Saturday, 24 June 2017

Shakespeares Stupidly Delicious Beer tap takeover

Now then,

     a few weeks ago posters started to appear in the Shakespeares showing a list of stupidly delicious beers that they were putting on in one night, named as per the title. The main feature of the beers on offer was their renown - many have 100 ratings on Ratebeer or other beer rating apps. They were almost all very strong and many were unique. Since I am broke, I only had enough for a few thirds. Here is what I tasted and experienced.

Arriving at 18.00 I was pleased to see that it wasn't that busy, for a tap takeover at least. Nate, Derek, young man with name, Adam and Chris were ready to serve us and soon after arriving Adam duly walked over and gave me a copy of the evening's menu. Suffice to say, even if I had been able to afford it, I wasn't going to be able to clear the whole list in one night. The challenge was to find which three I would try.

Nate recommended Star Beer, a caramel peanut and chocolate stout from Steel City, Lost Industry and Beer Ink, at 8.5%. I had heard good things about this so went for a third of that, and the Dugges and Stillwater collaboration Mango Mango Mango, a 4.5% mosaic hopped mango sour with two types of mango. Bose in hand I went to find a seat, and bumped into the Dans, Howard, Matt, David and others and sat in the shelter with my two thick, black thirds of monstrous loveliness.

I have to say that interest in and appreciation of the Star Beer is warranted. Despite its slightly sickly list of ingredients its not too sweet but is still reminiscent of the Star Bar that its named after. The Dugges and Stillwater meanwhile was a perfectly balanced blend of sour mango and hops, which was very refreshing whilst not too jaw meltingly sour.

With funds left for just one more third I was planning on having the Noa, but Nate suggested that Noa would be back on again but that Mikkeller Beer Geek Dessert would not. The Noa at 11% was £3.30 a third, and the Mikkeller, at the same strength was £4.00 a third. I decided it was worth a try despite its eye watering cost. I was right.

Its important to point out, lest anyone else wishes to inform me, that this is an expensive beer. However, Shakespeares in my opinion are a very fairly priced establishment. I don't think they would put on any beer at a ridiculous mark up and I can't see the same beer being much cheaper elsewhere. Its a keg, at 11%, from Denmark. It was beautifully balanced, wonderfully tasty and had a sumptuous mouthfeel, and took me an hour to drink. I enjoyed my £4.00 purchase tremendously.

Just before finishing this I met up with Charlie and Al Steward and their mate, who had a name and everything.   He very kindly bought me a third of the Stigbergets Amazing Haze, a Swedish Mosaic hopped IPA. By now the whole place was extremely busy and trips to the bar looked like they would take quite some time to complete.

Charlie and Al also bought me a third of this each (thanks lades!) and this was the last beer I tried. It was brilliant to sit with the three of them supping and sharing stories of comedy, trips away and beers and more. In the end, we loved the Stigbergets so much we all finished on it. The mosaic hops in the IPA were incredibly pronounced yet the beer remain perfectly balanced, making this probably my beer of the night. That said, the quality just of the four I tried was such that its difficult to decide between them.

Many of the beers will remain on for a few days so if you want to try any I recommend you go down and take a look - there is a list on their Facebook page. Well done to the staff, particularly I think Adam, for choosing such a brilliant range of exceptional and distinctive beers for this showcase.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Three Tuns, Silver Street Head, reopens

Hello all,

        I was thinking the other day how much I miss the Tuns. It had a few average beers on but always at least one, sometimes two, excellent hoppy Blue Bee beers available at my starting strength, plus some great guest ales. The wine and gin was also very good. It occurred to me that it was ideally placed between work and transport home for a pint on the way there or a meeting place for a night out. The food and ale were excellent, the staff were brilliant and the atmosphere for the most part was fantastic.

On Monday Dr J announced he was popping down to see it under its "new custodianship". I was surprised, but also very pleased. I wondered if this had been just a soft launch but decided even if it was and it wasn't open, yesterday would be a great opportunity to pop down and check the place out for myself. After all, there is a certain excellent boozer five minutes walk away....

Arriving about 20.00 the pub lights were on and the doors and some windows open. Inside were Josh and Dave, although they were just moving on, along with about eight other people. It was actually refreshingly cool inside and the pub seemed very spick and span - no doubt a positive hangover from its previous stewardship.

