Saturday, 23 September 2017

Scotland 2017 - Loch Erisort, Lewis, Stornoway, Ullapool, Gairloch

Hello again,

          this post continues the details of our trip to Western Scotland and its Isles, at the beginning of this month. We were up very early - 5.00AM, to get out for before 06.00 following a continental breakfast, cereal and sarnies and tea! We just got to the ferry at Berneray for 06.55 and were on Harris a little later. After a quick drive and visit to Scalpay we arrived at the Loch Erisort Inn on Lewis for dinner.

When we had last visited, the man from Huddersfield had said that they only had cask beer on for a week every year - it now transpired that last year he had poured away as much as he had sold. He said there had been days when he could have sold a cask in two busy nights but there hadn't been sufficient of such when he had it on so he wouldn't bother this year. However, our fabulous dinner of smoked haddock and mussel chowder with bread and chips was washed down with a very agreeable bottle of Isle of Skye Gold.

We were soon heading for Carishader on the Uig peninsula on Lewis, and the sky cleared as we approached. Its wonderful scenery in the area, and we arrived at a decent time to get our keys and have a fantastic afternoon tea, before heading off to buy beer and wine from the Uig Community store. They sold a range of about 30 or more Scottish bottled beers including Jaw Brew and Cromarty so about 5 bottles were picked up and a bottle of wine. Our tour of the peninsula involved dead end roads that became tracks and was conducted in fabulous sunshine en route to Breanais, before heading back to the nearby former Loch Chroistean school, now an informal restaurant,  for a fabulous meal.

The next day saw another circular tour including Cliff and Vlatos before we headed across the moors to Stornoway. Short of time I agreed to head for the Edge o the World micropub run by Hebridean Brewing Co. I found nine beers on, three keg and six cask, plus bottles, and tried four. The Beserker is not really to my taste, so I had the Hebridean Black on keg, half, and halves of Moo Coo Broo and the barman's favourite which was possibly Highlander, on cask.

Its really good to see real ale in Stornoway but I only really enjoyed the Moo Coo, which had a description which suggested I wouldn't like it. The brewers, and owners I think, Alan and Lorna, have moved up from England and their beers are oddly thin and slightly sweet. I do wish them all the best selling real ale in Stornoway though.

We caught the ferry to Ullapool next and drank more bottles of Fyne Ake, and then intended to stop having heard that many bars in the town sell real ale. The Ferry Inn, where we have been before, had three real ales but apart from Deuchars it was Greedy King and Slaters. Really, we were after An Teallach which is brewed nearby. We followed the GBG advice and went to the Morefield Motel and they had three real ales on, although the Ullapool one was a "joke beer" with nothing but a charity tin on it, and there was no An Teallach apart from their keg lager. The Cairngorm Highland Gold was on good form but the Orkney Northern light was very poor, and WF was by now tired and hungry, so we headed for Laide and Archgarve where we were to stay.

I suggested we drove on to Gairloch which is about 20 miles further on from Laide, as the Old Inn may serve food later than the hotel nearby. The roads are fairly windy and single track and we took a long time to reach Gairloch, which we haired through before pulling up where we thought the Old Inn was - not to find it. With WF now fuming about "my stupid idea" we headed further up the road before we turned round and he accused me of taking us to a pub that had clearly closed down. I checked the GBG for info on the brewery since the pub is no longer in it, and noticed the address as Flowerdale Glen - just as we spotted a sign  for the Old Inn, now virtually hidden behind a gallery called Solas.

I ran in whilst WF got parked and secured the last table to eat, in the family room, and ordered drinks. A pint of An Tealach Ale for me and a half of the Old Inn brewery North Coast pale were had, and on excellent form. The food in here was a little pricey but outstanding - the rare venison steak I had was cooked to perfection (which with such a lean meat is difficult to do) and I thoroughly enjoyed it, despite WF's moaning. Further An Teallach and Old Inn brewery beer was also sampled.

We got to our accommodation after 21.00 but that was fine and had a lovely breakfast the next morning before heading back to Gairloch and on towards Torridon. The final post about the tour includes the journey there and on back to home in fab sunny Sheffield, and ill come soon.

You very best health!

Wee Befy

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Shakespeares recognised as best pub in Sheffield

Good evening readers,

    regular visitors may have read the post title and assumed I had got stuck in some kind of memory relapse, and repeated my oft written assertion that Shakespeares is Sheffield's best pub due to some kind of recollective malfunction. Luckily, I have not. Sheffield's the CAMRA have voted Shakespeares as their September 2017 pub of the month. And rightly bloody so.

Interestingly, as a non CAMRA member and having been in the wilds of Scotland for the week preceding the award, I hadn't realised this was to be bestowed on my favourite pub, and also missed the presentation. I saw a note on Facheache and remember thinking " I must find out when that is" about an hour after it had finished.

Since returning from my trip to Western Scotland and its isles I have, its fair to say, spent rather a lot of time in the Shakespeares's. Recent lupolic highlights encountered have included  Fourpure Deuceboox tropical DIPA, Abbeydale Voyager 5 unfined IPA, a Beavertown and Basqueland brown, and Cloudwater NW DIPA Galaxy. There was also an excellent cask of Neepsend Pale which had a name, and everything, and a very agreeable North Riding, along with Wild Beer Co Jambo stout of many Vimtos. None of the above choices of beer reflect a lack of hoppy ales north of the border I should point out, rather they represent a stunning line up of ales to tempt my palate.

