Saturday, 31 December 2016

twobeergeeks` Top 10 Pubs in Sheffield, 2016

 

Last year we were inspired and encouraged by our prolific friend Pete at Sheffieldalepubs, to produce a definitive list of the best pubs around the Steel City, ale capital of GB. Ours is a dynamic list subject to change and it is the best fit for us two; although most of our opinions are pretty closely matched, there are one or two places that divide our opinion a little. We cogitated and contemplated upon beer quality and selection firstly, and then the pub itself and service provided.

Our scoring system is not set in stone because those three selection criteria can vary in importance. For example, as we both have young families, sometimes service can be so very important. Simples.
Building on our previous list,  we have again presented this in a poetic style of type known as a kenning. And added appropriate alliteration as always.

1. The Beer Engine - contemporary class. (Our PotY. Read more HERE )

2. Shakespeares - considered quality.


3. The Sheaf View - economical excellence.

4.  Bath Hotel - cosy craftiness.

5. The White Lion  (NEW!) - cultured community.

pic courtesy of Sheffield Ale Pubs site

  •  If there was an award for biggest climber in our chart then this would be it. I've been bobbing in for a fair while after meeting Danny at Sheaf or Brothers to 'kill time' whilst awaiting my bus back up but since Jon and Mandy took over, it`s been more than just a case of ten minutes looking at the lovely interior; now the beer is good too! The staples have been sagely supplemented by the likes of Salopian (occasionally) and Hopjacker (regularly) and delivered by ever-amiable bar staff.  Music and art are prominent here and the White Lion was deservedly awarded ACV status recently. This beautiful place is a fantastic hub for the community. Try it!
6. Hop Hideout (NEW!) - inspired independents.


  • Shock, horror: A bottle shop! This place is also a pub circa 2016. Jules and Will are great hosts to a wide range of groups and events and I enjoy the Mikkeller Running club which is held there each month: a swift (ish) 5k followed by a leisurely half or several and nice chat with a lovely mix of beery folk. Later on, HH is a great spot, best in the area to us, for a drink from their top tier keg collection or a bottle from their huge range of quality products from near and far, Scarborough to Scadinavia. And some Karkli! Love it.

7. Sentinel Brewhouse (NEW!) - modern magic. Great innovative and visionary addition to city drinking.

8. The Beer House - (NEW!) park-side pints. Lovely micro-pub, an oasis on Eccy Road.

9. Fagan`s (NEW!) - fabled features. Anywhere better than the snug in our city?

10. The Devonshire Cat (NEW!) - city sleekers. It is better but we`ll see how it develops.

(NEW! = New place in our top 10. Last year`s list HERE
Three Tuns and maybe Brothers Arms are very unlucky to slip out as is Harlequin (not been there so much recently) whilst neither of us fought hard for Tap, Broady and Rutland, I`m afraid, but things change. Also the usual footnote that we tend to drink in South West Sheff plus the city centre with occasional wander to Kelham Island so there are a few contenders that we rarely visit TBH. Shout up and we`ll endeavour to visit soon!)

NB - As per 2015, especial mentions to Dronfield`s double diamonds - The Coach & Horses and the Dronfield Arms. Both would have made be top 10 if not for their cross-border location. That is all. Peace. Mike `n` Danny x

Sunday, 18 December 2016

twobeergeeks` Pub of the Year 2016

So our Pub of the Year was a tough call. Easily enough we can reel off 15-20 really good drinking dens around the city where we'd happily have a pint and put the world to rights then whittle down a top ten. There are definitely more than that too as we do tend to stick to south west Sheffield, the City and Kelham Island. Our top 5 are all close calls, crossing the line in a pack and the top two are a photo finish....
 
Twobeergeeks' Pub of the Year 2016 - The Beer Engine
 
Last year we announced similar in light of this Cemetery Road boozer bursting onto the beer scene in Sheffield so successfully but the caveat was that Shakespeares was still 'our favourite pub' and `the best pub in Sheffield`. Now we think the Beer Engine pips Shakespeares to these titles.
 
2BG`s PotY 2016!
 
 Judging establishments, we tend to focus on beer, pub and service in that order of importance. (Danny will sometimes mention toilets but Henry's was a lovely place for a 'rest room' visit....).
 
Beer - both are fantastic. Shakey's is the better on price and the extra keg lines this year have been special at times. The Beer Engine mixes it up sagely with the likes of Northern Alchemy backed by local heroes Neepsend and keg lines are always strong.
 
Northern Alchemy. yum!
 
 
Pub - both have their detractors but we like! Beer Engine is light and modern whilst Shakey`s is dark and traditional.
 
Service - both are good but slightly variable with The Beer Engine usually the better of the two.
There you go and on that basis, there is very little to separate them. However, The Beer Engine for us has the momentum and just keeps improving.
 
Whilst Shakey's is great but has lost its leader. A lunge on the line seals it for Cemetery Road in our humble opinion. Cheers to the Beer Engine, twobeergeeks` pub of the year, best pub in the Steel City and to Shakespeares, number 2 in our list this time.

Full top ten coming soon....!

And here`s our 2015 Top Ten

Thursday, 8 December 2016

twobeergeeks` Beers of the Year 2016

Hands up! Beer of the year is a bit daft but we @twobeergeeks do try. We are trying, very. With the vast number of styles out there and the vast quantity of pubs (especially in our city of steel) and bottle shops, great beer really is situational. If Bradfield Blue in t' local after a hilly plod hits your b-spot, who can really disagree!?
 
As per usual, we try to keep things relatively local and we've somehow narrowed it down to a top five, in no particular order:-
 
Green Man IPA - Drone Valley Brewery
Members of the Drone Valley Brewery cooperative planted their own hops (Prima Donna) in their suburban S18 gardens and harvested them to produce this autumnal brew. Pungent and flavour full, this is a great example of what is possible without paying top dollar for transatlantic tastes. 5.7%. And their Dronetsk stout weren't bad either. Encore.
 
