Thursday, 20 March 2014

Storm & Averij DIPA (10.2%) by De Molen

Despite living for 10 years in Huddersfield, The Grove was one of the (very) few pubs that I never visited. Now this Spring Grove hostelry is a destination boozer must-do for ale enthusiasts far and wide. Whenever I`m back in West Yorkshire, I make a b-line for this bar.

As usual, The (Holy) Grove was really busy with a nice array of discerning clientele supping steadily and keeping the half dozen bar staff very busy. I began with a lovely Buxton beer `Spa` (4.1%) which was eminently quaffable, packed with Citra, and it is always great to see them on cask; we don`t seem to get that honour often over in Sheffield! Next more cask with the Curious as was which is now renamed `Ringmaster` (3.9%) after some apparent shenanigans with another brewery over its original name. Still a tidy tipple only a mile or two down the hill from the Magic Rock brewery. I was hoping to get a dry-hopped Jaipur which the Grove stock but I didn`t see it on the (substantial) beer blackboard. It can be a problem choosing an ale here as there is literally that much to go at! Also I had spent enough time gawping at the list and there were two ladies perched in front of it who probably thought I was staring at them!

Wanting to finish this short session with a flourish, I then opted for a De Molen special. Storm and Averij (damage in Dutch?) is a Double India Pale Ale weighing in at a hefty 10.2% and a fair £3.75 for a half pint.

Not what I expected to be honest. This one is full of flavour and a very dark orangey brown colour with an inviting white head. However, it does not give the bitter hoppiness that I had expected / wanted rather the fruit sweetness comes through with a fair dose of spices on top. It is a fair old mixture, interesting and complex but thankfully not, for a 10%+, alcohol-dominated. Don`t get me wrong, I did enjoy this one but it was not a patch on the De Molen Vuur & Vlam I had on a previous Grove visit but that still rates as one of the very best ales I have ever had on keg!

The Scores
Buxton Spa  - 8.5 / 10
Ringmaster - 7 / 10
Storm & Averij - 7 / 10

Friday, 14 March 2014

Beerkeepers (5.3%) by Thornbridge

Image result for beekeepers thornbridge
Us Steel City citizens do proudly like to think of Sheffield as Britain`s beer capital and never has this been more pointedly true than this past week. The world famous Sierra Nevada brewery took over DaDa`s on Thursday whilst our Hudd heroes Magic Rock did similar over on Division Street at the newly opened Brew Dog. Meanwhile, out-of-town SIBA based their BeerX festival at Ice Sheffield, of all places, and charged enthusiasts err enthusiastic prices. The launch of Beerkeepers, Thornbridge`s latest ale, was far less publicised but free and held in a much more amenable venue than the other three events, The Coach and Horses, Dronfield.
Amongst other collaborations, Thornbridge have invited staff from their multiple pubs to visit the Bakewell brewery to concoct their very own beer with mixed results. We disagreed about Baize, enjoyed Kacho and rejected Rattlesnake but how would Beerkeepers fair?
Hot-footing it from work to procure one of the first pints, I did not hold out much hope as honey and beer work together as well as a er, um, a Con-Dem coalition. However, Beerkeepers hits the spot. A slightly cloudy golden-blonde body with an unexpected creamy top presents itself and the first taste is a pleasant lemony / fruity mix which cannot help but remind you that it is no longer Winter! The honey only appears in the aftertaste and it is subtle enough to balance well with the fruit sweetness. At 5.3% this brew is hoppy and citrusy but far subtler than most Bakewell brews. It could possess a sting but it certainly does float like a butterfly and you could easily go a few rounds with this Coach special. Very moreish and very quaffable, fair do`s this is the first honey beer I have ever enjoyed! I only wish the fish `n` chip Friday we had planned had been in operation because we`d probably have still been there now with a host of other ale goodies to go at (cask St Petersburg, Otto, Biere de Garde). This Coach creation is a keeper!
Mike`s Score  - 7 / 10
Danny`s Score 6 /10

NB - Having re-sampled the Beerkeepers, it is fair to say that the taste develops further down the barrel. Trying the ale 4 days later, the honey really came through resulting in sweeter supping. Danny tried Beerkeepers at The Cross Scythes but preferred the Endcliffe ale. I also had the chance to try the Biere de Garde which is 7.4%, I think, and is a very nice Spring / Summer beer.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Cimmerian Breakfast Stout (Thornbridge) & Unholy Trinity (Steel City +)

Whilst the fabled 53 bus route pub crawl is pretty much unbeatable (Sheaf View, Tap, Harlequin, Gardener`s, et al), the 43 is tidy too and its major merit is that it stops right on the doorstep of The Rutland Arms on Brown Street.

This place is a real dichotomy; the off-hand bar-staff do their best to put you off the place but the beer keeps getting better. Swerving the Marston`s and the Blue Bee bumblings, you are usually left with tidy tackle from the likes of Hudds` heroes SWB and Magic Rock plus they maintain a crafty connection with Steel City Brewing and South Walian offshoot Hop Craft. Prices are premium to be sure but the quality is evident, usually. Unholy Trinity is a 6.66% stout that represents a collaboration between Shakespeare`s, Raw and, of course, Sheffield stalwarts, Steel City. With this one, think breakfast beer with a bitter bite and a tan top. The ABV is the devil`s own work (probably good that my subsequent bus wor late because it gave me time to freeze my proverbials off and to sober up) and it is possessed by the hoppy hallmark of Steel City. Unholy Trinity is bitter. Yep, we have posh sugar in there somewhere and coffee, but the caffeine kick is certainly a bitter one amongst the obligatory hops, hops and hops that we so love.

And beer bus types needs to know that, in addition, the 43 also stops about 17 yards, give or take, from The Coach and Horses (btw on the 53 you end up at Sammy Smith`s Mother Redcap in Bradway, eek!). However, this place was Thornbridge`s original (and best) Tap and, although it is located a good half mile, give or take, out of the RePUBlic and into the woolly pit shaft that is North-East Derbyshire, it has been responsibly adopted by civilised Sheffield and is conveniently adjacent to the World`s first football club. Here we found hearty fare. Cimmerian is a breakfast stout weighing in at a hefty 6.2%. Although it kind of tastes like a pimped-up Pollards (no bad thing), this one relies on French Coffee for its `je ne sais quoi`, apparently, and it sure hits the spot.

Cimmerian is named after a gothy 90`s track by Rosetta Stone I am reliably informed (thanks Carlton Town fans!) and it`s certainly dark but is creamier and sweeter (so maybe McConnells maxed?) than the Trinity tipple and consequently is easier to sup but still surely a big breakfast. For the record, the Arbor ale here was nice to see (the C & H doesn`t do many / enough) guest beers although it was not one of their best but Kipling at the Coach is one of the very best ales you can imagine, on any bus route!

Oh Yeah, Match report? 0-0!

Other Scores

Unholy Trinity 7.5 / 10

Cimmerian 8 / 10