I’ve tried so many good real ales at the fine establishments of the Steel City this month that it was very difficult to pick just three! Like last month, my top three all come from breweries based in and around Sheffield, which goes to show the consistent quality of the local real ale scene. Here they are:
What: Baize (5.5%) – Thornbridge (Ashford-in-the-Water)
Where: Stag’s Head
Those who read this column regularly probably won’t be too surprised to see a stout featured, but this mint chocolate version promised something a little different. A deep black colour with a frothy tan head, the aroma was fairly traditional with the roasted malt dominating the hints of mint and dark chocolate. The taste, however, bore more than a passing resemblance to After Eight chocolates, but without being overly sweet. A very nice pint.
What: Wanderer #2 Gooseberry Saison (4.0%) – Abbeydale (Sheffield)
Where: Old Queen’s Head
I am a huge fan of sour Belgian style beers such as saisons, gueuzes and lambics, so I was very intrested in trying Abbeydale’s take on a saison, the latest in their Brewers Emporium range. The appearance was hazy (it’s an unfined beer) with a light straw colour and a small head. On drinking, the beer had a refreshing sourness and was slightly dry, with the gooseberry providing a delightful finish.
What: Independent (4.0%) – Mitchell’s Hop House (Sheffield)
Where: Itchy Pig Ale House
This was the first cask ale I had tried from this microbrewery and I was pleasantly surprised. Brewed with lager malts, this take on a blonde beer was a very good example of a session ale. The beer poured a straw colour with a white head, and the aroma offered a nice balance of malt and hops. The taste was crisp, with the hops imparting subtle citrus notes that complemented the malt perfectly.
Whether you agree with my choices or think I’ve got no idea what I’m on about, feel free to get in touch! Next month’s column will be a little different as I will be choosing my three favourite cask ales from the Steel City Beer & Cider Festival.