Station to station

So I bid the York Tap a fond farewell and hopped aboard a train which took me all the way to the door of it’s South Yorkshire sister, the Sheffield Tap. It would be rude not to go in and the crowded train had left me feeling slightly worse for wear (nothing to do with the stupid quantities of champagne quaffed at the wedding the day before). So there was only really one way to go to regain my strength for the evening festivities ahead. Beer.

Sad beer blogger

Always impressed at correct glasswear. (Note: still clutching pen like idiot)

I was incredibly relieved to see Nøgne Ø Porter (7%ABV) on the tap as I hear porter is very beneficial for health. I have already had this one bottled a couple of times and it has quickly become a favorite so I was interested to try it straight from the keg. At home, I generally serve porters and stouts just below room temperature. I was slightly suprised to be handed my Nøgne much colder – not ice cold but cold enough to be dripping with condensation. However, I discovered that served cold it had a slightly different character, becoming almost like a grown-up iced coffee, just the thing to help a slightly fragile girl recover from her long journey! At first taste, it was slightly sour but this gave way to a well-rounded coffee flavor with a hint of liquorice and treacle toffee at the end which brought back memories of bonfire night.

All dressed up for the Dev Cat on a Sunday (poor regulars)

They also had another new favorite on the bar which I had immensely enjoyed out of a bottle recently, Magic Rock‘s Magic 8 Ball (7%). I had already decided at this point that this was (potentially) the best black IPA I have had so far. Off the tap it’s a beautiful beer to look at; an inky black with an amazingly luxuriously thick head you could write your name in. The appearance is deceptive, though, and it’s a real surprise how refreshing this is, particularly served almost ice-cold. Initially, you are hit with these incredibly bitter hops, then a wrecking ball of lemons swings right up in your face.

So, filled with beery glee, I was ready to get out to Corporation for a night of mayhem. Since (like most clubs) the ‘beer’ would actually be dishwater, we made a quick stop at the Devonshire Cat, one of my very favorite pubs in Sheffield where I treated myself to a delicious Brewdog Alice Porter (6.2%). Although by this point I was in my glad rags ready for Resistanz and without my trusty beery notebook, this is what I had to say on Untapped(my new favorite app): ‘Awesome sauce Mmmnnn. ..liquorice and dark malts. Chewy and rich.’ Just as well I had a final nice beer as all they had to offer at the Corp was San Miguel Fresca which made me a sad panda. The Untappd review I posted at the time says it all. ‘Hahaha cheapest thing on the bar. Dishwater.’ Thankfully, once we had recovered from the craziness, angle-grinders and Jagermeister Cake of Resistanz, we would be spending some time with the sister and brother-in law which would involve some rather more civilised establishments…

Angle-grinder carnage @Resistanz

Two weddings and a festival

So the Bierebelle has been back up north again and therefore drinking enormous amounts of beer rather than posting blogs. Hope you didn’t miss me! Seriously my liver (and waist) are grateful that I am safely back in the town where a decent pub is a rarity and breweries are few. The journey started in York where two very dear friends of mine tied the knot. We then ventured to Sheffield where we had an amazing night at Corporation for Resistanz festival and were shown the many, many beery sights by the sister and brother-in-law. Then it was back to York for the wedding of my awesome mother and new step-daddy (ok maybe I’m too old to say that).

Although our week of drinkingness began in York, the beeryness didn’t really begin until the day we left for Sheffield. We arrived on the Friday but were whisked away for a family barbeque, then Saturday was the wedding, although we did sneak a little drop of beer at the infamous House of Trembling Madness on the way to the church. However, whilst the half-pint of Kwak I enjoyed would normally be savoured with glee, I couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed, for I was on a mission. Earlier that week, it had come to my attention that Rudgate Brewery were launching a York Chocolate Stout to coincide with the York Chocolate Festival. Having been raised in York by parents who worked for two of the city’s major confectioners (Nestle Rowntree & Cravens), growing up with the sweet chocolatey aromas combined with the sugar beet processed at the factory next to my school, a love for chocolate is in my blood. It is therefore a fundamental right that I should expect to try this York Chocolate Stout. Rather surprisingly, nobody had mentioned this to Trembling Madness who had failed to save even one drop from the launch the night before. I was so upset I had to console myself with cheese instead. At least they hadn’t run out of that. My goodness, they do a cracking Yorkshire Rarebit with the most delicious mustard. I was so upset about the stout I also shared a cheese board with the OH which included a delicious Newcastle Brown Ale cheese. I could just about forgive them, even if I did leave York that weekend without having sampled the longed-for stout.