For the uninitiated, Shakespeares (still) does pork pies and sandwiches at 70p, so an after work pint can become a meal, and there is now a chip shop threatening to open after 20.00 across the road, so sobriety is much less unachievable. The beer garden continues to impress, and it still warm enough to sit out remember, and the line up of acts upstairs, along with the games room facilities, continue to impress.

The real qualities of my favourite pub however are represented in its staff. Admittedly I have not yet come to know or make nicknames for the two new yoot, but Chris, Nate, Adam, Derek, Rory and Brettmorgan continue to excel in their customer service, toleration of my nodding off, and knowledge and skills used to choose a frankly exceptional range of bose (lets not forget the excellent range of gin and whisky available).

I would in this rare moment of sobriety like to thank Shakespeares for putting up with me and for being so absolutely bloody excellent at being a pub. Now, rightly and entirely agreeably recognised as the best pub in Sheffield by the CAMRA. Finally bringing us into line with Ratebeer's assessment of the pub as being the best for beers in South Yorkshire this and last year. Hurrah!

I look forward to joining you all in said bowzer soon, or at least, as soon as I have paid off someone's  tab...

Cheers!

Wee Beefy


Saturday, 16 September 2017

Scotland 2017 - Tyndrum, Oban, Lerags, Barra and the Uists

Hello,

      this month we went back - we being myself and Wee Fatha, to the West coast of Scotland, an area I hail from, and one to which we wanted to return. WF had ventured away in May 2017 and to be fair to him that was too early after his heart attack - he had said he never wanted to go to Scotland again. I knew this was not true. Two weeks ago that was proven.

Our first stop was in Moffat  at the Stag. Having previously been at the Star and been underwhelmed with the choice of real ale, we found two real ales at the Stag, a Greedy King standard and Inveralmond Lia Fail. A half of each was had, with me finishing most of both. WF was restricted to a half a day or similar so usually only had a few sups of each or a soft drink.

Next up after numerous traffic jams we ended up at the Village Inn at Arrochar, with five real ales including Fallen Just the ticket pale ale and Fyne Avalanche and Jarl. One of the Fallen alas ran out before I tried it but the range and setting at this pub is always excellent.

We didn't stop again until we finally reached Tyndrum to stay in a huge hotel full of coach parties. Food and Caledonian Highlander or similar was at the Tyndrum Inn. Despite its somewhat remote location Tyndrum is an incredibly busy place. The food was spot on, as was the beer. I even went to the hotel bar on our return for a half a Belhaven Saltire lager. It was as good as you would expect.

The next day we undertook the short drive to Oban and having booked in at the B and B we drove through the rain to Ellenabaich on Seil Island. The Oystercatcher was open so we went in and had pints of a Fyne ales red and their excellent summer skies - perhaps the most ironically named beer of the trip, but one of the best. We then caught the small ferry to Easdale and went for a wander and a few bottles in the Puffer Inn. Matt said they used to sell real ales on handpump but am not sure where on the tiny bar, but the range of bottles was excellent. Lawless Village IPA, Orkney Norseman Pale and Colonsay IPA were all sampled, along with lovely food.

Later that evening we went to the Barn at Lerags, down a resurfaced winding track from the main road. Two beers on here if I recall, and I had about three pints of the Orkney corncrake - unless it was the Fyne ales beer.  Alas the name escapes me. Our final stop on day two was in the Corrywreckan Wetherspoons in Oban where I had two Oban Bay brewery beers. They were OK, but not my style, but at least there are usually some on in this pub.

Day three we were meant to be going to Barra - but WF, exhausted by the drive on the first day, was really not very well. The kind owner of the Inverasdale bed and breakfast let WF go back to bed and put her guest up in her friends house next door, allowing WF some sleep and myself chance to explore Oban.

I started in the Oban Inn on a pint of Fyne Jarl. This is a beautiful old pub with an upstairs dining room selling three Fyne Real ales, Jarl, Highlander and Vital Spark. All three were tried and found to be on top form, as was the food I had there later on. The barman seemed interested to know what I thought and recommended two further stops selling Fyne ales in the town. My next stopping point was the Lorne on Stevenson Street.

Two Fyne Ales on cask here, Jarl and Highlander, but its nice to get to try the same beer in different pubs. I only stopped or a quick pint but the food looked and smelled delicious. The penultimate new stop took some finding - having forgotten its name I had to pop back in the Oban to ask, and then wandered  aimlessly for 30 minutes before getting specific directions from a local.

Marky Dans is a cellar bar down some steps underneath accommodation near the Gaelic centre. They do food all day and sell one real ale in the quirkily decorated bar. Here the Fyne Summer Skies pale was on excellent form. The music was good for the most part as well, and this seems like the sort of place I would like to go back to an a January Monday afternoon - potentially to have the whole place to myself.

