Since the last time I wrote this column, we’ve been treated to a range of beer-focused events across Sheffield, not least Sheffield Beer Week, which once again was a great success. The various festivals and events have given me the opportunity to try a whole range of new and interesting beers from around the country (and rack up a few check-ins on my Untappd account)! As always, there’s been a great variety of well-kept and tasty real ales on offer, but three stood out above the rest for me. Here they are, in no particular order:
What: Campania (5.0%) – Hopcraft (Pontyclun, South Wales)
Where: Gardeners Rest, Neepsend
The Gardeners Rest beer festival at the end of March showcased beers from a number of Welsh breweries, but the highlight for me was this Neapolitan ice cream-inspired milk stout from Hopcraft (whose brewer Gazza Prescott was, of course, previously with Steel City Brewing). In the glass, this had the classic stout appearance, black body with a creamy, tan head. The aroma had everything expected from Neapolitan ice cream, with chocolate, vanilla and strawberries all present. Upon tasting, the initial impression was sweet but this gave way to a pleasant roasted bitterness which balanced the flavours out perfectly.
What: Liquorice (5.0%) – Ashover (near Chesterfield)
Where: Dog & Partridge, Trippet Lane
When we arrived on Good Friday, the Dog & Partridge was packed with folk dancers warming up for the Folk Sessions but we managed to find a seat in the corner. Another stout, this one was a little paler than the last but still looked appealing to the eye. Previously known as Liquorice Alesort, this beer is brewed with root liquorice in the boil and only gently hopped. The scent of liquorice was immediately apparent on the nose, along with the more traditional coffee aromas of this beer style. On the palate, it was very rich with the initial bitter flavours developing into the bitter-sweetness of dark chocolate.
What: Caramel Stout (4.8%) – Grafton (Worksop)
Where: White Lion, Heeley
This pub visit might have been simply for a relaxing after-work pint rather than any special occasion, but the beer on offer was still worthy of celebration. Although this beer is a stout by name, its appearance was more akin to a brown ale. The caramel aroma was unmistakable, and hints of chocolate and malt were also present. As expected, this was sweeter than most stouts but the caramel flavour felt authentic, not artificial as many flavoured beers can be. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more beers from this brewery.
Unintentional though it was, there was a definite theme in this month’s choices, so for next month’s edition I’m going to make a concerted effort to break with tradition and try some of the paler ales available on Sheffield’s handpumps. Find out next time how I got on!