Sunday, 10 December 2017

Shakespeares IPA Tap takeover 3

Hello,

       some of you may know that I had an issue recently known as a stroke. Am telling you this now so that you can judge me and then read with a clear head. I am not for a minute suggesting I have been sensible in my recovery. So lets now get on with the gen....

I had heard about this takeover a few weeks ago and had already enjoyed two of the beers in can in the last month, so no amount of minor brain injury was going to keep me away. It did take a while to walk from the Wicker, and it was cold, but I had my stick my phone and company. The beers did not disappoint.

I started on two halves, of Northern Monk and Wylam I want to moob it moob it, and Cloudwater and the Pilcrow pub Missing piece IPA at 7%. The Northern collab was fabulous, very cloudy and tantalisingly hoppy and absurdly easy to drink.

I had heard some in the tiny village of my drinking universe suggest that they were tired of Cloudwater and of the DIPA style. I found this quite interesting. I realise that price is an issue (the Northern Monk Wylam collab was £6.60 a pint at 8.8 and the Cloudwater collab was £7.20 at 7% for example) and also that their DIPA series of 9%ers had probably run its course before it finished. However, their New England DIPAs and Double dry hopped 6% pale ales have been far better, in some cases amazing,  and the idea of double dry hopping a DIPA whilst also maintaining its balance and easy drinking smoothness brings the style to a whole new level.

The missing piece IPA with Pilcrow was very interesting and featured Citra, Eukanot and Mosaic and was double dry hopped, pulling off the hoppy and balanced trick perfectly. It was also thick yellow in colour - not that this matters, but it suggested different malts or yeast to usual had been used which perhaps contributed to the flavour. It was quite frankly exceptional. A proper hop smoothie.

I also tried the Weird Beard and Odyssey Brew Co Fuck you I won't brew what you tell me, a 9.2% West Coast IPA. I have a lot of time for Odyssey and the only thing that let this down was that the strength possibly gave the beer a noticable sweetness.

The final IPA I tried was the Deya Into the Haze, a wonderfully cloudy tropical IPA at 6.2%. This was perhaps the beer of  the night in terms of mouthfeel and taste, and its the only beer I had a pint of. Deya are another good brewery whose products thus far have not disappointed me. A fantastic, smooth, hoppy end to a short tasting. Alas I did not get to try the Chorlton Mandarin sour or the Amundsen from Norway, and I didn't try the Lost Industry Landlocked streets in the sky because I had tried it in bottle and didn't fancy its unavoidable sweetness (although it is a very good beer).

Having   missed two excellent pub fests whilst in hospital or recovering am glad I risked a trip to Shakespeares to sample some truly fantastic ales from some influential breweries. Looking forward to another which I would recommend should take place in February when am good and better.....

Cheers

Wee Beefy


Friday, 1 December 2017

Fiddichside Inn Craigellachie, Moray

Hello all,

     I wanted to write a few words about the above pub, and its landlord Joe Brandie. It may seem strange to pay such a tribute when you discover that I only went once, but that visit was special and affecting. I heard last month that Joe Brandie had sadly passes away at the age of 88 and that the future of the pub is unknown. Lets hope that someone can be found to purchase and run it for many more years.

I visited the pub about five or six years ago with Wee Fatha on a trip up to Aberdeenshire. We had visited the nearby Arbelour distillery and were heading, I think, for the West coast and Seil Island from Fortrose. At least some of the above statements are true....

We stopped first at the Highlander Inn which has an astoundingly large range of whiskies and two or three real ales, which we both enjoyed. I don't remember if the Fiddichside had a car park, but I do remember walking over the bridge and along the side of the road before walking down the steps to the tiny pub to find it open, and landlord Joe stood behind the bar.

Many references to Joe that I have read mention his enjoyment of welcoming visitors from all over the world, and that is one of the first things he said to me. He also didn't seem to mind being in my photos. Myself and WF got halves of Belhaven best and sat down at one end of the tiny, impeccably clean, basic bar room. Mr Brandie returned to his place, and stance, behind the bar. For five minutes we supped in silence before striking up a conversation about our route and destination. The silence, by the way, was easy and glorious.

