NottsBrew Tips for the Nottingham Beer Festival 2011

 

Well, Nottingham CAMRA released the list of 925 beers click this text to view it!
So here are our runners and riders for the festival, after-all horse racing and beer festivals are very much alike, they’re always full of people who don’t really know what they’re doing, and some mare always ends up on its back.

We will be tweeting live from the Nottingham Beer festival 2011, get involved! tweet us your tips or ‘avoids’ to @NottsBrew or leave a comment here!

I’m not bothering recommending reserve beers as nobody knows when they will be on, but Hoppkins is, so there will be a couple in the mix but if there’s an obvious omission (ie last year’s winner Kipling) this may be why. A few perhaps ‘expected’ breweries are not represented this year at the festival, maybe some of them spent too much time calling everyone ‘scamp’ and constantly trying to sell them shares (even when like me, you’re already a shareholder!) Recent Sheffield festival 2011 winners Bradfield’s omission reminds us all we need to go to Sheffield now and again!

So without further ado, here are our sure fire ‘no lose’ tips on this once again world record breaking festival, (short printable list at the bottom of the page)

Milkmans’ Tips in Black Hoppkins’ Tips in Blue

Castle Rock

002 Harvest Pale 3.8%
006 Screech Owl 5.5%

Ok it’s entirely lame to recommend this beer really given that you can get it from pretty much most Nottingham pubs! (certainly all Castle Rock establishments) but it did win national beer of the year 2010, and for that reason it deserves a mention.

Nice and strong, very hoppy and totally excellent.

Brew Company

038 Cut Throat IPA 5.4%

Ah the Brew Company, one of Sheffield’s many fine breweries and brewer of one of my favourite beers of 2011, they only have 2 beers here, expect them both to sell out quickly.

Full Mash

078 Bhisti 6.2%

This very beer kicked my arse last weekend at the Portland Arms, deliciously drinkable (perhaps too much so) tread carefully!

Thats a lot of IBUs (International Bittering Units, basically how bitter the beer is) The average is between 40-75 I would say for regular beers and IPAs. One i will be trying for sure.

Funfair

082 Dodgem 4.7%

Always loved funfair ales and dodgem is one of the best. Nice, pale and strong.

Springhead

225 The Leveller 4.8%

Another one that’s quite easy to get round Nottingham but it’s a very accessible and delicious dark beer.

Blue Monkey

303 Infinity 4.6%
304
Guerrilla 4.9%
306
Big Blue 6.8%

Ah Blue Monkey with your cheeky new mini, both Infinity and Big Blue are freely available at the Organ Grinder (the blue monkey flagship pub) but make no mistake both are knock out beers, especially the Big Blue weighing in at 6.8%, as with Full Mash – Bhisti, take it easy!

Infinity is without a doubt in my top 10 beers of all time, grapefruity and refreshing! Guerrilla is one of the few darker ones I can quaff with reckless abandon.

Alkazar

314 Vixens Vice 5.2%

Had it fresh in the Fox and Crown, a delight with curry. Failing that fine without!

Brampton

333 Golden Bud 3.8%
337 Golden Bud Speciale 5.8%

Speciale is one of my favourites and it’s good to see it back year after year, a delicious drink and if it’s a bit too strong for you try its younger brother.

Derventio

366 Cleopatra 5.0%

Complex and fruity, one of few beers good in a bottle as well as cask, my favourite from the Derventio stable

Great Oakley

401 Wagtail 3.9%

Last year Wot’s Occurring was the best new beer I had tried at the festival, alas it doesn’t appear to have made it back! They do have 6 beers on mind (400 -> 406) I chose Wagtail because of the NZ hops. I wouldn’t blame you for trying more of their beers though!

Hook Norton

413 Hooky Gold 4.1%

Hook Norton do a steady range, Hooky Gold gets the tip of my hat for this one, edging the also consistently good Old Hooky.

