.....

The "Reet Ale Pubs Company" sounds like the Retail Pubs Company.

Its taken me the three or maybe four or more years since their inception to figure this out. It explains, for one, the pronunciation used by Mr Stephens's. Its also "funny" because Reet Ale sounds like retail. And as a pub company, they retail not only ale, in their Reet Ale Pubs, but also retail Reet Pale Ale in their Reet Ale Pubs.

Its a pun!

Ha ha!

Ha ha!

(etc)

And yes, I can confirm that Boxing day and today have been quiet, thanks for asking.

With warmest twixt winter solstice and years end regards

Wee Beefy.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Bar-stewards

Merry Chrissmuss yall!

     
         the title of this post is perhaps a little risky - although pertinent, I appear to have locally garnered a reputation for being some sort of criticism monkey, living in a tree of moaning in a forest of malcontent. So to make clear now, this isn't a polite way of saying Bastards. Its a way of saying Bar Stewards, but making it one word. You may not have noticed, but I am trying to stick to single word post titles this month, in order to be more punchy and, um,  rad, fo the yoot. I am quite old by the way....

Anyway, the Bar Stewards is Sheffield;s latest pop up pub - this claim is made on the basis of a lack of information about the Pub Inn which opened after I had already formulated the text for this post. So nehrrr.

Its on Gibraltar Street across from Shakespeares and is run by Al and another gentleman, who will have one of many thousand male human names, probably with an I in it. I dunno, Richard, Michael?

The pair have done a good job sprucing up the empty retail unit and have a bar with four handpumps and possibly some sort of keg dispense, with a well socked fridge behind with bottles and cans inside. There is also a snazzy toilet, and comfortable seating throughout. I have been in three times now and enjoyed each one, the first by myself, once with the lovely Kati and once with Mr Grant and Hux's friend whose name I have since forgotten. On that occasion the real ales on offer were Wild Millionaire stout, Tiny Rebel Cwtch, North Riding Mosaic Pale and Fyne Ales Jarl. The North Riding and Fyne were tried and both were on good form.

I understand the idea is to get a permanent license and open full time sometime in the future - it is rumoured there has been much red tape to leap over and clamber through which may be retarding progress. I do hope for their sake's they get a permanent license - the bar does feel just like a pub now (if that makes sense) and especially in December, when the wonderful Shakespeares is packed to the rafters, its often a little quieter in the Bar stewards.

One question you may ask is - does Sheffield really need another ale venue? The answer is - yes. Of course. Not just because one has recently closed either, but because all venues have their own unique atmosphere and offer their own brand of hospitality. If the nearby (ish) Pub Inn becomes permanent there will be six Micropubs in Sheffield and what that does is increase choice for consumers, which has to be a good thing.

In addition to the cask and bottles and cans they also sell wine and possibly spirits and crisps, and Mr Rich was there doing a quiz on Wednesday last so this may take off as a regular feature. Whats more, Bar Stewards is the perfect place to undertake support for Drinkuary, which I expect all of you to be involved in through the dark joyless January ahead.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy


Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Cloudwater

Hello,

       despite my recent inescapable slide into debt and trashed credit ratings, I got there only recently - as in, I arrived there, finally, after many years of effort. During more recent times, and since, mainly through the generosity of my friends, I have tried numerous beers from Cloudwater. The Manchester brewery may have a reputation solely for producing DIPA's. However, and whatever its repute, many people want to know what Cloudwater are all about. The thing is, I don't know.

I do however know what I have thought, tasted, enjoyed and observed of them.

I first heard about Cloudwater in 2015. Two brewers and two beer bloggers were discussing what they thought of a heavily hyped new brewery in Manchester. As I sat dewy eared in the Beer Engine beer garden, I was puzzled how a brewery could be so heavily hyped, and yet I hadn't heard a thing about them? Well, luckily, there was a Cloudwater beer on at Shakespeares the next day. It was low strength and fairly tasty. It didn't explain the hype or lack of though. It didn't really add up. And then, Cloudwater IPA's at 7 or 7.5%, started turning up in the Bath Hotel.