The pub is on the National Inventory of Unspoilt Pub interiors and was likely unchanged inside for fifty or sixty years, maybe longer. The most amazing feature was just how small the boozer was. I recall the loos were near the entrance but can't remember there being a second room. The bar could probably hold about twenty people. There was a fantastic mirror on the wall facing the bar and a few small stools and tables and a bench that me and WF sat on, and that was it. Basic, unspoilt simplicity.

One thing that we didn't talk about was his wife Dorothy. Not that there was any reason why we should have done, having only just met. However whilst searching for info about the pub I learnt that she had been licensee for many years and had died in 2009 aged 89. The longevity of the couple is notable, but its quite sad to think that Joe would have run the pub by himself for seven or eight years.

I ended up buying some crisps and another drink, and found to my delight that he had started selling Cairngorm or Fyne Ales bottled beers, am fairly sure I had a bottle of Trade Winds to finish my visit.

The pub is in a fantastic rural location, sat in an idyllic spot just past the bridge next to the Fiddich outside the main part of Craigellachie. This factor may raise the price of the building and deter potential buyers from keeping it going as a pub. As yet there are no details of its future. I do hope it reopens, and remains as it appears to have done for so many years, unaltered.

Wee Beefy

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Badges

Hello,

   am guessing that many Sheffield readers will know straight away what this post, or rather whom this post, is about. To those not in the know, Badges Andrew is the subject - known by many other names am sure, and according to Beer Matters, as Andrew Smith. I never knew Andrew's surname whilst he was alive. That is the same for many of the people I know and drink with in Sheffield pubs. Andrew passed away in October this year. Here are some thoughts on his drinking life.

I use that phrase by the way because I didn't know Andrew outside of pubs. That, as above, is something that applies still to many people I see in boozers regularly. One of the benefits, if you look at it so, of social media, is that you can often find out lots about people you meet in pubs by exchanging online details. I realise this is also potentially a bad thing. I met Andrew in 1994. It was ten years before I owned  a computer.

Due to my woeful UJR* I don't know what condition Andrew had. I spoke to someone recently who said he didn't speak to him because he thought he was a freak. I was quite shocked, since to me it was obvious that Andrew had some kind of illness or condition which determined the way that he acted in social situations. There was no malice in the chap. He was a jolly, unendingly enthusiastic, probably overly verbose and loud gent who loved his cask beer. He may well have had a behavioural condition, but one thing I would say is that this never stopped him coming out to drink. Sometimes too much. Sometimes too often. These are not characteristics I would criticise in anyone, for obvious reasons.

Andrew's passing is one where the term rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated is actually accurate. About five years ago he disappeared from the pub scene altogether and there were suggestions he had passed away. And then I saw him in the Bath Hotel, addressing the bar staff, as he always had done, as if they were about 30 feet away. It was impossible to miss Andrew. For a start you may have remembered him from working shifts at Sheffield Beer Festival for many years. And even if you went deaf you would always recognise his hat, weighed down and bedecked in number by badges. Unfortunately I never got to find out what the badges said since, alas, Andrew suffered from spouty mouth, a term I have invented. Lets just say it was advisable to cover one's drink with a beer mat whilst conversing with Andrew, lest one wanted a top up, consisting almost entirely of saliva.

I once met up with Sean in the Cask and Cutler and mentioned I was going to Chesterfield the next day with my other half. He had asked if I was going to Keighley beer festival. It seemed Andrew was also, as he loudly advised. As we were about to leave the Derby Tup the next afternoon I heard Andrew's distinctive voice. He was a trifle refreshed. I said hello to him on our way out and headed with my partner to the Red Lion on Whittington Moor. Or whatever the Old  Mill pub was called. As we were also a trifle refreshed we decided that Andrew was a bit too much for us and were therefore seeking  refuge there. I even jokingly said to the barman, that if he came in, could me and our lass hide behind the bar. Five minutes later he did, and so did we. He spotted us. He didn't think to ask why we were crouching behind the bar. He just told us, in great detail and with some volume, about the beers he had tried at the festival and the Tup. All of which had been very nice, really.

