Monday, 28 April 2014

Carnival (4.3%) by Magic Rock

Time for a quick one? Yes, yes, yes.

A swift visit to The Broadfield can yield a decent beery bounty these days (although it still manages to avoid any real recognition from CAMRA). Personally, I tend not to bother too much with the Black Iris and True North stuff that is usually available, ditto the Acorn and Abbeydale, but that still left some crème de la cask in the shape of Arbor and Magic Rock!

My indecision was noticed by the attentive and well-informed bar-keep (another asset of this Abbeydale Road Ale House). I chose the Arbor Single Hop offering which was Moteuka, I believe. Arbor are among the best in the South West but I`d forgotten that the hop wasn`t the tops to my tastebuds. A nice enough tipple and below 4% ABV but the Magic beckoned!

Carnival is super Summer sup. It`s labelled as a Golden Ale but it appears a bit more of a hazy orangey colour than you`d expect. It really reminded me of another beer but it took me a few days to figure out that I think it`s Dark Star`s Sunburst that is along the same lines; Both well worth a try. Carnival is a fruity fellow with a balance of sweetness and citrus sharpness making it quite easily drinkable and carrying an amiable ABV of 4.3%. Aromas here are of Summery stuff sure enough and the bitterness is pretty subtle. So I had another.....

Time was short but I did appreciate the taster that the bar-man gave me of a Harbour DIPA (ABV of 9%+) that was interesting; really tasty and no big, over-powering alcoholic hit.  Maybe save that one for a rainy day though…..!
Mike`s Magic Number - 7 / 10

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The Cricket Inn (Thornbridge), Totley, Sheffield

Over the past few years, Bakewell`s Thornbridge Brewery have put together a sizeable portfolio of ale houses around the Steel City and its `better` suburbs. A usual part of their recipe for success is top quality pub grub to complement excellent ales and The Cricket Inn is surely the jewel in the crown.

Located on the absolute limit of the city boundaries, The Cricket is a very popular eatery and drinking hole for the folk that reside in this desirable district of Sheffield but it also draws clientele from further afield (nice stroll from the 97 or 98 bus too!). Ramblers, runners and horse riders readily use this spot as a place to refresh or regroup thanks to its glorious aspect. At the foot of Blacka Moor and with a sprawling cricket and football field at the rear, this place is idyllic on a nice day.

Sure, most people visit the Cricket Inn to eat, and it is very family-friendly but there is plenty of space for those merely seeking a scenic pint. Prices are `top end` but the selection and quality is usually pretty decent. Suffice to say that the food is spot on (won`t add further detail as there are plenty of brilliant bloggers better at foody facts). When we visited, beergeek favourite Kipling was on making selection easy but there were three other Thornbridge classics (Jaipur, Lord Marples and Wild Swan) on offer too alongside two quality kegs including the reyt tidy Reverend and the Makers American Brown plus a range of bottled beer. The Kipling was good, not as zingy and zesty as it is at The Coach and Horses but still a fine pint admittedly augmented by the vista.

 All of Thornbridge`s houses have their merits and their champions who will proclaim their local to be best: Greystones for gigs, The Bath for a proper beer-drinkers` bar or The Coach for comfortable cosiness but the Cricket is just special in the sunshine. Try it while it lasts, the sunshine that is!


Friday, 11 April 2014

Great Heck Treasure IPA (4.8%) vs. Hand Drawn Monkey IPA No.1 (5%)

Now then, a few years ago it was pretty tough to get a decent IPA even in Britain`s beer capital but now it is a surprise if you visit a decent bar and they can`t offer you at least one. The Sheaf View is widely regarded as a premier league pub although it houses League 1 football fans on a regular basis (is there a better `walkable from ground` real ale boozer in t`football league?!), and it recently, and briefly, was host to two top notch IPAs. But did North Yorkshire or West Yorkshire prevail in err, South Yorkshire? (Btw, does East Yorkshire still exist or is it just pure Hull (City of Culture) now?)

Make no mistake, these two ales are Heavyweights. Both breweries consistently knock out top tier beverages from the Republic of Yorkshire. Thankfully, we get Great Heck pretty regularly in the likes of The Harlequin but Huddersfield`s HDM are rarer than a Blades` cup run… And so, both appear simultaneously just off the A61.

Great Heck are at their greatest producing hoppy hits with a pale bite and Treasure delivers just that punch. At 4.8%, it is on the milder end of the continuum of IPAs and it presents itself in a confident orange hue with a creamy off-white head. Very drinkable and bags of summer fruits; Yum.  5-a-day and then some!

The Hand Drawn Monkey IPA is a fair bit paler but still with bags of bite. The citrus lemon bitterness is complemented with a faint sweet touch which is super refreshing and well quaffable. Although `only` 5%, this ale tastes like a deeper, higher ABV,  IPA and it disappears from your pint pot pretty damn quickly. Thankfully, due to Sheaf View`s canny use of social media, we got the `heads up` about these ales in time but they disappeared quicker than a Sheff Wednesday play-off bid. The HDM brew popped up late on a Tuesday and was gone by tea-time the next day; the Sheaf View is defo a drinkers` pub and their regulars are discerning but dedicated and persistent types. Blink and you`ll miss a beer.

Hopefully, the HDM heavyweights will return but Great Heck are here to stay with Powermouse imminent in Heeley`s best boozer and, pound-for-pound, that is a difficult beer to beat!


Treasure IPA

Mike 7.5 / 10
Danny 8 / 10

IPA No.1

Mike 9 / 10
 Danny 8.5 /10

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Bass No. 1 (4.4%)

Rose-tinted beer goggles maybe but a pint of Bass was a thing of beauty back in t` day. Supping Tetleys at Uni (OK, Poly) was fine and I could just about endure a pint of Boddingtons on visits to Manc, but they all paled in the shadow of Bass. That red triangle pump clip heralded bliss in a pint pot served up in The Loggerheads or Welsh Harp (R.I.P.) in Shrewsbury, not too far from beer base Burton, I guess. But how does this stuff taste 15-20 years on?

About the only advantage of being taken over by a mega conglomerate type crew (InBev UK / Marston`s, I believe) is that costs can benefit from the economy of scale; make more and so make it cheaper (thank you Geography A-Level!). Bottles of Bass are probably no more expensive now than they were in the 1990`s and they can be found around the globe. I found mine in Mitchells at Meadowhead and it cost me all of £1.25. Bargain!.....?..errr, um..

This brew is commercially haled as `nutty, malty, complex with subtle hop undertones`. I got kind of a biscuit, malt mouth and it looked OK to the naked eye. However, my other half summed this up best saying that it, `tastes like shandy`. By the end of the bottle I was thinking more `insipid yet soapy`. There really isn`t a great deal of taste in there, especially when the twenty-first century drinker has got used to the big citrusy hops that prevail nowadays, but then maybe the Bass (Tetleys, Stones, Boddies, et al) taste was so simple that it facilitated drinking more heavily; quantity not quality, if you like. Sure, there are drinkers who still love a `traditional` bitter but they are outnumbered now by discerning drinkers happy to have their hoppy palates bashed about by the likes of a Double IPA or a Sour.  Nostalgia? It ain`t what it used to be! sob, sob.
Mike`s Score - 3 /10