Saturday, February 28, 2009
Opening times are from 12 every day and the pub offers food and several real ales at competitive prices. At the time of my visit there were the 3 regular beers on the bar (Pictish Brewers Gold, Acorn Barnsley Bitter, and Bradfield Farmers Blonde) along with a selection of guests from around the country including Cottage, Nottingham, and even a Mallinsons. The ones I tried were in fine fettle.
Although a pleasant pub, and judging by the amount of custom when I visited, a successful one, I could not see exactly why it has been crowned in preference to other equally worthy establishments. I have visited plenty of pubs that would fit the bill, though I have no criticism of the quality or range of beers on offer here. Incidentally there is no connection between the Tavern and the Kelham Island Brewery whose tap, The Fat Cat, is just around the corner.
If you have never visited this part of Sheffield, now may be the time. There are several good pubs within easy walking distance in addition to the Tavern and the aforementioned Fat Cat, including the Harlequin, (which I think is the premier pub in the area), The Wellington (formerly the Cask & Cutler) and the Hillsborough Hotel. All provide fine ales and some do very reasonably priced good food too.
To reach the Tavern, the easiest way is to take the train to Sheffield, tram from the station to Shalesmoor, then cross the road by the traffic lights and follow the signs for the Kelham Island Museum. The pub stands on the right after about quarter of a mile.
(pics courtesy of the pubs' websites)
Stones was brewed at the city's Bass Charrington plant when I first encountered it way back. It was not my favourite beer, being pretty unremarkable except for the headache it left the following morning! The beer is now apparently brewed by Everards in the Midlands but is still unremarkable, with very little hop or malt character - it does have a nice pump clip however!!
Wards was an independent Sheffield brewery and their bitter was one of the maltiest beers I have drunk, with a head that always broke up in the glass. The newest version (I have seen it brewed by others previously) is from the Maxim Brewery in the north east and has a tight head with none of the maltiness of its predecessors - indeed a particularly poor substitute for the original. I'm unsure whether the recipes have changed, or that the different water simply cannot replicate the original taste, or even if they aren't just completely new beers - but whatever the truth is, neither can be described as a success.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Issues with the beer quality now appear to have been ironed out with the appointment of enthusiastic brewer Joe Kenyon of CAMRA's Heavy Woollen branch - and some very interesting stuff has been cropping up on the bar recently such as Cherry Mild and a massively hopped 6% American IPA.
Upstairs, the award winning restaurant has remained popular with locals and tourists alike, providing the template for similarly successful projects at the White Horse, Emley and the Silver King in Ossett.
Overseeing the entire set-up is manager Vicky Stagg, who has been at Riverhead since pre-Ossett days, providing the necessary continuity to appease the locals as well as having an understanding of the requirements of Marsdens many visitors. For further details or to book a table, Vicky can be contacted on 01484 841270 (Pub) or 01484 844324 (Dining Room). (map)
Sunday, February 22, 2009
The beer is wonderful, with an aggressive mix of three New Zealand hop varieties, and as expected did not last long. This led one of my more enthusiastic drinking companions to make the trip across to the Marble Arch to continue sampling its undoubted delights.
Luckily he found some on the bar at the brewery's tap but what diluted his pleasure was the additional 60p (that's £3.20 a pint!) he paid for the privilege - he was so amazed he even brought the till receipt back as confirmation!
This seems totally bewildering. The beer prices in Manchester, although not cheap, are normally nowhere near the £3 a pint mark as in some other parts of the country. This beer after all has only to travel from the cellar of the pub to the bar, and therefore accrues no carriage or distribution costs as it does to cross the Pennines.
Is this the shape of things to come? I for one will think hard about visiting the Marble Arch if this is to become their norm. The pub is a must visit on the Manchester drinking circuit but at these prices may end up being an occassional treat. A real shame since the beer and the pub are both excellent, but if this is the start of the big increases we drinkers have been concerned about then it really is time to start worrying.
(with thanks to Tim Wright for the information)
Friday, February 20, 2009
Tara was always a beer enthusiast. I remember vividly a beer that she brewed at John Eastwood's brewery in Elland to celebrate her 5000th beer tick. Going under the name of 'TJ5K' it displayed the knowledge and use of hops that would hold in good stead when she started brewing professionally.
She brews in a converted garage in Lindley with her partner Elaine, and having overcome many problems with the premises and the council, she eventually realised her dream. From the small beginnings last June Tara is now producing beer that can be found far and wide. I have seen it on festival lists in Wiltshire, on bars in Birmingham, and she even brews a house special for the New Oxford in Salford, where her other beers can often be found - much to the delight of the Lancastrian locals.
Her range has been quite phenomenal. Most beers can be described as light and hoppy but she is not afraid to try other styles, as 'Mild Thing' (obviously a mild), and 'Hazy Fantayzee' (a wheat beer) will testify to. There are also a number of dry hopped versions of her usual offerings showing a flair for the use of different hop flavours.