Having checked on WF and found improvement, I returned to the Oban Inn twice, the later time chatting to fellow tourists from West Kirby and Helensborough, whose names I can almost remember, Karen and a tall man called Chris or Tom. Or John. Um..... several pints of Jarl were once again enjoyed and I got back late for our final snooze before the ferry.

As forewarned, the ferry journey, 5 and half hours long, can get quite rough once you leave the minch. I had already eaten crisps and a bottle of Fyne Avalanche before eating a curry as we sailed past Mull. As a direct result of the absurd rollercoaster journey I ended up wearing it. I only dared leave the table to get back in the var. Once I had removed all traces of vomit from my arms and facial hair, we met our accommodation owner Mari and set about trying to find food. The Castlebay Hotel was booked but we got a table at the Craigard Hotel. Caledonian Coast to Coast pale on keg was a decent sup, and the hand dived scallops in Grand Marnier creme sauce were exceptional. Good to see a poster in the dining room saying you are more than welcome to breastfeed in here - quite why people object to such a natural process is beyond me.

The next day we spent time travelling round Vatersay, and stopped at the Castlebay Hotel for a bottle of Skye Gold, and also a taste of the Barra gin - distilled in London using Barra ingredients its being sold to raise the funds to build a distillery on Barra.

A short ferry hop to Eriskay followed before we stopped in the Borrodale Hote in South Uist. No real ale, but two bottles of Hebridean, Clansman, and Beserker. Both off, had the first replaced but drank the second anyway. Probably should have gone to Polochar....

That night we ate at the Lochmaddy Hotel in Lochmaddy and they had St Kilda Challenge Ale on at 3.5% on cask from an unnamed brewery. I din't ask who it was as the beer was a little underwhelming, but it was our first cask since Oban. Afterwards we went to the Westford Inn at Clacdach Kirkibost on North Uist.

I had wanted to come here for so long, so tried hard to manage my expectations. I think the pub is incredibly popular and very busy, and the hassled tones of the lady on the phone was disappointing if understandable. On getting in we had pints of Skye Tarasgeir and Red, half a Skye Gold as well as more Barra gin for me. The Tarasgeir was not quite what I expected, but it had a very distinct flavour, the red was well kept, as was the Gold, indeed all were. The pub was still busy when we arrived at 21.00 and am sure the food is lovely, but we couldn't stay longer long due to an extra early start the next day. More details of our trip to Lewis Ullapool and beyond soon.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Dentdale

Hello,

       its unusual for me to go away over the Bank Holiday weekend. Even more so these days, when an early in the month thirst has usually robbed me of all funds. So it was this year, and planning on working every day over the holiday weekend, when Wee Keefy invited me away I said no. I needed to work those days to get another overtime payout, but even as I said that, I knew it was madness. WK would pay for the petrol and camping anyway, and would give me some funds for food, and, um, refreshments. So I said yes.

We headed up through Bradford, Skipton and towards Keighley before heading to our first stop in sunny Settle. Here I used the amazing online National Inventory website to completely fail to find Settle's entry. At home on my PC the site is easy to navigate. On my phone its next to useless. Giving up (I thought the pub was the Royal Oak, we found one, but it was not the one I thought I was looking for) we followed signs for the Talbot Arms. Hidden away on a back street there were six real ales to choose from in this (probably) former Theakstons pub. WK had a half of Settle Brewery Railway siding or similar, myself a pint of Wishbone Ginnel Pale. We sat in the garden in sunshine and enjoyed both. A most acceptable start. Incidentally, the pub I am thinking of is not in Settle. And the pub in Settle is the Royal Oak. Fail....

We headed up to the Ribblehead viaduct and stopped for a quick picture before heading over to Dentdale via the Dentdale viaduct. We passed the pub in Cowgill and got to Ewegales farm about 15.00, and after getting stuck in and pushing ourselves out of, the mud, we met up with Sue and Kev and got set up.

Tea was a barbecue, and much needed, after which we headed out to the pub. Kev and Sue are currently looking after a rescue dog called Edie, who is a well behaved, older stray with a good temperament. Alas, the Sportsman's Inn in Cowgill does not allow dogs in. So we sat outside. Getting eaten alive by midges.

Now, I don't own a dog so am not that bothered but none of us expected a remote country boozer to ban dogs. They do serve food but am sure in a separate room. And if memory serves the floor is flagstoned. When we arrived there were only three other customers. Kev and Sue stayed less time than us, since none of us enjoyed being eaten by midges. This was an oddly Quiet Woman a Earl Sterndale type of situation which put a dampener on our night.

Mind you the two beers on offer were good. I had a number of pints of the Settle Pale ale, which had a name, and WK, Kev and Sue all had the Pennine Blonde. All beers are £3.40 a pint, which isn't a bad price. Once Kev and Sue had headed back to the camp me and WK went inside and caught up with the farmer of the farm we were staying at and it was an enjoyable nights drinking. It would have been far more so if we could have brought Edie into the pub with us.

The next ay I was up very early and went for a walk to Birk Rigg and back before breakfast.  We started the day looking at the Dentdale viaduct before heading back to the Ribblehead, or Batty Moss, viaduct. After a walk to the top of the far end we discovered that a steam train was due in an hour, so we decided to head back to the river and then come back later to photograph the train. Ribblehead is a beautiful, bleak place full of strange people. Visitors I should point out. Mostly super fit 50 year old Dads dragging their kids and partners along on exceedingly grueling treks. It reminded me very much, except that I was willingly involved, of my childhood. The steam train was ace by the way.