Many sessions during late 2015 were spent in the Bath Hotel sampling wonderful easy drinking Cloudwater IPA. Some of them were the best beers I had in 2015 and when I found one on cask at Shakespeares on New Years Eve I was very very pleased. More so, when I heard about their DIPA 1 celebration strong pale. I didn't get to try this on draught, but did very luckily get to buy the last bottle from the Walkley Beer Co. It was fab. Hoppy. Bitter. Backed with good malt that supported the hops without fighting against them. It had a slight "Manchester sweetness" to it and it was 9% and drank like Vimto.

For those not in the know, DIPA V 10 has recently been released. It lasted a day at Shakespeares, despite being sold at £7.50 a pint (which is actually a good price for the V10). It still doesn't drink like a 9% IPA and I note from the bottle labels that at least, up until V9, they added dextrose extract or similar, to the malt. This may of course feature in all beers but I wondered if that was what gave the Cloudwater DIPA that simultaneous new world hoppiness tinged with Manchester sweetness? Or is that simply the yeast they use? (they used Lees yeast in one brew, maybe 7...).

Either way, and no matter how "DIPA'd out" some of us may be, the recent announcement of more regular releases shows a commitment to bettering a single product. My only worry is, how will they do that?

Reading the back of a Cloudwater bottle is a little like looking at notes from a science class. Am interested, but not as much as I am in whether or not the beer tastes good. And so far, none have tasted bad. All have tasted good (even 3) and some have tasted fantastic. The interesting developments will come if and when they make more changes to their DIPA brews. Maybe change the template of the brew...

The one thing that jumped out of their recent blog about DIPA's is the idea that the beer keeps its hoppiness by not being exposed to temperatures above 5c from bottling to receipt. Their post claims that definitive flavours in beer are killed off by exposure to heat. It is something I have heard about before but am not aware of a brewery previously adapting this cold storage and cold distribution plan.

I have one bottle of unopened Cloudwater DIPA left - its number 8 (haven't got a ten yet). I intend to drink it on Christmas day.

Because no matter what they or others say, Cloudwater brew a bloody delicious DIPA.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Funds

Funds, Ladies and Gentlemen, what are they?

Like memories, I don't have them.

The above jokey statement in fact belies a foul, nidorous cataclysm of financial ruination that hangs above me like a cloud of crying, near dead, children. Whilst that statement is slightly over-exaggerated, it is however by no means easier to manage than its un-exaggerated reality....

Funds, as we know, are essential to life, essential to drinking and of course to paying debts. Funds are limited. Funds are scarce. Funds, for me, are a far forgotten dream.

This post is, therefore, not an exploration of the cost of buying beer. It is in effect a statement. Not a pious cry for help, not a whinging moping mardy about whose fault everything is, instead more an honest reflection. Am also not going to use this blog to make rash and unlikely predictions about my abilities to sort out and likelihood of solving my funding problem, which we may also refer to as debt - that would be reckless. I am however going to admit, dear readers, to you, what has mostly caused this situation.

Its me.

My debt is mine. I caused it. My lack of funds stems from my own reckless, wilful, degenerate over consumption of ale in fine public houses the land over.

For clarity, specifically, nobody else:

Forced me to go to the pub almost every day for the last 5 years;
Held me at knife-point and poured delicious real ales and keg beers down my capacious throat as if liquid itself was going out of fashion;
Made me buy numerous bottles of beer that one should maybe only buy now and again as an expensive treat;
Compelled me to spend my existing funds and many many more travelling the country with friends and family to visit amazing unspoilt pubs.

No.

All of the above actions undertakings and happenstances took place with my consent, under my own yoke. Alas the weight of those decisions, mistakes, tribulations, misdemeanours and rash actions, has caused me to wither. Just a little. Maybe a lot. So I have to stop. I have if nothing else to think of these effects on those that I love.

Before Sheffield publicans begin contemplate suicide, I am not giving up drinking. Too much it seems, I love the social hub-ub, the sparkling marriage of the hop and the malt, the listening in on jocular, absurd, nonsensical and moving, in equal quantity, conversations in pubs, and the joy of finding that near perfect beer, good enough to sate you, perhaps fully, but not enough to stop you wanting to continue your search for the very best, to stop.

I will however be cutting down significantly.

So, like I said, the above is a statement. Maybe part proclamation, part paean for positively overindulging. Its where I am.