It has been overheard that the beers can be rather one dimensional, a comment obviously made with no appreciation of the finer points of brewing and one which can only be described as 'Poppycock' - the name of Mallinsons latest offering incidentally!
This weekend will see a veritable Tarafest in her home town. 'Northern Brewster' will be on the bar at both the Slubbers and Star with the latter also doing 'Ephesus' and 'Derby Double' (dry hopped to celebrate Town's recent double success over Leeds). And if that's not enough you'll find 'Cleos Asp' and 'K2' at The Grove, so why not get out and share in this success story today!
Tara maintains an up to date website, detailing her beers with tasting notes, under the banner of 'drinkmallinsons' should further information be required.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Monday, February 16, 2009
The Art Barn brewery from Bridport is unusual around these parts and their 4% beer was bursting with vanilla taste, a very unusual beer and not necessarily to everyone's taste. Boggart from Manchester is more common, but the same cannot be said of it's 'Rum Porter'. It was obviously dark, weighing in at 4.6% with loads of rum flavour, but it was hard to tell if it boasted real rum or just essence. Either way, it was generally well received (except by me!!)
Coach House is a well established brewery and often brew fruit flavoured beers. Their 'Blueberry' is excellent but the 'Pink Grapefruit' did not reach those heights, though was light and refreshing - albeit a little sweet - plus the nearer the bottom of the barrel, the sweeter it got.
On the bar in the Rat on Sunday Saltaire managed to get in on the act with their 'Raspberry Blonde'. It did exactly what it said on the pump clip and at 4% delivered a light coloured ale full of raspberry flavours. It too was a little on the sweet side for my liking - maybe the sign of raspberry essence rather than the real thing. Nevertheless 4 beers showing what can be done when the brewers stray from the usual recipe of malt and hops and give the town's drinkers some unusual flavours to savour.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Anyway, back to Blue Moon. It is a 6% offering, described on the Pictish web site as "a strong IPA style, with lingering bitter aftertaste and a massive spicy hop aroma". First brewed in November 2001, it won the Best Premium Bitter award at the Bradford Beer Festival in 2004. Basically, it's just one brilliant beer!
For those not astronomically minded, a blue moon is a 2nd full moon in a single calendar month (this occurs only once every two and a half years or so), and it seems February is one of those months, hence its appearance now after such a long absence. Thank heavens for Google !!!
So there it is....hunt it out, enjoy it and treat it with respect..it is not a beer for the faint hearted but is one that cries out for a 2nd pint, and a 3rd and so on .... Just remember the phrase 'Blue Moon Moment' was not coined for any old beer.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Sunday, February 08, 2009
Last year saw the opening a new extension and beer terrace, further enhancing the pub's charm. A real fire and the typically comforting Ossett furnishings make The Tap the place to sample both the company's brewing and design skills.
Eight handpumps deliver the three staple Ossett's - Excelsior, Silver King and Pale Gold - whilst Fernandes, Riverhead and Fullers occupy the rest, with occasional guests from local micros. (map)
Monday, February 02, 2009
With flagged floor and rebuilt bar the Travellers today really looks the part. The tasteful decor, including historical prints of the local area and comfortable rustic furnishings, makes it unquestionably one of Calderdale's finest ale houses.
Locals will no doubt be aware of The Grove's bizarre selection of nibbles, ranging from the almost normal spicy pickled duck eggs, to the down right stomach-churning crickets and larvae, via biltong and many other curious things (check the website if you don't believe me !!).
It seems they may have competition though from Walkers, the crisp makers. Apparently they have had their customers selecting flavours they most want to see in their foil snack sacks. Some are fairly straight forward like Fish & Chips, but others are more unusual - Chilli-Chocolate, Builders Breakfast and Onion Bahji varieties spring to mind. The most bizarre though must be Cajun Squirrel. I've no intention of trying it, but would welcome some tasting notes if someone could oblige. Not even sure if there is such a thing as a Cajun Squirrel, or if so, what it's thoughts would be about becoming a crisp flavour. Oh for the simple joys of a pork pie!!!
The Kings Head gave us two beers from the Red Lion brewery at Ossett, Chardonayle (5.1%) and Bohemian Rhapsody (4.5%) along with their usual light & hoppy fayre whilst The Cherry Tree provided Elland Enigma (4.4%). The Grove always seems to run out of their paler beers when I visit but Kelham Island Grande Pale (6.6%) was a wonderful example of a strong hoppy pale ale and ran off swiftly, though not as swiftly as the Mallinsons Great Giza (4.3%). Not to be out done, the Rat and Ratchet provided Leeds Pale, Pictish Brewers Gold and the formidable Fernandes Heartbreaker (6.0%).
The best selection seemed to be at The Star. Starting with Windsor Castle, One Stop Hop (3.7%) through Goose Eye McGander (4.2%) and Abbeydale Deception (4.1%) then followed at the weekend by 2 Mallinsons beers, Iains Brew (4.3%) and Golden Tree (3.9%), neither of which lasted a single session! Just hoping this week is as good.