A dawdle followed, through a maddening Ingleton traffic jam and then along a gated road to Dent where we parked up for two hours. Its last century since I was in Dent and we soon found the brewery tap the George and Dragon. I had a pint of Aviator and WK a half of their Blonde and Towd Tup strong dark ale. Initially we sat outside on the steps in glorious sunshine observing the comings and goings of village life in the small cobbled streets, but we had to go back inside, if nothing else so I could charge my phone. The young lad behind the bar very kindly plugged it in for me and I got chatting to him and a guy called Adam.

WK headed to the local shop for dinner, which was a box of "oat flips" or flapjacks, and some bottled Dent beers, whilst I enjoyed another pint of the Aviator and some crisps and then two more whole pints of the towd Tup. I may have been a trifle refreshed. The pub and village was friendly and I would have spent longer in there were it not for a desire to nip into the other pub the Sun Inn.

Here I had half an Andwells brewery beer which also had a name, and a pint of Kirby Lonsdale Monument Ale as this was the hoppiest on. I went and sat outside in the sunshine and waited for WK to join me. There was an interesting mix of folks in the beer garden and the atmosphere was once again spot on. I really enjoyed my trip to Dent.

Later on we popped into the Moorcock Inn at Langdale End (or a Moorcock Inn somewhere else) for tea and I had a pint of something pale which was enjoyable. Alas my earlier slaking seems to have removed some facts about this beer, most noticeably its name and producer.

Once back at the campsite I made plans to return to the Sportsman's Inn but everyone else, perhaps understandably, decided to stay at the campsite drinking some Dent bottles. I arrived about 20.00 and immediately got a pint of the Settle Brewery Attermire session IPA at 4.2%. It was the hoppiest beer of the trip away by far and went down a treat, although I only had enough for a pint and a half and returned to the campsite before 21.30. The pub was empty when I left.

Its always nice to get away and to not have to work but even then this was a really enjoyable few days holiday to an area I scarcely knew. We didn't have a bad beer all holiday and the ale was sensibly priced. It was interesting to taste the Dent brewery beers for the first time in a while, but more so the Settle brewery, who appear to be a bit more "future leaning" in their styles of ale, whilst still producing traditional cask beers.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy  

Friday, 25 August 2017

Dronfield

Hulloo,

       this post, in keeping with ongoing issues of procrastination, is fairly late. I went to Dronfield at the beginning of the month, but hey, the facts are still there. Those that I can remember at least. Not the ones I have conflated with other events at random points in the past. Not them. Um.....

So, I had been to Beer Central once again for my monthly catch up - where am introduced, in what is becoming a veritable smorgasboard of equal delights and surprise, to beers I may have said I would buy whilst online in the preceding week. s. As always there were some shocks, not in terms of prices, more in terms of my not remembering ordering some of them. There was also a lot of Cloudwater. Hooray for me!

I cut down past the Lord Nelson and wandered up to the Rutland to get a couple of drinks before I headed off. Continuing the Cloudwater theme I had  a half of their London Ale DIPA at 9%. Its come to something when you have to express surprise at a beer being on at less than £7.00 a pint, but that's what it was, and that is what I paid for. I also got a frankly sublime half of Lervig Passion Tang, a passion fruit sour at 7.0%. Having never disliked a Lervig brew this did not disappoint.  Both beers were on keg and in excellent condition. This was a good start to my trip.

Once at the station I didn't have too long to wait for the unfeasibly small Nottingham train to trundle into view and was quickly in Dronfield and heading for the Dronfield Arms. In the days before I had tried a number of pints of Hopjacker Stargoon on cask at Shakespeares - one of the best cask beers I have had this year. Alas there was none on cask at the Arms, and also no Edd, but still lots of excellent beers to choose from.

I started with a pint of Hopjacker beginning with M - it was about 3.8% and having lost some of my memory I have searched Google to find a suggestion of "mock draft". Is this even one of your beers Edd? If not, the one I tried still began with M. The beer was easy drinking, and accompanied some delicious olives which may or may not have been stuffed.

Next up I discovered that Stargoon was available, on keg. So I had to have a pint of that, along with a cheese and pickle pork pie. The pub was starting to get busier, and it was good to see plenty of customers with dogs. The Stargoon on keg was actually not quite as good as the cask at Shakespeares. Its a weird one, but that remains even now after other tries, the best I have ever tasted it. A cracking beer from a fab brewery.

Off next to find the Dronfield Beer Stop, which, it turns out, is about 3 minutes walk away. Spotting the lane the shop was on I then noticed the shop itself, and so headed in. The guy was friendly and chatty and didn't mind serving me a beer on keg, which I had promised to drink quickly, despite him soon being closed. The beer was from a brewery based not in the UK. For reasons of crapulence, I cannot recall it or the beer's name. We had a good chat about what was good and available and I bought a can of Verdant Some Fifty Summers, a 4.8 or similar percent dry hopped pale. I made it clear that I liked Verdant, as did the man, who had an identifying sound, AKA a name. Names eh......  