The final thing I want to share is from way back in 1994. Me and Helen and Ieuan and others were in the beer garden of the Fat Cat, along with Alan Gibbons. Andrew walked in and started telling Helen in great detail about something that had happened earlier that day (which would no doubt have been really really good,  or very nice actually) and then spotted Alan. And then, this happened....

Andrew: "Ooooh" Alan! Its funny you being called Alan Gibbons.....
Alan: silence
Andrew: "cuz you could have been called Alan Baboon!"
Alan: silence
Andrew: "Alan Chimpanzeeee!"
Alan: silence
Andrew: "Alan orangutan!"

I would like to think that Andrew's notable attention to detail meant he would have listed many other types of apes or simian creatures but I can't be sure. I do know that whilst we pissed ourselves laughing, Alan did not find this in the slightest bit amusing. Never before have I heard someone so enthused about monkeys, nor seen someone so stern faced in the receipt of such unbridled enthusiasm.

Back to reality, and I don't know how Andrew died, but am sad to see his passing. I have only been drinking for 26 years but have already lost many friend and acquaintances from the world of pubs which I started frequenting in 1993.

If you are out tonight, please raise a glass in tribute to Andrew. And do mention the simian possibilities of his surname to Alan Gibbons.....

Cheers

Wee Beefy

*Usual Journalistic Rigour

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Sheffield Steel City Beer Festival 2017

Hello,

       well, for the 24th consecutive year I have attended the Sheffield Beer Fest, and I think I have to admit that the Kelham Island Museum is my favourite venue. There have been many venues used since 1994, Nelson Mandela Building, St Phillips Social Club, Ponds Forge, Cemetery Road, Darnall Liberal Club (eek!) but the Kelham Island Museum trumps the lot. Its such a great Sheffield place - the museum exudes Sheffield history (as of course it should) and is sufficiently close to, and in, the Don Valley of beer to be ideal.

I was in at 18.00 n Wednesday as I had two arrangements to keep - one was to judge some of the beers, the other was to meet up with Wees K and F, with WF being a long term abstainer for reasons that in the proceeding years thereafter have become unknown. I will say now, I have no idea if WF enjoyed the beer festival, as I haven't spoken to him since, but at least he went and got to see what the festival is all about.

The tasting was for speciality beers. This is a broad church, and the standard was once again poor, which is surprising since every year I have been involved in the tasting I have enjoyed fabulous festival beers and roobish tasting/judging beers. So what did I sup as a punter?

I started on a third of the North Riding and Offbeat DIPA at 8.1% on cask. It was bloody excellent. This is one of only a couple of beers I tried twice. Rather than list (and surprisingly I can) everything I tried I will just concentrate on the best. I had the Neepsend Double Century IPA at 7.2%, also on cask, and it was exceptional - very very hoppy but well balanced and incredibly tasty - must have been the malt....

I also tried the Magic Rock Bearded Lady Dessert version Bourbon Barrel Aged at 10.5%, on keg. Like a meal in a glass, but a very luxurious meal. I tried and enjoyed the Abbeydale and Blue Bee are there hops in hell at 7.2% on keg and it was very nicely hopped with a wonderful aftertaste, and I also tried my favourite beer of this year, the Verdant Maybe One More PSi, also on keg, at a comparatively bargain price of just over £7.00 a pint - alas funds prohibited my purchasing that much.

The Steel City Demons are Back on cask was delicious, but strangely it was clear? What is going on Dave? I also tried the two Siren and To Ol collaborations on keg, the wonderfully hoppy Ten Finger discount at 7.4% and the frankly preposterous Tickle Monster Imperial IPA at 12%, a lupilous monster that currently also awaits me in my fridge. The Alpha state American pale was a surprisingly hoppy Kentish Ale, and the Thornbridge Cortiani, both on keg also, was made entirely with British hops giving a mellow bitterness.

Back to cask I tried the Anarchy Citra Star, which is a punchy refreshing pale, and my two pints of the festival were Fyne Ales Jarl and Buxton Battle Horse, the latter a bit of an unwise undertaking which proved difficult to complete.

