Sunday, 15 July 2018

Northern Powerhouse Brew Series - Wylam Brewery

Did you get a box? We did, thanks to Hop Hideout and Beer Central, our Sheffield Powerhouses!

Intriguing idea, this one. Wylam hooked up with a variety of the best brewers in the North of England to produce a tour de force over a wide range of beer styles from kettle sour to imperial stout.

Power pack!
We've been fans of Newcastle's Wylam ever since having Jakehead at the Broadfield, or was it at a Picture House Social beer festival a few years back, and now they've taken their rightful place amongst the big players.

Everyone we have talked to seems to have their own favourite and we'd say that all are worth a try but here are our picks:-

1) Mixed Fermentation Farmhouse - Wylam & Black Lodge

2) Kettle Sour - Wylam & Magic Rock

3) Split here. 
Brown - Wylam & Cloudwater (DAN)
IPA - Wylam & Northern Monk (MIKE)

Our winner!

To be honest, Black Lodge were a new brewery to us amongst a host of usual suspects but we will certainly be looking to track them down again soon. And we hope Wylam repeat the project in the future!

Which brew was your favourite?

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

twobeergeeks` Pub of the Month, June 2018

OK. Game on. This month's 2BG's pub of the month is a bit different but one we agree on. June is a time when we really start thinking about holidays and where better to go on holiday than..... The Peak District. This month`s winner is …… The Buxton Tap House !

Recently we have both enjoyed visits up to Buxton and spent an enjoyable time at the brewery's Tap House. Tucked away down a street next to the Pavilion Gardens, you are greeted by friendly bar staff in a clean cut benches and big tables arrangement. Comfy enough and you then face a three-pronged attack of temptation; bar, bottles and food. All are top notch.

Decisions, decisions....
A couple of casks are on offer but also a vast array of kegged splendour almost exclusively from Buxton 's range new and core. Danny's visit heralded some of the fantastic collaborations with his faves Omnipollo whilst I spied some variations on the excellent Berliner Weisse Sky Line. Whatever, you are guaranteed a reyt royal range, although not much of the dark stuff on the bar when I visited.

More is better!

The place is like a mini version of Hawkhead's place although the actual Buxton brewery is a schlep away from the Tap, not on-site like at Staveley. Food is similar too - tasty accompaniments to the beer, often with a modern twist. Yum.

And, before you leave, we challenge you to resist the temptation to buy a big bag of beer; a rucksack full of Cranachan has to be done, doesn't it, so take a full wallet!

Takeaway is a must!

Thursday, 17 May 2018

twobeergeeks` Pub of the Month May 2018

Another in an occasional series inspired by those that Matter....

Having lived in the Heeley area for nearly 40 years The White Lion is a pub that I've seen change hands a number of times over the decades. For a long time since the noughties it felt very much like a pub that had lost its way somewhat. While undeniably a pub of character and charm with it's quirky individual rooms and stunning glazed tile frontage often the beer choice fell a bit short and prices were frequently a fair bit higher than other local establishments. As much as I liked the place I tended to go elsewhere as I knew I'd get a better pint for a better price.

be envious of this exterior!
Well a lot has changed in the 3 years since Jon and Mandy and their team took over the reins and now The White Lion is a pub that has very much found it’s way and is once again a thriving hub of the community. Something recognised recently when they received Asset of Community Value status.
It's clear when spending time in The White Lion that it is held dear by it’s regulars and let’s face it there is a heck of lot of competition in the area with the likes of The Sheaf View, The Brothers Arms, The Tram Shed, The Broadfield and The Picture House social all within walking distance. Despite this under Jon and Mandy The White Lion continues to hold its own which is a remarkable feat considering the restrictions and financial disadvantages that come along with being a tied house. Jon was a regular of the pub before he took it on and it shows and works in his favour. He knows his clientele and caters to their requirements which makes for happy and more importantly loyal punters.
On any given night there is a hive of activity taking place at The White. On a recent visit, Sean from Beer Central was holding a bottle share. At the same time there was a band warming up and in one of the little rooms The Sheffield Socialist Party was holding a meeting, and that's just a snapshot of the kind of things you can expect to find going on.