Custard porter (red wine barrel-aged) - Cloudwater
From Hop Hideout. After a cheeky monthly 5k run with the Mikkeller Running Club, you need to refuel and this ticked all the boxes. Amazing. Think vanilla on top of balanced burgundy barrel-aged beer (Shiraz next please!). Strong % but don't recall what, for some reason... Our Abbeydale road heroes, Jules and Will, sagely select the best in beer and this was the real deal, leftovers from a MTB a few days before. Lucky us. You need to run and / or have a half herein at HH HQ.
 
Modus Operandi - Wild Beer
The Brothers Arms has been through a bit of a transitional period this year after arriving on the scene with a big bang but it still is a great spot for summertime sups. After a play in the park, kicking back on the city's best beer terrace, you expect a reasonable pint to accompany you but this old ale (ok, it was a half ) went above and beyond. Strong % but don't recall what for some reason. ... I had to go back for another . .
 
Love Among The Ruins - Thornbridge
Neither of us are big on drinking bottles at home, preferring a pub pint , but this needs, no it demands, a mention. I got to try this as soon as it was released thanks to James,  pub presidente at el Coach & Horses in delightful Dronfield and it exceeded expectations. After below-par dalliances into the world of sours (remember that ok Wild one, `Tart`?), but this was buckets better. Pucker up.
 
 
 
Rhubarb and Rosehip Gose by Sentinel
Both of us are fans of this super sour. At only 3.4%, RRG still offers lots of taste. I first sampled the beer at their Brewery's family fun day in August having heard good things about it from those in the know. Tough to beat a Summer sour, especially when its this good and great to see it available in bottles all year too. Love all the info that Sentinel offer the beer geeks at their Tap or on their bottles.
 
 
 Soooo, no space for Bradfield Blue this year, eh? We`re always interested to hear your choices, answers to the usual address pint pickers. Cheers.

In case you have forgotten  --Our  Beers of 2015

Friday, 2 December 2016

twobeergeeks` Brewery of the Year 2016

 


So, twobeergeeks' Brewery of the Year 2016 was not an easy one to decide. In fact, we couldn't decide and so settled for a split decision, like a dodgy boxing match.... 
 
Following in the footsteps of Magic Rock, our pick for 2014, we have seen our 2015 selection of noobs Neepsend go from strength to strength this year and 2016 has seen a whole posse of new local producers brewing some stand-out ales right from the get go.
 
                                              Danny's pick - Hop Jacker
 
Great name and great beers. Since getting out of The Bath, Edd Entwistle has seamlessly shifted into the role of 'Edd' Brewer at the Dronfield Arms, the tap house for Hop Jacker. Their ales are very solid but not predictable. We both enjoyed their IPA types and their darker brews with the Roobarb and Custard porter being a real big time brew. Like many of their's , this collaboration (with the wonderful White Lion of Heeley) is a must on any beer hunter's list.
 
Think Hop Jacker, think unfined!
 
                                                          Mike's pick - Lost Industry.
 
The standard expectation in the industry is to start safe with a core range of 4 or 5 brews in traditional styles, nailing them, and then tentatively venture into slightly stronger brews or different styles. The Seaton brainstrust don't subscribe to that school of thought though and jumped straight in with a maverick abandon citing yoghurt sours early in their brewing timeline. Sure, the packaging is clearly on the d.i.y. lines with occasional local references but the best art is usually on the inside of their bottles. Lost Industry have recently done some real works with their Black Heart coffee porter one and their wonderfully weird Foraged, using locally sourced berries and whatnot, I kid you not!
 
Pic borrowed from rate beer. Ta.
 
 OK. So we know that these two operations are not the finished article but such strong starts need recognition and so we are pleased and proud to select Lost Industry and Hop Jacker as our joint winners of the twobeergeeks Brewery of 2016. Cheers chaps!

Sunday, 23 October 2016

The 42nd Steel City Beer Festival

Quick one. I think it's now the third year that the Steel City beer festival had been held at the impressive Kelham Island Industrial Museum and the third year that twobeergeeks has been involved in the judging.

The event seems to grow year on year and, even at the Wednesday afternoon opening session there was a decent turnout of ale enthusiasts.
 
I stumbled upon four different bars during my visit. Having done no research before hand to speak of, strangely hazy memories of previous visits and being too tight to buy a programme (and guaranteed to lose it within twenty minutes), it was lucky dip.
 
The pub bit (Millowners Arms) seemed to be all Bradfield this year and just a bit further down from it was the keg bar. When I popped in I was impressed with the selection but gas issues meant nothing was available. There's the long marquee bar downstairs again and the upstairs bar next to where judging takes place.
 
After last year's luck where I happened upon brilliant brews from North Riding and Crafty Devil and got to rate the speciality ales category, this year yielded a mega crop of Golden Ales. Suffice to say that, after sampling 20 of the blighters, this is not my preferred beer style..... On a positive note, good to see CAMRA criteria now allowing for unfined ales (surely the way forward) and for the fact that there was a keg bar this year (although I suspect an old school twiggy beer type might have sabotaged it on Wednesday?! ).
 
 
 
However , I did get to redress this somewhat between judicial sittings and enjoyed beers from newbs Beer Ink (formerly Hand Drawn Monkey, I believe) and Steel City before departing.
Best bit for me was chatting to lots of nice beery folk and hearing the results next evening:-
 
Beer of Sheffield -
1st. Rollabout Stout by Neepsend
2nd. C Monster by Little Critters
3rd.   Azimuth by On The Edge
 
Not saying we told you so but Neepsend was our Brewery of the Year for 2015 and this week's deserved award heralds the progress that they have made this year, particularly with the darker ales. Competition was tougher than ever too and Little Critters have arrived with a bang and a solid range of core ales. A silver for Critters must make the switch from Bakewell well worth it. Also great for On the Edge`s Tom who combines teaching art with brewing craft. Well done chaps. Take a bow, (and ask for a pay rise). And a big thanks to all of the people involved with this year's festival - Pride of Sheffield. x
Cheers.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Mitchell`s Hop House Brewing - Independent

The recently crowned Real Ale Capital of Britain has a new brewery. Hot on the heels of potent pairing Sentinel and Little Critters comes Mitchell's Hop House Brewing.
 
