Friday, 17 February 2017

Little Critters

A Thursday afternoon schlep over to deepest, darkest Neepsend took us past brewing`s past and up to shiny new Sheffield stars Little Critters to chat to Will Inman (ex-Thornbridge) who is the main man up there. Although they`ve only being around for a year or so, Little Critters have made a great start selling plenty of product around our city but particularly at the Fox and Duck (Broomhill) as well as at Doctor`s Orders. However, Will`s beers have been spotted as far afield as Brighton and their C Monster was a great success at the Steel City Beer Festival last year.

Cannon brewery, Rutland road

Why brewing? An internship over in the states really inspired Will as he learnt all aspects of the industry under the tutelage of none other than Dave Wickett, brewing pioneer. Tasting the likes of Stone and Firestone Walker was very influential too.

Top hops? Chinook, cascade and centennial.

Favourite pubs? Hallamshire House, Sheffield Tap and BrewDog.

Favourite Thornbridge tipple? Chiron.

Dream collaboration? Already done it! (Will worked with Sierra Nevada to produce Thornbridge`s Twin Peaks. See below). Another collaboration is on the cards very shortly with Sheffield Beer Week in mind......

Future plans for Little Critters? Expansion. They are increasing capacity imminently and taking over the unit next door to them on the industrial estate.

Next trend in beer? Lager. Expensive kit though.

Big one: What can Sheffield do to capitalise on its position as real ale capital of Britain? Bottle and keg! This would facilitate Sheffield beer being more widely available around the country. It would be ideal if the local breweries clubbed together to buy a bottling unit but they are expensive and do need a lot of maintenance.

Many thanks to Will for sparing the time to chat and show us around the brewery. It will exciting to see how their plans pan out and they`re sure to be one of the stars of Sheffield Beer Week next month. Cheers!

Our review of Twin Peaks, one of our first blog bits! - HERE !

Friday, 20 January 2017

New year news - Abbeydale, Thornbridge & True North

New year, new hope. Whilst we all recognise that January is generally a quiet month in the wonderful world of beer, thankfully the same can not be said of ale in our City of Steel.
First up, we hear that True North are taking over at the Waggon and Horses! Adjacent to Millhouses Park, this road-side coaching inn has bags of potential and it'll be interesting to see what the team behind the Forum chain have in store for us. We reckon the trademark quality drinks and food that TN pride themselves on will woo the folk of S7, S8 and S11 over to Abbeydale Road plus plenty of post-parkplay punters too. Due to reopen in February and so only a couple of months after the reopening of the historic Blue Stoops! Watch this space.
Next, Bakewell's best Thornbridge have taken the #dryanuary beast by the horns and served up a few initiatives of their own to get us through the winter. The loyalty card where you get a free pint for every ten purchased is simple, effective and appreciated by us loyal supporters.

Go on then! Another pint!
Furthermore, a trio of 'guest fests' have mixed things up a bit with Hawkshead up at the Greystones looking the best bet to us but Northern Monk at the Bath or Siren up at Hallamshire House will tickle many an beery fancy too. And thirdly, Thornbridge have given us a glimpse of the year ahead with a new beer each month already laid out for us. Oh yes!
Puja!!!! MANGO Halcyon!!!!
 Last but not least, Abbeydale brewery are stretching their legs again. Following the much talked-about complete refurb at the Devonshire Cat, which has divided opinion amongst the drinkers we've spoken to, they have now put out a rebrand of their core range in the form of more modern pump clips which pay tribute to the brewery`s heritage and which you'll see on your bars very soon. The new artwork has been led by James Green, who Danny has been a fan of for quite some time. The colours are striking and the designs should look much more up to date in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Hard core!
 Danny, as our 2BG art expert, is not quite convinced that the clips are uniform enough and maybe hoped for more but, like the Abbeydale ales of 2016, the artwork is a sure signal that the brewery continue to strive to improve and modernise their offerings, 21 years young!.
Anymore Hop Smash on the way?! Or Rango?
Exciting times Sheffield! Cheers.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

twobeergeeks` Top 10 Pubs in Sheffield, 2016


Last year we were inspired and encouraged by our prolific friend Pete at Sheffieldalepubs, to produce a definitive list of the best pubs around the Steel City, ale capital of GB. Ours is a dynamic list 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. 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. For example, as we both have young families, sometimes service can be so very important. Simples.
Building on our previous list,  we have again presented this in a poetic style of type known as a kenning. And added appropriate alliteration as always.

1. The Beer Engine - contemporary class. (Our PotY. Read more HERE )

2. Shakespeares - considered quality.

3. The Sheaf View - economical excellence.

4.  Bath Hotel - cosy craftiness.

5. The White Lion  (NEW!) - cultured community.

pic courtesy of Sheffield Ale Pubs site

  •  If there was an award for biggest climber in our chart then this would be it. I've been bobbing in for a fair while after meeting Danny at Sheaf or Brothers to 'kill time' whilst awaiting my bus back up but since Jon and Mandy took over, it`s been more than just a case of ten minutes looking at the lovely interior; now the beer is good too! The staples have been sagely supplemented by the likes of Salopian (occasionally) and Hopjacker (regularly) and delivered by ever-amiable bar staff.  Music and art are prominent here and the White Lion was deservedly awarded ACV status recently. This beautiful place is a fantastic hub for the community. Try it!
6. Hop Hideout (NEW!) - inspired independents.

