Wednesday, 30 December 2015

twobeergeeks` Pub of the Year 2015

A swift one, and another surprise....

OK, so previous blogbits testify our fondness and allegiance to excellent pubs in Shakespeares (consistently our favourite, we both agree), The Sheaf View and The Coach & Horses. Our recent Top Ten was one of our most viewed bits and gives our definitive list for the year although this is dynamic and subject to change, ever evolving, etc. .

Anyhows, our Pub of the Year we decided is The Beer Engine! New kid on the block off of London Road this place is great.


The location is spot on where a new decent boozer was needed; it`s close to town and near the eateries on London Road. Formerly Delaney`s, the reincarnation of this Cemetery Road hostelry is a splendid one. Light and airy yet cosy enough to survive the winter the Beer Engine is welcoming. This is largely due to landlord Baz`s belief in customer service and quality. Case in point is the ale: Bar staff are friendly and helpful providing tasters if required. The range is wide from some offerings locals like new boys Neepsend (see last post) to heavyweight superstars Siren, Salopian, Bad Seed and Northern Alchemy. Cask, keg and bottled offerings are available whilst the food (tapas treats) is deservedly lauded. Punters will come in and order the whole menu!

Comically, the concern regarding the light-coloured tables (they are varnished y`know) is worth a read on Sheffield Forum.  Early opening for football fans and the odd music event have also been offered recently too. Further refinements are being considered with the likes of more artwork displayed which could be cool (Coloquix please!).

The Beer Engine seems to improve every time we bob in and it is evolving nicely. We`re sure that awards from CAMRA and whatnot will follow once the place has been up and running a bit longer but we`ll jump in first and flag this place as twobeergeeks` Pub of the Year 2015! Nice one.

Our previous / first visit? - HERE

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

twobeergeeks` Brewery of the Year 2015

Brewery of the year? Now then, this might be a bit of a surprise.

 Previous winners have been crafty heavyweights from the North and South, Magic Rock and Siren (who`ve both had solid years btw) but for this year we have gone back to basics and back to proper local.

Sheffield is now awash with breweries; new ones popping up monthly but some of them are now actually getting pretty good. The shackles of traditionally tasteless twiggy brews are gradually being shed; Saturation point must be close mind. Whereas Huddersfield has a clutch of quality, boundary-pushing brewers most of Sheff's stay safe, small and simple. However, more and more drinkers are looking for quality not quantity even in the penny pinching city of steel. A business model that can offer quality but at an austerity-respecting price is the brew pub model: Make ales locally, for your own pubs, that are decent yet affordable. Quality hops at a quaffable cost. If the brews go down well, make more of them, produce more prototype practices and maybe then even flog them beyond the republic.

 The Sheaf View seems to have seen so many quality bar staff go on to great things, they must be doing something right. And they are about to become a chain if we hear right adding another to the Sheaf and Blake duo.

 Starting the Neepsend Brewery was nevertheless a brave step. Breweries are going bust in 2015. Previously the Sheaf View had been a top-selling Farmers Blonde pub but then a possible penny pinching plunge to Acorn Blonde helped keep the tills ringing. Selling so much of their house beers allowed managers to balance books and then buy better beer for the discerning drinkers to the point where there are now even dedicated craft keg lines offered alongside the occasional real craft treat and still at Heeley prices.

 Neepsend Blonde now fills the substantial shoes left by its famed predecessors whilst making budgetary room for bigger players under the salary cap, so to speak. However, head brewer Gavin has already nailed a solid Stout and his hop head orientated brews are coming along nicely. Hokaiddo is very good as is High Force whilst the IPAs have been spot on so far. And value.
Gavin is keen to tweak, test and perfect the Neepsend portfolio (including the branding) and they've already been spotted as far afield as London, and London Road (the Beer Engine sagely always has a Neepsend offering nowadays).  And Dronfield!

Sure, Neepsend Brewery Compnay are a work in progress but we reckon this brewery are one to watch. We like quality. We like local. We love local quality. If Neepsend build on this solid start then who knows! Cheers!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Beer of the Year 2015

Ridiculous thing to do: Choosing one favourite beer from the whole year? Beer is situational, of the moment, subjective, art. Which is the `best art`?! Plain daft, eh.?! We have tried though.....

Three up and two are pretty local.

