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Once again, before I continue with California pubs I visited in 2023, I feel like I ought to catch up with some of the new places I also visited in the past year at home in Sheffield. So this month I'll cover a few places in the city centre.

One evening last spring my friend Victoria and I met up for a couple of after-work pints. After having our first one at Triple Point, we walked around the corner to the Industry Bar, which I had heard a lot about but never had the chance to check out. Although it was quite close to Triple Point we got a bit confused with our route and ended up walking around the back of a large sporting goods emporium in the dark. We finally spotted a brightly lit storefront on an otherwise dark arc of a street. Or perhaps that's just the way it appeared to me. So we eagerly proceeded across the road to our second pint. Brew Pub for lunch.

There's something about this micropub of a place that appealed to me. First of all, the room has been designed acoustically correct, with seemingly no parallel walls. It brought to mind a modern version of Sheffield’s own Three Tuns, a traditional but sharply triangular pub not that far away.

At the bar we discovered a lot of interesting-sounding craft beers, as well as bottles, cans, and crowlers to take home. Victoria was really craving a sour, so she went for a pint of Key Lime Pie Sour (5.1% ABV, S43 Brewery, Coxhoe, County Durham). This fruited sour is hopped with Columbus and also contains lime juice, lactose, and vanilla. It is indeed a really interesting sour, and I could easily have gone for a pint of it. But I wanted something with a lower ABV, so I decided on a pint of Hickey the Rake (4.2% ABV, Wylam Brewing Company, Newcastle-upon Tyne, Tyne & Wear). This ultra-pale beer was described by the brewery as a “nuclear sherbet dib-dab of lemon, lime and tropical pineapple”. It was quite enjoyable, although it was so pale I could barely detect any colour at all. But it did bring back memories of the wonderful half pints my friend Rick and I shared at The Rake taproom of Admiral Maltings in Alameda, California. And one of our beers was like a margarita, so my comparison wasn’t out of order at all.

The clientele of the Industry Bar seemed fairly young, even to Victoria who is quite a bit younger than me. We found a place to sit in the far corner where we could take in our surroundings and all of the little details. I love the “666” neon light on the wall, and also the video of a fake fire roaring in the far nook or edge or whatever the proper geometric term would be for “over there”. And considering the location, this place feels like a regular watering hole for people who work around this quirky post-industrial part of Sheffield.

On another Monday afternoon, my friend Mike and I stopped in to a new brewpub in Division Street. In what was formerly the Old House, Vocation Brewing was a familiar name to both of us, as we’d been drinking their fine beers in cans since Lockdown. So it was quite exciting to be able to finally try some on cask and keg in their new clean and fairly plain venue. Our options on this particular day featured five casks and 22 kegs, with plenty of sours, cider, and IPAs, and all of them from Vocation Brewing. And there is also a fridge over on the side wall of cans to take away. For my first pint I decided on Crush Hour Hazy Pale (4.6% ABV), which was quite nice, and Mike went for Session IPA (4.4% ABV) with Mosaic hops. Fruity.

As it was a pleasant day we took our pints outside to a table on the front pavement where we could watch Life pass by on Division Street. Aside from seeing an interesting and fortunately mild altercation between two men, we also spotted a blur of a figure rush by who I recognised as a workmate of mine -- but he didn’t see us and obviously had somewhere important to get to.

For our second round we both went for pints of Chop & Change Amarillo (4.5% ABV). I’d forgotten about how really nice Amarillo hops can be. At this point I realised that all the pint glasses seem to be customised for the particular beers, as in my Crush Hour glass. Before we left, as I’m always missing California I simply had to buy a can of Death By Margarita to take home.

The following Tuesday afternoon my friend Mel and I walked down here to take advantage of the fact that it wasn’t supposed to rain that day. This time I had a half of Simcoe In Your Heart (4.4% ABV, Cloudwater Brew Co, Manchester), which was a bit hazy but had a really almost dreamy character, sort of a trance taste. Mel had a half of Life & Death (6.5% ABV, Vocation Brewing Company, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire), which is oh my god, simply gorgeous! Woo-Zoop-Zoop! I mean, I’ve had it plenty of times in cans in the safety of my own home, especially during lockdown. But it seemed a bit too powerful for me out here in the real world.