Am fairly certain that the keg bar sold out, and when I left at 19.30 or 20.30 on Saturday there wasn't much cask left so am going to suggest the festival was a roaring success in terms of sales. It was certainly a success in terms of beer range, the picking of which is an undesirable art. I like a certain style of beer as you can tell, and not everyone else likes the same - I would have preferred more sours whereas many people I know won't drink them. Overall, for me to enjoy so many beers, shows a very good and varied range was available. There was only one I didn't like, which is why the list is so long.

A final mention must go to Matty whom this year got to wear the coveted red T shirt of a bar manager on the International Beer bar. He certainly enjoyed his shifts and will hopefully be returning to volunteer next year, recommending a no doubt fine selection of bottles and cans once again, or even casks or kegs.

Well done to all of the numerous volunteers who strove to make the festival a success for free, and of course, to the organisers for another exemplary showing, and for once more making Sheffield a fantastic beer festival.

Wee Beefy

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Verdant

Hello there,

       verdant eh?. Verdant fields of green. Verdant skies of...um...no wait. Cape Verdant in Africa? Erm...wait! Hoppy cloudy fruity zesty beer producers! That's them! Now its all coming back. This post hopes to explore details and my observations of Verdant Brewing, in that there far away Cornwall.....

Verdant are bloody excellent. A bold opening gambit, based on my promise of exploration, but in my opinion that is a cold hard fact. Absolutely bloody excellent. Never had a beer of theirs I didn't like. Never balked at the price (which is significant), never turned down the opportunity to sample their wares. Why is this?

Well, excellence is the simple answer, but it almost wasn't the case. I think the first time I saw one of their beers it was a wheaty type of ale on keg at my house, Shakespeares. I wrongly assumed they were American, for some reason, and immediately discounted the recommendation of Adam. Who wants to drink a Belgian-y American wheat beer anyway? I remembered saying to myself, inside my head. In the end, I didn't try any of their beers until a chance tasting of a very fruity beer at Hop Hideout, and a conversation with Seanio at Beer Central who recommended their Pulp DIPA in cans. I bought one. It was delicious. I was hooked.

In the last two weeks a lot of Verdant, which is pronounced Ver-dunt, as opposed to V-daant, as I have been miscalling it, has been spotted in Sheffield. Shakespeares had their Headband (which found its way into the Riverside of all places a month or so ago!) on keg, which is a 5.5% pale ale, and the eponymous Pulp DIPA, on at £7.20 a pint on keg at 8%. Bar Stewards meanwhile have had their 6.5% IPA Even Sharks need water, and two DIPAs, Jacob the Canary brewed in collaboration with Deya, and the truly astounding Maybe One More Psi, both DIPA's at 8%. Mind you, they were on sale at £9.80 a pint. That is new territory for me.

I tried the maybe one more Psi DIPA in can when myself and Matty had one of this year's many beer tastings. It was up against at least two Cloudwater DIPAs and other impeccable output but was probably the beer of the night. It is so fruity, yet gloriously hoppy. Its like a meal in a glass. A friend of mine described the Even sharks IPA as being "meaty". I know what she means. Talk about a beer you can get your teeth into.

I have long been a fan of unfined beers, and then Cloudwater started doing unfined DIPA's at 9%. All of a sudden, the world of easy drinking but stupidly strong hopshakes started to become real. A lupulin smoothie in a glass is a delight. And thus far every Verdant beer I have had is basically just that. A wonderful exercise in opaque beauty.

I have to say I was surprised to find they were based in Falmouth. I have been to Falmouth once, in 2008, and drank in the fabulous Seven Stars with the old landlord giving myself and WK a tour. I loved the pub, I loved Barrington which is what I recall his name was, but until the bookstore with a bar up an alleyway opened a few years ago I never associated Falmouth with good beer. To find that many hops in a Cornish beer was a surprise, but somehow the way they excellently blend with the fruit and other ingredients (oats?) makes sense, given they are brewing for the noticeably different Cornish palate.

That said, the fact that Verdant have now done collabs with North Brewing, and Wiper and True to name two, and are so sought after oop ere, shows their growing popularity continues unabated.