Drowning my sorrows

Fighting back the tears and trying to enjoy the Kwak & cheese

So the day after the wedding, we were due to board a train to Sheffield, but it is pretty much impossible to get through York station without calling in at the York Tap. Combining the elegance of a Grade II listed former tea room with the convenience of being in a train station, it just lures you in with its’ mind-blowing selection of 32 taps and astoundingly well-stocked fridges. There was a remarkable chap in there who was celebrating the 800th birthday of York by making it his mission to try 800 beers throughout 2012. I believe he was in the right place.

We were especially lucky that Sunday for we had the opportunity to try both of the rather special Ilkley Brewey Origins beers. As a girl with an almost unhealthy obsession with rhubarb (I eat it raw with no sugar and even stick it in my juicer) I immediately went for the astonishing Siberia (5.9% ABV). Brewed with one of my new favorite beer writers Melissa Cole (read her blog where she takes the ‘beard out of beer’), it’s a saison made with Yorkshire forced rhubarb, vanilla, grains of paradise and orange peel. In the glass, it looks typically saison-ish – it’s a delightful hazy golden color. However, stick your nose in and you get a lovely delicate whiff of rhubarb and vanilla. The taste is amazingly lively with the tang of rhubarb and the vanilla almost gives you a nostalgic impression of rhubarb & custard which stays with you for a long finish. There’s a little spice and a lot of sour which makes your tongue feel a little perculiar as you get to the end.

The OH had a half of the other Ilkley Origins saison, Medina (6% ABV), brewed with another notable beer writer Pete Brown. Much darker than the Siberia but just as hazy, this is a spicy Moroccan-style saison, the likes of which I have never tasted but I would very much like to track down again as it was pretty delicious. However, Sheffield was waiting and we had a train to catch! So I bid York farewell, knowing that the next weekend I would be back. Would my mission turn out to be a success? Would I find that elusive Chocolate Stout…? Find out soon…

Titanic triumph

I have been a big fan of Titanic Brewery for a long time. Like the ill-fated luxury liner herself, you can always expect quality, classy, refined flavors and beautiful designs on the labels and pump-clips. However, it’s unlikely that this brewery will be sunk anytime soon since their beers seem to be appearing everywhere at the moment (incuding Waitrose) so there’s no excuses not to take a cruise with these brews. One of my best memories of Titanic was a lovely strong beer called something like Shipwreck at the Southwestern Arms. I don’t have clear memories of exactly what this was (maybe one of you could tell me) but it went down far too easily for it’s strength and made me feel jolly perculiar through pint number three. I believe the only Titanic I have been disapppointed by was the Nine Tenths Below which recently made an appearance at the Weatherspoons Real Ale Festival, although I admit the style of this one is not generally the sort of thing I go for. I was very excited today when I saw that Weatherspoons are due to have a festival of Titanic beers between April 5th & 9th.

Titanic Chocolate & Vanilla Stout

The old lady definately wouldn't throw this back into the ocean

Since I have spent my Sunday peddling up and down the hills of the Tennyson Trail on the Isle of Wight on my mountain bike (recommended by the way – just beautiful), my choice of beer tonight is a bit of an indulgent treat and a real firm favorite. Titanic Chocolate & Vanilla Stout (4.5%ABV). The clear glass bottle allows you to be tantalised by the beautiful deep brown colour. When you open the bottle you are hit with the most incredible rich scent of chocolate and vanilla with a tiny whisper of espresso – I would consider wearing this scent it is so amazing and addictive. I literally sit here inhaling from the bottle like a crazy glue-sniffer but with a more refined palate. Pour it out and you discover the luxurious white head which is almost like a posh liquor coffee. The flavor lives up to the looks and aroma 100%. There’s literally enough flavor to sink the Titanic here. It feels thick and rich,  almost creamy. There’s a definate sweetness but also a little dry bitterness at the back, perfectly balanced by the Madagascan vanilla. It’s the perfect grown-up pudding. The warmth and fullness of flavour makes you think it’s much stronger so it’s a really good one to round off a busy day.