Thursday, 25 July 2013

Double Dark Alliance (9.2%) - Arbor Moor

Sometimes fate is said to conspire against you but for once it was my ally. A recent re-routing of my bus dumped me outside The Rutland Arms and so it would be rude not to at least pop in,and purvey, wouldn`t it?

The Ruttie always has an array of Blue Bee beers plus much Marston`s stuff but sometimes it has ale from a higher league. Raw can regularly be found there and also Magic Rock usually seem to occupy a keg or two plus there is cider if you are a lover of that South-West shtuff. Surprisingly, Somerset and Avon in this case was indeed the focus of the brew I chose. It was not alcoholic apple juice but actually a collaboration between powerhouses Arbor and the Moor Beer Company. Weighing in at a mighty 9.2%, Double Dark Alliance cannot be taken lightly though and its ABV is thankfully all it has in common with the loopy juice that usually is sent to us from that part of the country!

The beer pours black but with a tan-tinted head and the waft of coffee greets you aggressively. The clip proclaims this to be a `hoppy coffee imperial stout` and most of that you certainly dare not argue with. However, any hoppiness is readily demolished on my palate by the alcoholic whack you receive. Seeing this on cask is indeed a rare treat and rightly heralded by Steel City beery folk. No tax dodging by trimming this ale down to a safer 7.4%; it is well into the imperious super-heavyweight division. Credit to The Rutland for giving this brute a home. Try if you dare!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Cool as a Cucumber - Fyne & Wild

You know it`s Summer in Britain when you get some crazy brews appearing on the bar of your boozer. It is anything-goes season when it comes to ingredient s in your beer.

One of my most local pubs is the popular (and previously reviewed) Broadfield Ale House. Part of a local chain including The Forum and The Old House, this place has been thriving since opening its doors nearly two years ago. To my mind, the beers on offer there were very average back then, but more recently they have really stepped up in the ale stakes. It was nice to see local guys On The Edge prominently placed again but my eye was caught by a visitor to these parts, or visitors to be more accurate; Fyne Ales hale from Scotland and The Wild Beer Co are from Somerset, I believe. `Cool as a Cucumber` is their seasonal (saisonal?!) offering.

Collaborations seem to be de rigueur this year and a mash-up between heavyweights Fyne and Wild had to be sampled. To be honest, I ordered my half in haste. It was only just past lunchtime and the `Broady` was sparsely populated for once but then I actually read the clip properly! Nice union logo - well done. Cucumber, er okay; it is warm-ish out there. Mint. Oh, dear. Hope it`s just a hint of therein. Saison. Oh, Christ.: Nightmare but maybe it will be better as it is a `wild` saison. God help those poor French farm workers who were forced to drink gallons of that stuff every day. For the defence, I do like to try beers with out of the ordinary ABVs and, at 2.9% `Cool as a Cucumber` was just that. It was tasty and drinkable but even more cucumber driven than Thornbridge`s Wye, which is on the horizon again, I hear. The saison aspect is not overpowering and the mint is there but not like a mouthful of polos. I would have to say that this is a successful brew but just not for me. In fact, when I explained it to my better half, she said it sounded like Pimms which is obviously a good call. You could even imagine CaaC being supped at a garden party in jugs over ice, while the Summer lasts . . .

Monday, 22 July 2013

The Flower Pot (Derby Day Out Pt. 2)

The Peacock and another sunny beer garden was our next stop which was fine (although we just missed the Oakham ale I wanted) and then we found a nice spot sat on the upstairs terrace of the swish , home of the Derby Brewing Company. Now this tap house is evidently very new but the brewery has been going for nearly 10 years and is the baby of Trevor Harris who had previously retired from The Brunswick before being tempted back. I enjoyed my Quint Essential which weighed in at 5.8% and had very upfront citrusy flavours; just the sort of complex ale I had been looking for!