Most recently I stopped in here one Wednesday after work with Victoria. I decided again on a pint of Crush Hour Hazy Pale (4.6% ABV, Vocation Brewing, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire), which I had enjoyed before. After I told Victoria about my can of Death By Margarita which turned out to be an intense but gorgeous sour,, she went for a pint of it (4.5% ABV). And it was pretty much the same: intense but gorgeous.

I have to say that Vocation Brewing is much more exciting than the previous incarnations on this site.

Across Division Street from Vocation is the Sheffield branch of Brewdog. I’m surprised I’ve never actually stopped in here since it opened nine years ago. I suppose it’s because the price of a pint here seemed way too high back in those pre-lockdown days, and more recently I’ve resented the anti-employee policies of the brewery. But my friend Mel was curious, so we stopped in for a quick half. We sat in a nice big comfy booth in the window, where I had a nice, crisp half pint of Solo Cryo (4.% ABV, Triple Point Brewing Company, Sheffield, South Yorkshire), content because I’d chosen a guest beer rather than one of Brewdog's own creations.

The food menu advertised Brewdog’s “killer pizza”, so I’m not sure what that would be like, but the combinations seem to be very meaty, with the non-meat pizza featuring halloumi, and you can have dipped crust as well, whatever that is. Perhaps the sign on the back wall featuring a large skull and the words “Live Fast Drink Slow” supports the idea of a killer pizza. Personally I prefer a more subtle attention to flavours on my pizzas; but considering Brewdog is from Scotland, inventors of the deep-fried Mars Bar, there's no accounting for tastes these days. The menu also features hot dogs which I do appreciate in a nostalgic way, although I would only eat the vegan variety now.

Because the background music was becoming slightly irritating, Mel and I quickly finished our halves and headed off across the road to Vocation.

Brewdog started up in 2007 in Fraserburgh in northeast Scotland and for years they held the honour of brewing the world’s strongest beer, Tactical Nuclear Penguin at 32% ABV--although at this point there is Brewmeister’s Snake Venom and 88 Brewery’s Beithir Fire at 67% and 75% ABV respectively, which honestly don't sound like beers to me). The first Brewdog pub opened in Aberdeen in 2010, and from there the empire has grown to over 100 bars worldwide. So it’s become sort of like Sheffield’s version of Starbucks, except for the fact that they have only one location in the city, as opposed to Starbucks' current 13. But hey, numbers and statistics change…

Meanwhile, not far away in Orchard Square there is a wonderful explosion of new food and drink venues, and the one I was most excited about was the Old Sole. So the day Mel and I walked into town we ended up here. It was a Tuesday, and supposedly the Old Shoe wasn’t supposed to be open on Tuesdays. But not only was it open, it was full of people, and the place was getting ready for their Stand-up Comedy Open Mic Night, which they were hoping to feature on the first Tuesday of every month. So did that mean that they’re open Tuesdays when they say they aren’t? I’m still not too sure. (I have to admit that on the previous evening I’d watched the film Memento, so I was still feeling a bit confused about what was real.)

So we went inside the former shoe shop (where I once bought my first pair of Toms), walked up to the bar, and ordered some brews. On this first visit I had a gorgeous half pint of New Fires IPA (7.0% ABV, Polly’s Brew Co, Mold, Flintshire, Wales). Brewed with El Dorado and Galaxy hops, this was really, really full and yummy, and definitely not something I would have risked an entire pint of. As we sat outside in the front, across from the Waterstones bookshop, Mel started to go through some sort of olfactory nostalgia. It was then that I noticed the former Bavarian-style clock tower appears to have been closed down, I suspect as a result of lockdown combined with Sheffield’s overspending on new development. Anyway, the addition of the Old Shoe makes Orchard Square even more promising, along with Sheffield Plate and the Proove pizza restaurant. If Fargate, which is connected through a passageway, remains a depressing wasteland, at least we’ve got Orchard Square.