Dancing Duck

442 Nice Weather 4 Ducks 4.1%

Described as fruit salad in a glass though I don’t personally think it’s quite that extreme, but if you don’t like fruit salad maybe give it a miss, unless they took the blacks out, or is that midget gems? I dunno.

Loddon

456 Hoppit 3.5%
457 Hullabaloo 4.2%
459 Bamboozle 4.8%

Boy do I like Loddon beers, consistently superb and the 3 above I have had on numerous occasions yet they have never disappointed, just great and unfortunately hard to get here in Nottingham, be warned, they usually sell out quickly for this reason.

Milestone

475 Raspberry wheat beer 5.6%

Potentially hit and miss, when its good…its good when its not…well you get the idea

Nutbrook

483 Responsibly 4.4%

I touched upon this beer earlier in the year, it’s a top pint and well worth checking out, I look forward to reminding myself just how good it is!

Potbelly

498 Potbelly Best 3.8%
502 Crazy Daze 5.5%

Potbelly are another firm favourite of mine and their entire beer range is generally excellent, and be warned, these also tend to sell out very quickly!

Rebellion

513 Rebellion IPA
514 Rebellion Mutiny 4.5%

Another favourite making a triumphant return, as with the other popular excellent brewers these sell out very quickly!

Titanic

536 Iceberg 4.1%

Years back I thought this was rubbish, turns out I had a bad pint, even in bottle form this is a wonderfully crisp beer, razor sharp and thirst quenching.

Thornbridge

573 Sequoia 4.5%
579 Jaipur 5.9% (if you’re new to this and have never tried it)

Oddly last year’s beer of the festival Kipling is on the reserve list, it’s pretty much a sure fire bet that this area will be sold out by Friday unless they have reserve barrels (likely) I love and hate Thornbridge, they’re the Manchester United of real ale.

Nottingham

583 Knights Tale 3.9%
587 Dolphine 1530AD 4.4%
588 Legend – 4.0%
590 EPA 4.2% 

Supreme? no they still don’t brew it, swines! So I suppose we all have to ‘make do’ with the rest of their range. They will bring back Supreme someday though, infact if you buy a Nottingham beer ask them to brew it again! (supreme that is, not the beer you just bought)

EPA as always a firm favorite of mine. Pale and delicious, Legend is one of those greats you can just drink and drink, always worth a go and increasingly hard to find.

Magic Rock

676 High Wire 5.5%

Magic Rock are already making waves despite being a relatively new brewery, I’m hoping to try some of their other beers, but High Wire is definitely one to recommend.

Oldershaw

711 Alma’s Brew 4.1%

The sublime Heavenly Blonde would have to be on bloody reserve wouldn’t it, oh well ‘make do’ with Alma’s Brew, which I tip as slightly better than the often spotted round Nottingham Old Boy.

Prior’s Well

718 Gardners Tap 3.8%

I had no idea these guys where from Nottingham, I have only seen their beers sold in Sheffield! Regardless I have had Gardners tap twice and it’s a top drink, they have quite a range on so give the others a try too.

Steel City

743 Westby Rant 5.2%

Where the hell is Steel City’s superbly named Masters of the Spooniverse!? gutted, I could have a rant about that, but instead you can try a Westby Rant, terrible link and I’m off to hang my head in shame.

Acorn

911 Quantum 4.5%

I have had numerous Acorn beers and they have all been excellent, I have yet to try Quantum but unless it tastes of the dishwasher powder of the same name, it’s a safe bet.

Dark Star

913 Hophead 3.8%

A very popular brew this and it’s not hard to see why, this is there only beer on at the festival so expect it to sell out pronto.