I am looking forward to trying numerous other Verdant beers, not least their license payers IPA, as shown on their website , brewed with the excellent brewery North, and indeed anything else they may care to brew in the future. I understand that this unshakeable belief in the produce of one brewery leads only, eventually, to disappointment, but for now, whilst it leads to boundless joy, its very much good by me. 

Hooray for Verdant. And hooray for dank, juicy, hoppy, cloudy IPA!

Cheers

Wee Beefy

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Scotland 2017 - Diabaig, Applecross, Plockton, Roy Bridge, Innerleithen, Penrith

Hello again,

      this post finishes the details of the pubs ales and scenery encountered during myself and Wee Fatha's epic 10 day tour of the West of Scotland.

We awoke in Archgarve near Laide to a lovely breakfast, and were nearly eaten alive by midges when we left. We headed back past the Old Inn and nipped in to get  a card (since the phone number isn't in the ever so reliable GBG!) and then headed inland and out again towards Inveralligan and the mountain of the same name. The weather was glorious and the scenery was breathtaking throughout, and the "road" down to Inveralligan prepared us nicely for the other track to Diabaig.

In 1993 we parked at what WF calls Upper Diabaig across from the Post Office to walk 5 miles across bog in the dark to Craig Youth Hostel. Despite that description, that was one of the highlights in terms of location. This time, noticing no sign of the made up part of the village (although the address of the below is Lower Diabaig), we parked down by the front and visited the Gille Brigdhe, which as all you Gaelic speaking readers will know, is the Oystercatcher. The licensed restaurant, with a link to their website, serves high quality food but most crucially, has a range of about 30 all Scottish bottled beers to drink in or take away.  As fans of Scottish ales we bought about 12 bottles between us including Lerwick IPA, Cromarty Red Rooster and Windswept Weizen, and ate a fabulous large chowder each which was absolutely packed with beautiful seafood and fabulously creamy. Well worth a visit.

From here we headed towards Applecross and climbed the impressive Bealach Na Ba pass before ending up in Applecross in the car park. This was my third visit, and WF;s 5th or 6th, and inside the Applecross Inn I did have to laugh when the barman joked that a pub without beer would not be a pub. When WF and Mumrah visited in 1972 they asked to be seated for a meal and were told they weren't doing food. They opted for just a drink but were told the bar was closed. On asking for a room, they were told they weren't doing accommodation. Suffice to say, things have improved since.

I have never eaten here but I hear the food is excellent, and the views out over the water are amazing. There were two real ales on, Loch Carron Black Cow porter and Skye IPA. I had a half of each, since WF was driving, and enjoyed both. We got chatting to one of the, I think, sisters who runs the pub and thoroughly enjoyed our albeit brief visit. And then, we headed back up over the Bealach Na Ba and on towards Plockton.

Here the Plockton Inn serves a few real ales including Plockton Starboard. This was a well kept and very tasty golden beer, although we did not buy the bottles. Plockton, if you've never been, has a wonderful harbour and coastline, and we sat eating our chips in the car enjoying the view. That night, further on inland, we stayed at the Claunie Inn. Two real ales were on, Orkney Corncrake, and a red ale of unrememberable producer. I enjoyed our drinks, possibly five pints of the Corncrake, in the bar with a bloke called Alan, or similar, and a lady who may have been from Shrewsbury. I didn't enjoy finding an out of date English fiver in my change. Have now put it in the bank.  

The next day our first stop was at Roy Bridge in a real ale pub selling three real ales - I had halves of Cairngorm Trade Winds, and Wild Cat, whilst WF had a pot of tea. I had forgotten how sweet the Trade Winds was, but the ales were well kept.

Our next stop was to have been at the Hikers bar at the Kings House Hotel at the top of Glencoe - alas its being refurbished. There is a cafe and bar on site, and we had halves of a Swedish pale ale on keg with our quite substantial late lunch. From here it was a mad dash to Innerleithen after a brief stop off in the Falls of Dochart Inn in Killin. Fyne Summer Skies and Harviestoun Wheat Beastie were both tried, and on goo form, with the Fyne one of the beers of the holiday.