Your very good health


Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Recently, I have been mostly......

Drinking.

        Except, I now can't afford it, but never mind. Its all about the taste. And the location. Here are a few examples of that.

I went to the 2016 Shakespeares beer festival - details of which, late as always, will follow. IN the meantime I have noted a number of excellent beers, thus. It starts with Cloudwater DIPA 9 - a beer I have had in bottle and on keg. I had the excellent DIPA 8 at Hop Hideout and that was beautiful but the 9 edged it. Some have said they are tired of the DIPAs and I get that to some extent but its an interesting exercise in development. None have been woeful, many have been excellent, but I think maybe number 9 is the best yet. No doubnt I will say the same for number 10, but there ya go.

Last weekend they had Abbeydale Last Rites at 11% on at Shakespeares. It was for sale at £4.80 a  pint. To put that in context, I paid that or slightly more for it t the Moon festival in 2008. That is a very good price! Its also not clear how long they had it for, ageing in the cellar - Mr Chris W stated he "made the price up" after realising Chris B had bought the cask originally. Well worth a go - and its still on. Other highlights at the Speares have included an India red ale at 7% from Odyssey called Zombie Blood, a Simcoe Pale from Kernel at over 6%, the Black Iris NZ IPA on cask and the oddly coloured but very tasty Brew by Numbers Motueka.

In other news, the Bath Hotel has recently sold a Pig and Porter Red Saison on cask, which was on excellent form, as well as the Neepsend Pale which has  a name I have forgotten, an excellent cask pale which all three of us had with Richard.

Meanwhile the West Street Ale House has closed - I understand this is die to the impending demolition of the building so closure is inevitable but its still a shame, as it offered a choice not found in that area of West Street. The Hare and Hounds on Nursery Street has been demolished, so that's another Sheffield former real ale pub that I never visited.

In final bad news, it has emerged this week that Chris and Kate have not taken on the lease of the Boardwalk. Its a real shame as the ideas they had were fab but if they can find another venue then there is still the chance that an exciting new pub could await us in Sheffield!

A final mention goes to the Old Queens Head at Pond Hill where they had an Earl Grey IPA on from Thwaites Brewery. It was £3.20 a pint and tasted brilliant - another reason to visit this fabulous and oft overlooked pub near the bus station.

More news next week!

Cheers

Wee Beefy


Tuesday, 22 November 2016

The 4th South Normanton Beer Festival

Elloh,

     last year me, Tash and Wee Fatha were driven by Wee Keefy to South Normanton to attend their beer festival. We liked it so much we decided to go again this year. Alas WK was orf to Cropton beer festival so was unable to drive us, and since he didn't want to drive there and have three thirds in 4 hours WF was encouraged by WK to go by public transport. Lets get this out of the way now - that was a terrible idea! However, let us also not worry about that. Lets talk festival.

Last year me and Tash had met Mick, Care and Bridget (and others) working behind the bar. As we got on so well, I became friends with them on Faceache. I met all of them this year, and that just added a little extra enjoyment to the festival. Arriving about 14.00 we found it was free to get in (woo-hoo!) and £3.00 for a returnable or keepable glass - there were a limited edition of festival ones this year. Being a poorpa, I bought me and WF a returnable one.

Tokens were 50p each so roughly two for a third, three for a half and six for a pint, with some extra coinage for stronger beers. As is commonplace for myself these days, numerous stronger ales were consumed. Well, it would be rude not to.

The festival is quite small admittedly, but showcases a very good range of local and some slightly further afield real ales - considering my hopheadedness, I have to say I was very pleased with the number of plus 5% IPAs available, but this style did not dominate (nine of the thirty two were IPAs). I started on a half of Thorley and Sons Pale and Interesting Pale Ale. Not seen or had their beers before, and this was a really enjoyable starter.

Having caught up with Clare and learned Mick was at a meeting nearby I decided to go for something stronger, and chose a half of Abstract Jungle Brewery Solo, a strong IPA at 5.9%. This was a very well balanced hoppy IPA and really hit the spot. Next I followed Clare's advice and got myself a half of the Torrside Brewing Katakana, a 5.2% Belgian Blonde style ale with Sorachi Ace hops - the strong hop flavour was in fact calmed by the Belgian yeast I think, and the beer was delicious.