NottsBrew no lose super beers in printable form!
Milkman = Black – Hoppkins = Blue

002 Harvest Pale 3.8%
006 Screech Owl 5.5%
038 Cut Throat IPA 5.4%
078 Bhisti 6.2%
082 Dodgem 4.7%
225 The Leveller 4.8%
303 Infinity 4.6%
304 Guerrilla 4.9%
306 Big Blue 6.8%
314 Vixens Vice 5.2%
333 Golden Bud 3.8%
337 Golden Bud Speciale 5.8%
366 Cleopatra 5.0%
401 Wagtail 3.9%
413 Hooky Gold 4.1%
442 Nice Weather 4 Ducks 4.1%
456 Hoppit 3.5%
457 Hullabaloo 4.2%
459 Bamboozle 4.8%
475 Raspberry wheat beer 5.6%
483 Responsibly 4.4%
498 Potbelly Best 3.8%
502 Crazy Daze 5.5%
513 Rebellion IPA
514 Rebellion Mutiny 4.5%
536 Iceberg 4.1%
573 Sequoia 4.5%
579 Jaipur 5.9%
583 Knights Tale 3.9%
587 Dolphine 1530AD 4.4%
588 Legend – 4.0%
590 EPA 4.2%
676 High Wire 5.5%
711 Alma’s Brew 4.1%
718 Gardners Tap 3.8%
743 Westby Rant 5.2%
911 Quantum 4.5%
913 Hophead 3.8%

I ain't tried these, roit?

Tips from the world of Twitter

@Davomanic  @NottsBrew why are there no @BuxtonBrewery beers on the recommended list? Wild Boar and Axe Edge are sublime! Ah well, I’ll drink ‘em…
(Wild Boar is 347 and 5.7% Axe Edge is 348and 6.8%! POW!) 

@bluemonkeybrew Just tasting the Guerrilla Whisky Cask – @nottinghamcamra Beer Festival goers are in for a treat – it’s awesome! twitpic.com/6wfueo
(a Blue Monkey Guerrilla special in a whisky cask then!)

@simonhjohnson @NottsBrew Hopshackle Aniseed Porter and Resination, especially the latter. Fantastic West Coast USA-style IPA
(108 for the porter, and 109 for the Resination, 7.0% though!)

Beers I am suggesting purely on speculation or a good name! (I have yet to try these and will be working my way through myself!) at least you can tweet us your thoughts if you try any @NottsBrew

Burnside

047 Mad Dogz IPA 3.8%

As a life time Notts fan ‘Mad Dog’ Martin Allen has been a breath of fresh air at meadow lane, will his namesake be as good here? A dry Golden IPA suggests so.

Craddocks

055 Billy Nomates 4.8%

Oh Billy, sitting in the corner alone, IPA with New Zealand hops suggests this will infact have quite a few mates.

Grafters

091 YIPPEE I.P.A. 5.2% (NOTTSBREW PUNTASTIC NAME OF THE FESTIVAL)

A Die hard reference! I don’t really care that it has strong fruity floral aromas, ‘next time you have a chance to try this beer, don’t hesitate’ – ‘thanks for the advice!’

Moorview

144 Goldilocks & the 3 beers 3.6%

A cheesy name with 3 malts and is a refreshing golden ale, sold!

North Riding

149 Pedros Shorts 3.7%

Nelson Sauvin is a green light for me, as is working with a man called Pedro who recently had to stop wearing shorts due to a company clothes policy, couldn’t make it up!

Tunnel

549 Honnibal Necter 5.0%

Honey, citrus and bittersweet assumedly no cannibalism is involved.

Foxfield

640 Sonic Encouter 4.0%

The program notes say this ‘A new beer, brewer has no idea of taste!‘ what kind of idiot sends a beer without a clue of its taste? A BALLSY ONE THATS WHO, and that’s why I am recommending this, so what if it transpires to actually tasting like balls.

Partner’s

716 God’s Own Ale 4.2%

Blimey don’t be subtle about it! you’re like one of those overly proud parents to toot your horn like that, unless you’re referring to the 1991 amiga game by the bitmap brothers, I tell you what I’m just going to pretend you are and recommend it.

Nottingham to Sheffield, Real ale in the steel city.

