Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Russian Imperial Stouts vs The Beast from the East

Well the 'Beast from the East' has been banished but Winter beers are clearly the way forward in such extreme circumstances. Imperial stouts should have the booze and the brawny body to fend off any inclement weather.
So the story goes....
Currently, this style is super popular and competition is therefore fierce but I grabbed three of them for less than a tenner to see how they measured up. Mitchell's now has a stellar craft ale selection at a wide range of styles and costs but we went budget.

First up was the cheapest of the trio from Blue Monkey. Silverback will set you back just £2.15 from Meadowhead's finest and it's an impressive 10.5% ABV. Initial molasses gloop but then a pleasant roasty, toasty taste and a lengthy boozy warmth in the aftertaste. A tad of bitterness and carbonation to make this a drinkable winter warmer. Not complex by any stretch but friendly enough to invite the monkey back.

Ratsputin from Rat Brewery of Huddersfield is the lowest in alcohol at a mere 8.5% but cost the most at £3.49. This one would surely win the award for the best-named beer and also for the menacing art work. This was clearly different to the other two in that had quite an over-ripe, fruity taste, a likely result of the barrel-aging, not unpleasant just different and, not surprisingly, less booze in the after-taste. Peaty whisky hints too. The colour was quite distinctive, dirty treacle maybe. Funny one but fine.
A Black Rat
Finally, Moscow by Ashover is 9.5% and will set you back a convenient £2.50. Since setting up, Ashover have steadily improved and now have a reputation locally for producing very good beer and pocket-friendly prices. Coffee hint, toffee and molasses. Liquorice but smooth and warming, yes. (There is also a raspberry stout from Ashover with a hefty ABV that's worth a go).
Triple threat!
No losers here; all are winners. Sure, having paid top dollar for the dark stuff from Brewdog, Buxton, Omnipollo and Founders recently, this trio are not in the same quality league,admittedly, but they are VALUE. Three reliable breweries have served up some tasty, strong stouts here that deliver the goods and serve well whether as a beery nightcap or as a coat of Dutch courage to brave the elements. Cheers!


Wednesday, 28 February 2018

2BG`s Pub of the Month February 2018

Long time, no see. New thing here and, ironically, we have nabbed the idea from a local publication that had plagiarised ideas off of us recently. Anyway, that doesn't Matter s, we're all about the Beer....

Our Pub of the Month shall henceforth be an occasional 2BG feature probably focussed on new places or beery outlets, as `n` when, that have not necessarily featured in our much-lauded annual Top 10 Pubs.

The first PotM winner is...... Head of Steam, Sheffield! Despite having only been open for a year or so, this place is already popular and proudly puveys an ever-evolving (and improving) beer range. The staff are welcoming and pretty knowledgeable (for new kids) about their wares and several of them appear happy to stop for a pint with mates after their shift. 
At the HoS with Tiny Rebel frap orange
The Head of Steam is part of a chain (Cameron`s) and, ironically, I used to sup in the Huddersfield one the best part of two decades ago! Located near to the Lyceum and Crucible theatres, this place comes top of the bill for dramatic drinkies, pre and post performance. You can expect eight plus cask ales plus plenty of keg craftiness, dahlings. Classic bottles are displayed in multiple refrigerators with vegan ales cutely tagged with a green heart in front of an impressive back bar.

The clientele is wonderfully eclectic and it can get busy but, rest assured, there is seating and floor space aplenty. Food seems popular and there are screens that show rugby union and such nonsense but also listing the current bar offerings. Recently I popped in for a swift half and ended up there for ages tucking into an array of excellent Tiny Rebel ales on cask and keg.
Fab Feb - WINNER
In summary, visit soon because the Head of Steam Sheffield is an excellent addition to Steel City drinking and ticks plenty of boxes for us; a worthy winner. x

Monday, 15 January 2018

An interview with Gluten Free Pint

Cutting edge Sheffield! The demand for gluten free beer is steadily being met with Steel City pubs at the forefront and this is publicised by our friend Matt:-

Who is `gluten free pint`?
Gluten Free Pint is a website currently aimed at those looking to avoid gluten in Sheffield to locate the best places to have a beer. The website is supported with both a twitter and Instagram account. Gluten Free Pint is run by Matt Winning, a gluten intolerant Web Developer and Gluten Free Beer Enthusiast.