Of the weird and wonderful, I opted for Northern Alchemy`s Marmalade and Assam Tea IPA. This was strong and expensive and, bearing those two facts in mind, I could only manage a half of it at the ever-improving Beer Engine after a memorable match at Bramall Lane. (It was either have another half and walk home or have enough cash for bus fare. Close call but it was a Tuesday).

The complexity in this beer had my palate doing somersaults and these guys really do make `Flavour Led Crafty Beer`. Orange aromas and initial marmalade hit lead to a floral tea aftertaste. I don`t care for marmalade nor assam tea particularly but this Newcastle brewery managed to get the bitter-sweet properties to hit all the right notes that you want from a strong IPA (7.4%). Not yet had this in bottle but I shall track it down. Keg of the year perhaps.  If Michelin did do stars for beer......

One we both heartily agreed on was Fruit Machine by Steel City in cahoots with Beer Central`s Sean Clarke. Danny supped most of this whilst it was (briefly) on at Shakespeares and we`ve both had plenty in bottles.  Hazy orange amber, massive citrus aroma, super-fruity mouth with a long-lasting aftertaste, the fresher the better. Thick and pulpy tasting nothing like 7%. One of Steel City`s very best.

Last but not least, maybe best `til last. I met North Riding`s Red Citra at the CAMRA Steel City Beer Festival betwixt judging sessions and it was stand-out even then. (Ultimately it was SCBF second overall too).

 Further quality control took place at the lovely Three Tuns on Silver Street where it tasted fantastic and also at the Broadfield a day or two later. Since it appeared in bottles, we`ve both really enjoyed it. Many purchased and several given away to nice people. This is better than the pale version as the grapefruit, mango and lemon punch is still there in droves but with a beautiful red body. Balanced superbly and mega-drinkable at 5%. Right up our street.

A trio of superb beers. Hats off and here`s to more from these brilliant breweries in 2016. Cheers!

Thursday, 17 December 2015

twobeergeeks` Best Cosy Pubs

Straight-forward enough idea. Still Wintery out there in the Steel City; cosy pub required. Criteria simple ; decent beer and a 'cosiness' factor (a vague, subjective term), both scored out of five in our esteemed opinion, no particular order:-

The Fat Cat - opinion split here for us. Cosy sure, a fair chance that you get chatting to the folk on the next table. They could well be beer tourists from Derby or Darlo. Pub and beer 'traditional' in every sense.

Cosy - 4 Beer - 2 = 6/10

The Brothers Arms - again, opinion divided / unsure. The room with the log burner is the focus here (left of (cosy) bar) , if you get in. Better known as a Summer pub.

Cosy - 3 Beer - 3 = 6/10

Which pub is this the front door for?
Fagan's - whatever happened to Irish theme pubs? Surprise inclusion? Here your cosiness consideration needs to aim for the snug. OK, no fire but the micro-nature of this room unfailingly lends itself to cosiness even down to the doggy smell. Worth queuing up for a snug spot at number 69 for opening time.

Cosy - 4 Beer - 1.5 (Moonshine, Tetleys. .. gotta be guinness) =5.5/10

The Rutland - yeah, fair enough it is cosy and definitely deserves a mention. Can be great if you get a nice spot in there. Whilst the beer is Ponsford (i.e. top end and you`ll pay accordingly), the d├ęcor is more errr Marston`s, if you get my drift. Makeover time? So close....

Cosy - 3 Beer - 4 = 7/10

The Red Deer - Pleasantly surprised with this one. No longer a Stancil Stronghold . Great Heck tempted but Roosters won the day and a seat next to the fire was spot-on.

Cosy - 4 Beer - 3 = 7/10

The Bath Hotel - Head for the blue room. Fire? check! Comfy? Check! Beer? Check. During the visit ales included seasonal Thornbridge in Cocoa Wonderland and Baize, Arbor, Hopjacker and Black Jack. Tidy tackle. Ideal respite from the weather and shoppers outside. Grab the 'paper and make yourself comfortable. Fell in love with this place about 6 or 7 years ago when we had all that snow but the bath remained a haven.

 Cosy - 4 Beer - 4 = 8/10  WINTER WINNER!

Agree? Disagree? Let us know! These are just our opinions and therefore entirely correct.

N.B.Another to add to this list now would be........

White Lion on Chesterfield Road. Since pub regulars Jon and Mandy took over, this place has gone form strength to strength. The front half of the pub is very cosy and the beer usually includes the excellent HopJacker, really fine unfined ales.

Cosy - 4 Beer - 3 = 7/10