My penultimate stop was at the Coach and Horses down the road - passing at least two former pubs, one closed down and one now a restaurant (although that may not have been a pub.....). The Coach was busy when I got in and I initially sat outside with my pint of beer, which was definitely pale, and also owned one of those defining noises which one makes when identifying or remembering it. Neither of which I can. Alas it soon started to rain so I nipped back inside and finished my enjoyable but alas unmemorable beer.

I finished the day's supping back at the Dronfield Arms having another pork pie (plain this time) and at least one more pint of the Hopjacker Stargoon, a fabulously cloudy, hoppy, fruity American style and hopped (probably) IPA. I tried a pint of this last time I was in Shakespeares and it remains a truly wonderful beer.

All too soon alas I had to return to the station and get the train, and once back in Sheffield I ignored the draw of the Tap and went home to indulge in one of my cans of Cloudwater, which was a 4.5% double hopped pale if memory serves. It does, but alas it double faulted.

I am well aware that there are other venues to tempt me to Dronfield but in fairness this was something of a whistlestop tour so apart from my first visit to the Beer Stop I stuck with what I know. Luckily, when beer is as good as it is at the Dronfield Arms, there seems little point going anywhere else.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Fresh

Hello folks,

     "when did people start giving a shit about how fresh a bottle of imperial stout is" I remember moaning, probably in early 2013, after reading the "Drink fresh" advice on the side of a bottle of Kernel. Then, less so now, I was into collecting beers, storing them for a period of time and opening them to find a changed and often much better product. I still have a bottle of Eldridge Pope Thomas Hardy Ale which I bought in 1994, and a few other vintages, along with other strong bottled stouts. The last thing I would want to do is drink them fresh.

Having checked my write up of that post about the tasting am afraid there is no mention of my horror, but in the four  years since I have started to hear more and more people comment, praise and rave even about the freshness of beers. As a libatious enthusiast, I have neither the time nor sobriety to look into "facts" or similar muddleheaded musings about the capacity of hops and malts to keep their flavours over long periods of time in a can or bottle. So instead am going to rely solely on observations, memories and, mainly,  guesswork.

At Tramlines's I was in Shakespeares nursing a two thirds of Siren in the clock room, which I own. In came Rodney who I know from serving him at Archer Road Beer stop years ago. He was raving about two brand new cans they had at Hop Hideout. The Cloudwater N.W DIPA (I think), and the Verdant Further DIPA, were both brewed within the last ten days and this had made him very excited.

We looked at the cans and as a massive fan of both breweries I started devising plans to go up and sample some of the same at the earliest opportunity.  I only bought the Verdant Further in the end, but that was absolutely fantastic. Did it matter that it was so fresh from the brewery? I would say yes. If nothing else, because of the style of beer produced -  a hoppy, cloudy, fruity IPA.

There is no discernible price difference (although both Cloudwater and Verdant are "high end")  so in effect you are now able to get the freshest beers straight from the brewery (almost). I think this improves the hops  - their flavour, bitterness and citrus notes appear to be more noticeable, and the beer seems, at least, easier to drink. I know this may seem like a hoodwink kind of plan by micro brewers but I would buy their beers anyway, so in effect all that is happening is I am enjoying their beers fresher, and probably all the more.

The other evidence in between 2013 and now about freshness, bearing in mind of course that all cask beer needs to be as fresh as possible once tapped, is that IPAs don't seem to work well when kept for any period of time. Its simply a style that doesn't suit ageing. I remember years ago when Blue Bee aged their 6 or 6.5% Tangled Up IPA in cask for 6 months or so. I tried it twice and found that the astringency of the hops had diminished, and the beer although more rounded, was more like a strong English ale. That is not a flavour or style that I want from an IPA.

When Shakespeares had a Cloudwater IPA on cask at New Year 2015 it had been ageing in the cellar for a period of months. Many regular drinkers, not all of whom were IPA fanatics I should point out, noticed that it had decreased in hoppiness and wasn't as vibrant as when fresh. Cloudwater no longer do cask beer but their kegs always say drink fresh. Their beers are invariably excellent, as are Verdant and Kernel's output.

It seems therefore, that another notable benefit of the excellence of brewing in the UK microbrewing scene is that fresh ales are becoming more popular, and since thus far they cost the same (if sell out quicker) I can only see this as a benefit.  And I still have numerous ageing dark or traditional English strong beers to enjoy when I want something heavier, for years to come.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy


Saturday, 12 August 2017

Punch, Stancill and the lash

Evening all,

      you may have heard from social media, Twitter et al, that Stancill Brewery, as well as taking on the Albion on London Road, are also taking over the lease of the Closed Shop, Commonside. This may at face value sound great. Its not if you are Chris Rogers, or the community who backed him to continue running the pub when Reet Ale Pubs went bust.

I saw Chris on Sunday, and found out his likely last day of trading would be Wednesday, assuming he didn't run out of stock. He had been given 10 days notice to leave, and thus needed to find accommodation for him and his family, and new employment in that short space of time. He had been asking Stancil for confirmation of whether or not he would be able to stay running the Closed Shop for some time. He hadn't been given a definitive answer until he received his notice to quit some time last week. Its not difficult to imagine why Chris might be a little miffed. When questioned on Twitter about this, Stancill I understand blamed Punch for keeping Chris and his staff in the dark (all the staff lost their jobs as well as far as I know).