PART 2 IS NOW HERE

One thing I had to keep telling myself whilst writing this report was ‘the grass is always greener on the other side‘ yet no matter how much I kept reminding myself of this fact I can’t help but think that’s utter rubbish, because when it comes to real ale Sheffield mercilessly pans Nottingham into the floor, and then some.

Not only did the steel city offer up a wider selection, but it was significantly cheaper than most of the pubs in Nottingham, the cheapest round coming to £6.75 for 3 pints (no, not in a Wetherspoons) this brings a lot of things into perspective, not only does it appear Nottingham is overly expensive for no real reason, but a lot of Nottingham pubs could really do with bucking up their ideas. It’s worth keeping in mind this trip was taken on a Tuesday, not a weekend, if you drank this kind of time mid-week in Nottingham you’d be lucky to get a few beers on, with many turned round preparing for Friday.

We started the day off in the Bankers draft, which is an easy walk from the train station and right outside the tram network, this is a large Wetherspoons/Lloyds #1 with a hotel lobby feel to it, it’s large, well decorated, modern and clean, something that makes you realise just how bad the likes of other Wetherspoons such as Nottinghams Roebuck Inn, really are.
Hawkshead – Cumbrian 5 hop
was the drink I started the day off with, and it was superb, it turns out that was just a taste of things to come, we went outside, then got on the blue route tram to Shalesmoor.

Additional; I went to Sheffield again recently, 4 can go using a group saver ticket for £23, that’s £5.75 each including return!

The Wellington

The Wellington is just literally up the road from the tram stop at Shalesmoor, making it the perfect place to continue proceedings, the tram ride was under 5 minutes and was £1.50.


Wellington, Rear

Beer barrels at the rear suggest this is more than an elaborate Skoda advertisement.

The Wellington, Sheffield

 

Wellington, Little Cart

As you have probably gathered from the above picture the Wellington is home to The Little Ale Cart and as expected many of their beers are on the bar, many even now are around £2.20 a pint, which belies just how good they are, more on that in a moment though.

 

Bar, The Wellington, Sheffield

A proper bar, reminds me of the Dewdrop in Ilkeston

Wellington, Sheffield, Interior

The Wellington is a no nonsense pub serving around 10 ales at once, it’s basic and the focus is on the beer as you can see above, of note was a beer the Little Ale Cart brew called Father Ambrose, which was fantastic. Though I can have no complaints about the other 4 beers I tried.

After finishing up in the Wellington we looked at proceeding to the next pub, thankfully this is viewable from the Wellingtons doors, easy enough!

 

Wellington, to the Ship Inn

The Ship Inn, as viewed from the tram tracks outside the Wellington

The Ship Inn

The ship is one of the oldest pubs in Sheffield I’m told, but I wanted a pint then, not 100 years ago, so less of the history lesson.

The Ship Inn, Sheffield

Ship Inn, Sheffield Inside

The Ship had the smallest range of the day, serving around 4 ales, however the two tried where yet again up there with the best,  Thornbridge – Chiron being another quality beer from the Thornbridge stable, but it was well beaten by Bradfield – Farmers Blonde, I wanted to sample more from the Bradfield brewery, but there’s only so much a man can drink so we set off to the next pub, these are a little tricky to find but the barman of the ship was nice enough to point us in the right direction, top bloke.

 

Fatcat, Kelham Island

The Fat Cat & Kelham Island Tavern are either side of this road, the Fat Cat on the left, Kelham Island Tavern on the right.

Kelham Island Tavern

 

Kelham Island Tavern, Sheffield

Kelham Island Tavern, Sheffield, Bar

Kelham Island Tavern, Sheffield, Bar

The Kelham Island Tavern offered another large selection of just over 10, the pick of the bunch here being Bank Top Brewery – Sir Henry Morgan (pictured with the skull and crossbone) One mistake I did make was not trying the Branta as pictured above, we assumed it would be on at the Sheffield Tap, wrong! Another thing to note about this pub is they have signs up saying that you can be refused further service for swearing, so watch your mouth! Oddly enough we didn’t spot a single Kelham Island brewed beer on.

