Wikio - Top Blogs - Wine and beer The Real Ale Girl: April 2011

Saturday 16 April 2011

Who needs an AGM?

As we speak, Sheffield is rocking under the weight of the CAMRA AGM, a weekend of beer bonding, beer pilgrimage, beer exploration.
I did my own such pilgrimage last weekend. Never having been known to do things in the normal, easy way, we (Real Ale Bro and I) went to Sheffield on our own steam, for our own mega beer weekend- not an agenda in sight.
Saturday 9th April, our train pulls into Sheffield at 12.15pm, we are in The Sheffield Tap by 12.17. Having spent many an hour in The (lovely) Euston Tap, this was bigger (not difficult), brighter and simply the best station bar the world must have ever seen. We had 6 beers here, while it quickly became clear just how many amazing beers we were likely to come across his weekend.
Checked in, (9th floor- amazing views) we spotted The Rutland from our window. Four ales (from local breweries Raw, Brew Co. and Blue Bee) slipped down perfectly in the sunshine filled garden and before long we were at The Kelham Island Tavern. Approaching, we stepped into the photo that has been used in all the CAMRA pub of the year articles and on entering, there we were inside the Beer Tickers film. It is a weird feeling to actually, finally, be inside a place you have seen, read, heard so much about and wanted so much to go to. When you get there, the feeling is a strange mixture of cocky and smug, with awe and humbleness.
The rest of the weekend took us to The Fat Cat (which I think I actually liked more- its got more quirk, more heritage, and on our visit, a more exiting beer range) and then The Harlequin, where we enjoyed the bounty of cellar runs for porter, a beautiful Roast and chat with Pete, the brewer at Brew Co.
We made it over to the Devonshire Cat, where real ale pub meets student union meets world beer emporium and later, The Old House- funky, cool, with vinyl on the wall, but still all about beer.
The Bath Hotel was a 1930's treasure, and we squeezed in to listen to the live blues on Sunday night, the Derwent Dark Mild fitting the aura of the place so well.
A bus ride to the Rising Sun, and a bar lined with beers by Abbeydale and more, and a huge box of used pump clips looking for caring homes, started off Monday beautifully. We popped into The Red Deer on the way back into the city. A pleasant pub, but in a city where most places have a beer selection to blow your mind, this pub just felt a bit too much like the less adventurous of the pubs we find at home.
Walking back into the city, we spotted a Thornbridge logo flying in the sky. In reality, it was on the side of a whitewashed bar, Trippets, which treated us to some of the rarer Thornbridge ales and a room full of beery, quirky memorabillia.
The Good Beer Guide unfortunately led us to The Musuem, a souless city centre Greene King pub, and so we hotfooted it back to the Rutland for a range of beers completely different from those we'd had two days before. Finally, grabbing our cases, back to The Sheffield Tap.
One weekend, 65 different beers and some truly amazing pubs.
I'm sure those AGM folks are having a whale of a time (judging by the tweets, the conference deabating is just about being outweighed by exploring the beer delights).
However, we certainly got quite a kick out of doing it ourselves. And felt more than a touch of envy about those who live in The Valley of Beer. Do they know how good they've got it?

P.S Hope you like the new look. There are photos of this trip on a memory card about a mile away from where I am now, some will be added soon.

Thursday 7 April 2011

Let's hear it for the girls

Early this week, I got a bit star struck. I'd been invited (get me) to the launch of the Project Venus Collaboration beer Venus Jade, a beautiful beer made by an equally beautiful gang of lasses- female brewers from across the UK and Ireland: Sara Barton from Brewsters in Grantham, Grainne Walsh from Metalman Brewery, Waterford, Eire, Sara Carter, from Triple FFF, Michelle Haylock Kelsall, Offbeat Brewery, Crewe, Cheshire and Kathy Britton from Oldershaw Brewery also in Grantham.
Off to The Rake we went. Now those of you who have met me in person will know I'm not usually described as shy and retiring. But here I was, lurking in the corner- not knowing how to approach this group of groovy women who spend all day, every day creating beauty in a glass for us all to enjoy, while I just stand about drinking it. Listening in, I waited for an opening to join in the conversation- nodding and smiling while they discussed how many kilos of hop were required in the morning. All of a sudden, my beer knowledge and passion didn't matter anymore- these ladies make the stuff. What do I know?

But, inevitably, I got chatting (thanks Jane  and Marveline for coming to get me!) And several pints of the gloriously summery, way too easily drinkable Venus Jade later, it was like an episode of Loose Women but without Jane McDonald, thankfully.
You don't need me to bang on about the role that women have in beer today. Its all been said. But what this beer did was actually show it. And show it off, in all its elegance and style.
L-R: Sara from Triple FFF, Kathy from Oldershaw, Real Ale Girl, Grainne from Metalman, Sara from Brewsters

Humbled, and in awe of these groundbreaking, creative, collaborative beings, I ambled into the Market Porter. Knocking me right out of my pondering was a copy of the new London Drinker. With an article by me. Nothing anywhere near as cool as creating my own beer, but its a start. Strange how it has a pink cover this month...