Brewing and communication are very different skills I will grant you. However, finding new accommodation and employment in the timescale given, when you have a large family, is very very difficult indeed. Even if we take Stancill's explanation at face value, that simply means there are two organisations letting down the leaseholders, staff and community. I understand Chris already has plans, to open a micropub nearby, but as any of Sheffield's existing micropubs will confirm, permission to trade as and granting of licences for takes a long time. And it still doesn't sort out the accommodation issue, which is surely most pressing.

Concerns about staff and leaseholder welfare aside, I don't understand the decision from a marketing and potential financial benefit point of view. All the regulars I know are horrified by the behaviour of Stancill and or Punch, so am not sure where the core of visitors is going to come from. The community forum or organisation was set up by Chris to keep the pub open, and 24 investors paid cash to buy the Tenancy at Will from punch. In all there are 200 members on the group's mailing list, and am guessing most of them live nearby. I can't see that same community wanting to give Stancil any of their money after what has happened.

I realise the pub is to reopen mid August. So there will be an influx of students soon after, whom I am guessing Stancill are hoping won't know or if so won't care about this situation. If that was the case, that is doing students a disservice. If nothing else in Sheffield, pub wise, look at the reaction to the University Arms being threatened with demolition. ( although I realise that there were plenty of non students who did much of the ACV legwork)

The other issue is the staff that Stancill are to bring in from their other pubs. They are being given the opportunity to run a pub where they will have had no input into the treatment of Chris and his staff. I wish them as individuals every success, but have no intention of drinking any Stancil product in the future. I think the Horse and Jockey had a couple of guests on when they first reopened, but I didn't see any when I returned. So am not sure how I will be able to support another member of the licensed trade  doing well in the Closed Shop.

Best of luck to Chris and his staff in finding new roles, and accommodation. As per information on Facebook the Closed Shop has, once again, become closed. Lets hope something good will come from this situation, in whatever way that might be.

Cheers

Wee Beefy

Friday, 21 July 2017

Short crawls in Sheffield

Hello,

       back when I had money (laughs, then starts sobbing) I went on a few pub crawls in sunny Sheffield, mainly at the weekend, since I work, and nobody drinks on a school night. Well, apart from me, obvs. To be fair, in the good old days (pre October 2016) I used to drink virtually all the time. I digress however. Here is some more recent evidence of indulgence.

It was the first Saturday of the month and I nipped into town and to Beer Central to pick up my latest saves. Only the 6 or 7 this time, but as always some crackers amongst them. All now supped I hasten to add. I went straight from there to the Beer Engine and spoke to Tom about his new venture. I haven't seen him for a while so it was good to catch up, and having started on a pint of delicious beer that had a name I was bought another - in this case two halves, one of Lost Industry cherry and banana sour and Alphabet A to the K oatmeal pale (and Friendache, where I got that form tells me I had a pint of Toxteth IPA from Mad Hatter - proving why I post so many pics of beers I have drunk!). The sour was on especially impeccable form.

All three beers were as ever in perfect condition and I quaffed them outside in bright sunshine, before heading up to Hop Hideout for more sitting outside, this time supping something hoppy from To ol, and possibly something else. Or neither. I also bumped into Ron Patterson who is a beer historian and told him all about the Royal Cottage. He ordered food. That, is a fact.

I headed into town and then met up with Tash outside the Sheffield Tap. Here I had a pint, definitely of beer, and she had a cider. Or wine. We bumped into Katherine and I left them two to catch up and met them in the Old Queens Head, where I had a pint of the most local ale available. I also had half a bottle of wine. This may explain later "forgetfulness" in a style more apparent than normal.

From here I headed to meet Scott and Col and Sue and others in the KIT for Col's birthday drinks. It wasn't until Sunday that I figured out what I had, and why that had made me forget everything I had done in Shakespeares afterwards. I had a pint of the Brodies DIPA at 9%. This was not my most sensible move. It was good catching up with Col and Sue and Fluffy though.

Another trundle came the next day - having somehow done overtime I met Matty in the Shakespeares and bought a pint of something on cask am sure. We sat in the sunshine once again catching up before heading for the Kelham Island Tavern and having two thirds each of the Brodies - this was a clearly very strong tasting as well as strong gravity beer which explained memory loss on Saturday quite well. We finished this short and quick crawl in the Riverside where we had pints of a pale ale. This is probably the least revealing crawl I have ever written up. Luckily I can remember much more about the next.

A Sunday post overtime drink was arranged with Miss Middlemarch, but alas she cancelled as I was heading to Shakespeares so it seemed rude not to attend anyway. I sat in the sunshine once again, enjoying a frankly excellent pint of Kernel, although am not sure which, but it was on fine form. All too quickly however I had supped it and I returned for a further half before moving on.

My next stop was the Gardeners Rest. I haven't been in since Pat and Eddie sold it to the community and all that seems to have changed is there are now slightly fewer beers on. To be honest, I only ever seemed to go to the Gardeners when it was quiet, and with them being new owners as well this seems like a sensible move. They also appear to have a card machine, which am not sure was there before. Ironic, now that I only have once card....

