Pubpaper 797 – Up Hills, Down Valleys, Drink Beers.

Posted: 1st March 2015 by santobugtio in Pub Paper, Writing

Sometimes just a couple of beers makes a good afternoon, even if you can have more.  On a chilled sunday afternoon with friends, I had the fortunate luck to be able to sample both Thornbridge St Petersburg Imperial Russian Stout (7.4%) and the Magic Rock / Brewfist collaboration Ryeperbole (5.8%) in one sitting at the Old Gate in Hebden Bridge.  Starting with the St Petersburg, it is a rich deep beer, with plenty of flavour from chocolate to dark malt.  It reminds me of Abbeydale Black Mass (or Black Mess as it is known as at the Cross Keys) and Great Heck Black Jesus (both around 6.5%), two of my favourite dark beers.  It is a meal of a beer, you want to move it around your mouth to make the most of the flavour and you can taste the weight of the stout as you do, but it goes down smoothly and at its strength that is the danger of these beers, they really are quite quaffable.

The Ryeperbole is an Anglo / Italian beer and it is packed with a nice balanced flavour from the citrus grapefruit and good mix of hops leaving a strong pleasant bitter finish, Magic Rock Brewery consistently hits the spot for me beer wise and one of my drinking companions enjoyed their session ale Ringmaster in the same sitting.   The Old Gate is, and has been a since it opened, a place where there is something new to try every time I go in.  The prices for these two beers were around £4 per pint, expensive to some people for an ale, but my experience in other bars in cities like Sheffield and Leeds for beers of their strength and origin brewery is that this is about par for the course.

I was in Sheffield for a drink at the Sheffield Tap a couple of weeks ago enjoying some nice beers from their own brewery Tapped.  I had a couple of their Bullet IPA’s, a nice 5.9% example of the genre, I queried how much a couple of their european craft beers (a 3.6% and a 5.5%) were and was given the answers of just under and just over £6 per pint.  I decided to skip at that point, my ceiling is about £5 per pint on normal occasions.  The place is not cheap to drink at once you hit the keg beers, however it is still one of my favourite bars around for the original decor and range of beer.

To some people, price per pint is important, however I look at it that I have a beer related pot of money, I’d rather drink fewer beers I really like then a great number of average beers with that pot, I’ve gone past the point in my life, being about to enter my 40th year, where quantity is king. It is all down to mood, sometimes I am in the mood for a bit of a world tour, sometimes a good solid session ale is what is called for.  This last week at my local, the Cock and Bottle, I’ve happily been supping Ossett Snowdrop on my various visits without feeling the need to go elsewhere.   There are many drinkers who spend a “pub career” loyal to a handful of beers or less.  There is nothing wrong with either approach, just as long as you enjoy your beer of choice.

Of course you can go to places like the Cross Keys, Siddal and spend no more than £3.20 per pint, even for the strong beers of 6-8% from a range of 6 good ales.  This place is my favourite pub in the Calderdale area and the attention to the beer is part of the reason.  I was drinking a beer there the other weekend, quite happy with it, however halfway through my pint Hugh asked to see my drink, spotted it looked a bit flat and took it off tap straight away after pouring a test pint, insisting on replacing my beer even though I had drank over half of it and would have finished it without complaint.  The fact that a beer which was considered “off” tasted better than a lot of beers I’ve had that were in condition elsewhere says everything.

To welcome back an old, retired closing for this column, Happy Supping.