  • Shock, horror: A bottle shop! This place is also a pub circa 2016. Jules and Will are great hosts to a wide range of groups and events and I enjoy the Mikkeller Running club which is held there each month: a swift (ish) 5k followed by a leisurely half or several and nice chat with a lovely mix of beery folk. Later on, HH is a great spot, best in the area to us, for a drink from their top tier keg collection or a bottle from their huge range of quality products from near and far, Scarborough to Scadinavia. And some Karkli! Love it.

7. Sentinel Brewhouse (NEW!) - modern magic. Great innovative and visionary addition to city drinking.

8. The Beer House - (NEW!) park-side pints. Lovely micro-pub, an oasis on Eccy Road.

9. Fagan`s (NEW!) - fabled features. Anywhere better than the snug in our city?

10. The Devonshire Cat (NEW!) - city sleekers. It is better but we`ll see how it develops.

(NEW! = New place in our top 10. Last year`s list HERE
Three Tuns and maybe Brothers Arms are very unlucky to slip out as is Harlequin (not been there so much recently) whilst neither of us fought hard for Tap, Broady and Rutland, I`m afraid, but things change. Also the usual footnote that we tend to drink in South West Sheff plus the city centre with occasional wander to Kelham Island so there are a few contenders that we rarely visit TBH. Shout up and we`ll endeavour to visit soon!)

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

Sunday, 18 December 2016

twobeergeeks` Pub of the Year 2016

So our Pub of the Year was a tough call. Easily enough we can reel off 15-20 really good drinking dens around the city where we'd happily have a pint and put the world to rights then whittle down a top ten. There are definitely more than that too as we do tend to stick to south west Sheffield, the City and Kelham Island. Our top 5 are all close calls, crossing the line in a pack and the top two are a photo finish....
Twobeergeeks' Pub of the Year 2016 - The Beer Engine
Last year we announced similar in light of this Cemetery Road boozer bursting onto the beer scene in Sheffield so successfully but the caveat was that Shakespeares was still 'our favourite pub' and `the best pub in Sheffield`. Now we think the Beer Engine pips Shakespeares to these titles.
2BG`s PotY 2016!
 Judging establishments, we tend to focus on beer, pub and service in that order of importance. (Danny will sometimes mention toilets but Henry's was a lovely place for a 'rest room' visit....).
Beer - both are fantastic. Shakey's is the better on price and the extra keg lines this year have been special at times. The Beer Engine mixes it up sagely with the likes of Northern Alchemy backed by local heroes Neepsend and keg lines are always strong.
Northern Alchemy. yum!
Pub - both have their detractors but we like! Beer Engine is light and modern whilst Shakey`s is dark and traditional.
Service - both are good but slightly variable with The Beer Engine usually the better of the two.
There you go and on that basis, there is very little to separate them. However, The Beer Engine for us has the momentum and just keeps improving.
Whilst Shakey's is great but has lost its leader. A lunge on the line seals it for Cemetery Road in our humble opinion. Cheers to the Beer Engine, twobeergeeks` pub of the year, best pub in the Steel City and to Shakespeares, number 2 in our list this time.

Full top ten coming soon....!

And here`s our 2015 Top Ten

Thursday, 8 December 2016

twobeergeeks` Beers of the Year 2016

Hands up! Beer of the year is a bit daft but we @twobeergeeks do try. We are trying, very. With the vast number of styles out there and the vast quantity of pubs (especially in our city of steel) and bottle shops, great beer really is situational. If Bradfield Blue in t' local after a hilly plod hits your b-spot, who can really disagree!?
As per usual, we try to keep things relatively local and we've somehow narrowed it down to a top five, in no particular order:-
Green Man IPA - Drone Valley Brewery
Members of the Drone Valley Brewery cooperative planted their own hops (Prima Donna) in their suburban S18 gardens and harvested them to produce this autumnal brew. Pungent and flavour full, this is a great example of what is possible without paying top dollar for transatlantic tastes. 5.7%. And their Dronetsk stout weren't bad either. Encore.
Custard porter (red wine barrel-aged) - Cloudwater
From Hop Hideout. After a cheeky monthly 5k run with the Mikkeller Running Club, you need to refuel and this ticked all the boxes. Amazing. Think vanilla on top of balanced burgundy barrel-aged beer (Shiraz next please!). Strong % but don't recall what, for some reason... Our Abbeydale road heroes, Jules and Will, sagely select the best in beer and this was the real deal, leftovers from a MTB a few days before. Lucky us. You need to run and / or have a half herein at HH HQ.
Modus Operandi - Wild Beer
The Brothers Arms has been through a bit of a transitional period this year after arriving on the scene with a big bang but it still is a great spot for summertime sups. After a play in the park, kicking back on the city's best beer terrace, you expect a reasonable pint to accompany you but this old ale (ok, it was a half ) went above and beyond. Strong % but don't recall what for some reason. ... I had to go back for another . .
Love Among The Ruins - Thornbridge
Neither of us are big on drinking bottles at home, preferring a pub pint , but this needs, no it demands, a mention. I got to try this as soon as it was released thanks to James,  pub presidente at el Coach & Horses in delightful Dronfield and it exceeded expectations. After below-par dalliances into the world of sours (remember that ok Wild one, `Tart`?), but this was buckets better. Pucker up.
Rhubarb and Rosehip Gose by Sentinel
Both of us are fans of this super sour. At only 3.4%, RRG still offers lots of taste. I first sampled the beer at their Brewery's family fun day in August having heard good things about it from those in the know. Tough to beat a Summer sour, especially when its this good and great to see it available in bottles all year too. Love all the info that Sentinel offer the beer geeks at their Tap or on their bottles.
 Soooo, no space for Bradfield Blue this year, eh? We`re always interested to hear your choices, answers to the usual address pint pickers. Cheers.

