Saturday, 15 July 2017

American Pale Ale play-off #1 - Abbeydale vs. Brew Foundation vs. Vocation

Beer is fashionable and therefore vulnerable to fickle fads. Last year, and much of 2017 truth be told, we were subjected to DIPA after DIPA. How DIPA is your love? We even witnessed nuances like Imperial IPA, and continued efforts to make £9 9%ers taste like £2 Boots`fruit smoothies all good, for a bit, and us twobeergeeks are a bit divided with DIPA`s at the mo, as we discussed this week over a Verdant DIPA at the Dev Cat (yes, it was only about 8% and only £4 a half. By contrast, your average American Pale Ale is equally hackneyed but far more friendly on the old pocket whilst sufficiently stimulating to the old taste buds, bud. We`re talking sexy American hops with no specific ABV but you must expect plenty of citrus fruit taste and trans-Atlantic aromas.


So, simple idea here. Budget plan and one that you can replicate domestically, is to get three APAs from a local outlet (NO supermarkets!) and blind taste to choose a winner, then mebbe add a note or two to justify choice. The longer term aim here is to get a `winner` from this semi-final and then have another three-way play-off, before a `final`. All GB made (GBAPA, anyone?) with no foreigners allowed, Nigel....

So, all three, blind-tasted, ranked and then re-visited for double check and a tad more detail. All three were canned ales purchased from the ever excellent Mitchell`s Wines and their ever-expanding craft ale fridge.

Triple threat, albeit a pretty one

Heathen (4.1%) by Abbeydale Brewery - I was pleased that I instantly recognised this from the upfront aroma, floral and citrus, trans-atlantic all the way. Doesn`t disappoint. A great value loc-ale snazzily packaged by James D. Murphy`s genius and the team down t`road in S7 who really are thinking progressively nowadays. Great beer with bags of taste for the buck, and the ABV.

Free Beer (4.4%) by The Brew Foundation - oft associated with Sheffield but actually brewed somewhere in t`hills betwixt here and Cheshire. Admittedly, I didn`t notice that this one was gluten free despite it being clearly labelled as such on the can but I did notice the hops; Chinook, mosaic and simcoe. Yum. Not bad but rather tinny / metallic and a very short-lived head, struggling against some err, heady competition. Barley and wheat are used in the process but later removed using brewers clarex. Possibly a contender in a different emerging field....!?

Pride & Joy (5.3%) by Vocation Brewery. Again another bargain beer and another from not too far afield over in Hebden Bridge, west side of Yorkshire, near Halifax. Apparently, Vocation have recently opened a tap house that sounds pretty cool and, if the beers are on this kind of par, we need to get there. Bold, resinous aromas and a nice bitter but citrus taste that lingers pleasantly.


Final Scores
3rd. Free Beer - Brew Foundation. Lives to fight another day....
2nd. Heathen - Abbeydale. Local heroes in hoppy heaven.
1st. Pride & Joy - Vocation. Worth a place in any final.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Thornbridge versus True North, Head2head (Parts 3 & 4)

In Sheffield we are fortunate enough to have two excellent pub chains : Thornbridge Brewery and True North. We are fans of both because of their quality in terms of pub, service and, of course, ale. We score these three aspects out of five and then award an arbitrary addition for the X factor. This is even more subjective and based on our true feeling therefore the service may gain additional credit (up to 5 marks), or for the `atmosphere` or the location or whatever we reckon makes the pub stand out from the competition. Simples.

Our idea here is to match up pubs of theirs (according to the `style` / target audience in order to allow a fair `fight`) and decide which one wins. The first two contests saw the Coach and Horses win against The Blue Stoops whilst the Stag`s Head drew with the Waggon and Horses.

Match 3

Two city pubs for this one with the Old House on Division Street and the Bath Hotel on err Bath street. Both convenient to call in on a crawl but the Bath is a better bet to settle into for a session, particularly in the winter when the fire is a um, sure fire winner. Meanwhile the food at the Old House is on a par or thereabouts with the other True North houses. Yum.
In beery terms, both tend to showcase their own brews but with some great guests too so an edge here for Thornbridge as their award-winning levels are tough to top.
Inside, both are well-presented and, when the Bakewell boys took over the Bath, the refurb remained true to the pub's heritage marrying it well with the brewery's own much-copied sleek style. Meanwhile the Old House's big bar and varied seating lends itself equally well to after-work drinks, food or bar-hopping.

 <<<<<<<<<< Bath Hotel 16/20 -  Old House 13/20 >>>>>>>>>>
beer in the Bath is tough to top
Another big win for Thornbridge but both well worthy of pub crawl stop-off.

Two on the outskirts next, both former favourites of ours, S8 versus S7....
Match 4

The Cross Scythes on Derbyshire Lane rewards those who scale Scarsdale lane with a consistently well kept pint. Since Thornbridge took over this place half a dozen years back (?) they smartened it up no end and it's now a stylish establishment with four varied rooms and beer garden front and back. Fare now appears to be exclusively Thornbridge with discounts on Wednesdays and a loyalty card to boot.

Whilst the Cross refurbishment is admirable, the Broadfield was veritably transformed at about the same time and it attracts a lovely mixed yet discerning crowd often wooed by the food but the beer here is great too. A recent visit yielded an outstanding Wylam Inferno IPA plus a new collaboration between Black Iris (a staple herein) and Seattle`s Reubens brewery in Black Strap & Bourbon, a 10% monster stout. The Broady beer can be costly (and there`s no price list) but selection is usually err, Broad.
<<<<<<<<< Cross Scythes 13/20 - The Broadfield 15/20 >>>>>>>>>>
So Thornbridge lead 2-1 at the moment.

Old bit on Broady HERE 2013!