Saturday, 22 August 2015

Ay-Up Tommy!

If you are looking for the best fish finger sandwich in the vicinity, look no further than The Peacock in Cutthorpe. However, if it's a nice beer garden you want, you could much worse than our very own Peacock in Brampers.

So, the other Saturday, I sidle through the gate into the garden with J and the Giddy Twins* to investigate their Beer Festival. I was ushered into their marquee to be greeted by the following line-up:-

Oakham, Citra and Inferno
Abbeydale, Absolution
Thornbridge, Jaipur
Cross Bay, Sunset
Barlow, Heath Robinson
Peak Ales, Swift Nick
Dancing Duck, Ay-Up

Now, to me, this is pretty much The Dream Team; a liquid version of The Travelling Wilburys; I had to pinch myself to check that I hadn't died and gone to Heaven.

Talking of Heaven, I was left with this vision of myself, loitering around them pearly gates, only to hear the voice of St. Peter calling, "Ay-Up, Tommy!"

This is not because Peter is a Yorkshireman
This is not because Peter is a Derbyshire lad
This is not even because Peter is from Notters

It is simply that Peter is offering me a pint of Dancing Duck's finest pale.......and that's what they serve the Angels!


Friday, 21 August 2015

Let's do lunch!

If you trot down Upper Brook Street in London's West End, you might strike lucky and get a table for lunch at Le Gavroche where (if you're in a fishy mood) you could sit down to a plate of Sole a la Bonne Femme avec pommes sautees et legumes au saison.

You might like to pair this with a dry, grassy, Pouilly Fume. In my estimation, this would cut rather nicely through the cloying richness of the creamy sauce whilst accentuating the woodiness of the mushrooms, refreshing the palette for the next unctuous forkful.

Alternatively, you could (as I did) pop into the delightful Norfolk Arms in Ringinglow (where you're pretty much guaranteed a table) and order their battered fish and chips with either mushy or garden peas.

Should you choose this option, you may well like to wash it down with a pint of Abbeydale's  Moonshine or Bradfield's Farmer's Blonde. Both decent, refreshing pales.
On my recent visit, I chose to try out their guest pale from Geeves Brewery. 'Clear Cut' (as it's name suggests-we are talking Barnsley, here!) is a clean, crisp and refreshing ale with an exceptionally pale colour....very much like its West End counterpart.

Now, a pint of Geeves' Clear Cut Pale at 4.4% does to for fish and chips what Pouilly Fume does for Sole a la Bonne Femme. Just does it a little cheaper!

Ps. Sorry about lack of accents. Couldn't be arsed.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Tom Strikes Gold.

My Grandma was a Geordie but I was born and raised on the South coast.

Now I've been led to believe that the further North you go, the more open and friendly people become. So, whereas the Southern folks strut about with their noses in the air, occasionally lowering their heads to blow raspberries at strangers, the Scots presumably dance along the streets hand in hand, blowing kisses at each other.

Of course, everyone round here are normal, just popping out with the occasional "ay-up" or "y'all reet" as they pass by.

Another quality of Derbyshire folks is their penchant for saying it 'like it is'. An example of this can be observed in the county's onomastics*.

Traditionally pubs have been named after some part of a monarch's anatomy (even though neither head or any other part of the particular royal anatomy has ever graced the building) or some animal, but the new-wave publican prefers to name his/her dispensary according to it's function..
i.e. Real Ale Corner, Beer Parlour, Chesterfield Alehouse

The Tap House does what it says ont tin, does it well and does it for even less on a Tuesday. On a Tuesday you have a chance to buy a pint (of selected beers) for only £2.

Naturally, being the cheapskate I am, I make every effort to avail myself of this offer as often as possible; it's rather pot-luck and more often than not I revert to Betty's Blonde, their thoroughly decent and quaffable house pale.