The Meadowhead maestros of all things alcohol have now branched out and started their own micro brewery. The little Italian restaurant next door has been replaced by a shiny new brew kit aswell as an ale museum and the long term aim apparently is to of have a gin distillery too. Look out Locksley?!
 
 
 
The last twelve months or so have seen Mitchell's wholeheartedly jump on board the craft ale revolution with an impressively expanded range including a sizeable beer fridge with ale from near and far (from Tadcaster to Tokyo), bottled and canned. This place is on my route home from work so the visits have become increasingly frequent and inevitable. Staff at Mitchell's are friendly and knowledgeable, the range of spirits and wines is vast but what's the beer like?
 
The test batch of bottles disappeared crazily quickly so I missed them unfortunately but I grabbed a blonde at the first opportunity, so to speak. The brews have Mitchell's-related names and this one was named 'Independent' appropriately and offered ample reason to support local businesses if a reminder was ever needed. Stay local!
 
We twobeergeeks are not ordinarily blonde fans but needs must and, with this one on the shelves at well under two quid for a 500ml bottle, it was a no-brainer to add to my basket alongside the 'fruit-based' drink for the lady.
 
The initial aroma is nice enough; fresh and grassy. Thankfully Independent is not overly-carbonated as some new-to-bottle brewers seem to do and the late summer golden haze is topped by a thin off-white head.
 

 
 
This one is quaffable at 4% whilst having enough taste to keep the palate interested and the hoppy bitterness is pleasant and quite long-lasting. A good effort and it seems to improve further down the glass, or maybe I over-chilled it a touch. Possibly that could be an area to improve at HH: add some more information to the label like serving instructions, hops used or even IBUs, us geeks like that stuff. Anyways, a promising start and we look forward to seeing how Mitchell's Hop House develops up at the head of the Meadow.
 
 
The future is bright.  Maybe this place could be the first to offer a beer and cigar pairing? Now we`re talking!

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Sentinel Brewhouse revisited

We are very fortunate to have many fantastic pubs in Sheffield. We are also lucky to have a few places that have been taken over by visionary bosses and improved massively. Now in Sentinel Brewhouse we have something quite different to add to our city's ale armoury.
 
Head honcho Alex Barlow has an impressive and extensive CV and here on (inner) Shoreham Street his vision is coming into fruition fantastically. We first visited back in March at the back end of Sheffield Beer Week and the place was still more carpet clearance than brewery base but the space and location looked to have potential, to us, at least. The floorspace is sizeable but now six months on, with the brew kit now in place, it sits comfortably and the place has a great look overall.
.
 
The recent August bank holiday family day at Sentinel Brewhouse utilized the weather and space to full effect. Glorious. Films on a big screen indoors, in case of a downpour, and inflatables on the car park, a rare and welcomed consideration to families with a Dad / parent / carer with a discerning palette. (The bossman Barlow was here himself with a happy clan in tow too #proofinpudding ).
First visit had worried us a tad with the 'top end' beer pricing but now the range is expanded and improved (Magic Rock on keg, 'nearly ready', but for gas issues, and an array of bottles). Sentinel's own Rhubarb and Rosehip gose was beer of the (bank holi) day (and week) achieving that rarity of a big bold taste at a lovely low ABV (3.something % ), ideal sunny bank holiday fodder.
 
 
 
Lots of geeky beery info herein too on the above-bar boards (colour, IBUs, etc. ) plus the oft-ommited price and even glass options. Nice. Needed more in our city!? Service was suitably 'top end' too and appreciated as was the fantastic food which not many Sheffield places can match (think Beer Engine or Rutland). We are not a food blog though so.... try ... and let us know....!
 
In summary post-Summer - Sentinel Brewhouse? P`raps the most promising appearance on Shoreham Street since Brian Deane first arrived in a taxi from Donnie in 1988.  Give them a try.  x

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Abbeydale Brewery ; On the up!

Over the past few years, Steel City have consistently been our favoured brewery in Britain's real ale capital but this year it's certainly not as clear cut. Last year we went for Neepsend as best brewery after their superb start we they continue to build upon and more recently we have some new kids on the block in the shape of Little Critters, Sentinel and the excellent Lost Industry. Now then, add to that the improvement at the likes of Abbeydale and things just got interesting....
 
Pops vs Steel City @ Sheaf
 
 The signs were on the wall literally and metaphorically with the huge improvement at the Devonshire Cat since the S8 maestros took it over (have a look at their new `what beers are on` boards btw) and it now actually deserves its place in the Good Beer Guide. Signings from the likes of Shakespeare's mega pub, Blue Monkey and Buxton Brewery have heralded a more modern, crafty wave of Abbeydale ales.
 
Abbeydale? On keg? Beginning of the end?!
 
Having missed the (apparently excellent) 20th birthday celebrations for Moonshine (Sheffield`s most supped real ale, still) on the Friday night, I made sure that I was at Hop Hideout next morning, OK early afternoon, for the (kind of) launch of Abbeydale's first sour beer Mango Rango. A month or two earlier I had sampled (several) of what I'd rate as Abbeydale's best ever beer Hop Smash and Jim Rangley`s signature sour brew could be up in that league too. Jim is conscious of the current `craft ale` hop demands, but also of the fact that Abbeydale are well-connected and well-established in the market.  Jim reckons lagers and fruity pales are likely avenues along Abbeydale Road`s progressive beery pathway. Watch this space...
 
Mango pulp reality. YUIM.
                                                                                                       <(Filter `n `fine that beauty!)>
 
 For £3 a pint this was a real mango fest reminding me of the Great Alphonso (Magic Rock) and, more recently and closer to home,  Fruit Machine that Beer Central / Steel City produced last year (our beer of 2015 probably ) but here you get more sour elements too resulting in a quaffable yet thirst-quenching taste at about 4% ish.  Oh, yes.
 
Xmas past.
 
This `meet the brewer` event was a part of Hop Hideout's sour showcase, a canny idea from the brains-trust at 448 Abbeydale Road for the August Bank Holiday weekend. Great work all round.
Abbeydale on the UP!  

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Sheffield city pub review (rolling the dice with sheffieldalepubs!)

