Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Reverend & the Makers Summer Ale - Thornbridge

 Thornbridge have been one of our very favourite brewers over the past 5 years producing some tremendous ales like Jaipur (before it `evolved`), Kipling, Raven and St. Petersburg. More recently the likes of Thorny Goat, Pollards and Puja have added to their armoury. This year though there seems to have been so many new brews that it has been easy to lose track so let`s have a look at what has been shipped out from Bakewell.

Earlier in this blog we reviewed some of the stronger new Thornbridge ales plus Baize which divided our opinions but many of 2013`s efforts have been collaborations, some with brewing amateurs.

 The University clash produced Brearley and Karha with the latter being the better with its gentle but distinctive spicing. Colorado Red was very tasty but nothing new whilst the recent 4.8% Summer Ale is a step forward from RatM`s first effort, Costello. It`s really light and the sort of beer you could imagine happily knocking back at a festival with sunburnt shoulders blaming your thirst on the need for rehydration. The inevitable Tapped collaboration Lady Grey was a real disappointment of an IPA and £4.50 a pint on keg! Steelmaker was fine but not one to seek out whereas the Belgian Blonde was very true to its wheaty and floral Flemish roots with summery citrus notes hidden in the underscore.

 Ginger ale is not to my taste but Parkin is very smooth whereas the 20 hop-per made for the Doc-Fest was just confused. Weizenbock reminded me of a Steel City Brewery ale called Brew M 101 where they put everything in that they wouldn`t want in a beer but that one was better (and cheaper)! Endeavouring to keep abreast Thornbridge`s latest releases is an expensive past-time.

Karha  : Mike`s Score - 6/10 - Danny's Score - 6/10
Colorado Red : Mike`s Score - 7/10 - Danny's score 8/10
Costello : Mike`s Score  - 4/10 - Danny's score n/a
Weizenbock : Mike`s Score - 1/10 - Danny's score 1/10
Steelmaker : Mike`s Score - 5/10 - Danny's score n/a
Belgian Blonde : Mike`s Score - 6.5/10 - Danny's score 5/10
Parkin : Mike`s Score - 6.5/10 - Danny's score 7.5/10
RatM Summer Ale : Mike`s Score - 7/10 - Danny's score n/a
DocFest 20 Hop : Mike`s Score - 5/10 - Danny's score 3/10
Lady Grey IPA : Mike`s Score - 5.5/10 - Danny's score n/a
Reverend & The Makers Summer Ale: Mike's score  Danny's score 7.5/10

None of these would rate as a Thornbridge classic. The trend of guests, collaborations and interpretations of European beers has not yet yielded the sort of ale that we expect from the Bakewell brewers yet the prices remain `top end`. Personally, I am looking forward to the sour experiments that are allegedly in the pipeline but I really hope that 2013 does not prove to be an unlucky year at Thornbridge Hall.

Colorado Red was the best of an average bunch for me. Quite like Parkin as well. And really enjoyed the Reverend & The Makers Summer Ale, perfect for a sunny day.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Sheffield CAMRA Pub of the Year 2013 - Shakespeares

Last week, we were fortunate to attend the presentation of a well-earned and prestigious award. Sheffield is nationally acclaimed as being, at least, a strong contender for England`s ale capital so being recognised as the best pub in the Steel City is not just news-worthy within the boundaries of South Yorkshire. Near neighbour, The Kelham Island Tavern has won more ale awards locally, regionally and nationally, than Ryan Giggs has won on the football field. The `K.I.T`. is oft regarded as a cert in this race. Meanwhile, The Fat Cat draws in the tourists and The Rutland Arms is seen as Camp CAMRA, so any winner would be expected to come from that triumvirate.

However, `Shakie`s` won it! A relative new kid on the Kelham block having opened in 2011, with managers Chris and Robin at the helm, this Gibraltar Street hostelry has forged ahead in the Steel City ale scene. Service is unmatched with bar-staff often willing to traipse down to the cellar to let you sample the delights not yet on the bar. The 19th century pub now has shabby-chic styling with an eclectic clientele that some other establishments might not welcome quite so readily. Don`t be surprised to find folk singers and a darts match in the long room, on-line gamers in another and burlesque beginners bouncing their way upstairs to the Bard`s Bar!

On presentation night the beer line-up had obviously been planned carefully. I got stuck into some low ABV Mallinsons Epicurion (3.9%) to start with which was a belting citrus`n` hoppy opener and then tried Steel City`s latest experiments, including the wheaty but dark PotY Mouth and another unpronounceable one. Neither were my `cup of tea` but then they always push the boundaries, more so than any other local brewery. My beer of the night was Titanic`s award-winning Plum Porter which possibly tasted even better as it was a freebie; everyone in Shakespeare`s was treated to a gratis pint courtesy of the Sheffield`s hardest-working bar-staff. Cheers!

To end a momentous night, Danny`s better half was the holder of the winning ticket in the raffle so we left our fave boozer clutching an armful of fine bottle-conditioned ales whilst the party carried on long after we reluctantly left for home. The only thing that could have been better would have been if it had not been a Tuesday night.: Maybe a Friday next year!?

Titanic`s Plum Porter:-
Mike 9/10

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Tactical Nuclear Penguin (32%!) by Brew Dog

Firstly, I must temper any comments made within this entry as my debut drink of a `TNP` was on a recent stag-do in Newcastle so my experience could be deemed a tad`hazy`. However, in my defence, this tipple was imbibed early on in the night, so I KNOW I enjoyed it!

Although I had tried some Brew Dog products previously and mostly enjoyed them, Newcastle was the first visit I had made to a Brew Dog establishment. Although controversial and not every drinker`s proverbial cup of tea, these Scots certainly have every base covered when it comes to style. The Brew Dog branding must be the most recognisable since the black stuff arrived from Dublin, or at least the Broon from the Toon! My recollection of the Penguin was that it was smoky and nutty, more like a spirit than an ale. I`m not a whisky drinker by any stretch of the imagination, but it did have hints of brandy to my uneducated spirit taste-buds. It is double casked in production using local whisky barrels for well over a year so the taste is complex. All the stag`s entourage / mob tried this drink attracted by the fantastic name, no doubt, and most said it tasted like medicine. Not sure whether description this is good or bad but the groom-to-be look like he needed another dose the next day! We drank it as a `chaser` to accompany the Flying Dog pint we had also purchased and this seemed to work well.

At £5 per `nip` this one was a rare treat and was once touted as the world`s strongest beer but the `real` real ale campaigners might not approve of the Brew Dog or of its Tactical Nuclear Penguin! You decide!

Mike`s Score - 8.666

Friday, 3 May 2013

Deception (4.1%) by Abbeydale

 I do count my blessings in that I live in a city of ale. Sheffield possesses an almost unrivalled wealth of great pubs that serve quality ales, many of which are local and some are from the umpteen breweries within the Steel City boundaries.  Abbeydale is one of the best and most decorated.

Now then, Blond ales are not usually my preferred pint but Deception is a cut above. It arrives packing a pungent grapefruit aroma and appears clear and golden. It is as refreshing as a four pack of, err, refreshers and quenches the thirst whilst leaving you wanting another pint. Or two. Citrus abounds and it combines with bitter tastes that are lasting and grow on the palate.
It is a popular pint around the discerning pubs of Sheffield (although Moonshine is allegedly even more popular!) but the best Deception that I have tasted has been at Shakespeare`s (where it is house beer / everpresent) and at The Ale House, Fraser Road,, with the former being Sheffield`s best value pint in my opinion at an agreeable £2.30!

MIKE`S Score - 8.5
Danny's Score - 7.5