CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> Ay Up Duck Hunt

The Ay Up Ducks Real Ale Pub Hunt

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Every time JC comes into Shakespeares, the only brews that truly intrigue her are at least 5% ABV. So on this visit with Trevor, Andrew, Alex, and Sönke, she shot the works on her duck-photographing visit and had a pint of All Along The Hop Tower (5.0% ABV, RAW) because with one taste she could tell this was a JC brew. It was bitter and hoppy and hoppily bitter, a squelching scrunching delight of hoppy and bitter waves rolling back and forth across the tongue. she even converted Sönke, a German lager drinker, as he dangerously tippled two pints of this strong and strongly hopped beer. Trevor and Andrew both had safe pints of Helmsman (3.5%, Nelson) which was another good classic bitter -- although not distinctive enough for JC to write anything creative about.

On a rainy dark post-Boxing Day visit Andrew and JC spotted the duck at the Harlequin and had pints of Libertine Pale Ale (4.2% ABV, Summer Wine Brewing). Yezzza yezza those hops, those hops, yezzerree bob! They made JC want to squoosh up her lips and flip them over her head. Although it was late afternoon and very quiet in the pub, this was wonderfully chatty on their palates, enough to turn on all the lights in their souls.

The first time Trevor and JC checked the Bath Hotel they didn't find a duck. But after a leisurely session of table tennis one Friday morning, they stopped here for a refresher and were surprised they hadn't seen the duck the first time. Inside JC had a half pint of Barnsley Bitter (3.8% ABV, Acorn). This brew always retains a lovely coffee character, remaining in her mind the original "coffeebeer". She tried a taste of Idle Tongue ((4.3% ABV, Idle Brewery), but it wasn't really to her taste: a bit sour on the tongue and way too lazy. JC likes energetic, bouncy beers with fancy footwork.

When JC and Trevor spotted the duck on the Vine they didn't have time to stop in. Their last visit was a few years ago with Andrew when their pints of Tiger Best Bitter (4.3% ABV, Everards) and Bass Ale (4.4% ABV) were right up to the best levels that Tiger and Bass can reach. They were both fine pints that coexisted peacefully and harmoniously in their taste assessments and conversation, in stark contrast to their beastly namesakes. If only Dr. Doolittle could have been there...

JC hadn't been to the Stag for years. On an impulse she and Trevor made a detour from their Ecclesall Road walk into Sharrow and decided to pop in here to see what it was like. And the duck wasn't the only pleasant surprise. They were met by a friendly barman who was very proud of his cask ales. JC's half of White Swan (3.5% ABV, Thornbridge) was excellent. The pub was done up for Christmas, with an inviting little grotto of a room JC had never noticed on previous visits, and a nice looking food menu. This was a treasure hunter's find.

Although the Ship Inn is the other pub JC and Trevor have yet to visit, they intend to visit it soon. They've always loved the ornate exterior and wondered what it's like inside. On a blindingly bright walk with Trevor, Alex, and Sönke, JC instantly spotted the duck from across several roads and felt quite proud of herself.

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