We were invited to join our friends in the Dronfield & District CAMRA branch on some of their events recently.
WIRKSWORTH & MATLOCK BUS TRIP
The first joint social was a trip on the Stagecoach X17 bus which runs from Sheffield and Chesterfield through to Wirksworth via Matlock. The service runs half hourly as far as Matlock with one bus an hour continuing to Wirksworth. Currently An all day Derbyshire Wayfarer bus pass costs £8 or single tickets are just £2 a ride thanks to a government subsidised fare cap!
Given that the longest bus ride is much more comfortably done without a bladder full of beer we started at the furthest pub away – the Feather Star in Wirksworth. This quirky pub, which doubled up as a shop selling vinyl records, offered a choice of around 6 cask ales on handpump plus a number of interesting craft beers on keg too.
After a couple of beers we jumped back on an X17 to Cromford for a cheeky half in the Boat Inn. Had it not been raining the beer garden would have been an attractive proposition here but instead we grabbed an inside table not required by diners for our brief visit before heading to the bus stop for a Trent Barton 6.1 bus, unfortunately it didn’t turn up so the opportunity was taken to grab lunch at the chippy by the bus stop and instead catch the next X17 down to Matlock Bath!
The choice pub here was the Fishpond. A limited but attractive beer range here and most tables inside were reserved for diners, however the place to be is the heated and sheltered outside area with a view of the fishpond and waterfall!
The other place to go for the real ale drinker, after walking past various amusement arcades, fish & chip shops and ice cream parlours, is the Old Banknote, a micropub with three handpumps, which on our visit featured a choice of beers from Eyam brewery.
The next move was back on the X17 into Matlock town. We had an ambitious list of good pubs in the town but limited ourselves just to Bod Cafe-bar run by Titanic Brewery along with the award winning Twenty-Ten bar, two venues almost next door to one another, before heading back to Chesterfield and Sheffield (with an easy connection to Dronfield on the 43/44 bus from Chesterfield before the X17 heads up the bypass fast to Sheffield).
MEET & GREET #1 – COACH & HORSES
The Coach & Horses pub is on the edge of Dronfield attached to the Sheffield FC football ground and is run by Thornbridge brewery and the Dronfield CAMRA branch took the pub over on the evening of Friday 6 October to meet & greet local drinkers and hopefully recruit some new members. The evening started with a beer tasting with samples of various Thornbridge beers shared around, this was followed by a beer themed quiz then live music provided by Jamie Mallender’s Swear Box. The branch also hosted a membership stand in the pub with lots of information available.
Later in October saw another Dronfield CAMRA Friday night Meet & Greet event, this time at the Dronfield Arms, which is home to Temper Brewing.
Again the evening featured a beer tasting with everyone in the pub offered tasters from Temper’s cask beer range along with a quiz. Pizza Pi, who serve from a kiosk in the pub beer garden from 4pm-9pm Thursday to Saturday also provided a few free samples which tempted many to order themselves a full pizza!
Since then the branch ran a Sunday social on 19 November starting off with a carvery lunch at the Dronfield Pioneer Club followed by a wander down the hill to the Dronfield Arms and Underdog.
The next Dronfield branch event is a branch meeting at the White Swan on 12 December, 8pm start then:
Sunday 7 January – Post Christmas social: Sunday carvery and a pint at the Hyde Park Inn at Hill Top.
Tuesday 9 January – branch meeting at the Pioneer Club in Dronfield.
Tuesday 13 February – branch meeting at the George & Dragon in Holmesfield.
More information about what Dronfield & District branch are up to can be found on their website – dronfield.camra.org.uk and look out for their “Peel Ale” magazine.