Different one this. First in what will hopefully be a series of collaborative blog bits. Representing twobeergeeks we have Mike up against Pete off of the esteemed sheffieldalepubs. Plan is to draw up our own separate six pub short lists of establishments we would consider putting in our respective top ten for 2016, ones on the cusp as it were, at least this was my intention. Pete meanwhile did a canny mix; a couple of his favoured boozers, a couple that he wanted our opinion of and a couple from the leftfield. We then roll the dice (or is it die in the singular?) and see what pub the number indicates, pop in, have a half, peruse and pontificate.

twobeergeeks` selection
Now sheffieldalepubs is the ideal ally in this endeavour as, since starting his webpage in January 2015, Pete has visited 198 Sheffield ale houses, most of them repeatedly and regularly in order to keep his page's information right up to date. Recently Pete launched his `weekly news` which keeps the ale city abreast of all things beery every seven days and he`s about to launch a series of pub walks which will be available to access as PDFs.
sheffieldalepubs` choices
 
Meeting at the Tap and Tankard over a half of Ilkley stout (me) and Pale Rider (Pete ) we set out our plan, looked at our lists and rolled a 2 meaning the Old House as my choice and the still spanking new Head of Steam as Pete's, both a conveniently short stroll away. The first two places impressed us in different ways; the smiley service at the Old House reasserted the fact that this city chain (True North) seem to have a happy knack of recruiting well. The beer range here these days has come a long way from when they used to have just a couple of handpulls and a clutch of bottles. Similar with the Head of Steam in that there was a pleasing choice of seven plus keg and my Anarchy Blonde was as good as I could of hoped in a beer style that I don`t favour from a brewery that I do. Pete was happy enough with his beer from the ever-present Cameron`s stable.

 Next up the die took us to my wildcard Gatsby and then the Red Deer, now free of ties to Stancil. My Roosters YPA was not right so the kind barman refunded my money and replaced it free of charge with the steady Saltaire Pride, the only available ale here today.  After a wrong turn or two we found the Red Deer nice and busy for a Monday but two beers down from its usual array. However my Blue Bee Reet was er,  reyt as was Pete`s Sadler`s. Good to see so many folk in there too.
 
The final rolls indicated The Bath Hotel and The Hop. Now, I`d cunningly added the former as one of my choices as it `might not` make the 2BG`s Top 10 if standards drop with the manager Stef having left and of course this beautiful bar barely scraped into Sheffield CAMRA`s top 20, < cough,cough >.... Sure enough, my Neepsend (2BG`s brewery of the year 2015 btw)  red one was my best beer of the night and Pete was happy with his unusually hopped Blackjack brew. Love this place.
 
16th best pub in Sheffield, according to CAMRA!
All evening, the dice had been very kind to us with no great hikes between brews (3 of my selections were in Kelham area!) but this came to an end as The Hop was disappointingly closed, disappointing at least until I suggested substituting it with The Devonshire Cat! Now this place is so much improved and rightly Pete continues to promote it as one of his very favourite drinking spots. It has been a staple in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide but only since Abbeydale took it over could that really be deserved for the first time in a good five years I`d suggest.The clientele here is regularly boosted by the Corporation crowd (Scandinavia`s Arch Enemy on tonight) and students being fed by visiting parents. The ale selection is vast and varied now plus there`s also a clutch of keg offerings too. We stayed `traditional` though as I went for old favourite Abbeydale Deception, one of our first blog topics, and sheffieldalepubs selected Absolution, both of us selfishly ignoring Moonshine, a few days short of its 20th birthday and still the city`s most supped ale. A predictable end to an unpredictable evening of `research`. Cheers!
 
*You can find Pete`s very informative web page HERE - Sheffield Ale Pubs.*

Friday, 19 August 2016

Thornbridge - Days of Creation & Love Among The Ruins

Sour season is now in full swing and the best British breweries are now making forays into this traditional beer style whilst many are bogged down with (yet another) Double IPA. The focus of Bakewell's Thornbridge Brewery this Summer has, sure enough, been the sour with the previously blogged Serpent and now the barrel-aged double header of Love Among the Ruins and Days of Creation. Last year, we weren't Wild about Tart, but it was a start,  and this year has been a sour success.
 
Both brews are 'top end' and will set you back a tenner or thereabouts. Ironically, a year or two back Thornbridge were oft criticised for the hefty price tag on their ales availed to the brassic city of Sheffield. Nowadays their pricetags of £3 - £4 a pint are seldom seen as steep, more of a steel city steal but these specials are a different beast. The aging process required for any half decent sour (plus the cost of barrels, I guess) goes a long way to explaining the tenner but only if the beer measures in terms of quality. Lucky 7% ABV, or not...
 
In short, both are excellent and Love Among the Ruins is truly outstanding, well deserving of the category gold medal achieved at this year`s world beer cup. I had expected to enjoy the raspberry flavour of Days of Creation more than its twin's cherry bomb but the additional complexity of the latter is stunning. A short-lived fizz leaves a thin beige head and an inviting dark fruity-red haze.



 Both brews seem to develop as you drink them unveiling added depth and flavour as the fruit becomes more prominent. Initially, sour and yeasty aromas dominate then a hit of balsamic before fruit. Whether the ales' changes are due to aeration or warming to room temperature or whether they are fruitier further down the drink I'm not certain but there is plenty going on here even for the pickiest of palettes. Love Among The Ruins really is a tour de force for Rob Lovatt and the team at Bakewell, their best brew for a year or two in our humble opinion.  Great work. 
 
 
*Thanks again to gentleman James Broad at the Coach & Horses, the original and best Thornbridge tap, for providing these beauties.*

Sunday, 24 July 2016

DIPA Battle #3 - Cloudwater v4 vs. v5

The latest double IPAs to hit our shelves and the latest bit of canny marketing by the chaps over at Manchester Piccadilly; two very similar beers but which works best? Cloudwater DIPA V4 and V5 are both 9% monsters made using the same hops for bittering and aroma and the same malts too. However, V4 is dry-hopped during fermentation whilst this occurs after fermentation with V5. Citra and mosaic are two of our favourites and they`re both in the mix somewhere so bound to be good......?

 


Never judge by appearances they say but, if you did, these two are more like half brothers than fully-fledged siblings. V4 is fairly clear and there is quite a lot of visible carbonation to start with whilst V4 has a beautiful peachy summer haze.