Typical bottle share shenanigans from years gone by

And the beer has improved too. Despite being a tied house, Jon has managed to get beers on from local brewery Hopjacker and you'll nearly always find one of their excellent beers on the bar. This is great news for vegans as their entire range is vegan friendly. Being a stout lover, Jon always makes sure there’s a decent dark beer on. There are plans to free up another pump to feature regular beers from Abbeydale's new range: The recent switch from Punch to Heinekin means Jon will have a lot more freedom to explore new breweries. If Jon gets his way, there will also be some improvements to the beer garden and backroom as well. If you like your traditional pub games you'll be pleased to find Jon has recently ditched his fruit machine in favour of a bar billiards table.

So it's a pleasure for once to agree with Camra and give our Pub of the Month award to Jon and Mandy and all the team at The White Lion. Great work guys keep it up. Onwards and upwards.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

twobeergeeks` Pub of the Month March 2018

So, this month our winner is the Broadfield Ale House on Abbeydale Road. 

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Russian Imperial Stouts vs The Beast from the East

Well the 'Beast from the East' has been banished but Winter beers are clearly the way forward in such extreme circumstances. Imperial stouts should have the booze and the brawny body to fend off any inclement weather.
So the story goes....
Currently, this style is super popular and competition is therefore fierce but I grabbed three of them for less than a tenner to see how they measured up. Mitchell's now has a stellar craft ale selection at a wide range of styles and costs but we went budget.

First up was the cheapest of the trio from Blue Monkey. Silverback will set you back just £2.15 from Meadowhead's finest and it's an impressive 10.5% ABV. Initial molasses gloop but then a pleasant roasty, toasty taste and a lengthy boozy warmth in the aftertaste. A tad of bitterness and carbonation to make this a drinkable winter warmer. Not complex by any stretch but friendly enough to invite the monkey back.

Ratsputin from Rat Brewery of Huddersfield is the lowest in alcohol at a mere 8.5% but cost the most at £3.49. This one would surely win the award for the best-named beer and also for the menacing art work. This was clearly different to the other two in that had quite an over-ripe, fruity taste, a likely result of the barrel-aging, not unpleasant just different and, not surprisingly, less booze in the after-taste. Peaty whisky hints too. The colour was quite distinctive, dirty treacle maybe. Funny one but fine.
A Black Rat
Finally, Moscow by Ashover is 9.5% and will set you back a convenient £2.50. Since setting up, Ashover have steadily improved and now have a reputation locally for producing very good beer and pocket-friendly prices. Coffee hint, toffee and molasses. Liquorice but smooth and warming, yes. (There is also a raspberry stout from Ashover with a hefty ABV that's worth a go).
Triple threat!
No losers here; all are winners. Sure, having paid top dollar for the dark stuff from Brewdog, Buxton, Omnipollo and Founders recently, this trio are not in the same quality league,admittedly, but they are VALUE. Three reliable breweries have served up some tasty, strong stouts here that deliver the goods and serve well whether as a beery nightcap or as a coat of Dutch courage to brave the elements. Cheers!


Wednesday, 28 February 2018

2BG`s Pub of the Month February 2018

Long time, no see. New thing here and, ironically, we have nabbed the idea from a local publication that had plagiarised ideas off of us recently. Anyway, that doesn't Matter s, we're all about the Beer....

Our Pub of the Month shall henceforth be an occasional 2BG feature probably focussed on new places or beery outlets, as `n` when, that have not necessarily featured in our much-lauded annual Top 10 Pubs.

The first PotM winner is...... Head of Steam, Sheffield! Despite having only been open for a year or so, this place is already popular and proudly puveys an ever-evolving (and improving) beer range. The staff are welcoming and pretty knowledgeable (for new kids) about their wares and several of them appear happy to stop for a pint with mates after their shift. 
At the HoS with Tiny Rebel frap orange
The Head of Steam is part of a chain (Cameron`s) and, ironically, I used to sup in the Huddersfield one the best part of two decades ago! Located near to the Lyceum and Crucible theatres, this place comes top of the bill for dramatic drinkies, pre and post performance. You can expect eight plus cask ales plus plenty of keg craftiness, dahlings. Classic bottles are displayed in multiple refrigerators with vegan ales cutely tagged with a green heart in front of an impressive back bar.