I went to the bar to find three handpumps in use, selling Moonshine, Castle Rock Harvest Pale and Moorhouses Blonde. Being a more regular supper of Abbeydale I went for a pint of Moonshine, which was maybe a little pricey at £3.40 a pint ( ? ) and returned to sit at the back, having said goodbye to Josh and Dave. It was well kept and on decent form. No suggestion of mucky lines or rushing the beer on which I had admittedly been worried about. Its not a range that is going to see me in there every day but its decent real ale.

Bar snacks were 50p - its quite a limited range, probably just to clear the shelves, and its still in date - even so the guy offered me two packs of pretzels for 50p which is a bloody bargain. The gent running the pub appears to be a temporary manager. Obviously I wasn't brazen or sociologically developed enough to ask his name, which he will have one of, but he has short hair. I understand having heard a conversation in Shakespeares later that he has previously run the pub this century. So its definitely him.

A few people left just before I did and there was only one table occupied when I departed but its early days and its not been particularly well advertised. I will be popping back in, for the reasons at the beginning of the post about why it was such a cracking boozer. I don't really like Spoons so if this remains open it will make a nice change.

The interesting thing is that the pub reopening reminds me just how bloody good it was under Reet Ale Pub's management. The availability of Blue Bee was a boon but the pub employed some excellent staff such as Nate, Phil, Siobhan, Dave, Mc Miker G, Mark, Ethan and others. I will miss their service a hell of a lot and also the atmosphere that they brought with it. I would never have heard so much King gizzard and the lizard wizard without Nate's influence on the music, or persuaded anyone but Ethan to play me Cathedral's Forest of Equilibrium on a frankly wonderful Monday night. I wouldn't have written the song "Mark's got a name, Siobhan's got a nickname" without them being there and wouldn't have had to explain to so many of my younger friends who Mc Miker G was if he hadn't been there too.

In the long term I hope it can return to its comfortable, friendly, excellently aled inclusivity, attracting groups from all backgrounds and walks of life and persuasions to sit on its comfortable chairs and drink their beers and other potions. That is not a criticism of the current ownership. Its more a respectful lament for the way things were.

Welcome back old friend. You have changed. We are still however, friends.

Cheers.

Wee Beefy

Monday, 19 June 2017

Sheffield crawls and pints

Hello,

   I haven't posted for a while but wanted to tell you about some drinks I have had on two local crawls in Sheffield. I may even confirm some of the excellent bottles I have had, but that will come at a later date.

The first Ambale was on Tuesday last. I started at Itchy Pig and had a half of Abbeydale Encantada, described as a Neolithic Gruit Fruit ale, and an Emmanuales Ryejoice, both on keg. The Ryejoice doesn't work as well as it does on cask alas but was a refreshing starter, the Encantada was a very interesting sweet and sour fruity mash that was refreshing and surprising in equal measure.

I stopped off at the Doctors Orders, better known (surely?) as the West End, next. I had a pint of the Little Critters C Bomb Citra at 6.5% and £3.70 a pint which is probably not a bad price for its strength. I somehow managed to squeeze between tables to get a seat and, one assumes, my hex boot frighetened off the assembled customers who went outside to eat. Nothing to do with warm sunshine!

My next stop for the first time in a considerable while was at Interval Bar. They had about 6 cask beers on at £2.90 a pint and I had two halves,  one of which was equinox pale, or similar, and a red IPA from Three Castles brewery. All were well kept and I enjoyed them sat in sunshine outside, listening in with some amusement at the oft melodramatic musings of the students sat nearby.

I skipped the Uni Arms and Bath and went next to the Harley next. They had four casks of Saltaire on and I had a half of the Onyx black IPA sat in a comfy sofa in the front. Its not a pub I go in often at all, although te food looks good.

My next stop was Harrisons 1854 where I bumped into the owners Bob and Linda and chatted to them for some time. I had a half of Bradfield Yorkshire Ale on cask which is, I understand, their rebrannding of Yorkshire bitter. Its strange to see this since other than some brewers calling their mild's dark most northern brewers would assumedly be happy to produce a bitter?

The next stop nearby was the Cavendish. A range of kegs and cask was available but nothing really tempted me so in the end, before the slew of Ingurrlearnt fans arrived, I had a quick and very enjoyable can of Elvis Juice.

The penultimate stop was the Grapes where we got sat outside in the beer garden. I met Tash and Matt in here as well as Trev and Bill and had "a number" of further pints of Abbeydale Moonshine, as always kept impeccably. The time flew by and we were there for some time before I went for a last one in the Tap and Tankard. Truth be told, I don't recall what I had to drink in here. Sorry Dylan.