Aromatics are key with this style and usually a signature of Cloudwater`s seasonal agenda and so the IPAs abound with tropical fruits. V4 has a fresh, alpine, resinous hit alongside pineapples and grapefruits but the taste cannot quite live up to the aromas. Balance in both brews is good as the hefty alcoholic backbone is filled out by all the bitter sweet fruit flavours. V5 has a more pungent nose and we meet over-ripe peaches and maybe apricot in there too. The bitterness lasts alongside a boozy warmth in the mouth. V4 just tastes fresher, but maybe with less complexity. After prevaricating and pontificating, we need a winner.

Hmmm.

After all that, I have to say that there isn`t much to choose between these two. Both good beers and at a decent price (about £4 from the ever-improving range at Mitchell`s) but I have recently had better DIPAs. In fact, you know what,  I`m calling it a draw and, I`m afraid to say, I actually preferred V3! Give them a go though. 7.5 / 10 from me.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Serpent - Thornbridge & Brooklyn Brewery

Eagerly-awaited this one. Bring Garrett Oliver straight from Brooklyn and its globally-esteemed brewery to drop him in rural Derbyshire. Add Rob from Thornbridge into the mix 'n' see what happens. Enter Serpent.
 
Posing at the home of football / Sheffield FC
The pair went south to enlist the expertise of Hereford's cider kings Oliver's to utilise their expertise in the use of Lees,  the natural cider yeast, and then add it to a Belgian-style golden ale in barrels, age it for a year, before bottle-conditioning.
 
"Dry, tart, firm, fine and funky",  an expression of "great British brewing, American boldness and Herefordshire's countryside"   proclaims the label but what do we reckon....
 
Belgian Golden ales are still not my favourite style of beer but there is plenty of complexity in Serpent to test the palette. Creamy head with a slightly hazy but smooth golden body; textbook. A fresh fruity feel (for an aged beverage) and balanced despite being 9+%.  Trans-atlantic success right here. The sour elements are tantalising in the aftertaste and left me wondering how this one would taste after more ageing in the bottle. Best buy another.....?!
 
*Cheers to King James the Broad at the esteemed Coach & Horses for securing an early purchase of this beaut. Looking forward to more sour adventures with Thornbridge soon. Watch this space.....

Friday, 8 July 2016

DIPA battle #2 - Beavertown `Bloody Notorious` vs Vocation `Smash & Grab`

 
We told you: The Double IPA is THE beer style of the year. All the big boy brewers have been duking it out in this corner of the beeriodic table. In a previous bit we saw Magic Rock's Human Cannonball triumph over Cloudwater (prolific DIPA dons in 2016) and Buxton Brewery's Kingmaker.

 Next match up sees Vocation of Hebden Bridge representing Yorkshire and the North against southern behemoths Beavertown and their heralded and hyped Notorious, Blood Orange DIPA. Both brews were sourced from the ever-reliable Hop Hideout, after a Mikkeller running club meet, but that's a story for another day.....!

 Both beers are canned and very stylish. Vocation are distinctive and quietly stylish. We like the clear and descriptive information that tells us this Smash and Grab is `Golden`, `Tropical & Citrus` and tastes of `Hop Juice`, 8.5% hop juice, that`ll be then. All true and helpful pre-purchase as is the price of just under four quid whilst the Notorious is nearly a quid more, ah tell thee! Beavertown are also distinctive and stylish but louder, London style, and price - ?
 

 Both have crisp, citrus, fruity aromas but nothing particularly hefty, maybe you'd expect more.

 Appearance after pouring they differ more. Vocation are big on the unfined, unpasteurized and unfiltered process resulting in a cloudy body particularly as you add the dregs of the can. CAMRA marking would probably score this down ironically but for many beer geeks it's fine to be unfined, unless you're big into fish guts!
 
Meanwhile, Bloody Notorious is bloody full of bloody fizz bit this does disappear quickly in the mouth and fades pretty swiftly in the glass leaving the brew looking more marsala than DIPA after a few minutes bemusingly. Taste-wise the alcohol is prominent (after a brief orange hit) but it is 9.1% afterall. S & G has a different and longer-lasting aftertaste with a diminishing bitterness after a citrussy start. Both good beers undoubtedly but DIPA is the most competitive area of craft at the moment so I'm going:-
 
Bloody Notorious - 7 / 10
 
Smash & Grab - 7.5 / 10
 
A narrow but deserved win for the North. Cheers gents!

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Small Batch Series #1 Waen at the Broadfield

Now then. Is beer science or art? We offer, no assert, the latter because, although colloidal stability and whatnot might well be fascinating banter in the labs, in the real world it is certainly not. Dull, dull, dull.

Beer should be music in the mouth. Collaborations were de rigueur in music-land and then, sure enough, in ale they were in abundance. `Limited editions` are a muchly-collected musical thing and now breweries produce `small batch brews`. With me? And so blogs...

Twobeergeeks shall henceforth and forthwith produce the occasional blog bit but with less wordage. Think All Day IPA; kind nice really just a taste of what you would normally read, I mean drink. Idea for this can be blamed (or credited?) / apportioned upon Magic Rock (fantastic small batch brews) not upon the fact that we have little time what with jobs, kids `n` that making writing oft muy difficile. Honest.

Small batch, big taste
Anyhow, Test brew really. Writing this in the Broady; great pub but not been in for a bit (see above excuses / reasons) and, this time last week, I was drinking a can of Guinness at Laycock`s at a 5th birthday party. Yay. The Waen Brewery 54 46 is good though. Low-ish ABV, drinkable with a nice calm body. Their beers seem to hit the spot better from cask than bottle I`ve found and the Pamplemousse from their Llanidloes taphouse takes some topping. 54 46 keeps its head well, clear and fresh. Hoppy enough to retain interest (summit and others, I think). Other folk seem to say `Way-en` but I say `wine`. Correct answer from head honcho Sue Hayward hopefully. Or Plaid Cymru. Cheers.