Additional; after a further visit to Shefflied this week, I can confirm that the majority of beers are priced at £2.10 a pint in the Kelham Island Tavern.

 

The Fat Cat

The Fat Cat, Sheffield

The Fat Cat, Sheffield

Go nuts

The Fat Cat, Sheffield

The other half of the main bar (with nuts)

The Fat Cat, Sheffield

The side bar with questionable clock

The Fat Cat, Sheffield

This used to serve Kimberley ales, not now though obviously

The Fat Cat, Sheffield

Proper home made pork pies

The Fat Cat was packed full of character, I thought the Wellington reminded me of the Dewdrop in Ilkeston but this did even moreso. The Fat Cat with its wonky floors and strange bar layout was probably the most unique of the day, serving up even more quality beer,  Prior’s Well – Gardener’s Tap being the pick, another pub I could have happily spent the rest of the day drinking in.
I’m assured the pork pies where top notch, and Monday nights sound interesting, where between 8-11pm a select Kelham Island beer is £1.30 a pint!

 

The Riverside

In the summer this place will be unmissable, alas as you can see from the pictures our visit was very dark, cold, and wet. There are around 8 beers on and the clientel is an excellent mix of young and old (even on a Friday night when visited) the vibe was pleasant and friendly, the outside seating area was excellent and I can’t wait to go back when it’s warm, then I will take some better pictures of course.

As you’re walking from the Fat Cat, follow it round on the same side of the road as the little tesco, easy.

1 Mowbray St, Neepsend, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S3 8EN

The Harlequin

Harlequin, Sheffield

The Harlequin is the creamy coloured building on the left.

Harlequin, Sheffield

Harlequin, Sheffield

My beer of the year so far Nevada, next to the very pleasant Red Ghost IPA

Harlequin, Sheffield

Harlequin, Sheffield

Proper cobs

Harlequin, Sheffield

I tried to get the whole bar in shot, I failed.

 

Harlequin, Sheffield

The decor is spacious and comfortable.

The Harlequin again offered up a selection worthy of spending the rest of the day trying, it had the greatest selection with around 15 pumps and many craft beers in bottles (a full range of the tasty yet expensive Flying Dog brewery) this was also the largest pub with multiple seating areas.
It’s fair to say the standard was already pretty high, but Sheffield hit me for six again with local boys The Brew Company – Nevada being easily my best drink of 2011 so far, ‘hopped with citra’ it said, you can hop it with whatever you like when it tastes as good as that!

Sheffield Tap

We concluded the day by re-tracing our steps back to the station where they just happened to have yet another brilliant pub right on the platform.

Sheffield Tap

Sheffield Tap

If you like Thornbridge, you might want to get on a train to Sheffield

Sheffield Tap

You can see onto platform 1 whilst drinking, so no excuse for missing the train.

Sheffield Tap

Interesting decor with a shimmering look on the tiles, it changes colour as the light hits it.

Sheffield Tap

View from the platform

The Sheffield tap concluded the day nicely, not only did they have a great range of Thornbridge, they had 5 titanic beers on the other side of the bar, I couldn’t get a shot of those, but in all again they had around 10 beers on.
A beer of note for me in here was Matuska – Raptor IPA, which weighed in at 6.2% and was brewed in the Czech Republic, it was lethally drinkable, thankfully the train was due, a day on that would test the best of drinkers…

———-

Oooh, that was a long un! Well that concludes the longest post on Nottsbrew by a country mile, I think I will take a break now as this has taken me an age to piece together! Sheffield really is worth the effort to try, the train fare is cheap and it’s under an hour to get there. I hope from the pictures and my small write ups on each place it gives you an idea of what it’s all about, quite honestly you could spend a full day drinking in any of the pubs above, I’m not sure I could say that about too many in Nottingham…