The other crawl was a post overtime loosener last Sunday. I started in Shakespeares and had a half of the Time and Tide All in Jim Sorachi Ace APA on keg, as well as a pint of the hoppy North Riding and Totally Brewed A slap up North IPA on cask, and repaired as always to the clock room to consume.  The best part of overtime, apart from erm...pay, is the ales afterwards.

 I was meant to be meeting Tash and we arranged to meet at the Rutland at 17.00 so I headed off and got off behind Atkinsons to find Tash was running a little late. I decided to head to the nearby Devonshire Cat for a wee and a half. I ended up asking which was cheapest beer and got a half of Abbeydale Daily Bread on cask for £1.60. It was on good form but isn't my first choice I have to say.

From here I headed to a cash machine and then popped in the Washington. They had four cask ales on and as always, I went for a half of the Moonshine. It tasted beautiful in here. I sat in splendid isolation in the left hand bar in bright sunshine listening to an excellent selection of ska tunes. Ace.

I headed to the Beer Engine next and had a third of the Mikkeller Nuclear Hop Assault and an interesting beer whose identity has escaped me in the miasma of alcohol since. The beer as always was impeccably kept and it was good to bump into the Man of Ash - assuming I did....

From here I jetted across town to meet Tash in the Bankers, finally meeting up about 20.30 and we had a quick drink before she headed to the Dove and I went to meet Mr E down at Shakespeares to finish a rather lengthy but highly enjoyable crawl. Am not 100% clear on what we had but it possibly ended with a can or two of Cloudwater before I ran to catch the last 52 home in a refreshed state.

Two crawls showcasing a number of pubs and a wide range of different but equally enjoyable beer styles shows, once again, how lucky we are live and sup in sunny, shiny Sheffield.

Your very good health

Wee Beefy


Saturday, 10 June 2017

Tuckers Grave Inn, Faulkland, Somerset

Hello,

        inspired largely by a photo on his Friendache profile by former pub photo blogger Dimpled Mug, this post aims in sketchy detail to provide memories of my visit to the pub way back in the Noughties.

The pub, sadly, is currently closed and is on the market, at least as a going concern, for £595,000.00. At present, I definitely have £5.95 of that sum available, so maybe could arrange to purchase it over a thousand years? After all, we will soon all be living for many centuries, in space, or similar. Anyway, its more likely that someone else has that kind of money available. The only concern is whether or not they have any interest in preserving its unique character.

Myself and Wee Keefy many moons ago visited Christingpher in Bath where was studying teacherings. He became a supply teachering soon after, eventually quitting as he felt the role required him being a parent, social worker, drug councillor and then a teacher, wrapped up in delivering a curriculum in a style which interested none of his pupils.

Whilst there, and on our way home, we visited many National Inventory pubs. This was one of them.

The Tuckers Grave is, lets face it, a strange name for a pub. I understand it relates to a suicide or hanging which took place nearby of a farm worker called Tucker who is buried under the crossroads outside. It is quite an unusual looking pub as you approach and we had been spoilt in the local countryside by chocolate box country pubs. We needn't have worried.

There is a passageway as you enter with white and pink paint and lots of wood and the bar and main rooms are on the left. The bar is basically in the bay window - although there are other bar free pubs in the UK (less than ten) this is the only such arrangement I have seen. In front of the bar is a long table in a narrow room with just enough space for patrons to sit down each side on large wooden settles.

There is a further room past that to the left where me and WK sat and off the corridor is the blue room. I went in and found it smoky and painted pink, a peachy light red if am to be more accurate, and found two old guys supping cider inside. I said hello, and they asked me if I had come to take photos since I had my rather large SLR camera with me. One then said "do yer know why they corl this the fuckin blue room? Esspecially as its painted pink? Its cos this is wur we come to swear!". It seemed that the swearing of the two drinkers was not tolerated in the bar. It was cider and profanity in here. I have no reason to doubt their tale from the half an hour I was in there....

I had been served earlier by the landlord, who spotted me standing near the bar looking thirsty. Its not actually as weird a set up as you may think - there are three barrels (maybe four?) including a cider, stillaged in the window and the till is on a small table to the side, with the glasses and tankards stacked and hung up on the rafters. I had a pint of Butcombe bitter and WK a half of Cheddar Valley cider, which I later got a pint of.