The clientele is wonderfully eclectic and it can get busy but, rest assured, there is seating and floor space aplenty. Food seems popular and there are screens that show rugby union and such nonsense but also listing the current bar offerings. Recently I popped in for a swift half and ended up there for ages tucking into an array of excellent Tiny Rebel ales on cask and keg.
Fab Feb - WINNER
In summary, visit soon because the Head of Steam Sheffield is an excellent addition to Steel City drinking and ticks plenty of boxes for us; a worthy winner. x

Monday, 15 January 2018

An interview with Gluten Free Pint

Cutting edge Sheffield! The demand for gluten free beer is steadily being met with Steel City pubs at the forefront and this is publicised by our friend Matt:-

Who is `gluten free pint`?
Gluten Free Pint is a website currently aimed at those looking to avoid gluten in Sheffield to locate the best places to have a beer. The website is supported with both a twitter and Instagram account. Gluten Free Pint is run by Matt Winning, a gluten intolerant Web Developer and Gluten Free Beer Enthusiast.

When were you diagnosed?
I’ve been following a gluten free diet now for nearly 10 years, this is for medical reasons as I’m gluten intolerant.

Tell us about the aims of your twitter account.
The aim of the twitter account is to share with people whilst out and about in Sheffield drinking beer of the places I’ve been and where is good for gluten free beer. It’s also useful for breweries and pubs/bars to tweet me so I can share this with my followers. The main purpose is to promote gluten free beer drinking in Sheffield for those who may not realise there is much choice out there and to promote the very best gluten free beers on offer.

Any plans to develop it further?
Absolutely, there are a number of plans in the pipeline, even though Gluten Free Pint has only been running for 2 months! The first step is to replace the temporary website with an all singing all dancing site, where pubs, breweries and members of the public can list venues not already listed that have gluten free beer available. Not only are we looking at doing this in the Sheffield area, but working alongside other key enthusiasts throughout the country building this network up. We’re hoping to start this with our friends over the Pennines in Manchester.

What is the best GF beer that you have discovered so far?
Probably the easiest question to answer so far, one word… Fantasma. An amazing 6.5% citrus IPA brewed by local brewery Magic Rock in Huddersfield. Fantasma was launched in February 2017 and changed the gluten free beer industry for good – initially launched as a limited edition, Fantasma will be part of the Magic Rock core range in just over a few weeks time. There are of course other great gluten free beers out there too including Bellfield Lawless Village IPA and a pretty new beer to the game Arbor Simcoe.

Lawless Village? Eckington!?

tis good, we vouch

And which establishments are the best locally in your eyes? And further afield?
Locally in Sheffield the best pub for gluten free beer hands down has to go to The Devonshire Cat, with both a dedicated cask and keg line, it is quite simply the place to go. The Bar Stewards micropub also currently has several gluten free beers available and often has one available on cask or keg too, this is also a really nice little venue. The Sheffield Tap, Head of Steam and Beer Engine also have a range of gluten free beers available. All Thornbridge and True North pubs now stock two rotating gluten free beer cans from First Chop brewery in Manchester, probably the best brewery for gluten free in terms of the range. There’s not many pubs you can go in in Sheffield now and not get a gluten free beer, the only one I can think of from the top of my head is the Harlequin.

GF options always available at TN !

Will you be celebrating tryanuary or abstaining?
I’ve tried dryanuary in the past, and to be quite honest it’s got to the 3rd of January and it just didn’t seem to work very well. I most certainly will be taking part in tryanuary this year and already am – trying to increase the number of unique gluten free beers I’ve had, think I’m up to 78 so far… 100 by March would be good!

A friend told us that London, in her experience, lacks awareness of GF options whereas Manchester and Sheffield are better. She works in Spain and also says there is more awareness there too. Why could this be the case?
Sheffield is great for gluten free, I dare say it’s the best city of gluten free beer in the country. On the occasional visit over to Manchester I’ve also found gluten free beer to be pretty widely available, but not so much on cask and keg as in Sheffield. I’m surprised to hear London lacks the awareness of gluten free, as whenever I’ve visited the capital I’ve always found great places to go to enjoy food and drinks – admittedly not beer, as I wasn’t as heavily into gluten free beer on my last visit down there. Spain and Italy combined are probably the best countries in the world for both gluten free food and beer, this is possibly due to the campaigning by their coeliac societies. Hopefully the UK will catch up one day, however admittedly it is getting better especially in more recent years!

And finally, what other tipples do you turn to if a gluten-free option is not available?
I try not to, I used to be a cider drinker but now I love gluten free beer it’s hard to go back to drinking cider without turning my nose up at the thought.

Cheers Matt. Top tips aplenty there and great to hear that there is so much positivity about our local pubs and bottle shops. Now give Gluten Free Pint a follow!