While we were there I spotted Nath, whom I used to talk to about beers when he worked at the Walkley Beer Company. He was extremely busy darting back and forth with a laptop, so I didn’t disturb him. I was just so happy to see this new venue look so promising.

More recently, after meeting Mike at the Curzon Cinema to see the film Barbie, we stopped in here for a pint. Once again it was a Tuesday night, but the Old Shoe has just extended their hours to be open on Tuesdays, so I will abandon my black hole theories. While Mike and I stood at the bar and chatted with Nath and another barman, I went for the SoCal Gluten Free West Coast Pale (4.8% ABV, Cloudwater Brew Co, Manchester) which had that wonderful pine-resin character that I love so much. Mike had a pint of Sunset Oregon Trail West Coast Red (5.8% ABV, Elusive Brewing, Wokingham), which I tasted and really liked as well; but that high ABV deterred me. I told Mike and Nath that this tasted a lot like the red ales I’ve had in California and the Pacific Northwest, and I learned to associate that wonderful rusty bitter taste with the rye that was used. Surprisingly this doesn’t have any rye in it, but it has the same full and satisfying taste. Yum.

A week later Victoria and I stopped in. This time I first had a taste of Limosa Small Pale (3.2% ABV, Squawk Brewery, Manchester). It was okay but quite bland to me, so quite dangerously I decided I needed more oomph and went for a pint of Only Half Way Home Pale (5.0% ABV, Cloudwater Brew Company, Manchester). This was hoppy and dank, also described as creamy, and although it was at the top of my acceptable drinking-out pint ABV, it was too mmm-gloriously seductive to refuse. Because Victoria was once again in a sour mood, she went for a pint of Farmhouse Session Kveik & Saison (3.8% ABV, Grizzly Grains Brewery, Sheffield, South Yorkshire). This was a very classy, well done farmhouse sour, much like some of the ones Mistah Rick and I have had in California. It was quite gorgeous, and I thought perhaps I should have been sensible and had a pint of that instead. But we were both very content with our decisions.

One Thursday in late November after work, I again stopped in here with my two workmates John and Ben. The place was very crowded, but we managed to grab the last little table. I started with a pint of Little Arms Big Ambition (5.0% ABV, Staggeringly Good, Portsmouth, Hampshire), which was hoppy, fruity, and as it says on the can, staggeringly good. In fact, it was well worth the higher ABV. Ben, of course, is young enough to not concern himself with such silly notions as high ABV, so he immediately jumped without looking into a Cone Festive Ale (6.0% ABV, Brewery of St Mars of the Desert, Sheffield, South Yorkshire), brewed with Chinook and Summit hops. John, on the other hand, who was in need of something sweet to regulate his blood sugar, went for a half of a berry cider, which sadly I forgot to take note of. For our second round (for me and Ben, as John had to drive back to Leeds), I went more gently with a half of Tranquility (3.8% ABV, Abbeydale Brewing Company, Sheffield, South Yorkshire). This was a surprisingly great follower to my first pint, with luxurious hops in a perfectly safe brew, and it made me feel as if I were snuggled up against a pile of comfy pillows, reading a good book, while the dappled sunlight tickled the sensibilities of my bare feet. Or something like that.

On my first visit of the New Year I stopped in here with my friend Carmel after we had a lovely pizza at Proove next door. Carmel went for a pretty gorgeous glass of red wine, while I went for a pint of Ratatoskr Pale Ale (4.4% ABV, Tartarus Beers, Leeds, West Yorkshire). Brewed with Citra and Nelson Sauvin hops and Kveik yeast, this hazy beer was quite zesty and exciting, like I’ve come to expect from the beers I get at the Old Sole. The place, as it always seems to be, was very crowded but once again there was one table available for us. Why is it so busy every night of the week? This place is an absolute gold mine.