Having been a regular visitor to India in the decade leading up to the plague, this was my first trip since that forced hiatus. India had never had a big beer culture (or at least not since the days the British were stationed there) but brewpubs were just starting to appear when I first went in 2010. Many more were to spring up over the next few years but very much concentrated in a few cities like Delhi and Bengaluru, and beer quality generally ranged from average to homebrew (with the honourable exception of Arbor in Bengaluru, an offspring of the eponymous brewer in Michigan (and not related to the one in Brizzle!)). However, in the last few years brewpubs have started to spring up all over the place, and with the exception of the dry state of Gujarat I was able to find craft beer in almost every city I stayed. Unsurprisingly, Untappd and Ratebeer are very incomplete for India, but I found simply searching ‘craft beer’ on Google maps came up with the best results.
As with previous trips, I had an ‘open jaw’ flight (in this case out to Mumbai, back from Delhi) and used trains to get between cities, generally paying around a tenner for an overnight journey in air-conditioned sleeper class. Local travel during the day was a mix of local trains costing 20-50p a trip, Uber (half hour ride from the airport costing the princely sum of £3), and autorickshaws costing between 50p and 2 quid a trip. Decent hotels were generally under £20 a room, food is cheap and contrary to stereotype perfectly safe if you follow Rule 1 – watch it being cooked fresh in front of you. In fact the only thing that isn’t cheap is craft beer! As with many cheap countries, craft beer isn’t noticeably cheaper than here, with a 300ml glass being £2 at the cheapest place I went and £4 at the most expensive.
Although I landed in Mumbai I didn’t plan to spend much time there (been before, and it’s humid as hell), so just the one bar before heading north, namely Doolally Taproom, an outlet for the eponymous brewery on the outskirts of Mumbai. A small bar, with lovely air conditioning, six beers were on offer plus a cider and a mead. I opted for the ‘flight’, six 100ml glasses for a bit under a tenner, along with some spicy masala topped chips with dips. The coffee and orange mead was really interesting, the beers were all decent if not exciting, the oat stout probably being the pick. From here we took a train to Anand for the overnight journey to Veraval.
Being as the next two days were in Gujarat there’s not much to report for a beer magazine, so I’ll skip ahead to Rajasthan…
I last visited Jodhpur in 2010, and was only really passing through this time, but had long enough to visit 4 Brothers brewpub. The brewery and restaurant are on the ground floor, but we were directed to the ‘sky bar’, though really it was just an upstairs room with a glass front.
Beers were a bit different from the ‘usual’ Indian brewpub offerings, with mango wheat, a strawberry ale and a rose wheat!
I spent three nights in Ludhiana (carefully planned mid-trip so I’d be able to avail of the hotel laundry service, halving the amount of clothes I needed to carry round), which happens to have three brewpubs all five minutes’ walk apart. First up was Underdoggs, a sports bar (no prize for guessing which sport was on, especially as it was the World Cup!). I tried the surprisingly refreshing Masala Saison and the German Wheat, there were also a lager and a cider.
Just down the road is Brew Estate, part of a small chain of brewpubs, on this occasion offering their ‘house’ lager and a German style Bock. The cricket was on here too.
Finally, round the corner was Brew Haus, which wasn’t showing the cricket but from the rooftop bar one could watch on a huge screen in the square. The beers were Gabru, a pale lager, and dark lager Boxer. Both very German in style, fairly sweet and a slight biscuity finish.
From here I popped over the Haryana state line to Ambala, where I visited Pyramid brewpub. Inside it was much the same as most of the other places, dimly lit and large screens showing the cricket. I picked the Belgian Wheat (well the Scottish Ale was off and the lager was, well, lager).
Back in Punjab the train took me to Bathinda, where I visited The Brewery Club, which has the brewery on the ground floor, a restaurant upstairs and a bar downstairs, though food is also served at the latter, and I had an egg curry with jeera rice. Beers were a German Ale, a German Lager, a Belgian wit and a dark lager. These were by far the cheapest beers of the trip, but were as good as any of the other brewpubs I tried in Punjab. The menu somewhat bizarrely referred to both 350ml and 550ml measures as ‘British Pint’!