The folks on the long oak table offered us some roast potatoes from a giant platter and asked where we were from - I probably talked to them for fiteen minutes before returning to WK who was finding his cider all too easy to drink.  The pub was a wonderfully welcoming and busy place serving excellent beer and cider. There is a link here to the entry on the National Inventory pub website.

Incidentally, and am not saying this is contradictory evidence, but the pub is not mentioned as closed on Whatpub and the website says it was last checked in 2017. So is it definitely shut? The BBC reported that Ivan and Glenda Swift could not find a buyer in 2011 and were intending to close it and the NI website reports it for sale. If anyone knows if this pub remains open then please let me know!

Either way, the pub left an impression on me, and I still have my numerous photos which I took whilst inside. If it has closed that is a real shame. As you can see on the NI website the pub had a fantastic and in some ways unique interior.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Time and Tide Tap takeover at Tshakespeares

Hulloo,

      I had rather forgotten about this event, what with trying not to take notice of any beery happenstances whilst still on meds. Now am back at work and on my last box of biotics I am starting to relax a little. Dave Unpro said we talked about the event on Thursday night in that self same pub. I have no reason to doubt him, I just lack the functionality to remember if what he is saying is true....

On arrival I noticed a low strength IPA on my keg line (you know, the one I own with Kernel) and so was somewhat disappointed but Adam passed me the night's reading material and I noticed that there were in fact a number of Time and Tide brewing's beers on. I started on a pint of their excellent All in Jim APA with Sorachi Ace which had a wonderful lemongrassy kick to it with very well balanced bitterness. and went awandering to find a seat. Bumped into the Dans, Howard and Rob, man from nowhere, as well as Charlie and Al Steward, and later Unpro and Mr E who very kindly joined me in the clock room.

Before I finished the Sorachi, which was a very refreshing pale ale,  I bought a half of their Domino, an imperial white stout made with tonka beans and coffee at an impressive 8.6%. This is the stoutiest white stout I have ever tasted and the tonka beans gave it a very heavy but rewardingly tasty feel. I actually spent a good 3 hours supping this in small sips, not because I disliked it but because it was such a sensational flavour bomb of a beer.

I had been intending to meet the Nodvogs and Mr G but none turned up which I was a bit miffed about but in the end the beer and those I sat with more than made up for their absence and I was able to offload a few woes onto Mr E whilst supping yet more of the offerings from Time and Tide. Who are Time and Tide brewery I hear you ask? I don't know. Hope that helps. Their brewer has facial hair, so is easy to spot.*

My next beer was Bucky, a 5.4% hogweed and sea buckthorne pale ale with both flavours present. The brewer, who had a name, was explaining when I was at the bar that hogweed is a pale almost see through set of bubbled membranes which tastes vile if you eat it - this is possibly why I only ordered a third. He did however assure us that it tasted fine in a beer and myself and Mr E agreed. Its very difficult to describe this ale since both of its feature ingredients have very unusual flavours. So there.

I finished on a pint of the Brynhilder, a 4.4% session IPA as recommended by almost everyone, and a half an Echo, which was a dry hopped bretted saison. I can't say I really liked the echo - the idea was worrying, and am not a fan of dry hopped saisons and the bretting was a bit too intense. A beer where I disliked the idea, and the product, which was a shame.

The Brynhilder on the other had was perfect. A wonderfully refreshing well rounded hoppy session ale. I like my IPA's plus 6% as you know but I could have drunk this all night. It was a perfect slaker which provided all of the hoppy quality of a strong IPA with much less of the alcohol.

At some point I saw the man from Lost Industry. You know, the one with the head. He asked me if I wanted to try something interesting and gave me a bottle full of their Banana and raspberry sour sundae ale in a glass. It was superb. I know Lost Industry like to experiment with sours (and indeed were planning on doing one with other brewers later) but I didn't expect this to taste the way it did. The man with a head also invited me to join the man with facial hair, Unpro and others to try a Time and Tide bottle of burnt honey Braggert at 11%. Just a trial brew am guessing based on its label written in pen but a really interesting flavoured beer. Twice the strength (almost) of the one I tried at the Blue Anchor in Cornwall.

I finished on a free sample of their imperial white stout before the brewer had to leave and I had to catch my last bus. This final taster rounded the night off perfectly. I got to meet new people, friends of old and a brewer or three and got to try the wares of an excellent brewery all in the same night.