However, the other Tuesday I chanced upon Nottingham Brewery's ** Bullion for £2. What a treat! Apparently, this triple-hopped golden glass of lusciousness won Bronze in Best Beer of Wherever in 2010 or something. Well, it won Tommy's Beer of the Month from me, which is far more prestigious!

Keep reading the Tommy's Ales blog to find out what's worth drinking or what is best poured down the sink.

* Google it ;-)
**Nottingham Brewery... a brewery in the town of Nottingham...see what I mean?

Sunday, 9 August 2015

It's all about them hops ('bout them hops, 'bout them hops...)

And now, at the other end of the scale....

I was drawn to the Derby Tup on Friday, home to Ade, Wizard of Whittington Moor and his faithful cat Tess to partake of his latest  potion intriguingly labelled 'Test Brew A'.

For a few seconds I got a pleasant, subtle, almost medicinal sweetness evoking the aromas of lychees or parma violets. But, before I get the chance to decide which... wham! In charge the hops, poles and all, with a woody bitterness verging on the sour to daub the inside of my mouth green, leaving my cheeks sucked in like a teen selfie.

This is a grown-up brew for drinkers of Pale Ale as was evidently intended and as such it's far from lacking in sophistication. But, like a dress-suit worn with odd socks, adjustment, in my opinion, is needed.
A tweak on the hop balance  for Brew B and we are in for a real treat.

So, what can I say about Test Brew A experience? Magic!

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

We're Doomed, Mr. Mainwaring!

Now get this:-
Sharps- brewers of Doom Bar are owned by Molson Coors; a massive North American Company who also own Stones, by the way. Around a million pints of Doom bar are served every week. That's right...a million!

Now looking at the pump-clip, you would never imagine this...brewed in Cornwall from the finest ingredients, blah blah blah! Looks for all the world like a small, local affair.

So, it's a lovely evening and J and I decide to take the dogs ( you'll get to meet them later if you haven't already) to a local you do. 

Being an ale drinker (rather than lager...and, no doubt, I'll expand on that in a later post!) I had a choice of 2 on draught- Tetleys ( their tea is drinkable) or Doom Bar. I plumped for the latter.

Here's a confession- I do like my jelly-babies! My favourites are the blackcurrant ones and the lime ones (and...yes... I do bite their heads off first!). Next come the orange ones and finally the lemon ones.

Imagine that the only babies left in the packet, when I have been nibbling away at them, are the red ones which presumably have some kind of fruit flavour, but heaven knows what.

Imagine now, taking said red babies, mashing them up, steeping them in Tizer 'rouge' and straining the sickly liquid into a glass.

Doom Bar. It has to be the chickentikkamasala of beers.


Great word, 'serendipity'.

I like to imagine that's what deposited me in the Sheffield Tap placing a glass of Jaipur (Thornbridge) on the dark polished bar in front of me, but in actual fact it was Jayne my partner who took me in there, rightly thinking that I would love it.

The Sheffield Tap...aptly the first real ale bar I encountered on arrival oop north. Aptly because it is a part Sheffield's beautiful railway station on whose platform I had just arrived.
Jaipur. What can I say? The ale has become very popular ( although its recipe has changed at least once since) and casks drain rapidly wherever it's served. 

So, within the space of a British imperial pint, I became hooked on Northern ales and Jaipur was my first.
Now my difficulty is this. I can't recall the nuances of taste of that pint I drank a few years back. All I know is that it impressed me so much that the name Jaipur occupies a special place in my memory.

'Ah, but..', you might interject, 'have you not drank ales equally as good since?' But, of course! Many! And the real ale business here  (Derbyshire and environs) is SO healthy that I enjoy new exciting tastes again and again.

That is why I am writing this blog. To describe the ales in my terms so that I can recall the taste experience and to share with like minds (and palettes) the joy of slurping these wonderful liquids.

So please keep reading and, if you 'get my drift', I'm sure we are in for some great drinking together! Cheers!