When were you diagnosed?
I’ve been following a gluten free diet now for nearly 10 years, this is for medical reasons as I’m gluten intolerant.

Tell us about the aims of your twitter account.
The aim of the twitter account is to share with people whilst out and about in Sheffield drinking beer of the places I’ve been and where is good for gluten free beer. It’s also useful for breweries and pubs/bars to tweet me so I can share this with my followers. The main purpose is to promote gluten free beer drinking in Sheffield for those who may not realise there is much choice out there and to promote the very best gluten free beers on offer.

Any plans to develop it further?
Absolutely, there are a number of plans in the pipeline, even though Gluten Free Pint has only been running for 2 months! The first step is to replace the temporary website with an all singing all dancing site, where pubs, breweries and members of the public can list venues not already listed that have gluten free beer available. Not only are we looking at doing this in the Sheffield area, but working alongside other key enthusiasts throughout the country building this network up. We’re hoping to start this with our friends over the Pennines in Manchester.

What is the best GF beer that you have discovered so far?
Probably the easiest question to answer so far, one word… Fantasma. An amazing 6.5% citrus IPA brewed by local brewery Magic Rock in Huddersfield. Fantasma was launched in February 2017 and changed the gluten free beer industry for good – initially launched as a limited edition, Fantasma will be part of the Magic Rock core range in just over a few weeks time. There are of course other great gluten free beers out there too including Bellfield Lawless Village IPA and a pretty new beer to the game Arbor Simcoe.

Lawless Village? Eckington!?

tis good, we vouch

And which establishments are the best locally in your eyes? And further afield?
Locally in Sheffield the best pub for gluten free beer hands down has to go to The Devonshire Cat, with both a dedicated cask and keg line, it is quite simply the place to go. The Bar Stewards micropub also currently has several gluten free beers available and often has one available on cask or keg too, this is also a really nice little venue. The Sheffield Tap, Head of Steam and Beer Engine also have a range of gluten free beers available. All Thornbridge and True North pubs now stock two rotating gluten free beer cans from First Chop brewery in Manchester, probably the best brewery for gluten free in terms of the range. There’s not many pubs you can go in in Sheffield now and not get a gluten free beer, the only one I can think of from the top of my head is the Harlequin.

GF options always available at TN !

Will you be celebrating tryanuary or abstaining?
I’ve tried dryanuary in the past, and to be quite honest it’s got to the 3rd of January and it just didn’t seem to work very well. I most certainly will be taking part in tryanuary this year and already am – trying to increase the number of unique gluten free beers I’ve had, think I’m up to 78 so far… 100 by March would be good!

A friend told us that London, in her experience, lacks awareness of GF options whereas Manchester and Sheffield are better. She works in Spain and also says there is more awareness there too. Why could this be the case?
Sheffield is great for gluten free, I dare say it’s the best city of gluten free beer in the country. On the occasional visit over to Manchester I’ve also found gluten free beer to be pretty widely available, but not so much on cask and keg as in Sheffield. I’m surprised to hear London lacks the awareness of gluten free, as whenever I’ve visited the capital I’ve always found great places to go to enjoy food and drinks – admittedly not beer, as I wasn’t as heavily into gluten free beer on my last visit down there. Spain and Italy combined are probably the best countries in the world for both gluten free food and beer, this is possibly due to the campaigning by their coeliac societies. Hopefully the UK will catch up one day, however admittedly it is getting better especially in more recent years!

And finally, what other tipples do you turn to if a gluten-free option is not available?
I try not to, I used to be a cider drinker but now I love gluten free beer it’s hard to go back to drinking cider without turning my nose up at the thought.

Cheers Matt. Top tips aplenty there and great to hear that there is so much positivity about our local pubs and bottle shops. Now give Gluten Free Pint a follow!