Earlier this winter I met my friend Victoria after work to try out a new micropub we had both spotted. It was one of those bitter cold but thankfully dry and calm days, when all of one’s artillery of winter accessories are required. As I spotted the Two & Six Micropub I hurried inside, hoping to get thawed out a bit. Vic was already at the bar at the far end of the space, perusing the menu which featured both cask and keg beers. The woman behind the bar apologised for the Arctic atmosphere, saying that their boiler had packed it in that morning, so they’d put a few portable radiators around to keep customers from the risk of accidentally cryogenically freezing themselves. So we made plans to sit at one of the radiator-heated tables.

Sadly the same woman didn’t seem to understand my question about what variety of hops were in the beers or which were particularly hoppy, as she proceeded to tell me about the difference between cask beer and keg beer instead. This, of course, required Vic and I setting her straight, explaining that I write about beers and know quite a bit about them. The man who was standing at the bar, probably a regular, had much less of a clue, because he thought it was an amazingly rare thing to see two women drinking good beer. Victoria and I smiled at each other and tried hard to ignore such ignorance, but hey...

Strictly because of the name, I went for the IPA Yay YY (4.6% ABV, Three Brothers Brewing Company, Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham). It wasn’t really that exciting, and I’m afraid I can’t locate any information about the beer anywhere on the Web. Victoria had a pint of a cask beer, Prime (4.2% ABV, Serious Brewing Company, Rochdale, Greater Manchester), with Amarillo and Cascade hops. This was perhaps a bit more interesting.

We headed back toward the front where we spotted a comfy booth and one of the radiators. Sadly, the fact that we still had to put our woolly hats and gloves back on in order to drink our pints made the beer itself a bit superfluous. As we hurried through our pints, hoping to find a warmer spot for our second round, we surveyed the space around us. It’s nice enough, and there is a large attached room that the woman told us is being used for art exhibits, and the two of us suggested it would be good for live music as well. So perhaps, with the heating fixed and a bit more knowledge about the beers on tap, all of these problems were just growing pains. I mean, everybody’s gotta start somewhere, right?

Having opened in August 2023 in the former home of the Social bar, the Two & Six also offers wines and spirits, and along with the side room there is a downstairs function room. So I wish them all the luck, as there isn’t really any other place to have a decent pint close by.

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Industry Tap, 85 Sidney Street, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

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Vocation & Company, 113-117 Devonshire Street, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

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BrewDog Sheffield, 108-110 Devonshire Street, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

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Old Shoe, Unit 20 Orchard Square, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

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Two and Six Micropub, 26 Snig Hill, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

PUB UPDATES:

  • WALKLEY BEER COMPANY, SHEFFIELD: On one of the last days of 2023, I stopped in here and had a taste of Mesmerist (3.4% ABV, Siren Brewery, Siren Craft Brew, Finchhampstead, Berkshire). This was a very nice, pleasant hoppy cask beer, and it was definitely safe enough for a designated driver. But I suppose I felt like something a bit stronger, so I went for a pint of Suds (4.5% ABV, Bullhouse Brewery, Belfast, Northern Ireland). Described as a juicy pale, this was very hazy, brewed with El Dorado, Talus, and Azacca hops, with a bit of a sweet edge. It was nice, but I suppose the hops combo could have had a bit of Sabra, or perhaps Mosaic to tone down that sweetness. Am I becoming a goddam hops snob now? While I was there I had an interesting conversation with a couple from East Anglia who were visiting relatives, and the talk stretched from breweries of Kent and Sussex to parents suffering from dementia and banks cancelling the wrong accounts. All fun and good.