*Tourism interlude* While in Punjab I decided it would be rude not to visit the Golden Temple at Amritsar, I took an autorickshaw from the station to near the temple then walked the rest of the way, which was slow progress as I got stuck in traffic despite being on foot! The narrow alleys are totally unsuited to motor traffic, but that doesn’t stop people driving autorickshaws down them, completely clogging the way. Once at the temple I checked in my boots, receiving a metal token in return, I then had to buy some loose-fitting trousers as shorts are not allowed inside, and finally was loaned a patka (head covering). I spent a good while exploring the temple, though at the risk of losing my Yorkshire green card I passed up the opportunity of a free meal at the langar as the queue was too long – well they do serve 100,000 meals a day!
Once I finished at the temple, binned the trousers and retrieved my boots I took an autorickshaw across town to a little cluster of craft bars, starting with the most familiar, Brewdog. Obviously I eschewed their own wares in favour of the local guests… inside it was like any Brewdog bar anywhere in the world, and was quite empty at the time I went. I had an excellent mango wheat and a decent IPA from Mobster brewery, and from Brew Nut a stout.
From here it was a short stroll to Beer Story, a small bar with just one craft beer among the Kingfisher etc, Beach Beauty Pilsner from Aquarian brewery.
Round the corner on the second floor of a shopping centre is Egyptian Brewery, another brewpub, offering light and strong versions of lager. At this point my internet connection randomly cut out, thankfully after I’d ordered my Uber back to the station and my final overnight train of the trip.
As with Mumbai I’d given myself little time in Delhi, as it has featured in almost all my Indian trips so far. There are a handful of brewpubs and craft bars in central Delhi, but the district of Gurgaon has loads, however I’m pretty sure not all the brewpubs actually brew – in particular there’s a square which had three brewpubs when I went and grew to at least nine, but all with suspiciously similar beer range! For my trip swansong I opted for Fort City Brewing in New Delhi, a modern brewpub seemingly popular with Indians and westerners alike. I worked my way through most of the beers, ignoring only the lagers, accompanied by a pulled duck burger for a bit of a change from spicy food three times a day (not that I was complaining!). The beers were definitely the best (and most expensive!) of the trip, including a dunkelweizen, a stout, a NEIPA and a berry witbier.
After that it just remained to get a £2.60 Uber for the half hour drive to the airport, exchange my online boarding card for a printed one (the airport procedures have got a lot smoother since that first trip when we queued an hour just to get in the building, but they still like to stamp the boarding card at the check-in desk, at passport control and at security control), fly overnight to Munchen and on to Brum, then a train back to Sheffield that made me wonder if I was still in India, taking 45 minutes to get from Birmingham International to New St and then absolutely crush loaded from there to Sheffield…
Once back at Sheffield station it was just a 15 minute walk home, or would have been had I not gone via Rutland Arms, Head of Steam, Vocation, Brewdog, Crow and Lost in West Bar. By that stage I was too tired to go to Shakespeare so just took a Bolt home and ordered a curry…
An attempt at an Ale Trail on the Penistone Rail Line which runs between Barnsley and Huddersfield. The first part of the line opened in 1850 between Huddersfield and Penistone, with the other part following later. It is designated as a “Community Rail Line” and covers a 27 Mile Route (from Sheffield to Huddersfield).
Dodworth – Dodworth Tap
After changing trains at Barnsley and hopping om board the train to Huddersfield, the first stop on the Penistone Line was Dodworth. The village is known as being a former coal mining village and the memorial stands in the centre of the village with some great history about nearby pits.
The pub I called into here is called “Dodworth Tap”, formerly known as the Station Inn, but opened in July 2020 after the amazing renovation work which makes the pub look so good. A large inside area with a huge stone fireplace along the back wall, alongside a great sized outdoor area.
A great choice of 5 real ales on the bar here to choose from, “White Rat” from Ossett Brewery was my choice, one of my favourite beers which never disappoints. Was great to meet up with the couple being The Great British Pub Crawl aswell here. Check out their adventures HERE.
Can also try Thorneley Arms further down the road if you want more time in Dodworth.