I next tried the Black Market Illicit and Gaol No Prisoners, both pale ales but at different strengths with the No Prisoners at 5.7%. Both were tasty but also had quite earthy flavours. My next half was Dead Beard IPA at 5.5% from the Hairy Brewers, and his was probably my beer of the festival, although both me and WF enjoyed the Beer House from Hopjacker. I also tried Langwith Mozza at 5.9%, a blonde, and the Littleover Dazzler IPA at 4.5%. I also tried Lost time wheat beer from Torrside and Shiny Brewery Happy people. Every single beer I went for was available, but many had started to run out when we left about 19.00.

I finished the night on a half of the Bride Farm Yarlington Mill Dry cider at 6.5% and a half of the Double Vision Impaired Vision Perry at 7.4%. As well as the choice of ales, the cider and perry list was notable with some decent drys on offer. Thanks to Mick Bull for his advice.

So, an enjoyable festival with free entry, a good range of beers and ciders and friendly staff. Am hoping to go again next year.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Monday, 21 November 2016

Three Stags Heads Wardlow Mires

Hello,

       a couple of Sundays ago I was out with Tash, and Wee Fatha for post birthday celebrations. We met him at the Abbey after 12.00 and drove over to Ashford in the Water for a snack and hot drinks in a Tea room. From here we drove up to Monsal Head, through Wardlow and the long closed Bulls Head, and into the Car Park opposite the Three Stags.

I first went to the Three Stags Heads with Wee Fatha in 1994. We did a tour of GBG pubs in Derbyshire and finished there for a pint of Hoskins and Oldfield, this being before Abbeydale Brewery started. The pub was, as far as I can remember, exactly as it is now. Except there is a young bloke behind the bar,  whose name I can never remember(Robbie?), and his Missus, along with Geoff and Pat, and the dogs are all new in the intervening 22 years....

My next visit was with CAMRA when I was a member so still last century and they opened the room on the left for a massive spread - am guessing a pub of the month award. It was incredibly rammed, something that also hasn't changed, and I remember having a pint of Black Lurcher, the Abbeydale strong blend dark ale, which used to, and may stil be, 7.2%. Since then I have been in numerous times, most notably four or five with Tash. We had a proper good Saturday session in there on our first ever weekend away. Its fair to say I have been a trifle refreshed on more than one occasion. We have also eaten there, and the food is exceptional.

Don't go to the Three Sags Head if you don't like dogs. There are and always have been, numerous of them sat on chairs, sometimes venturing onto the tables, and sitting on the floor in front of the fire. Customers bring their own, and the lurchers or maybe whippets or others in the pub are well trained, even if they do, understandably bark, at strange hounds. The pub used to have two or three huge black lurchers who often took up the seat on the left by the bar, and when we were in earlier this month one of the snaller dogs got on the table and started drinking Tash's beer. She didn't mind, the dog seemed to like it (only a little bit was had) and the beer was replaced.

On my last four or five visits i have always drunk Abbeydale Absolution. A gloriously easy drinking 5.3% Sheffield brewed pale, in case you have been living in a cave for the last 20 years. Its not session strength but is always well kept and is very good (and easy) to have several pints of. That was true on this occasion, as I finished my third pint as the lights came on, after it had become almost dark except for the fire.

I understand the pub opens three days a week only - Friday from 18.00, and all day Saturday and Sunday. Its rumoured that he sells more real ale in those three sessions than most of the local pubs do in a week - I have never had less then two pints when I have gone in and most other drinkers follow suit so I imagine this could be true. There is cider, and there are some bottled beers as well, which may include a fruit beer and a lager - but I might have dreampt that. And please be aware that mobile phones that go off or make noise are very much frowned upon, so please respect the opinions of regulars and staff alike and turn yours off before entering....

It was good to see Geoff and Pat and the others and once again become immersed in an beautiful  traditional pub atmosphere with real fires, real ale, real opinions and great atmosphere. Very much a no nonsense boozer. And despite and because of his recent ill health, I wish Geoff, Pat, possibly Robbie and Mrs possibly Robbie, the very best for the future. Lets hope they spend many more years at the helm of this wonderful pub.

Cheers

Wee Beefy