    Once 2024 was upon us I stopped in and really couldn’t make a decision--so I went for a flight of three beers. I started with a half pint of cask Mallard (4.5% ABV, Squawk Brewery, Manchester). Brewed with Citra and Mosaic hops, this is a very easy-going beer. I also had third pints of Almost a Joker(4.1%, Howling Hops Brewery, London), a nice pale with a friendly combo of Citra, Enigma, and Idaho 7, and a sneaky third of Nelson Sauvin Pale Ale (5.3%, The Kernel Brewery, Bermundsey, Greater London) which was dreamily superb. As I was suddenly caught up in conversation with an old friend, I became completely distracted from my original intention to sit quietly and concentrate on my flight of fancy. But all three beers were all great, and this was a good idea, and the extra little wow! of the Kernel helped me walk home through the bitterly freezing cold.

    On my next visit I had a pint of Embargo Cali Pale (4.0% ABV, Kirkstall Brewery, Leeds, West Yorkshire, a collaboration with Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Chico, California). Ah yes, my old friend Sierra Nevada, whose yearly Celebration Ales I used to always enjoy during my winters in Seattle. This is a really nice, easy but tasty drinkable session ale. Yes, indeed.
  • TWO SHEDS, SHEFFIELD: One day I stopped in here and had a taste of Winter Pale Ale (4.2% ABV, Abbeydale Brewing Company, Sheffield, South Yorkshire). Brewed with Ekuanot hops, it was quite pleasant as a light citrusy pale, and I liked the purple berry colour on the pump clip. But I decided to go for the slightly more exciting Anytime IPA (4.5% ABV, Titanic Brewery, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire). Brewed with what they describe only as “worldwide” hops varieties, grapefruit, and citrus, it is very drinkable. A few days later I met my friend Mel here, and as I sat once again drinking a pint of Anytime, our friend Mike and his workmate Matt came in, quite full of previous pints. I had a taste of one of Matt’s half pints, Black Ice (4.1% ABV, Titanic), a black IPA, which tasted just like I expect a black IPA to taste. If they still have that next time I stop in, I’ll definitely have a pint. I realise that “black IPA” is a bit of an oxymoron, but I’ve had quite a few of them in the past, and I don’t mind having to close my eyes to picture the IPA-ness. It simply varies the experience.

    On another visit I had another pint of Anytime IPA . It was surprisingly quiet for a Saturday night in January. Was it because it was January, a month that everybody in my adopted home says is depressing but that I like because it's my birthday month? Before I moved away from California I always threw a party for my birthday, because everybody was sick of the dull post-holiday period and was happy to finally have something fun to do! I mean, it doesn't cost anything to go to a house party. So this Anytime seemed appropriate, as it’s surprisingly hoppy in a fun, jiggly way, so one can have Fun any time of the year, right?

    On a mildly drippy day after a week of below-freezing but thankfully dry days, I had a pint of Habruca Triple Hopped Pale (4.4% ABV, Triple Point Brewing Company, Sheffield, South Yorkshire), with a fascinatingly bright and choppy mixture of Harlequin, Bru-1, and Azacca hops. Described on the label as tasting like pineapple, mango, and passionfruit, this made me feel like I was sitting on a dock, my bare feet being lightly splashed by cold choppy waves as the late afternoon sun warmed my shoulders. Except that I was in an inland Yorkshire pub after sundown and on a definitely several-layers-and-gloves sort of day. But I just read that daydreams are good for the brain. There was definitely some interesting fruit going on in that glass, tempered by a wonderfully bitey earthiness, almost truffle-like in soft suggestion, and it was really pleasing.. So I suppose for just a pintworth I could identify a little bit with pigs...