Thursday, 28 December 2017

twobeergeeks` Top 10 Pubs in Sheffield of 2017

Here we go again! Now then, our list is a dynamic one, 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. The top four were pretty straight forward although exact positions were tough whereas MANY great pubs could have fallen into positions 6 through 10 but we had to choose. 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 so we have additional points available for whatever takes our fancy:-

1. Shakespeares (UP 1!) - Reclaims its spot at the top. Great events, consistent quality ale at Sheff-friendly prices and strong new leadership now established. Well done all!

best value beer AND food!

2= The Devonshire Cat (UP 8!) & Rutland Arms (New in Top 10)! - Both MASSIVELY improved with amazing beer (and food!) and some inventive events (Black Friday, DinoSour, etc.). Both are also similar in that the interiors are real opinion dividers and the quality of service can vary vastly.

4.  The Beer Engine (DOWN 3) - Not as consistent as some for ale quality (staff changes?) but still a great spot for the discerning drinker. We love it.

5. The Sheaf View (DOWN 1) - Super reliable. The pub for all people in all seasons.

6. The White Lion  (DOWN 1) - Beautiful boozer now featuring the country`s best management team, Jon and Mandy. Fact.

Punching above its weight?!
7. The Beer House (UP 1) - cosy, comfy, friendly and with an ever-improving ale selection.

8. The Wellington (NEW!) - what a transformation on Shalesmoor! Beautiful considered refurb with plenty of tasty beer, always including Neepsend`s newest offerings. Great work.

9. The Broadfield (NEW!) - returns to our favourite ten on the back off the always attentive staff, lush interior and a strong year on the beer front. Truly TN`s best boozer.

Abbeydale gem

10. The Old Workshop (NEW!) - what an outstanding addition to our city`s drinking scene Great to see Jason Kerr given his wings here and the future looks bright. Think quality keg, neat nibbles and a tune or two in uber stylish surroundings.

(NEW! = New place in our top 10.)                              2015 list HERE

So, two of the Birkett portfolio in our selection but none from Thornbridge this time. For what it`s worth, we reckon that there are a lot of lurkers, pubs very close to being outstanding, and there a clutch of newcomers like Guzzle, Ale Club, PUBLIC, etc that are certainly ones to watch. Also the usual footnote that we tend to drink in South West Sheff plus the city centre with occasional wander to the Kelham Island area so there are a few contenders that we rarely visit TBH. Shout up and we`ll endeavour to visit soon!

NB - As per 2015 & 2016, especial mentions to Dronfield`s double diamonds - The Coach & Horses and the Dronfield Arms. Both would have maybe been top 10 if not for their cross-border location. That is all. Peace. Mike `n` Danny x

             BREWERY OF 2017 HERE!

Saturday, 23 December 2017

twobeergeeks` Awards 2017

Every year we produce a list of our top 10 pubs and that takes a lot of thought during the course of the year. We also do a brewery of the year and it was easy to pick Abbeydale this year. However, we thought that we would do something a little different for 2017 in an effort to recognise some of the good things going on out there in the public houses of the Steel City which might not always be reflected in a simple Top Ten 10. So here are our `alt-awards`, some with split decisions......

Best Bottle Shop - HOP HIDEOUT (Mike)
                            - BEER CENTRAL (Danny)
Best Micro-Pub - THE BEER HOUSE (Unanimous!)
Best Thornbridge Pub - THE GREYSTONES (Danny)
                                     - THE COACH & HORSES (Mike)
Best True North Pub - THE BROADFIELD (Unanimous!)

The Beautiful Broady
Best Beer Garden - CRICKET INN (Mike)
                              - BROTHERS` ARMS (Danny)
The Cricket is essential in nice weather
Best Pub Art - THE BEER ENGINE (Unanimous!)
Art lies therein
Best Music Pub - PICTURE HOUSE SOCIAL (Mike)
                           - WHITE LION (Danny)
Best `out of town` pub - COACH & HORSES (Mike)
                                     - DRONFIELD ARMS (Danny)
Beer + Football = YES!
Best Community Pub - WHITE LION (Unanimous!)

All agree?! Tell us if we are wrong!

There were a few other categories that we couldn`t agree on (for example, we couldn`t split Ruttie and Shakies for Best Events Pub) and the 2BG Top 10 pubs is imminent! Watch this space!!!!