That night we got to the Traquair Arms just in time to order tea and I had several pints of the Tempest Pale Armadillo session IPA, and took away some bottles of theirs including the Loral IPL. I also tried the Stuart Ale from Traquair House Brewery. With thanks to the barman, who may have been called Alan or Adam or something similar, for his help and company. The Pale Armadillo was excellent.

Our final day featured few stops, apart from a half of Sam Smiths Extra Stout in the Eskdale Hotel in langholm - since the Crown was shut til 14.00. Our only real ale stop came in Penrith in the Dockray Hall Hotel in the centre, one time home of king Richard the third. Cumbrian Legendary Ales featured with four casks and one from Barngates which was a red, and three or four kegs. All the beers were well kept, and the Oakham Green Devil was a welcome hoppy surprise.

All in all the beer scene in Scotland continues to expand, improve and innovate, and we thoroughly enjoyed the ales sampled, well, almost all, whilst in the West of the country. Heres hoping we can get back again next year to sample more delights, and witness more breathtaking scenery.

Your very best health!

Wee Beefy

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

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Staffordshire Moorlands hat trick.

Hello,

       for many yeas myself and Wees Keefy and Fatha, sometimes with Tash and Matty, have been heading out to the Derbyshire, North Staffordshire border for a meal and a few pints at three excellent local pubs. In the last three years though making both of the last two has proved impossible, as per this post from 2015. Different pubs have been our starting place but after leaving Cliff's we have recently ended up somewhere else on the way home. Last Saturday that changed.

We met before 17.00 and picked Wee Fatha up and headed out via Bakewell to Monyash and then through Needham Grange to Crowdecote. The sun was shining and it was warm and the Packhorse pub wasn't too busy when we got there. Having said hello to Nick who may actually be called Mick (I will listen more carefully next time....) we set about ordering.

We all went for pints (WF a half) of Storm Silk of Amnesia, a darkish ruby pint with plenty of flavour and somewhere around 5%. The beer was impeccably kept and we stayed on this for the duration, apart from WK getting a soft drink since he was driving, and me trying the Derby fruit salad fruit pale which was far better than its name suggested. All pints cost £3.40 which is good value for the area. We also ate - WF having a fish pie, me gammon and WK a steak. The food was excellent. The beer was too.

Next, given recent early closing incidences, we headed up the lane past the pub to Earl Sterndale. The Quiet Woman was open, and there was a couple in the bar enjoying the last of their pints when we arrived. I had a pint of dark, alas I can't recall whose it was, and WK and WF each had a half of the Marstons bitter from a range of three. WK dutifully bought a now more expensive box of beers and we sat near the entrance.

One interesting  fact is that the pub door has a sign on it saying No dogs. Royal Cottage regulars claimed this had been there for years but three large groups of potential customers turned up whilst we were there and read the sign out loud - all of whom had dogs. One group put their dog in the car and sat inside enjoying their beers and the pub, and the other two groups sat briefly outside with far less beers than they would otherwise have had if they had been able to come in. I know that Ken had two or perhaps three dogs since I have been going, all of which have now sadly passed away but not taking the sign down is restricting trade further in this already quiet pub.

After a good sup and loo breaks we had to leave Ken to it and headed off to the Royal Cottage for about 21.00. There were a few customers in already when we arrived, and we had a quick chat with Cliff - unusually he don't say he thought we'd died, two which WF would have responded with "I nearly did". Instead he asked us how we were and WK bought our drinks - Manns for WF, lemonade for WK and a bottle of Old Speckled Hen for me.

We sat in our usual spot and got talking to a guy who may be called Dave and regular visitor Ivel - a proper old fashioned name if ever I heard one. As well as the interior not changing its pleasing to note that the conversation topics also never change. Local farms, farmers, families, relationships  and land sales once again were the feature, including the Salt family who allegedly lived in the mines years ago. As always, the conversation was interesting, and the atmosphere was excellent. And it was good to see Cliff in good health.

Shortly before we left a large group of people turned up and having ordered drinks stood and sat over by the back window. It was notable that for the second or third time in recent years there were more than ten people in when we left late on a Saturday night. This may not sound many, but the pub is quite small and for many years there were never more than three people in, so this is an improvement.