    On another visit I went for Shangri-La (4.2% AVV, Arbor Beers, Bristol). This was a very nice full-flavoured hoppy session brew. I was quite happy with it. But I find one can always trust an Arbor Beer. Then I had a taste of Mel’s very complicatedly named Patrons Project 34.03 // Amy Hastings // The Fool // Fruited IPA (6.0% ABV, Northern Monk, Leeds, West Yorkshire), a collaboration with Left Handed Giant of Bristol. A sour with a combination of sweet cherry, sour cherry, and hibiscus, as soon as I tasted it I shouted “WOWWWW!” with a huge grin. This is a mighty powerful punch of joy in the mouth, and I would happily drink it if I were in the safety of my home and my sofa. It’s really quite spectacular. What can I say? It needs to be tasted so one can also see it, smell it, hear it, and properly describe it.
  • COBDEN VIEW, SHEFFIELD: In early January I tried a pint of a new cask guest here, Tangled Lights (4.2% ABV, Moorhouses Brewery, Burnley, Lancashire). Described on the pump clip as fruity and golden, this is brewed with a blend of Cascade, Centennial, and Progress hops, with the citrus character balanced by malt. It wasn’t bad at all, actually! Not particularly exciting, but perfectly drinkable.
  • HALLAMSHIRE, SHEFFIELD: In the first spanking-new days of 2024 I stopped in and had a pint of Quiet Storm African Queen (5.5% ABV, Thornbridge Brewing Company, Bakewell, Derbyshire). I like all the Quiet Storm single-hopped series, but this new hops is really unique, and I can't really describe it. I mean, I wouldn’t describe it as whoomph! or zippy, and it’s not zingy, not grapefruit or piney, not classic Pacific-North-West or Kent or Czech or anything that's already been said. It's, well, new. I thoroughly enjoyed this on a chaotic Friday teatime, sitting at one end of the bar with my friend Mel sitting on the other end, while crowds of pint orderers kept crowding in between us. Sorry, where was I? What’s happening? What day is it? What year is it? I suppose it was just the fuzzy part of yet another year.

    On another day I had a taste of Carpathia ESB (6.3% ABV, Titanic Brewing Company, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire). This is a nice dark brew, bitter with a sharp licorice flavour, but I’m not sure I could stay excited through an entire pint. I also had a taste of Long Levers Imperial Stout (10.5% ABV, Siren CraftBrew, Finchhampstead, Berkshire, a collaboration with Sofia Electric Brewing, Sofia, Bulgaria). That sounds like a dangerous ABV, but after I tasted this imperial stout I realised how truly extremely dangerous it is, simply because this is stunningly gorgeous. Patrick, who offered me a taste of his third pint, works at a local brewery and knows his stuff, and he was enamoured with the shape and the orange colour of the head. I was simply...enamoured. Oh yes. I would definitely drink this in the privacy of my own home. After that, the conversation progressed appropriately to accidents we’ve both experienced…
  • RISING SUN, SHEFFIELD: One Sunday afternoon, after being disappointed by a friend cancelling out on an out-of-town excursion, my friend Mel and I decided to go on a mini-pub crawl in Sheffield. After missing our bus from further east, we walked a little over a mile through unfamiliar territory back to this pub which I haven’t visited for some time. Although I was looking forward to their wide selection of Abbeydale beers, I went for a half of Crisis Vibes Session IPA (4.0% ABV, Fell Brewery, Flookburgh, Cumbria), simply because it was only 4% and I do love Fell Brewery beers. And I was not disappointed at all. It was nicely bitter with a slight taste of resin, which was just what I needed on what had become a fairly stressful day. While we sipped our halves, Mel and I sat in plush chairs in front of a wood-burning stove, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was a busy Sunday in the pub, with most of the customers eating meals. I guess it’s that sort of pub.
  • PORTLAND HOUSE, SHEFFIELD: Towards the end of the same mini pub crawl, Mel and I popped in here and I had a half of Wipeout (4.2% ABV, Only With Love Brewing, Beechy Road, East Sussex), a gluten free session IPA with Citra, Mosaic, and Simcoe hops. The two of us sat at the bar and had a thoroughly enjoyable chat with the barman. That’s the good thing about this place: the setting makes you want to sit at the bar so you can have a chat. I like that. Meanwhile Mel went for a pint of Bongo Tropic IPA (4.5% ABV, ) with a wide mixture of El Dorado, Cascade, Mosaic, Citra, Simcoe, and Sabro hops. There was a whole lot of fruity hops here.