Thanks to Shakespeares for organising the event, to Time and Tide for attending, and to Lost Industry for their kind free sample. Lets hope we see more Time and Tide Brewing beers in Sheffield soon.

Cheers!


Wee Beefy

*there's actually a link here to their website should you want any facts......

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Cloudwater DDH Simcoe Vic Secret pale

Hello,
   
     I have tonight had a second can from my haul from Beer Central. I tried to resist but its been a tiring day of work in the garden (luckily all standing on soft grass and slowly moving as am not well enough to stand on step ladders yet) and although the sun and temperature lessened as the day went on I fancied some liquid reward for my efforts.

What I have discovered is more about Cloudwater, specifically their ingredients, and I have reached some possible conclusions about their distinctive Manchester sweetness aroma. Of course, I am not a brewer. So apologies to the Cloudwater's if I muddy them with guesswork.

The first thing to say about this 440 ml can is that the distinct (to me) Cloudwater nose was missing when I opened it. They have used WLP001 yeast which means nothing to me, other than its not the one which they use from J W Lees, which a quick scan of some cans from Cloudwater shows is either known simply as that, or is used with WLP4000. Am starting to cluelessly grab hold of the idea that the JW Lees and or WLP4000 yeast is the singular characteristic in the nose of other Cloudwater beers....

The can also states that they have increased the carapils and dextrin (malts?) and brewed with WLP001 for a "neutral yeast profile". This may be more egg to my omelette.

So, what of the bose itself?

The beer looks London opaque, and is a pale yellow hued colour. Crucially, the primary  characteristic of this beer is its bitterness. Chuff me. Even before reading it was double dry hopped with Simcoe, Vic secret and Chinook I was agog at how wonderfully bitter the initial and aftertaste was. I know I like Simcoe and Chinook but that combination with Vic secret and dry hopping with each takes this beer to another level. Its 5.5% but is considerably more bitter than their DIPA's. That, is a triumph of dry hopping.

I discovered some small clumps of yeast in the bottom of the glass so mixed them in just now - this makes the beer smoother, but also increases the bitterness. The key feature is the balance of those two competing flavours. Its difficult to pull off with very bitter dry hopped ales, and Cloudwater have managed to do so without that niggling sweetness. I really hope they use the neutral strain again as it sets this beer apart from its predecessors.

Its taken me thirty minutes, slowed down only by writing this and searching for an empty can of DIPA13, to drink this beer and I enjoyed every mouthful. The hoppiness is lingering and in some ways a little too much perhaps, but that is the only minor fault I can find in this exemplary modern pale ale.  

I look forward to drinking many more ales of this caliber in the future. A very enjoyable and accomplished, and very bitter, pale ale.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Friday, 26 May 2017

BBNo 0520 and Hop City collaboration IPA.

Good evening,

         its the Friday night before the Bank holiday. Today the temperature has nudged 30 degrees and its still warm now, looking like 16 or 17 overnight. The room has a lovely orange glow from the last embers of the hot sunshine. I am crying out for a cold beverage.

I have had a bottle of beer in my fridge since late March or early April, and recently spent a sum of money on some other rather excellent ales from Sean at Beer Central. The bottle in question is the BBNos and came from Shakesepares and is the first I will use to try and cool me down. I wouldn't normally drink it straight from the fridge but am warm and alas a little sweaty and the instructions on the bottle of the unfiltered and unpasteurised ale say to do that. It also says drink fresh - it was bottled 30 January so should be drunk by 30 May. I have therefore also followed that instruction. The Hop City is chilling in the fridge whilst I write about this one...

The BBNo 05/20 is an Azacca and Amarillo IPA at 6.5%, so a perfect starting strength. The label mentions that the resinous tropical fruit flavours of the Azacca are enveloped in the soft citrus of the Amarillo - this is probably why the veer has such a piney, fruity hoppiness, although it packs a very bitter after taste.

Its colour is darker than I had imagined and I wonder if I had drunk it in February instead of May it might have been paler? Not that it matters, its still a wonderfully easy drinking punchily hopped IPA. The aroma is also beautiful , its possibly pine or hop resin that I can detect. Its definitely a characteristic of the hops used that gives it that distinctive moreish luponic tang. And now its warmed a little, there are subtle flavours of blood orange coming through. And the bitterness does not dissipate. Brilliant.