Silkstone Common – The Station Inn
The next station on the line was Silkstone Common. This one is a literal walk off the platform and into the pub, “The Station Inn”. A really warm and welcoming village pub full of locals when I entered. Sunday Lunches are served aswell as other food events during the week.
A choice of 2 real ales on the bar here, Timothy Taylor “Landlord” and Bradfield “Farmers Blonde”. I went with “Farmers Blonde” from Bradfield Brewery. A great easy drinking blonde beer.
A huge outdoor beer garden to the left of the pub (next to the train station entrance), which includes some small wooden cabins so lots of seating for the summer months,
Penistone – Penistone Tap and Brewhouse
Back on the train again, getting off this time at Penistone. Penistone station used to be the junction for the Woodhead Line which was a line linking Sheffield, Penistone and Manchester. The old part of the station can still be seen.
Around an 8 minute uphill walk brings me to the town centre where the pub “Penistone Tap and Brewhouse” is located. This micropub opened in 2021 and also acts as the brewery tap for “Woodland Brewing” which was formerly known as Whitefaced, the brewery being located on the rear of the ground floor.
A choice of 2 cask ales and 8 keg beers here. I started off with “Eternal Summer” from the in house brewery Woodland Brewing. A delicious easy drinking golden ale. Followed by “Catharina Strawberry and Guava Sour”, a tasty and tart sour beer from Triple Point Brewing in Sheffield.
Penistone – Penistone Beer Shop
A few doors up is “Penistone Beer Shop”, a great place to drop into to get a few drinks for the train journey home. Packed full of bottles and cans from local Yorkshire breweries plus ones from further afield.
If you want to jump off at Shepley there are two local pubs The Black Bull and The Farmers Boy that are worth calling into both selling real ale.
Denby Dale – The White Hart
Next stop on the line is Denby Dale, on coming into Denby Dale Station you go over a large viaduct which is Grade II Listed. It was originally built of wood but replaced by the current structure in 1880.
A short 7/8 minute walk downhill from the station and through the small village brings me to “The White Hart”, a pub which looks fantastic on the main road through the village, with lots of outdoor seating to enjoy the sunshine (although it was quite clouded over today).
A choice of 3 real ales on the bar here, 2 from Timothy Taylors Brewery and the other from Theakston Brewery. I went with “Landlord” from Timothy Taylors Brewery in Keighley. An award winning beer.
Stocksmoor – Clothiers Arms
The next stop along the line is Stocksmoor. Its claim to fame being it was the birthplace of Ben Swift Chambers, the church minister who, in Liverpool, founded St Domingo’s parish football team, which became Everton Football Club. A picturesque small country village.
“The Clothiers Arms” is located next to the station, a large country inn style pub, with outdoor seating on decking at the entrance to the pub. It offers food a number of days a week. A very traditional style pub inside.
A choice of 2 cask ales on here, Bradfield Brewery “Farmers Blonde” and Tetleys Cask. I went with the “Farmers Blonde”, a favourite of mine and always tastes great.
Brockholes – Rock Inn
Next call is to Brockholes, another small village along the line. A 7/8 minute walk downhill brings me to “Rock Inn”, a Thwaites pub situated on the banks of the River Holme. It was refurbished in 2014 and is full of character and charm of a village inn.
Really busy local pub, a number of cask beers available here including Wainwrights and Bombardier. I went with a pint of “Wainwrights” a lovely golden beer from Marston’s Brewery. Enjoyed overlooking the river in the rear beer garden.
Berry Brow – The Railway
Last call on the Penistone Line before getting back into Huddersfield. This time its Berry Brow. A short 4 minute walk downhill from the station brings me to “The Railway”, a very popular pub, and a very warm welcome on entering the pub. Lots of outdoor seating here being a front and a side beer garden. Also has food offerings at certain times.
Five cask beers available on the bar today. Bradfield Brewery, Moorhouses Brewery, Abbeydale Brewery, Recoil Brewing and Ossett Brewery. I went with “Upbeat” a special beer from Moorhouses Brewery based in Lancashire.
