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.