BOTTLED/CANNED BEER UPDATE:

  • Erko Pale Ale (5.2% ABV, Polly’s Brew Company, Mold, Flintshire, Wales). Back in late December I took this to my friend Olly’s pre-New Year’s soiree. It was very nice and hoppy, as I recall, a good start for a few other drinks in the evening.
  • Laser Chasers DDH Pale (5.5% ABV, Shiny Brewery, Derby, Derbyshire). Brewed with Citra, Mosaic, Talus, and Loral, this was my second can for Olly’s soiree, and whomp! That lovely hops combination swirled around on my tongue and made me happy! Yes! I wish I’d brought another couple of cans of this. The can proudly describes this as follows: "a celestial spectacle! Beams of resin and pine. A floral, citrus glow. Loral and Talus twinkle together above waves of Citra and Mosaic. Let's be Laser Chasers." So I don’t really have to say any more than that.
  • Shipwrecked Transient Piña Colada IPA (7.0% ABV, Northern Monk Brewery, Leeds, West Yorkshire).I bought this can because of the name, obviously, and also the fact that it says “Twist Edition”, whatever that means. But there was no mention of what hops were used, only the Brethren #094, Pietro Maltinti, who brewed it. But wow, it’s certainly coconutty! It’s quite fun at first; but by the end it becomes a bit too over-the-top coconutty. Now, I love coconut myself, but there is a limit.
  • Is It About My Cube? DDH IPA (6.5% ABV, Sureshot Brewery, Manchester). Being a lifelong toy collector I couldn’t resist this can the moment I saw it. Besides having an intriguing name, there is all sorts of stuff written on the can if you stop to study it. First of all, under the name of the beer is a balloon that says “Yello! Mr Burns’ office!” plunging the drinker right into an episode of “The Simpsons”. But then the writing continued: “Be a real hot rod mama! With NE drag race action! “You have 30 MINUTES to move your cube!” The accompanying graphics feature a toy with a racing car and a crane, and lots of little plastic things that all do something!! I love these kinds of toys, especially when they have to do with cars. Oh look, there’s more: “You have 30 minutes to move your car. You have 10 minutes…your car has been impounded. Your car has been crushed into a cue.” This is right up my current stress-level alley!

    But I do go on sometimes: what clinched the sale was the mention of Nelson Sauvin, T90, Mosaic, Cryo, and BBC hops. Described as fruity with earthy bitterness, it also suggests that this DDH IPA is best paired with steamed toast and a dodo egg. Oh my, what fun this is to drink for a hops monster lover like myself, and what more fun it would be to drink it while actually playing with the described toy. Oops, out of time--CRUNCH! Oh well, my first car, a 1966 VW Fastback, was a lemon anyway. Still, it’s so tragic for any gorgeous car to be melted down into a cube. The thought breaks my heart--not that I’m prejudiced against cubes or anything...
  • Thunder in Paradise (6.9% ABV, Wilde Child Brewing Company, Leeds, West Yorkshire). I bought this Chocolate and Toasted Coconut Stout over a year ago to drink during the holiday season of 2022, and I’ve only just got to it. It’s, um, definitely chocolate and definitely coconut. But it’s a bit too sweet for my tastes, though, but with only 28 IBU of bitterness I think it would please an aficionado of sweet stouts. It’s brewed with six different malts, lactose, cocoa powder, and toasted coconut, and, well, you get the idea. It’s just not my cup of tea.
  • Fancy Papers Hazy IPA (6.5% ABV, Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, Florida)So after the disappointing Thunder in Paradise, I ended up opening this Lockdown-vintage can. With Strata and Idaho 7 hops, it’s still hoppily drinkable three years later, and it’s quite hoppily satisfying as well. The flavours of mango and tangerine are suggested on the can, and also the suggestion of cigar box labels--not cigars, which I can appreciate as a beer-tasting term, but the labels. Okay...