The Hop City IPA is a beer Sean raved about. I understand there was a festival in Leeds, maybe at the Northern Monk brewery, of the same name, and this collaboration was born out of or for, that. The IPA is a collaboration between Northern Monk, Cloudwater and YCH Hops. I had never heard of the latter, but a quick Google search leads you to their website which is here and information about Cyro Hops. I have heard of them, if nothing else because Cloudwater and Magic Rock I think used them, or maybe the Lupulin Powder, in some recent canned ales. Alas at present I can't recall which beers, but one of the DIPA's had Lupulin powder in it so am guessing its the same product.

The Hop City is lighter than the BBNo and has a distinctive Cloudwater nose - maybe its that J W Lees yeast they use? For a hoppy 6.2% pale its incredibly easy drinking and the hoppy bitterness is subtle but ever present. The can proclaims they used HBC 344, which is a new or maybe experimental hop, along with Simcoe, Amarillo and Mosaic. The result is a lovely blend of tropical fruit, spice and bitterness.

These are two fantastic beers that showcase the hops used perfectly, and both have tropical fruit notes with lingering bitterness, so are right up my street.

Lets hope that now I know about it, I will be able to try similar and other hoppy ales at Hop City 2018.

Cheers!


Wee Beefy

Monday, 22 May 2017

Milliguin at the Red Lion Inn, Wensley

Hulloo

       Its a good guess that very few readers will have been to the pub, sunk the "special" in the post title, or indeed have ever been to Wensley itself. For those who have not, a local song proclaims:

"At Winster wakes there's ale and cakes,
At Elton wakes there's quenchers.
At Bircher wakes there's knives and forks,
At Wensley wakes there's wenches"

Songs eh. What do they mean? In this case, perhaps something, but only from long in the past. I hope that has helped you gain an understanding about the local area. Although I doubt it has.

In more recent times, the post the title may raise a few questions - unless you actually went to this pub, which closed in or around 1998. I went in the 1990's having discovered to my surprise that the Crown, a coaching inn with a renown for food (according to Wee Fatha)  that stood in the square set back from the road had closed many years ago (seems in the late 1980s). Anybody who visited that pub, as well as this pub in its latter years, would probably be surprised that it was the Red Lion that persisted. Maybe not as surprised as I was by what I found.

Before continuing I am grateful to the National Inventory of Unspoilt Pub Interiors website, a link to which is here , the Wensley Peak District Villages website, an entry by Tom Bates on his "about Derbyshire" website which confirmed some of the pubby facts, and general comments on the tinterweb, for being able to expand on my single and my brother and Ray.L.F's single visit, to the pub. Its always good to find out more about a pub and its history and surroundings.

Wensley, it seems is a name derived from Woden, a Norse God of War. Its not clear how a small village between Darley Bridge and Winster was afforded such a moniker but it is, as am sure you are aware, not the only Wensley in the UK. Wensley Dale, a tiny fissure in the grand landscape, runs alongside the village. Having entered Wensley through that dale, I can safely say that footpaths aren't, and heinous sumps of mud are, prominent features. And prior to a little research, that and my visit to the Red Lion was almost everything I knew about the village.

Winster, Darley Bridge and nearby Elton are beautiful villages with Winster and Wensley sharing some similar features, namely a network of alleyways, snickets and undriveable tracks to link the houses. The other three also boast excellent pubs so its a shame that Wensley no longer has any. Am not sure in fact that other than a post and telephone box the village provides any services to the traveler. It is however well worth a stroll around, or rather along, to admire the architecture. You can always get a drink nearby.

On my visit myself and my companion had got lost following a public footpath from Bonsall Moor and had arrived with muddy hands and even muddier boots. A sign in the Red Lion doorway instructed us not to take our boots off, but to place them into plastic bags before we entered the premises. Am not sure if we did, I think we risked leaving our clodden footwear in the porch and went in our socks.

The interior was, I would assume, 1950's. There was cushioned seating, and coach station cafeteria style steel tables with formica tops. There was a lot of red, and an old Mackeson advert on the wall. Two old couples were in having sandwiches and pots of tea. A glance at the menu showed all sandwiches came with beetroot. Even the beetroot.

My companion and I went to the loos - she came out to ask for some water as there was none in the Ladies, and was passed a bowl of warm water from behind the bar to get the mud off. I ran the trickling cold tap to tackle mine. I can't remember what she had to drink, but I had a can of Youngers Tartan Special, as all the fonts were covered, apart from maybe one. We sat down at a table and briefly perused the beetroot heavy menu before asking one of the couples how far it was to anywhere more, um...foody. Or which served draught beer.

