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The Ay Up Ducks Real Ale Pub Hunt

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As it was an extremely rainy day and they had many places to go, JC and Trevor didn't stop into the Fox & Duck. The last time JC was there was several years ago when she met workmates for a drink. On that visit she had a pint of Archers IPA (4.2% ABV, Archers), which was blandness in the extreme. But her Guinness drinking workmate Paul liked the colour, calling it "honey" as opposed to "dark tahini", of which he'd just bought a jar. Regardless of the aesthetics of the colour, this pint was very boring -- in fact JC was having trouble staying awake to drink it, and even if it glowed in layers of neon green and orange and did bird impressions she doubted it would have made much of a difference. She tasted workmate Steve's pint of Deliverance (4.6% ABV, Milestone) and thought it was much better, so she chose that for her second pint. It was an improvement on the first pint but still disappointing. Hopefully both of them were near the end of the cask.

JC and Trevor didn't stop into the Rising Sun this visit, but they did sneak into the beer garden where they found the duck. On their last visit to this pub JC had a pint of Long Hop (3.9% ABV, Bollington), described as "A Beer About Cricket". Alas, JC is not really interested in the game of cricket. On the other hand she does love crickets, so she could appreciate this brew from a more entomological viewpoint. It's a nice pale and hoppy brew, hoppy in a six-legged way. Trevor had a pint of Brimstone (3.7% ABV, Abbeydale). Amber in colour, this brew suggests English mellow hops.

JC loves the University Arms. She and Andrew and Trevor never manage to get away from the bar in this pub, as they end up chatting with the landlord about beer and music and sampling everything on offer. The three of them had a taste of the amazing Barneys Brew (5% ABV, Hilden), with a strong whopping of ginger, cloves, and coriander. What an aroma! This should be sipped out of a brandy snifter. Next they had a taste of Scullion's Irish Ale (4.6% ABV, Hilden), which brought a feeling of nostalgia to Belfast-bred Andrew. The Imperial Odyssey (4.2% ABV, Imperial Club & Brewery) was a chocolately bitter, reminiscent of the original Barnsley Bitter. After a short taste of Brew Company Best Bitter (4.2% ABV, The Brew Company), which was surprisingly malty, they had a taste of Dave (3.8% ABV, Great Heck), simply because it had been a Dave sort of day and they had to. It tasted surprisingly like a weak cup of coffee, only without that awful taste that one gets from coffee that's too weak. They all finally settled on pints of Deception (4.1% ABV, Abbeydale) which was, as always, absolutely heavenly. It made JC feel as though she was kissing the inside of her own mouth.

JC and Trevor found this duck on the Grapes in Trippet Lane and didn't have time to stop in. This is one of the only 2 pubs on the Ay Up Ducks list that they had yet to visit.

JC and Trevor didn't stop in the Dog & Partridge simply because they'd heard the pub no longer serve cask ale. The previous time JC had been to the pub she and Andrew had pints of Brimstone (3.7% ABV, Abbeydale Brewery), which is dark and slightly reminiscent of Barnsley Bitter but with a gingery malt and possibly Fuggles hops. They thought it was an acceptable light gingery alternative to stout, because after all they were in an Irish pub and didn't want to seem too out of place. Sadly there wasn't much fire in this Brimstone. They both considered it more of a calculating and settling brew, and JC could picture it sitting in the warm comfort of a ferry lounge while outside a gale hurled up massive breakers on the Irish Sea.

JC, Trevor, and Andrew all found the Hallamshire House duck on Christmas Day as hopefully the first of many artworks in the covered garden. They all shared a cheeky taste of Bracia (9.3% ABV, Thornbridge), sold only in surprisingly expensive half pints. Aged for 3 years in a Pedro Ximénez cask, this brew is unbelievable in its character: coffee, chocolate, licorice, hops, sherry, and various other hallucinations that a tiny sample wasn't going to start unleashing. It's a Feliz Navidad brew to shame all other Feliz Navidad brews. And from only a couple of small sips JC could feel that alcohol. God, what an experience! Deciding to be a lot more sensible, but taking advantage of the fact that it was Christmas day and they were only a short walk from home, they went for pints of the delectable Colorado Red (5.9% ABV, Thornbridge). This is very full and amber with distinctly manzanita-scented hops. JC suspected they somehow use manzanita in this. What else could that flavour be from? It turns out it's made with speciality malts and surprisingly English hops including Admiral, Bramling Cross, Phoenix, Pilgrim, and First Gold. So the manzanita is just coincidence -- a lovely coincidence.

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