Beaut

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

DIPA Battle of 3 Counties - Cloudwater DIPA v3, Magic Rock Human Cannonball & Buxton Kingmaker

Straight up head-to-head here. The Double IPA seems to be de rigueur at the moment, or is it now a little passé? No (unhuman) triples allowed today. Anyhows, big breweries represented with Cloudwater from Manc-side, Magic Rock from the Hudd of West Yorkshire and also the Buxton boys from the heights of Derbyshire. All three are lauded and awarded and respected but which one knocks out the best DIPA for the Spring season 2016? Beer is so damn fashionable, eh?!

3 likely suspects

First up the much hyped Cloudwater DIPA v3. Big smell of peach on the nose showcasing superbly the aroma hops here which are comet, mosaic, chinook and, of course, citra. A healthy haze appearance with fantastically fruity taste and daftly drinkable at 9%.  Wow. £4.25 from Beer Stop, Dronfield. No wonder these Cloudwater chaps shift their product so swiftly; It`s not all hype.
I`m going 8/10

 Kingmaker by Buxton Brewery next. Smelling strong no disguise really for the 10.5% brew. Alcohol hits the nose but a tad musty, rustic. A much grittier taste than the previous brew and also doesn`t nail the bitter sweet aspects that can be so captivating in DIPAs. Still tasty mind but less drinkable. Unfiltered but clear as a bell instantly which surprised me with a thin boozy head. Tasting more rounded as it warms a touch from fridge. Nice and hefty.  Preferred this to barrel-aged Double Axe but not Buxton`s best. Noteworthy name, `Kingmaker`, with cool labelling and a battle cry quote, probably off of Shakespeare. Or Game of Thrones. Cost unsure but from Hop Hideout, probably.
I`ll go 7/10



 Finally it`s Human Cannonball by Magic Rock Brewing. Instantly more citrus aroma here. Very powerful and spring-like. Embodies the beautiful haze that I want. Fresh as with a bitter sweet balance to die for. Lingering bitter taste with bit of booze, slowly warming on the aftertaste. Drinkable, almost swiggable and 9.2%. Costing £3.95 in a craty can from Beer Stop, Dronfield. Last certainly was not least tonight!
Winner. 9/10

 
Cheers. Stay safe out there.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Ale Tales from the Seven Hills #6 - Awards Exposed

Ok, belated ponderances regarding the Exposed magazine awards; This is the self-styled 'Sheffield's Ultimate Entertainment Guide'. A few residents of our Steel City were a tad upset / bemused / obfuscated by some of the choices, voted for by the, err, man on the street....
 
Perusing the April edition, beyond the Toddla T front cover, we start with two pages of adverts for `Drop Dead` (this is the 'uber cool' clothing outlet brought to you by Olly Sykes / Bring Me The Horizon, I believe). Read (or , let's be truthful, scan) a bit further on and, lo and behold, DD are up for awards in FOUR categories this year. Take it all with a pinch of salt! (Not a reference to the Piggy-obsessed at the Milestone # best out of town restaurant, honestly!).

 Having lived in Egypt prior to Sheffield, I could be forgiven for being a touch sceptical about voting procedures per se,  and so I'm sure that, in this multi-media age, no one need delve too deeply to find ways to ' influence' society's winners in the public eye. Not particularly IT- interested , I have four e-mail accounts and access to a couple of others, plus Twitter web and whatnot.
 
Anyhows,  of at least equal value to the aforementioned, we present --
 The ultimate twobeergeeks' random awards:-
 
Best toilets - This one goes to Henry's! Classic (Irish?) sinks and tiles aplenty. This bar has about loads of handpulls on offer of consistent quality and a toilet that is the envy of many. We had a big job choosing this one...
 
Best pub food - it's gotta be .... Shakespeare's! Yep, that ole 2BG favourite. Several sandwich stylings available at a mere 70 new English pence, about half the price of similar in a nearby reputedly reputable (multi award-winning) Tavern. 
*conscious note to self - do not mention Sheffield CAMRA's Top 20.
 
 
Most interesting wallpaper - voting tied here. Both the Cross Scythes  (Derbyshire Lane) and the Tap and Tankard take a bow. Feature wall coverage nonpareil. Well done.
 
Beer & wallpaper lie within
Best affordable house beer by a local brewer - Chris Bamford's Shakespeares stand up again for their ultra-reliable Deception. At just £2.40 per pint, this Abbeydale core range King is cheaper than tap water at the Wig and Pen. Maybe.
 
Like water but holy
Best tapas by a bar or pub - fighting off the Dog and Partridge, it's the new kids at great place .... The Beer Engine.

 Finally, it's the big one ; Best looking yet often uncomfortable furniture in a pub near to Kelham Island - Shakespeare's.
 
Comfort aided by beer
 

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Sentinel Brewing Co.


`Sentinel` - a soldier or guard whose job is to stand and keep watch or, in this case, a new brewery for the steel city.
 
We visited Sentinel Brewery for a look and a sample or several as  the super-successful Sheffield Beer Week drew to a close at the new premises located at the city end of Shoreham Street. Brewing has so far happened at the Marble brewery across the Pennines (we believe?) but a shiny new kit will soon be in place. The space is good with plenty of room, inside and out, in an area of town that ought to be able to support a brewery tap plus there is talk of a café doing breakfasts and whatnot. The idea belongs to Alex Barlow who will be the boss here and the former carpet showroom will offer the chance to see the `theatre of the brewery`. Link ups with the University are also on the cards. The space inside could also work for small events we thought.  You can even buy a Sentinel t-shirt.



So to the beers; Early days sure enough but we enjoyed our drinks. The IPA was nicely drinkable at 6%+. Refreshing and crisp and utilising seasonal hops this will be a key beer in the range. The Orange Stout sounded interesting and was also quite quaffable although the citrus kick was very faint. We also had the American Red one which neither of us particularly favoured. There were also a couple of lagery types on offer too plus a best bitter.