Friday, 15 December 2017

twobeergeeks` Brewery of the Year 2017

Last year we could not agree on a winner in this category so Danny went for Hopjacker whilst I opted for Lost Industry, both local, up and coming breweries. 2015 was Neepsend and the year before was Magic Rock. This year it was easy!

Our selection for 2017 is Abbeydale Brewery! What a transformation down in S8! With 20 plus years of experience providing beer for the Steel City, Abbeydale deservedly had a reputation for reliable real ales with Moonshine often seen in dozens of establishments around the city and a core range that are popular around the country. Balanced beers with a light, hoppy profile are suppable but rarely a challenge to the fussier palettes. However, Abbeydale`s 21st year has heralded a rebirth. With the snazzy artwork of James D. Murphy catching the eye, the Brewers` Emporium range offer something different in can, cask or keg. Sure, some of the beers don`t quite hit the spot but plenty of them do. The barrel-aged Brett Tangerine is outstanding. And is there a better value beer than Heathen, which you can grab a can of for less than two and a half quid!? We have loved the Voyager range too and Unbeliever impressed us both massively whilst the darker brews have potential aplenty.

Funk Dungeon is the experimental arm of Abbeydale and it is the brainchild of brewer Jim Rangeley, he took a break from his hectic schedule to speak to us, exclusively! ..............

Q.1 - Proudest achievements at Abbeydale?
 This year I passed my General Certificate in Brewing and will be encouraged to study more in the new year by the owners here at Abbeydale.
Also I am really pleased with the barrel-ageing and mixed fermentation project I have started: the Funk Dungeon. While these projects take years to get established and grow, they have to start somewhere, so being able to start this from scratch and push into a direction that is personally interesting and unchartered territory for the brewery, is really exciting!
Q.2 - Plans afoot at Abbeydale 2018?
We hope as a brewery to expand our canned beer range. This way we can produce exciting beers more often in small pack and distribute them further afield. In addition, we have a number of events that we are looking forward to early in the new year and hope to keep this going throughout 2018. 

Q.3 - What`s going to be the next trend in beer?
 This year we have seen many breweries investing in ageing programs here in the UK and, as we start going into the new year, we will see more of them coming to fruition so I expect aged sour beers as well as some more kettle sours. The DDH (double dry-hopped) and NEIPA (New England IPA), I think we`ll also continue to see a rise but possibly be tailing off towards the end of the year. Although what will replace it remains to be seen, possibly fruit IPAs?
Cheers Jim!
Some of the specials have been, err, special too. We both encountered Cold Conscience (a collaboration with the Alvarez Kings) at the Rutland and loved it whilst Encantada didn`t quite do it for us.

Ar Wilson not enchanted by Encantada
Are there hops in hell (with Blue Bee) and Don`t go Bacon My Heart (an Ass Clown collab) were very brave and indicative of the risks that Abbeydale are now prepared to take, and risks can reap rewards. And all this whilst retaining their massive following who prefer to opt for the more traditional offerings from Abbeydale`s core range. Quite a feat. phew. Hats off to Abbeydale!!!
In case you missed them! -
2016 Winner
2015 Winner

Friday, 1 December 2017

twobeergeeks` A - Z of Breweries (Part 2)

So remember, here`s the deal. A simple pub game. Take it in turns to name a brewery as you go through the alphabet. Now this might be too easy for our level of beer geekery so the brewery needs to be as local to Sheff city as is possible and we`ve attempted to add a kenning type thing to each entry to explain our perception of that brewery. Try the game with maybe a point for each one and an extra for a brewery from within the Republic. Drink while you think, if you be a student. No googling! Simple? Read on:-

N - NEEPSEND (Prolific providers)

O - ON THE EDGE (Artistic artisan)

A Broadfield beer

P - PICTISH (Former faves)

Q - give a clue Q!?

R - REGATHER (Cooperative crew)

S - STEEL CITY (Politically puntastic)

Triple treats

T - TRUE NORTH (Prettiest pubs)

U -

V - VOCATION (Veritable value)

W - WELBECK ABBEY (Traditional trends)

X -

Y -

Z -


So , a few letters missing. Embarrassing. Let us know what we have missed, LocAle if possible and respect if you can resist the urge to Google (no `phones in this quiz!).