In case you have forgotten  --Our  Beers of 2015

Friday, 2 December 2016

twobergeeks` Brewery of the Year 2016


So, twobeergeeks' Brewery of the Year 2016 was not an easy one to decide. In fact, we couldn't decide and so settled for a split decision, like a dodgy boxing match.... 
Following in the footsteps of Magic Rock, our pick for 2014, we have seen our 2015 selection of noobs Neepsend go from strength to strength this year and 2016 has seen a whole posse of new local producers brewing some stand-out ales right from the get go.
                                              Danny's pick - Hop Jacker
Great name and great beers. Since getting out of The Bath, Edd Entwistle has seamlessly shifted into the role of 'Edd' Brewer at the Dronfield Arms, the tap house for Hop Jacker. Their ales are very solid but not predictable. We both enjoyed their IPA types and their darker brews with the Roobarb and Custard porter being a real big time brew. Like many of their's , this collaboration (with the wonderful White Lion of Heeley) is a must on any beer hunter's list.
Think Hop Jacker, think unfined!
                                                          Mike's pick - Lost Industry.
The standard expectation in the industry is to start safe with a core range of 4 or 5 brews in traditional styles, nailing them, and then tentatively venture into slightly stronger brews or different styles. The Seaton brainstrust don't subscribe to that school of thought though and jumped straight in with a maverick abandon citing yoghurt sours early in their brewing timeline. Sure, the packaging is clearly on the d.i.y. lines with occasional local references but the best art is usually on the inside of their bottles. Lost Industry have recently done some real works with their Black Heart coffee porter one and their wonderfully weird Foraged, using locally sourced berries and whatnot, I kid you not!
Pic borrowed from rate beer. Ta.
 OK. So we know that these two operations are not the finished article but such strong starts need recognition and so we are pleased and proud to select Lost Industry and Hop Jacker as our joint winners of the twobeergeeks Brewery of 2016. Cheers chaps!

Sunday, 23 October 2016

The 42nd Steel City Beer Festival

Quick one. I think it's now the third year that the Steel City beer festival had been held at the impressive Kelham Island Industrial Museum and the third year that twobeergeeks has been involved in the judging.

The event seems to grow year on year and, even at the Wednesday afternoon opening session there was a decent turnout of ale enthusiasts.
I stumbled upon four different bars during my visit. Having done no research before hand to speak of, strangely hazy memories of previous visits and being too tight to buy a programme (and guaranteed to lose it within twenty minutes), it was lucky dip.
The pub bit (Millowners Arms) seemed to be all Bradfield this year and just a bit further down from it was the keg bar. When I popped in I was impressed with the selection but gas issues meant nothing was available. There's the long marquee bar downstairs again and the upstairs bar next to where judging takes place.
After last year's luck where I happened upon brilliant brews from North Riding and Crafty Devil and got to rate the speciality ales category, this year yielded a mega crop of Golden Ales. Suffice to say that, after sampling 20 of the blighters, this is not my preferred beer style..... On a positive note, good to see CAMRA criteria now allowing for unfined ales (surely the way forward) and for the fact that there was a keg bar this year (although I suspect an old school twiggy beer type might have sabotaged it on Wednesday?! ).
However , I did get to redress this somewhat between judicial sittings and enjoyed beers from newbs Beer Ink (formerly Hand Drawn Monkey, I believe) and Steel City before departing.
Best bit for me was chatting to lots of nice beery folk and hearing the results next evening:-
Beer of Sheffield -
1st. Rollabout Stout by Neepsend
2nd. C Monster by Little Critters
3rd.   Azimuth by On The Edge
Not saying we told you so but Neepsend was our Brewery of the Year for 2015 and this week's deserved award heralds the progress that they have made this year, particularly with the darker ales. Competition was tougher than ever too and Little Critters have arrived with a bang and a solid range of core ales. A silver for Critters must make the switch from Bakewell well worth it. Also great for On the Edge`s Tom who combines teaching art with brewing craft. Well done chaps. Take a bow, (and ask for a pay rise). And a big thanks to all of the people involved with this year's festival - Pride of Sheffield. x