I sat outside once again, talking to a guy about the local wildlife he had seen and supping a pint of Elusive, or similar sounding pale ale which was on great form. Its good to see the Gardeners still drawing in customers and serving excellent beer.

Just up the hill is the Forest, on Rutland Road. It was busy inside but nobody was sat outside - although there is now only one table to do so at. I got a pint of the Toolmakers Phillips screwdriver, some free crisps which were much appreciated, and went and sat outside where I was joined by a couple of locals who initially talked about holidaying abroad. It was lovely and hot and a fantastic place to sit, so I nipped in and got another half before heading off.

My final stop was at The Old Workshop. As I mentioned in my post yesterday I managed to sit outside, and I did indeed people watch. I got a fantastic pint of Kernel Citra IPA and supped that in hot sunshine watching the crowds arrive. I got chatting to a guy called Nick from Middlesborough who asked me to look after his pit bull, the Duke - named after a John Wayne character and film, whilst he got a drink. We got chatting to a group who came in and he offered to buy me a drink so I asked for a half of the Kernel but somehow the message got mixed up and he bought me a pint. The dog enjoyed the water in the bowl at least. Many thanks for the pint. I slowly finished this whilst the sun went behind the factories before heading home. A fine finisher.

I may have spent a little too much on the first and last but I enjoyed every one of them, and went to some cracking boozers en route. Once more, demonstrating the range of venues and beer menus available to the slakers of finest sunny Sheffield.

Huzaah!

Wee Beefy  

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The Old Workshop

Hello,

      the above is a new (by my journalistic standards at least) bar on Hicks Street in Neepsend. Where is Hicks Street? I hear 90% of you ask. Well, its off Burton Road, round the corner from Yellow Arch Studios and just past Wendy's chippy. Its also therefore near Sheffield Brewing Co, Peddler Market and the Forest and Gardeners Rest.

A month or two ago I bumped into Tom's sister in Shakespeares. She had a name, as a means of identifying her amongst other humans. I forget what it is. She confirmed that he, of Beer Engine renown, was involved in or opening a beer bar in Neepsend. I had heard rumours of this, but hadn't sought to find out any further information, but was pleased to hear that Tom was involved, with his excellent boozer the Beer Engine being one of the best places to drink in Sheffield. Of course, he will tell you this is all down to his excellent staff. Its still true either way.

On a Sunday towards the end of June I decided to pop down and take a look. I think its an exaggeration to say that Sheffield needs a place like this - but it certainly deserves a place like this. If nothing else, and separate from its own qualities, it brings us in line with nearby destinations for beer like Derby, Leeds and Manchester. Its a smart, popular, keg only bar with an excellent range of bottles and street food from Brazil and India. Or other countries in the world. Facts eh. What are they?

I have spoken to Tom briefly about it and he confirmed what Alan Steward had told me - that it was keg only not because of a dislike of cask, but because there is insufficient space behind the bar. Am fairly sure they don't have a cellar and the space behind the bar would indeed not fit a cask in - its also quite warm, so would be difficult to keep cask ale in tip top condition. Given that I drink cask and keg and bottle and canned beers I don't actually give a shit. Is the beer good? Yes. Thats all I need to know.

The bar is very nicely done out in what unsurprisingly appears to be an old workshop. Am guessing this is the inspiration behind the name. There is plenty of seating, basic wooden tables, a fantastic ceiling feature, and comfortable settees (or sofas?) at the front. I also understand the upstairs room is for hire. There doesn't appear to be any outside space, although, as a sun lover, I have perched on a stool at the tiny table outside at the side of the doorway.

The beer range features kegs of all strengths and tastes, with a goodly number of sours and gose to tempt you - the Chorlton sour that I tried the other day was fantastic, however, the Five Points DIPA and excellent Kernel Citra were also ace, and served in peak condition. As you may know, I lurve Kernel Citra.

Despite being in a location people know about as well as Nether Green, its actually a brilliant place for a bar to be - walk across Burton Road and over Ball Street bridge (or stop off at the Bajhi Hut or similar spelling) and you come out at the Milestone, with the Fat Cat, KIT, Riverside, Harlequin and Shakespeares and Bar Stewards nearby. Its definitely a great place to include on a crawl, or to go after work - that said, at present I think it only opens Friday to Sunday.

One slight word of warning is that if you are allergic to hipsters I would approach with caution. On my first visit I saw a guy in flip flops, tight denim shorts and a fair isle jumper, with a top knot. I initially wanted to vomit, but actually, he wasn't doing anything. He wasn't going to sit down next to me and start talking about bus braking systems. He was just out with his mates. In fact, its another good feature that it attracts an interesting and diverse clientel. People of all ages and cultures and styles throng here, and its a fantastic place to people watch.

Well done to Tom and the staff who run the Old Workshop. Its a fine place to go for a drink, and am certain, to stop off for some food, and the music is often very good as well. I expect to be popping in to sample their excellent wares in the very near future.