It seems the couple running the pub were not - they were Brother and Sister. The pub was no smoking from 1968 which is in my experience very unusual, and was at one time linked to the farm next door. I took one photograph whilst in the pub and the landlady reacted as if I had taken a bus to Be-elzebub. My excuse of snapping my companion at the time did not wash it seemed. After enjoying our interesting choice of drinks we left, never to return.

Wee Keefy and Ray.L.F visited a year or two after us, and this is the first I heard about the legend that was Milliguin. WK would have probably opted for a soft drink - they did have a working milkshake making machine after all, but Ray.L.F was to try the "special". Milliguin, since you ask,  is a half a pint of Guinness and a half a pint of milk in a pint glass. Am guessing you probably have to drink it quite fast because the milk would likely curdle. As something of an alcohol enthusiast and sure this presented no barrier to Ray.L.F. I am not aware that he had more than one however. Having drunk late at night in the Farfield when it was part B&B with guests in their pygamas, am also willing to bet that nothing about this pub seemed strange to him.

This was a very unique pub and one which I was very glad I visited. Its similar, if only in it's unusual idiosyncrasies, to the Three Tuns, when run by Lucy in Hay on Wye, the Sun in Leintwardine Herefordshire, and the Seven Stars at Halfway House in Shropshire. All remnants of a simpler and now seemingly forgotten style of pub.

If any readers know of any unusual, unspolt or just completely unmodernised pubs in the UK, serving beer or milk related beverages, then please do let me know.

With kindest regards


Wee Beefy




Thursday, 18 May 2017

A few pints

This, dear readers,

           is hopefully the only time I will have to tell you about naughty forbidden drinking whilst on meds. Less meds, admittedly, but still while am taking 8 Flucloxacillin a day.

I discovered early on that even having just a half a goblet of wine whilst on both sets sent my head into a whirring spinning myriad of angles and pain so was relieved in some ways, since I knew that would deter me if I ever wanted to try some beer whilst on my medication. However, now on my second week of enforced sobriety, I have been out on four occasions. I have had a few pints therein. I have felt OK, eating each time, but am acutely aware that this will have impacted on the effectiveness of my meds.

Having now come off daily IV antibiotics at the hospital I have gone out twice from a total of four. I realise this is foolish, so, to get over that, I thought it best to admit my failings and celebrate what  I have quaffed over the last six days.

Saturday I came into town on the X5 (a little walk but fast) to meet Tash and we went to the Old Queens Head. No Abbeydale alas, but they did have Emmanuales Ryejoice Pale on at about 5%. I got a bottle of Hartridges ginger beer and a pint of that and a wine for Tash and we sat outside in the sunshine. It was a lovely real ale, with a well balanced rye flavour and hops.

From here we walked up to the Rutland. They had recently had their Dry and Bitter Tap Takeover on and there were still three of their beers on sale. I had thought they were Norwegian but it seems they are Danish. Here is a link to their website to find details of their ales. They appear to be rated very highly on ratebeer and the two I tried were impeccable. I started on a half of Blue Bee which I recall was a single hopped pale but not which, and a half of the Dry and Bitter Uprising, a glorious 6.5% East and West Coast style IPA with mosaic and simcoe.

We sat in the beer garden to drink these, Tash with a pint of Damson cider, and really enjoyed them both. The Uprising was frankly wonderful, perfectly balanced and dryly hoppy. We finished our short visit inside where, despite confusing a member of staff by asking what was left from Dry & Bitter (and being helped out by Christy) we had a pint of the Dry & Bitter Fat and Fruity, a 6.2% pale with mosaic, simcoe, eukanot and citra and added oats and wheat. Sister brew to Dank and Juicy, this was a fantastic easy drinking and tropically fruity pale which went down a treat.  Well done to the Rutland for sourcing these beers for their recent tap takeover.

On Sunday I was out with Tash and Wee Keefy in Derbyshire visiting our Canadian Aunt and Uncles Jill and Mel. Its great to see them for the first time in a few years and having sat in the sunshine for a bit we headed into Ashover to the Old Poets Corner. We had a fantastic Sunday carvery and I had two pints - Ashover Font which was dry and hoppy, and the Littlemoor Citra. Both pints were kept in perfect condition, as was the Ashover dry cider that Tash had.