Sentinel vs Steel City (`n` Arbor, `n` Hopcraft)
 
We reckon there are a lot of positives here and the Sentinel brewery should be a worthy addition to Sheffield`s beer experience. In terms of the beer, price will be key; with the IPA at £6 a pint on the day the beer has got to be great for Sheffield folk to sup it. Time will tell; stand and keep watch.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Sheffield Beer Week 2016 preview


 

 

An unexpected highlight from last year for us was the beer festival at The Bath Hotel as organised by Hop Hideout. Unfortunately that is not happening this year but similar events at Picture House Social seem to have superseded it and also 2016 sees a much bigger Sheffield Beer Week. Yes, every week in the Steel City could be claimed as a beer week but this one has lots to offer.
 
 
Organised by the brains trust at Hop Hideout together Chris B. of Shakespeares (Sheffield`s best pub), the events included span many fine pubs, many Sheffield breweries (and others from further afield) and also some off-piste ideas like Twitter hours and whatnot. Meanwhile, that Clare off of the famed feast and glory blog is also selflessly sorting a `hump day` pub tour.  Here are three Beer Week `ones to watch` in our expert (!) opinions:-
 
1) Tiny Rebel Tap Takeover at Bath Hotel, Wednesday 16th. Great pub meets the brewers of GBs best beer (red dream Cwtch), according to CAMRA. No brain winner. (And you could combine it with the Hump Day social pub crawl led by Clare for free).
 
2) Belgian Beer tasting with Chris at Shakespeare's, Wednesday 16th. In collaboration with Hop Hideout`s Jules, this event will surely provide tasty treats and info aplenty from two top Sheff beer boffins. (£10 only).
 
3) Blind beer tasting at The Three Tuns. Again Wednesday 16th , again great pub and an opportunity to stretch your palate by attempting to match beers to the relevant tasting notes. (£5)
 
Likely candidates...
So, it`s book a day off Thursday then!
 
Other highlights that are not on Wednesday :-
  • Buxton Brewery (they`re not bad!) at Shakies on Friday 18th on keg AND cask!
  • Crafty Devil - tap takeover at Thursday 19th Brewdog Sheffield. Quite a scoop on Div Street!
  • Brass Castle MTB at The TramShed, Thursday. If you`ve not visited this cool bar why not?!
LOADS more to go at. Check the website for more details.

If those don't fit, don't fret because there is a lot more to stimulate even the pickiest of pint punters as detailed on the helpful web page and brag book too. Let us know what`s good out there. Jules tells us that the aim is to bring together all the good things that are happening out there in beery Sheffield and it cunningly culminates with the SIBA event later in the week. Stay safe out there.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Montgomeryshire CAMRA Mid Wales Tour

Around this time of year, ale enthusiasts under the badge of CAMRA will be diligently collating and cogitating with regards to their recommendations for the tome that is the Good Beer Guide. To be fair, this is oft a year-long process but now we're at the business end of the beer season.

I hopped on board the fun bus with 14 other fine folk from the Montgomeryshire branch of CAMRA. Now this lot are active, proactive even, in their promotion of proper pints in the beautiful heart of rural Wales but their task is a tough one. Entry to the GBG ought to be presented by Willy Wonka in these parts as pubs aplenty procure pints that are pretty close to perfection...

AREA PUB MAP

 I met my convivial host Jon at the branches' HQ, The Sportsman in Newtown and it was plain to see why this boozer is a no-brainer in terms of GBG entry locally. Most pubs in this town are fizz-full but this place is the shiny tap house for Monty's brewery and my MPA was van ideal starter at 11.33 am. Long day of research ahead!

There were too many pubs to write about, and do justice, to individually so here's a list for reference:-

1. The Sportsman, Newtown.
2. The Red Lion, Trefeglwys.
3. The Bluebell, Llangurig.
4. The Black Lion Hotel, Llangurig.
5. The Old Mill, Llanidloes.
6. The Stag Inn Llanidloes.
7. The Mount Inn, Llanidloes.
8. The Red Lion, Llanidloes.
9. The Crown and Anchor, Llanidloes.
10. The Royal Head, Llanidloes.
11. The Angel, Llanidloes.
12. The Railway, Newtown.

Numbers 2, 3 and 4 are quite isolated village boozers that were welcoming and warm whilst the weather whistled by, worsening the further west we went!

Llanidloes, it seemed, was the where the west was won as the task here was a tall one; this market town of less than 2000 people has a plethora of pubs, many being really well worth a visit for any beery visitor.


Who should be in the GBG? Discussion at The Mount
The Stag was fun with an amenable jukebox taken over by top bloke Beeker and some 'mood music' whilst find of the day for me was the Old Mill. Located in the building of the former United Sevices Club, this place is great. It's a cosy, cobbled-together drinking den that is recycled and completely left field. Warm and welcoming, you would never find this artisan gem without a guide and I pushed hard for it to be strongly considered.

Beer scoring cogitation
 Other pubs in Llani tend to be more traditional in terms of layout and beer choice. Welsh ale is often that bit sweeter than that found elsewhere but pleasingly the pints were clearly well kept and mostly locAle. Three Tuns brewery were spotted several times but I preferred the Purple Moose and, best of all, was the Pamplemousse at the Old Mill, one of the beers by Llani's very own Waen Brewery. Crisp, clean, citrussy and moreish, Sue Hayward is rightly receiving acclaim from far afield aswell as having the best pint about when I visited.

The Mount and The Crown are also definitely worth a visit for anyone with an interest in the heritage and historical contribution of our pubs. The latter is fondly known as 'Ruby's' locally and has been lovingly run by the same landlady for 50 years! Half a dozen pubs here all within stumbling distance of one another and all offering very good ale, I'm pleased to report.



 I bobbed back to the Old Mill for another Pamplemousse before boarding the bus back East. A tactical snooze and a final pint of Tiny Rebel's Cwtch back in Newtown were in order along with chairman Ian 'Oz' Austin and co contemplating the day's findings. The Montgomeryshire branch have a tough job, but someone's gotta do it. When's the next trip!?

Thanks to all the pubs we visited and to all the fine people that I chatted with. You are doing a tremendous job supporting and promoting pubs and that is clearly appreciated.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Ale Tales from the Seven Hills #5 - Bars vs. Pubs

Q. When is a pub not a pub? A. When it's a bar.

What is the difference between a pub and a bar? A while back, I put the question out there on Twitter and got some candid responses. I thought I knew the answer , if there really is one but apparently I didn't.