By this point, Derby was getting busy with quite a few folk clearly suffering from the heat, or from an afternoon session at the Beer Festival! We didn`t disturb the chap sleeping in the Old Silk Mill as we fought our way to the busy bar but were disappointed by the offerings. To be fair, they were fine but the blackboards boasted so much more. Apparently the Mill was having its own beer fest a week later and was keen to show about the wares it would be offering. From there we crossed the road to The Olde Dolphin Inne which, as the extra e`s hint, is Derby`s oldest boozer dating back to 1530. The Nottingham ale I had was very average (as was the selection) but the pub must be a fantastic haven in the Winter months with its warren of little rooms. As it was we endured the dirge from the band outside as long as we could (about 7 minutes) before staggering on to .

Appropriately situated on King Street, the Flower Pot was certainly my top trump of a day`s drinking in Derby. There was lots of choice of a range of ales, many of which were from the innovative breweries that I favour. The Flower Pot is home of Black Iris Brewery but I was tempted by the Raw ale before spying one of my favourites this year which was What Would Jephers Do? by Huddersfield`s Hand Drawn Monkey. A red ale with complex flavours was not to everyone`s taste but it hit the note for me. If only HDM`s beers appeared more often in Sheffield. I wish we could have stayed longer but it was a dash to a taxi to catch the train to the Steel City, England`s real ale capital . . . .!?

Sunday, 14 July 2013

The Flowerpot, (Derby Day Out Pt. 1)


Now then, I must firstly state that this was the final watering hole (of many) and not the sum total of a day`s drinking over the border to the Southern countryside county of Derbyshire but what a spot The Flowerpot is!
Having nearly ended up on the train to Norwich (and Nottingham, Cloughy`s other team), we were more than happy to start our sesh in the sun-blessed beer garden of The Brunswick, a place I have happily happened upon before. This end-of-terrace boozer is big on Everard`s but the malty niff is testament to the pub`s own brewery, visibly located close to the pub`s toilets. Nice beer though, kicking off with a half of the esteemed Triple Hop. And a couple of hops was all it took to land on the Alexandra Hotel, around the corner but it`s outside space was standing room only so we stood admiring the static locomotive whilst supping a wheaty White Arse. The Castle Rock Pale was probably the better choice though.

We sensibly grabbed some grub at The Exeter Arms which is a tap for the Dancing Duck brewery and my falafel butty was a belter with some tremendous chips and affordable in this age of austerity. The Anti Pasti posters were appreciated too, at least by us discerning forty-somethings! The lovely bar staff were also rightly apologetic about the chalk board outside that had heralded, falsely, the hope of a Hand Drawn Monkey(HDM) but Derby is a long way from the Hudd. We made do with a Brown Clough or two which is an agreeable, DD Brown Ale. Half-time!

Saturday, 6 July 2013

The Old Queen`s Head

Dotted around Sheffield there are a few mini pub crawls that merit investigation but in the Sheaf Street area it is a tough call. A visit to The Tap is usually worthwhile and then The Ruttie isn`t far away but after that, in that area, it`s a bit of a hike to find another decent boozer. I selflessly tried.

The last time I visited The Showroom it was dry (of ale) and I wasn`t keen on The Howard although its banners proudly proclaim them as cask ale kids. Instead, I would suggest that The Old Queen`s Head is worth a visit. Boozers by bus stations are rarely the best in my experience but this one has been refurbished recently. Whilst the exterior apparently dates from 1475, the interior is clearly twenty-first century; fresh, functional and flat-screened. The menu is very affordable with lots of deals and it`s worth Czech-ing out the European twist to it! (See what I did there!).

Anyway, it`s the beer we need to focus on and I didn`t do very well. I tried the Thwaites Wainwright and Bluestone Bitter by Kite. Both were served up by the efficient barmaid in Guinness glasses (ggrrrr!) and Wainwright, whilst a lovely golden colour, is just much too sweet for my tastes. I was hopeful for the Kite brew (a micro from Llanelli) but it again was on the sweet and fruity side with a caramel niff. Both well kept but just not my `cup of tea`: A shame as I was comfortably ensconced watching Wimbledon.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by The Queen`s Head. The staff are clearly working their socks off to succeed and I would certainly pop back in, maybe for food or for some flat-screen fun.