On Tuesday we met Matty in the Old Queens Head. Alas the Ryejoice was struggling by this point, and was ready to be taken off so I switched from that pint to a half of Pilsner Urqell and a pint of Wainwrights. Both were kept well and this was an enjoyable two hours spent with the Nedveds.

My final splurge came yesterday. Not related to the grim doom of Wednesday losing on penalties (shudder) but based on my wandering in Shakespeares at 15.30 and staying til nine ish. Am not proud. It was insensible. Although, I did enjoy it.....

I started on a pint of the Crate APA on cask and a half of the Howling Hops DIPA on keg. The Crate was marvellously refreshing. I sat with Charlie Steward and Walt and we mused over all and muchly for a while before Matty joined us. I got him a pint of the Shiny IPA at 7.0% and myself another half and he a first of the excellent Howling hops DIPA. I really like the Howling Hops output I have to say, and this DIPA was sublime, hoppy and fruity.

A further half followed as well as the same of Northern Monk Tropical Death Party Black IPA. I was joined now by Richard who promised to chide me about my nonsensical decision to drink. He did right of course. It didn't spoil my evening though. I finished on a bottle of kernel and a can of Magic Rock Grower owned IPA at 6.0% before heading home.

Am now abstaining from booze for a week at least and I remain completely aware of my decisions. Luckily, I also remain as aware of the joy I felt at sharing such ales with my friends and family, both close, extended, and pub based.

Thanking you all for your continued and appreciated support whilst I try not to drink in lovely sunny Sheffield.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Friday, 12 May 2017

Old Queens Head Pond Hill

Now then,

      I first went into the Old Queens Head in 1994. Or 3. Or before. Myself and Rob Noble were about to head out on a public transport omnibus to Yorkshire Bridge to scale the hill and walk down into Hope and we nipped in for a quick drink. It was old. The pub that is. The beer was probably Stones or similar (am sure they sold the cask version of Bass Light during Euro 1996) and the pub did not present much else to remember.

Since then I had nipped in a few times and found the pub OK but not prepossessing, serving better beers since Thwaites took it over, and previously having enjoyed bottles of the 9% Gales Old Queens Head Celebration Ale when the refurbishment was completed in 1994 when I went in with Mark. You know Mark. Yorkshire lad. Works in St Albans. Knew Suooz.....

Anyhoo, two or three years ago the lease or management of the pub was taken over for Thwaites bewery by Czechs. They did a rather fab job of cleaning it up, introduced better kept cask ale, and guests from outside Thwaites range (am thinking Bowland Hen Harrier) and as well as generally running the pub well also introduced traditional Czech food on Mondays. I have never eaten Czech food anywhere else so can't vouch for its authenticity but having eaten there three times now I can vouch for its quality. Matty took us all for a meal on his pay day last month - I had goulash with onion and potato dumplings and it was divine. The dumplings look like thick cut bread but as well as being incredibly filling are also the lightest I have ever tasted.

The main angle on this post is what I supped with that food, and on numerous other recent occasions. The Old Queens Head is now able to source and sell local real ales. Its always sold good quality Thwaites and excellent Pilsner Urqell but as well as a Blue Bee Chinook Red (to be pronounced in credibility leaching East Lancashire accent) they have concentrated on beers from Abbeydale brewery.

Abbeydale Hopfenweiss was the first I know of, which is a bold style for a new brewery to them, and was followed by the impeccable Black Mass and the delicious Abbeydale Absolution. The Old Queens Head now serves an excellent and ever changing range of quality cask ales to add to its already impressive portfolio. I understand they are chuffed to bits to be able to do this. In my opinion the freedom to source locally has been hard won and deservedly awarded.

In terms of details of the pub, I would suggest you go in and get a pint of quality Sheffield cask ale and look around the numerous pictures for information. One thing I can remember is there was alleged to be a tunnel all the way to the pub from Sheffield castle wide enough to drive a horse and cart down, which was used to transport Mary Queen of Scots. That, however,  is about all I have. This is principally due to gaps in my memory about the age of the pub. These gaps start at the beginning of the building's life and end about three years ago. In that time the pub has become a regular stopping off point for myself and Tash and Matty and we go there to relax and chat and now to eat. Mention must go, I insist, to the traditional garlic soup. I love garlic, and so does the writer of the recipe. Its immense.

I hope the current team continue their management of this boozer for a long time to come, and that the original sections of this ancient building, though altered, can be kept as preserved as they currently are. Most crucially, I hope they can continue to source local real ales, making this another excellent and convenient pub of choice.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy