Friday, 29 August 2014

Beer Central Bottle Share @ Shakespeares (August 27th 2014)

A candle-lit night at Shakespeares offering the opportunity to wax lyrical about beery beverages; what could be better?

Now then, how does this malarkey work? Line `em up, knock `em back, farty beer talk and then pick a number (1-10, no halves allowed!).  Chris had everything really well set up, as you`d expect at Sheffield`s best boozer, and Sean off of Beer Central in the Moor Market had socially networked to bring together a reyt motley crew of us (self-professed) beer boffs.

The tackle was lined up in order of ABVs aiming to start with the lowest first and progress from there onwards and upwards. A broad range of styles was evident to really stretch the palate, particularly bearing in mind that this included one or two I was not too fond of like saison and weisse-y stuff but then that`s one of the beauties of this sort of event - stepping outside of your beery comfort zone and trying something different (no dunkel though, phew!).

Having recently returned from a Mid Wales visit, I started proceedings with Sunshine from Monty`s. This little brewery are based in Montgomery and their tap is at The Sportsman in Newtown, a popular haunt of the area`s keen CAMRA branch. Sunshine is a hoppy delight (predominantly Cascade) that has picked up an award or two, is very sessionable and weighs in at 4.2%. It seemed to be pretty well received and  scored respectably from the tough crowd who were (almost all) new to this Powys brewery. Later I learnt that one of these earlier events had begun with brews around the 8% mark and gone up in ABV from there! Still, I was content with my choice and the ideal of drinking local stuff whenever it is possible and palateable.

Kate from the Three Tuns (and family) was next up though and her offering from the fantastic Buxton Brewery was a strong contender for a fair old while. Far Skyline is a lovely dry-hopped weisse drop but another sessionable beer and, it was becoming clear, that type of tipple would struggle to win what was shaping up to be a heavyweight contest. Local challenges from the likes of Nook and Raw fell alongside stateside superstars Stone as Buxton looked to have (Axe) edged it. Odell`s Footprint made its ,errr mark, with prickly pear juice, chilli, sweetcorn etc, all locally (by U.S. standards) sourced, and then exported to North Riding. This bottle showed that, if you chuck enough wacky flavours in there, you come out with a bland beer - a low scorer tonight.

Beavertown are based in Hackney, London-town, and have a deservedly high reputation. In fact the two main challengers in this bottle share smackdown both had us nerds wondering `is this beer`?  Applelation is a barley wine, well barley champagne, that looks as a saison but the aroma quickly lets you know it is from a higher league. There`s a bit of everything in here but it balances and contrasts intriguingly at 8.7%. Sweet, sour, citrus, bitter, barley, champers, dahling! Loved it and scored it 8. And I still `don`t like` saisons.

The Nogne / Bridge Road special dished out to end proceedings came close to the top slot for me but the red wine was just that bit too sweet and lacking depth or spiciness despite its gorgeous colour and its multiple ocean transit betwixt Oz and Norway. Nice though it was too wine-driven for some. Beavertown won this one scoring an average of over 8 / 10 from us fussy folk.

A couple of pints of HDM before bed-time were ideal night caps chatting to Steel City Dave and blogger nonpareil Wee Beefy. Hats off to Chris of Shakespeares and Sean from Beer Central for organising this and to the collective for bringing along some cracking ales and for making me feel welcome at my first bottle share. Give it a go!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Farmhouse IPA (6%) - Magic Rock & Lervig

Belter in a bottle!
We like/love the IPA , that much-loved beer genre from the past year or five and you couple it with a sprinkle of the old Belgium-y Brettanomyces yeasty stuff = winner. An IPA that gets better / different the longer you leave it. In this case, it was a full 10 days, so well mature.....

Magic Rock were our brewery of the year 2013 and we`re still waiting for them to put a foot wrong this year. Neither of us buy many bottled beers but in Sheffield we are blessed to have Beer Central and Hop Hideout that are well willing to supply super sups like this one. The Rocky Hudd heroes push boundaries, vary their style and collaborate successfully. This funky effort was conceived alongside Lervig Aktiebrygerri of Norway.

Classic IPA aroma and body but with added depth. The carbonation lifts the aromatics and the taste dwells pleasantly on the palate. Definitely drinkable and does not present as a 6% monster, more a light-heavyweight that can hit with resinous pine!

Thanks for this one to Beer Central ahead of international IPA day!

Not lacking bottle ....... FARMHOUSE IPA  9 / 10.    BUY NOW!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Situational Sups - #1 Summer

You know the deal. It was just the right time, right pint...etc. Might not even be the exact beer that you thought you wanted or hoped for but it just hit that spot (don`t panic, no lager herein). And here`s a couple that spring to mind for me. In Britain, it`s all about the beer garden. Maybe. Or the beer. Or a bit of both?!

Ok, so the wonky beer garden here wouldn`t get that bubble dead-on in the middle of any spirit level, but the Rising Sun (at the crossroads near Carsington just before Hopton above Matlock. Somewhere) is a lovely roadside pub with a child-friendly spot at the rear. This one was a Golden / Blonde Blue Monkey PG Sips (4%) and eminently suppable. The Nottingham brewers seem to be doing well and are at their best with light hoppy efforts like this one from their core range. Only been to the Rising Sun twice and staff were absolutely spot-on plus the bar homes 4 or 5 well-kept ales, mostly well-chosen LocAles. If you can find this boozer from my very vague description, you deserve a pint. Mebbe two.

My second suggestion for a seasonal Summery sup is also out of town in the quiet village of Holmesfield, adjacent and above (literally or metaphorically, you decide) of Dronfield, North Derbyshire.

Normally, I would associate this great little place with all things cosy. The Rutland Arms is that rare type of pub that does not seem to rely now on food or pub co to survive, where you would happily get trapped in by the wintery weather, (snow, rain, any meteorological excuse) for that extra pint or few. AND it has a nice beer garden, our Summer has revealed. A really ermm, green, grassy green patch with picnic table aplenty and space for (well-behaved) little ones to stretch their legs before sharing a bag of Walkers and a Fruit Shoot, (or other similar products). Again, the staff and atmosphere are very welcoming to visitors whilst pleasing their well-heeled regular punters. Beer choice is limited to 3 or 4 fairly local (and well-kept) brews but then that is a decent offering for a small but perfectly formed Derbyshire drinking hole.

Castle Rock, another Nottingham brewery coincidently, are not normally one I would specifically opt for but their Harvest Pale hits that situational spot. This is their marquee Pale ale that won awards at the GBBF a while back as the glass proudly attests. (And isn`t it good to get the proper glass for that particular beer!?).

Other nominations and suggestions are more than welcome, especially in this happy and sun-blessed holiday season, but you`ll probably find me in a well-maintained beer garden somewhere, with my well-behaved kids drinking a well-kept pale ale. Try The Rising Sun or The Rutland Arms for starters!