As I write this, it’s a day of unseasonable warmth – a perfect day to head to the pub, you might say! The days are starting to get longer and the sun is coming out more so we’ll all be looking forward to more pub trips in the weeks and months ahead. The pubs also look forward to this time of year as those who have been abstaining for Dry January realise what they’ve been missing and begin to ease themselves back into their old habits. That said, it was nice to see this year that more pubs have been embracing the month, for example, by offering more alcohol-free beers, and using it as an opportunity to attract new potential customers, who will hopefully keep coming back and supporting their local.
Those who didn’t give up the real ale for a month were, as always, treated to some excellent beers around the pubs and clubs of Sheffield. I used the month to try out some pubs that I don’t visit that often – some of them weren’t quite to my personal taste, but in plenty of others I was rewarded with a warm welcome and the pleasing sight of a bank of handpumps offering an interesting choice of ales. Either way, you never know where you might find your new favourite watering hole, so why not get out there and try a new pub for yourself?
What: Never Mind the Kent Hops (5.0%) – London Brewing Co (Finchley)
It’s not too often I pick a bitter for this column, but this one was Extra Special(!). The beer poured a rich brown colour, with the slightest bit of haze and a small creamy head. The aroma was complex, with a slight maltiness complimented by hints of pine and berries. Upon drinking, the initial flavours of caramel and berries gave way to a dry, hoppy finish which lingered for some time and left you wanting to go back for more. A great example of the style.
What: Mosaic (4.5%) – Great Heck (near Goole)
Where: University Arms
Using a single hop to flavour a beer can be a risky strategy, but when done right the results can be exquisite. Great Heck’s range of single-hopped golden ales is consistently good, but this is the best I’ve had so far, with the Mosaic hops imparting a deeply fruity, tropical flavour along with a pleasant bitterness that made this beer very drinkable. It was appealing on the other senses too, with its perfectly clear golden colour in the glass and a crisp, hoppy aroma on the nose.
What: Papa Jangles Voodoo Stout (4.5%) – Totally Brewed (Nottingham)
Where: Itchy Pig Ale House
Regular readers will know I’ve never made any apologies for my love of dark beers. While I understand the reasons that not all pubs offer stouts and porters on cask, it’s always a highlight for me when they do. This was a nice example of a traditional stout where the dark malt is allowed to take centre stage. My pint was almost black with an attractive tan head, and upon tasting it had classic bittersweet characteristics of chocolate and roasted coffee flavours. Great stuff.
Next month, I’ll be bringing three of my favourite beers from some of the Sheffield Beer Week events taking place around the city.