Monday, 21 March 2011

For The Love Of Lout (Part 1)

Lager. Love it or hate it, it's everywhere, but can you drink it in Leicester without succumbing to industrial swill?

The mission: visit three pubs and only drink lager. Should be easy.
It was so easy I had to do this over two sessions.

First up The Criterion on Millstone Lane. Veltins, Budvar, Brooklyn Brewery and Amstel on tap.

The Budvar seemed a bit thin, not how I remember it, it's got to be a couple of years since I last drank this. The Brooklyn lager was worth every penny at something like £3.80 a pint. Amber coloured with toffee apple and sweet berry flavours.

Next stop The Pub on New Walk. I wasn't paying much attention to the full range - there are almost too many handpumps and taps to count. Well, there are 33 if you must know. 33!
I drank BrewDog 77 lager and BrewDog Zeitgeist black lager. Pilsner Urquell is available and quite often Freedom Pilsner and Freedom Organic.

Swan and Rushes on Infirmary Square has Veltins and Warsteiner on draught. The bottle selection here can be massive at times, particularly around Oktoberfest.

I went for bottles. I drank Andechs Spezial Hell, Paulaner Salvator and Lang-Brau Benedikt XVI. I would've drank Augustiner Edelstoff but they'd temporarily sold out.

The Andechs Spezial Hell was sweet and refreshing at first but nothing particularly amazing. I've drank it before, but not for some time.
The longer it was in the glass the more difficult it was to drink. It seemed too sweet. Maybe it wasn't cold enough.

Lang-Bräu Benedikt XVI is brewed to celebrate the Bavarian Pontiff. Sweetish but still refreshing. Halfway down the glass the 7.5% abv suddenly becomes noticible.

The Paulaner Salvator is a hefty Doppelbock at 7.9% abv. Another deep amber beer with sweet fruity malt. Gorgeous stuff. I had to visit the Swan another day to enjoy it again.

Mission accomplished.

Sheffield by Brompton

The first visit to The Greystones was on the cards. Thornbridge brewery's new "flagship pub", about 2.5 miles out of Sheffield city centre. There are buses that run there but why not take a bike?
Cycle to Leicester Railway station, fold Brompton, get train to Sheffield, unfold Brompton, cycle to Greystones and have a couple of drinks. So, about two hours after leaving the house I was in a pub I've never been to before drinking a beer I've never had before, Thornbridge Maniola, a dark winter ale.

The Greystones is a gorgeous pub with a great backroom for gigs. There were loads of Thornbridge beers including one on keg, one guest ale (Dark Star Hophead), a tasty looking menu and a friendly welcome and chat from the barstaff. Can't wait to get back.

Then it was time to head back into town to the Rutland Arms for a Bhaji Butty and Freedom Four lager.

And finally to the Sheffield Tap for the last half of BrewDog AB:05 before the shared keg makes its way to Euston Tap.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Small But Perfectly Formed

Whilst we hear a lot in the news about pubs closing at a rate of something like 25 a week it seems that new pubs with an emphasis on serving interesting, quality beers are cropping up all over the place; think Sheffield Tap, Cask & Kitchen and Just Beer Micropub.

Just Beer Micropub in Newark-On-Trent has been open since August 2010.
It is what is says, a beer-only pub, and they just serve cask ale, no keg or bottles.

I'm not entirely sure of what was here before this place but Swan and Salmon Yard was the location to something extremely unpleasant that made national news a few years back.
Several months of hard work and Just Beer Micropub have made a great job of converting an old workshop or garage into what it is today.

You'll find between four and seven cask ales on the small bar with one or two brewed locally, and you know what each beer looks like before it's pulled as there is a tiny "sample" jar next to the pumpclips; a fantastic idea, more pubs should do this.

The beers I had were very fresh as the place is proving so popular the cask turnaround is pretty quick.

It's only 5 minutes walk from Newark Castle railway station, and well worth the trip if you live in the East Midlands.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Derby Winterfest 2011

Derby Winterfest was so far down the calendar this year it could hardly be called a winter beer festival.
Although I miss the hideously-patterned carpets of the Assembly Rooms the new venue, The Roundhouse (a two minute walk from the railway station), was superb.

The Buxton Axe Edge IPA and the Bottlebrook Golden Kiwi were also superb.