Yours

Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Rising Sun Sunfest Sheffield 2017

Hello,

     I understand this year's Sunfest was the 11th, and am fairly sure I first went in 2009 or 2010, likely my first ever visit to the pub. That said, am not sure how long Abbeydale have had the pub - so can any Abbeydonians tell me if Sunfest was run when the Rising Sun was not an Abbeydale pub? Am guessing it was. I have had a lot to drink since 2009 however.

Could I also quickly point out that as far as I know the Rising Sun is at Nether Green. I say this because a surprisingly high percentage of my friends either don't know that or don't know where Nether Green is. Its not Ranmoor. Its not Fulwood. I hope I am not wrong on this point!

I arrived about 18.00 on Thursday night with the threat of heavy thundery rain hanging over me - I can confirm that not a drop fell that night. It was gloriously hot in the sun, but the beer was very well kept - not too cold, but with a slight chill that kept it cool and refreshing without destroying the flavour. A big well done to the bar team at the festival for their hard work. It was £10.00 tokens and a hired glass again which is fine - being short of funds these days I may have preferred a £5.00 card but am well aware that you got a refund on both card and glass if you needed one.

My first beer of the festival was not recorded using my highly efficient ticking the programme process - but am certain it was Half Moon brewery York Midsummer, a 3.9% pale ale with Elderflower. A perfect, light, easy drinking palate opener which I supped in about 5 minutes. I moved straight on to the excellent range of keg beers and had a half of Abbeydale Strong and Stable - its a pale and hoppy American style DIPA from Abbeydale at 8.4%. Brewed with much Mosaic so I loved it, and described as dank and delicious, despite its name I spilt some just as I was heading to speak to Dan Baxter, head of talking and many other things at the Brewery. Seems the beer, not I, was strong and stable.

Having tried the Birdhouse tea beer at 4.2% from Abbeyda;e, which was interesting, if not that brilliant, I moved onto Burning Soul Brewery OCT IPA at 6.9% on cask.. Bags of flavour, but not as citrussy as I'd hoped, this was still a perfect beer to follow the SandS. I bumped into Ethan, he of previous Three Tuns fame, and Robin, and sat down with Richard, Bex, Jodie, Darren, Laura and a man with a fab beard. Laura suggested I tried her Princess Rara, an 8.1% naturally hazy vanilla and raspberry pink coloured beer. It was a very enjoyable mix, and thankfully not too sweet. There was also a hint of sharpness from the rasps which balanced the beer well.

Next up was keg Verdant Headband, a 5 5% golden beer from Falmouth described as bitter and sweet. Its the third beer I have tried from Verdant and I have loved every one - their can of Just one more Psi that I tried last month was the best of a range of 13. This did not disappoint. I also tried thirds of Cross Borders Braw on keg at 5.2%, which was too light a beer for keg, and the Fintry Clachertyfarlie, which was alas, too light to register at all. Things improved with Torrside Snap Decision 5.2% pale however, and I finished on a half of the Elderflower Deception. Or Cosmology. Its not clear....

Saturday I was back in the afternoon and met Rich, Kath, Beck, a lady, John, Mark, someone who may have been called Andrew who drank cider, Jon and Mandy, a man called Yannis, Andy M, the Sword of Justice from work, Pat J, Diane and Pete and Carol, and Laura BH and many others. It seems daft to list them all but for me that level of recall is amazing! Now....what beers did I have?

Well, having carefully returned with someone else's blank festival programme am going to have to guessmember. I definitely tried and enjoyed the Boundary Brewing Forever Ago NE IPA at 6.0% on keg. Northern Irish beer has been slow to make it over to the mainland and I had never heard of Boundary before, but this was an excellent starter.

I had a third of the Wilde Child Opaque Reality pale at 5.9% (and over a fiver a pint on cask!?) which was good, but really should have been. I also tried a half of the Beer Nouveau Government Ale at 3.7% - I was looking forward to this since Beer Nouveau are a small Manchester based brewery housed, I think, near Cloudwater, but all I can say is I think it was a "response" to the Government reduced strength Carlisle State Bitter. It tasted of virtually nothing! ( I have since read the listing and this is, virtually, what the beer was, coming from a McGees recipe of 1917. It was still very disappointing.....)

The Fallen Brewing New World Odyssey at 4.1% was good and refreshing, (although people seem to think its pronounced Fallon?) and I had another half of Princess Ra Ra which went down very well. I also enjoyed the Abbeydale Orange you glad its summer on keg, an 8.5% orange spiced saison which was very refreshing and dangerously easy to drink. I tried a half of the Abbeydale Voyager 3 IPA at 5.6% hazy IPA with Centennial, Galaxy and Lemon Drop hops which was very enjoyable.

I think I may also have tried the Double Brimstone Barrel Aged at 8.1% - am thinking this must have been near the end of my visit, which happened as the crowds became incredible in mass, and some beers started to run out.  

Overall I really enjoyed my two visits, and although no credit can be taken for the weather, the sun at Sunferst was amazing! I didn't try any of the food alas, so can't comment but all the ales were well kept, even the ones I didn't like, and the range was incredible. Well done once again to Abbeydale and the Rising Sun staff and numerous volunteers for putting on a cracking festival once again.

Hoping to see you all in 2018.

Wee Beefy