A walk back up to the station to head to Huddersfield on the train to finish off the Penistone Line Ale Trail.
The Golden Fleece is the opposite way from the railway station if you have longer to spend here.
Huddersfield – Kings Head
Two pubs located on Huddersfield Station. Started with the “Kings Head”. Always a busy place with lots of beer choices (both cask and keg). Huddersfield is covered in more detail as part of the “Transpennine Ale Trail“
Went with “Piccadilly Gold” from Cloudwater Brew Co in Manchester. A great classic beer, easy drinking.
Huddersfield – The Head of Steam
Located on the opposite side of the station is “The Head of Steam”, a 2 roomed pub which also offers food. Huddersfield is covered in more detail as part of the “Transpennine Ale Trail“
A great range of cask and keg beers in here. 14 cask and 8 Keg. Went with “Pork Scratchings – Best Bitter” from Northern Monk. A really interesting beer, a smoky tasting English Bitter. Really enjoyed this.
Our vice chair, Paul Manning and his wife, Bev went on a baseball and beer trip to London in late June.
After travelling down on National Express we booked into our hotel which was the Hayden Pub and Rooms in Bayswater – a great base for our 3 day trip which was in 30C + temperatures (great timing before the July washout)!
The Hayden’s on tap beers were Meantime Anytime IPA (4.7%) and Salt Loom pale (4%) both very drinkable. The first evening we headed over to Brixton and after a pint of London Pride each in the Beehive Wetherspoons (cheapest pint we had all weekend at £2.49)
We visited London Beer labs in a railway arch in nearby Nursery rd. We joined another 12 or so drinkers for a 10 tap beer tasting mostly brewed by the London beer lab co. The company was set up in 2012 and to date have brewed over 9000 different recipes. The beers went from a Kaiser Pils at 4.6% to Brixton Haze NEIPA, Saison DuPont, Russia Coloda Whitbeir and Black lab stout. A great start to our weekend and a quirky place to seek out if in London.
The next day we had booked on a London Craft Beer cruise which ran for 2 and a half hours along the Thames from Millbank to Greenwich and back. We each had 6 craft beers in very generous portions along with a take home commemorative glass. The beers included close to home Thornbridge Jaipur and am/pm and Siren brews DDH Calypso and Soundwave.
We then had another couple of hours sat outside at the Morpeth Arms, a Youngs pub which had great views of the river opposite the MI6 building. We both stayed on Peckham Ale from London’s Brick Brewery which was a superb brew.
A visit to a Greene king The Kings head in Bayswater for a pint of Level Head pale preceded a number of fantastic cocktails back at the Hayden (Buy a Guardian and banana old fashioned being our favourites).
The next day we journeyed to the London stadium home of West Ham Utd to watch MLB baseball where the Chicago Cubs played the St Louis Cardinals. The game was excellent with the Cardinals winning in front of 56000 fans. A great surprise was to find two craft beers brewed for the event being London Series Pale and The Birds and the Bears Tart ale both at 4.5%. The MLB returns to London next year in June and we will be back. We finished our trip with a trip to Portobello market and had a fabulous brunch with gins at Portobello Road Gin distillery.
15 July saw a branch social trip to Torrside brewery in New Mills, a town just a 45 minute train ride from Sheffield (less from Dore & Totley station where I got on!).
The brewery is a 10 minute walk from New Mills Central station, next to the canal marina. The easiest walking route is actually via the main road, however just for the experience we decided to walk down there via the more scenic route using the Millenium walkway, with the river running an absolute torrent below us! I learned the hard way this choice wasn’t ideal for those that suffer from vertigo!
The tap session at the brewery was already quite busy when we got there with a friendly crowd but no queue at the bar, making it easy to ask about the beer.
Torrside brew quite a broad, interesting range of beers and the choice on the bar included session pales, smoked stouts, traditional bitter, wheat beers and even a Belgian style quad.
Complimenting the beer was a Japanese food trailer and I can confirm the pork Okonomiyaki was delicious.