For information, in nearby Longnor, the Grapes has reopened following many years of closure, so there are now two pubs open in Longnor - unless the Horseshoes has reopened, which looking at it am guessing it hasn't. We didn't have time to visit but I understand it sells a few real ales so will hopefully pop in next time we are out that way.

I wrote in 2012 about the large number of local pubs in the area closing or changing hands but the Red Lion at Thorncliffe has also recently reopened so there seems to be small improvements in the pub scene in the Staffordshire Moorlands area. All of which means more trips out and different routes await in the months ahead.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Return of the Kernel, and other stories

Hello,

     I have started doing overtime again, so am now to be found around 16.00 on a Sunday in the Shakespeares. No change there you might say, but crucially, and even after the superlative excess of the Stupidly delicious beers tap takeover, I was overjoyed to find good old Kernel on my Kernel line. Which, as I have previously mentioned, I own.

This time the Kernel in question was their Citra IPA. It had no strength, which am guessing is an oversight, but we think it was about 7.0%. It tasted amazing. When I first tasted a single hopped citra beer years ago (am thinking 2011 or 12) I was blown away by it. Since then however, Centennial, Simcoe and of course Mosaic, have bitten their way into my life, tantalising my palate with every citrussy hop drop, and I kind of lost track of what Citra tasted of. The Kernel Citra IPA reawakened my appreciation of this fantastic and sometimes under appreciated hop. I have used all of the last of my money this month supping Kernel Citra. It was (and remained as of earlier), absolutely amazing - Adam even ordered two kegs of it in, one imagines, direct homage. Or a  numerical anomaly.

I also recently went on a birthday beer crawl. Just a short one with Tash and Matty. We met in the Grapes, and Tash had a wine and me and Matty pints of excellent Abbeydale Moonshine - kept in perfect condition as always. We enjoyed them sat in the sunshine out the back, and then walked up to West Street, spotting that Fear and loathing had closed, and caught the bus up to Nether Green. We alighted at the wrong stop and walked for a short while before arriving at the Rising Sun.

Being a Monday perhaps explains why their keg range was depleted. The bar staff told us that the keg they had on wasn't very good - some excellent if perhaps too honest appraising there - and when Matt asked for a taster the beer was in fact water. No wonder they didn't rate it. None of the recent special Abbeydale brews were available and I didn't fancy the guests so myself and Matty had pints of Absolution at something like £3.40 a pint, which is a decent price. I got us a seat outsode in the last of the sun and we enjoyed our well kept wares by the road.

Tash meanwhile had a pint of Aspalls cider on keg for £4.00 a pint. Mainly after being told that the Happy Daze which may be from Black Dragon or Gwynt Y Ddraig, cask cider, was an eye watering £5.20 a pint.

Am glad we were forewarned but am unable to work out why this drink cost so much. I thought you paid significantly less tax or duty on cider which is why its such good value for money for strength? I remember going to a beer festival years ago at a pub where the Westons Vintage (7.2%?) was £3.00 a pint, making it by far the most expensive drink. When I asked why this was they said it was higher priced to put people off because it was strong. I never went there again. I may have my facts wrong about cider duty but it put a real dampener on our visit, and we only stayed for one.

We walked to Endcliffe Park next and stopped for a picnic and then went to the Beer House. The Magic Rock High Wire was £4.20 a pint in here but I know they have put their prices up. It was also on top form. I had a pint of this and Matty a pint of another beer which had a name and a price and came from a brewery. The magic of facts, once again, lacking from my writing.

Tonight, after yesterday gorging on Kernel Citra as well as a third of the Founders KBS stout at 11%  in Shakespeares, I have had my final birthday present, which was a can of Magic Rock half cut DIPA at 8%. This beer is right up my street. Gloriously bitter, hoppy, cloudy, citrussy, brilliance in a 500ml can. It features Citra, Mosaic and Denali hops along with KBC 438, Amarillo and Magnum T90. For even more detail there is a link here to their website. The Half cut was a wonderful opaque, hoppy end to the day before pay fay and my birthday month of June.

Here's to another lovely luponic year ahead.

Huzaah!

Wee Beefy

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