A couple of quips along the lines of " about two quid a pint" were probably quite apt but personally, I thought it was maybe to do with music; bars tend to have music, don't they!? However, that one in that there Cheers with Frasier didn't have tunes did it. And hotel bars just have background music, don't they, or do I sit too close to the elevators....

The original idea was from an article I read listing Sheffield's best bars. Virtually all of them were in a small area of Division Street and West Street; How convenient. You'd probably guess most of them. Anyhows, referring to the list we can deduce that our favourite 'bars' are the Old House and The Forum. The Wick and the Great Gatsby are decent too mind. All these usually have some acceptable cask ale on too, disapproving the assertion that bars equal bottles as one Twitterer offered. This fab four are also thankfully a metaphoric world away from the likes of Vodka Revolution BAR.

The layout is possibly a big factor too. Bars are usually kind of open plan, aren't they? So are some pubs though. Bars surely don't have snugs though.

Sheff`s smallest snug? @Fagan`s
The best suggestion was that pubs are 'community living rooms'. Spot on and we must never forget that. It's not about the layout, loudness or the lager, it's about people. Pubs are assets of community value in the materialistic and historical sense but also in the social sense.

The article, who ever wrote it concluded that Sheffield's best bar was...... Picture House Social. To be fair, bearing in mind our pontificating regarding criteria, we agree. Nice place. Pizza and ping pong. Cocktails. Open plan. Snazzy sofas and soft lighting. Bottles. And ale, real ale. Usually there are three cask offerings and excellent bottles supplied by near neighbours Hop Hideout. Recently though we`ve also been impressed by noobs at The Tramshed, definitely a bar but already feels like a part of the Heeley / Meersbrook community and we only recently sampled the bar in Hop Hideout, bottled beauties plus keg gems.

 That #dryanuary nonsense ought to be well and truly done and dusted now so, get out there and support your local pub, or bar!

Previous review of Picture House Social HERE.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The Continental, Preston

So, it's now three years since we started this blog bit. We only focus on positive stuff rather than offer a critique of beers, breweries and bars around Sheffield; There's plenty to write about. Loads of good stuff and lots of good people: Sheffield! However, other towns and cities are not as fortunate.

Occasionally, I have err, occasion to err, occasionally visit Preston in that there Red-Rosed Lancashire, and there is only one place to visit to my mind......



 The Continental is quite centrally situated on South Meadow Lane adjacent to the lovely Avenham Park. This place offers ale, food and entertainment to a nicely-varied clientele. It has been the best pub in Preston for a good few years for me and it is getting better, ah tell thee. Granted, this is not a food blog but, if it was, the Conti food would be five star and the best pub snap we've had (me and OH) for a l o n g while. Lush crab and parmesan risotto, generous salmon and dill gravalax, and perfectly cooked salmon on a sumptuous bed of samphire. Not a food blog though. Not, not. ...beer, beer.



 No more OT,.... OTB here you'll always get the Continental bitter as a house regular and that's made by Manc marvels Marble plus there's also a Pictish offering too and both Lancs and so pretty local. And so we approve. I noted the nice range of styles too (pale, IPA, gose, stout, amber) plus an improved bottled range.



 First for me was a Baby Ghost, all day IPA, from NE Derbyshire royalty Raw. Well-kept and a tidy starter. The Conti bitter at £2.80 is great value and represents what this place is all about; quality but at a considered cost. Sours in the form of Magic Rock's Salty Kiss, keg and well under £5 a pint (Sheffield tek note now, no names mentioned...) then a bottle of grenadine sour from scousers Mad Hatter were great but foody types would mebbe not approve of pairing them there sours with salmon. Or would they?


 Anyways, Dark Star's Creme Brulee was ideal foody fodder as a pud pint and most of our party were happy to try it. A very sweet sup as the snow fell outside. Idyllic. Great pub this. Content. Conti class.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

The Imperial Strikes Back

Or `Strikes Black` if you want to take the pun up (down?) to the next level.

Three Imperial Stouts from a trio of terrific breweries duking it out in the ring. A festive heavyweight battle with all three weighing in at 10% dead but who would be king of the ring, the master of malt?
Ding, ding.

First challenger was the neatly named and highly (beer)rated Cocoa Psycho, a Russian Imperial, by those mass-producing miscreants at Brewdog. I`d expected a fair old fizz (by stout standards) when opening this but, out of the three contestants, this one presented as the least carbonated. Average aromatics too. Despite following the Brewdog bottle-pouring tutorials on YouTube (they are there, honestly), the head on this lacked somewhat and disappeared as quick as a Blades` promotion bid. However, Cocoa Psycho tasted better as it was allowed to breathe and warm up a bit but the chocolate elements were more distant than hoped. In the mix though.



Next was the Barrel-Aged Shattered Dream by Siren and this one seems to fill in the gaps left by the previous beer. A better head here, caramel beige in colour crowning a black beauty of a beer. Vanilla and chocolate aromas, sweet taste with chocolate, creamy sweetness and a warming imperious bourbon aftertaste. Very drinkable, deftly disguising the ABV as if 10% was just a dream. Big hitter.



Finally was the Imperial Raspberry Stout from Thornbridge in cahoots with S:t Eriks. Now then, we have blogged this one before a couple of years back and it was excellent but now it has bottle-aged in effect and was therefore a few months past its best before date. However, this did not deter as we had really enjoyed it a few months earlier at a Beer Central bottle share and it has evolved. Sure some of the hop freshness (Bramling Cross here) may have faded but the fruity berry elements have become super sour. You still get an invigorating invite on the nose with a raspberry waft and a beautiful dark berry-tinged body. The taste is a neat mix of sweet maltiness and sour berries with a dollop of molasses and liquorice for good measure. Complex and quite different from the taste of 2013.
 
King of the Ring?

Cocoa Psycho - a surprisingly sensible         (3rd.)
[From Brewdog Sheffield]
 
Imperial Raspberry - sour runner-up?           9       (2nd.)
[From Coach & Horses, Dronfield]
 
BA Shattered Dream - Siren ring the bell   9.5     (1st.)
[From Beer Stop, Dronfield]

In Imperials we trust. Godspeed.