A number of people from areas around New Mills and Stockport that I knew from various beer festivals were there offering a great opportunity for a catch up and time flew as various beers were sampled.
After walking back into the town centre there was about 20 minutes until the train back to Sheffield so a visit to the Beer Shed micropub near Central station was fitted in where a mild from Torrside brewery that wasn’t on at the tap session was enjoyed!
If you fancy a trip there yourself, the brewery open for tap events on selected weekends through the summer, check their Facebook page or website for details. The train service from Sheffield to New Mills Central is operated by Northern and runs hourly throughout the afternoon and into the evening, a Derbyshire Wayfarer ticket covers the journey there and back for £14.
The brewery is actually just across the road from New Mills Newtown station, unfortunately Sheffield trains don’t go there as it is on the Buxton-Manchester line.
Volunteers from the 2022 Steel City Beer Festival had a summer get-together in the city recently. The day began with brewery tours courtesy of Triple Point Brewery and Heist Brew Co. Volunteers then set off from each brewery visiting a variety of pubs before all meeting up in the Kelham Island Tavern. Pubs visited included Rutland Arms, Sheffield Tap, Dorothy Pax, The Crow, Gardeners Rest, Alder Bar, Shakespeares and the Wellington, among others. A very enjoyable day, it gave everyone the chance to renew friendships made at the festival, and at last year’s volunteer’s trip to Halifax.
For anyone interested in volunteering for this year’s festival, the staffing form will be live on our website shortly.
This summer has seen two open top bus services introduced offering scenic rides around the Peak District National Park not far from Sheffield. Your editor had a ride round on the 1 July launch day and started thinking about the pubs and breweries along the route!
The afternoon began by catching the TM Travel bus 218 (Sheffield to Bakewell via Totley) as far as Baslow, where both the open top bus services call at the same stop. Baslow has a number of pubs, although most appear to be hotels with a public bar and restaurant.
Within just a few minutes of arriving at Baslow’s Nether End bus stop, one of the Stagecoach “Peak Sightseer” open top tour buses appeared. This operates on a circular route between Chatsworth House and Bakewell at 30 minutes intervals. Leaving Baslow, it is routed via Curbar to Calver, passing the Eyre Arms then doing a loop manoeuvre around the cross roads to then change direction and climbing up hill a little for the longer, mostly rural run to Bakewell, where I alighted.
In Bakewell I decided to spend half an hour before the next “Peak Sightseer” came through by enjoying a pint in the Joiners Arms. This small bar, which offers a range of craft beers on both cask and keg is under the same ownership as the Dronfield Arms which is home to Temper Brewing and it is one of their beers I chose. The day of my trip coincided with Bakewell Carnival so the town was busy and people had got their spots outside ready for the procession to come through later!
Boarding the other one of the two vehicles on the “Peak Sightseer” service, the bus left Bakewell via the A6 Buxton Road and passed the business park that is home to Thornbridge Brewery, where if I had more time I could have gone to visit their tap room to sample a few beers and order a pizza!
The next location along the route is Ashford in the Water where we passed two pubs across the road from one another, although one was closed with the now familiar pub company sign advertising it as available to lease. The Bulls Head however was open, this is an old coaching Inn owned by Robinsons Brewery.
The next landmark along the route is at Hassop where the bus crosses over the Monsal Trail, this used to be a railway running from London to Manchester via Matlock and Buxton but is now a popular walking and cycling trail and the old Hassop station is now a cafe. The bus continues via Pilsley and stops by the Chatsworth farm shop before turning off the main road and onto the Chatsworth estate, up the drive to the house.
The bus has a short 5 minute break at the Chatsworth House stop before setting off around the circular route again and heading down to Baslow, passing Peak Ales brewery as it heads down the hill!
Having completed the Peak Sightseer route, I wanted to try the other open top bus service, “The Breezer” operated by local independent bus company Hulleys of Baslow. This is a more traditional bus service rather than a circular tour, running from Baslow to Castleton via Calver Sough, Grindleford, Longshaw, Hathersage and Hope then returning the same way. Most people in Sheffield know about Surprise view before heading downhill into Hathersage and this offers the opportunity to enjoy it on an open top bus!
Unfortunately there was a good hour or so until the next “Breezer” leaving Baslow and was keen to get to the Hope Valley to do my Beer Matters magazine deliveries to a couple of pubs there so I joined the regular bus 257 after a wait of less than 10 minutes for a scenic ride on a modern single decker. The departure I joined was the one a day which goes a different route to normal, after Eyam if went via Foolow, Great Hucklow, Bradwell and Hope where it dropped me off.
There are three pubs in Hope. I had a pint and delivered Beer Matters magazines at the Old Hall Hotel which is known for hosting beer festivals most bank holiday weekends as well as the pub having a restaurant, tea room and accommodation. Just across the road is the Woodroffe Arms, owned by Greene King and a short walk down the Edale road will bring you to the Cheshire Cheese Inn, a classic rural pub with a good beer garden!
From Hope I joined “The Breezer” open top bus which had left Castleton a few minutes previous bound for Baslow and enjoyed a short run down the Hope Valley as far as Hathersage.
In Hathersage it was a visit to the Little John Hotel to deliver their Beer Matters magazine as well as enjoy a pint and a bite to eat.
There are a number of other venues in Hathersage including the George and Scotsman’s Pack in the village and the Plough Inn a little bit of a walk down the road to Leadmill Bridge, I could also have joined the final “Breezer” open top bus trip of the day back down to Baslow, however time was running out and I needed to be home to get ready for evening plans so joined a Sheffield bound train back from Hathersage!
The Stagecoach “Peak Sightseer” open top bus tour costs £6 for adults and £4 for concessions with a ticket allowing you to hop on and hop off as much as you like during the day.
All the other normal local buses in the area, including the Hulleys “Breezer” open top service currently cost £2 per ride and also accept English National Concession Senior Citizen and disabled passes. Alternatively you can buy a “Derbyshire Wayfarer” pass for the day offering unlimited travel on most local buses in Derbyshire (including direct links from Sheffield) for £8, or there is an option also including trains for £14. With the Wayfarer pass you can buy the Peak Sightseer ticket at the discounted price of £4.
DAYS OF OPERATION
The “Peak Sightseer” runs daily until 30 September then weekends only up to Christmas Eve.
“The Breezer” runs on Saturdays and Sundays, plus weekdays during the school holidays, with the last day of operation 3 September. Please be aware that Hulleys only have one open top vehicle so from time to time this may be substituted with a regular bus.
After a considerable delay, I recently celebrated a significant birthday in Bruges. The first visit since 2019. A Eurostar deal gave us with an excellent ‘room with a view’ – top floor at Martin’s Bruges, a few hundred metres from the Belfort, a short walk from both Brugs Beertje and De Garre.
The main focus of the weekend was the 16th Bruges Beer Festival. Located at the recently completed, Meeting & Convention Centre, this saw some 80 breweries providing over 500 beers. Included were 16 breweries new to this festival, including the, perhaps inappropriately named, Misery Co. – a reference to the Stephen King book. Their New England IPA (6.9%) was one of several beers sampled from the 12.5 cl customised glass. Among many highlights was the first appearance of Terrest with their 8% Golden Triple, brewed with both grain and hops from the family farm at Houthulst. Also available was, the rarely seen, Westvleteren 12 (10.2%).
We had many conversations with other visitors – one memorable exchange was with the reserve mascot for Charleroi FC (‘the Zebras’). Sheffield, ‘the home of football’ was a common topic of conversation, a theme which has world-wide resonance, a theme which Sheffield should extensively utilise.
We also visited several bars, some return visits, but also new experiences: Halve Mann provided the (almost) obligatory Bruges Zot (the only bar which serves this 6% beer unfiltered from the tap), Bauhaus gave us Brussels Beer Project Juice Junkie (5.4%) while old favourite, St. Bernardus 12 (10%), was sampled at Yesterday’s World. The latter is a quirky bar, or, more accurately, a two-floor antiques shop which serves a selection of beers: well worth a visit.
After sampling the excellent camerise sour, Cantillon Sang Bleu (6%), we were about to leave Brugs Beertje when De Struise Black Damnation XXVI (‘Freddy’), an excellent, but rarely seen barrel-aged Belgian Royal Stout, appeared on the bar. This 13% beer is an epic, not to be missed. Suffice to say, our visit to De Garre, and their 11% house tripel, was slightly delayed.
Fort Lapin Brewery was also visited on their Saturday tap day. Since my last visit, the brewery has expanded (four new fermentation vessels). In November, they are relocating to a nearby industrial estate in order to gain more space. Their 8% Triple was a good start to the day. Good to hear that the elder son of the owners, Tristan Vandenbussche, is now a sprint canoe European Champion.
In short, Bruges provided a much-needed break, good company, good bars and good beer.
If you are looking to enjoy a summer of pub and need inspiration, you could do well to check out the new “Great British Beer Garden” Facebook page and blog started by former Dronfield CAMRA chairman and keen home brewer Rob Barwell.
He kicked off by enjoying a Friday evening sunset chasing whilst enjoying a nice beer in Hathersage and Fox House.
The next day saw Rob head out around Dronfield on the day of the One Valley Festival, which sees many pubs and clubs in the area add outside bars, music stages, food stalls and more and this year the weather was perfect. Some of his photographs were from before opening time when the venues were still setting up, others once the party got started!
Of course it is worth noting that the Manor House and Green Dragon have their outdoor areas open all the time with a DJ on Friday evenings at both venues with the Dragon having live entertainment on Saturday evenings.
A fabulous trip to New Zealand by our vice chairman Paul and his wife Bev.
We started on Harvey’s brewery IPA at the Hilton Heathrow Terminal 2 with some great runway views. Singapore airlines took us to Auckland via a lengthy stop at Singapore due to cyclone Gabrielle but time for a few beers including Archipelago brewery’s Summer IPA.
Auckland was very blowy but our 1 night stay allowed samplings of Emerson’s Hazed and Confused IPA and an excellent Black Duck dark ale from Hawkes bay together with Tuatara hazy pale ale and Speights gold medal ale.
We moved onto Mount Manganui for a 6 night stay for the first test. A lovely sunny and hot seaside resort. Canned beers included Puha road IPA and the Island’s Dawn Daze IPA.
We enjoyed hospitality at the cricket, met England legends Mike Gatting and Gladstone Small. It meant all our drinks were included with the beer offering being Boundary Road brewery’s Haze of our Lives Hazy IPA. An England win in 4 days allowed time for a spectacular wild life boat trip.
We then flew to Wellington after a short visit to a Maori thermal village for a Haka ceremony. Wellington was different again being very hilly and windy. Trips to see the Pinnacles famous for the Lord of the Rings film trilogy and wine tasting at Martinborough a great little town set up by an English settler with streets in a Union Jack flag orientation. Many beers were sampled including Fortune Favours brewery Optimist and a bean to beer double chocolate stout.
A Wellington craft breweries tour started at Garage Project brewery for Pernicious weed (8% IPA) and Garagista (5.8% bitter). Next stop was Baylands brewery taproom for a taster flight of Esplanade, Woodrow Vero, Rail Slider and Hop Enforcer. Highlight was then a visit to Brewtown in Upper Hutt. This was a craft brewery Mecca in an old Dunlop tyre factory with numerous breweries including Panhead and Boneface . More taster flights followed with a favourite being Unf*ck the world 8% double IPA.
The second test match was very exciting but England lost by just 1 run. We drowned our sorrows in a great little dive bar sampling Wired Wireless brewery’s Black IPA, Garage Projects Leeds street rye ale and a Birdseye hazy IPA from Parrot Dog brewery.
A super trip for the beer and cricket with many fabulous memories.