Mashtun and Meow: Sheffield Beer Blog: March 2017

Monday, 20 March 2017

Sheffield Beer Week 2017 - A Round-Up

Sheffield Beer Week is over for another year and we've flung ourselves in absolutely head first this time! Here's a quick overview of the events we attended...

A relatively quiet start to the week for us as we joined in a twitter hour with @catsontap. We've long been fans of beercats Rosie and Milly, and our Tosin is a regular on their page too! We kicked off with something pretty special brought back from our trip to Brussels last year - Cantillon Kriek 100% Lambic Bio. Face-puckering, fruity and a glorious treat to kick off the week. We also imbibed Cloudwater's Seguin Biere Brut, reminiscent more of a wine than a beer and utterly delicious.

Every week, Sentinel Brew Co host a film night, wittily titled Brew-vie Tuesdays. We've not made it down to this before but in conjunction with Sheffield Beer Week they decided to show "Beertickers: Beyond the Ale". Filmed in 2008 in and around Sheffield, it was so entertaining for us to look back at the beer scene as it was around the time we both first properly got into real ale, with many a familiar face amongst the footage! Great pizzas and popcorn, too.

A Lervig tap takeover at the Rutland Arms kicked off our evening, with the highlight being Sippin' Into Darkness, a chocolate martini imperial stout at 12%. Bold, boozy and tasted like a Double Decker chocolate bar fondue.

We then headed up to Brewdog for the Mad Hatter meet the brewer event and bumped into the team from Weird Beard. Plenty of beery chat and a lot of laughs were had.

An even bigger night for us on the Thursday. First off we hit up the Beer Engine's North vs South beer and food pairing, featuring four beers each from London based Fourpure and Fierce from Aberdeen. The food at the Beer Engine is some of the best in Sheffield as far as we're concerned, and a new guest chef brought in to create the pairing menus for this event elevated the offering to an even higher level. The highlight for us was Fierce's Tropical Tart, a beautifully light and tangy passionfruit sour, served with spicy prawns and crab laksa.

A short walk back to Sentinel for a tap takeover hosted by Yellowbelly Brewery where we sampled their collaboration with bloggers Wayne and Janice from IrishBeerSnob, Juice Wayne - a Rock Shandy IPA, inspired by an Irish soft drink and bursting with oranges and lemons. It took Laura until Sunday to realise that Juice rhymes with Bruce...

Finally we headed up to the launch of Abbeydale Brewery's new Brewers Emporium range at the newly refurbished Devonshire Cat, which was buzzing with a vibrant atmosphere and presented a great range of progressive beers to choose from.

We started the day with a Beer Writers Breakfast hosted by the The Can Makers, giving us an insight into a truly up and coming portion of the market and with tasty pastries from Sheffield based Percy & Lily's. It was the first day of the Beer Now conference, ending with a trip to Beer Alive festival. It was the third time we've attended the festival and it's been scaled down pretty drastically this year. It's a shame that this resulted in a rather lacklustre beer selection - the lack of involvement from brewers directly, which was a great feature of last year's festival, was missed.

A full on and inspiring day at the Beer Now conference, kicking off with Bob Pease of the Brewer's Association, who gave us useful insights into the American beer scene. Our favourite part of the day was undoubtedly the Live Beer Blogging featuring beers from Abbeydale, Ilkley, Lost Industry, Sentinel, Sharps, Thornbridge and Twisted Barrel - a frenzied hour of tweeting, chatting, learning and drinking.

A raucous coach journey later and we were treated to BBQ and beers at Thornbridge Brewery, a brilliant evening where we also discovered that table football is never going to be our forte!

The Beer Now conference was wrapped up, with inspirational talks from Richard of Ferment magazine, Jules of Hop Hideout and of course Sheffield Beer Week fame, and Andy from the excellent Elusive Brewing.

FINALLY, we trekked up to the Greystones for a special edition of Karma Citra, pairing a selection of Tiny Rebel beers with some super spicy Caribbean food. Always a brilliant event and a fun and laid back end to a very hectic week.

To finish, it's worth mentioning that our festivities during the week didn't even scratch the surface in terms of the amount of events running. We really were spoilt for choice, and have been left feeling very lucky to live in a city with such a thriving, varied and exciting beer scene. A mighty round of applause to Jules Gray for co-ordinating everything... we're already looking forward to finding out what Sheffield Beer Week 2018 will bring! But first, a lie in and a green smoothie are most definitely in order.


Jim & Laura

Friday, 10 March 2017

Teeling Whiskey - Dublin

In the heart of Dublin's famous Liberties sits Teeling: the first distillery to open in Dublin city for around 125 years. The grey stone exterior matched the slightly lighter sky as we walked under a burnished copper phoenix furnishing the glass entrance doors. We were met by welcoming faces in the lavish yet cosy visitors' centre and booked on our tours.

The tour itself starts in a museum of sorts, portraying the history of Dublin's distilling past, then onward to a slick marketing video before moving on to the actual production floor. One unit houses the entire production cycle, from modern mash mixer and lauter tun through to the fermenters, a mixture of modern stainless and more traditional oak vessels. Finally, across on the back wall are the three copper spirit stills (named Alison, Natalie and Rebecca after Jack Teeling's daughters), oh so slowly changing from their current burnished rose gold colour to an eventual algae green over time. This tour of the compact distillery differs from many facilities of similar volumes of spirit, us being used to the more sprawling distilleries of rural Scotland.

Teeling as a brand itself is still new to the scene, established in 2012 with the distillery opening in 2015 - however, the Teeling family itself has been prolific in the whiskey industry since 1782. Stephen and Jack Teeling, the two brothers heading up the distillery, were initially part owners of Cooleys, but opted out when it was bought by Beam Inc. in 2011. With them, they brought a stockpile of aged whiskey over to the Teeling brand, the oldest released at the moment being 33 years. This means that the distillery can release well aged and kept whiskey and not be forced into rushing out young spirits.

Whilst in a lot of distilleries you are able to look around a warehouse of rows upon rows of wooden barrels, at Teeling this is not the case. Restrictions were put in place due to a great fire in 1872, where rivers of flaming alcohol flowed into the streets from a duty warehouse and malt store, destroying the best part of £5million of whiskey in today's money, as well as houses and animals in the tenement of the working class around. All spirit is now stored safely outside of the city.

Our tour guide, Eve, was friendly and extremely knowledgeable about the company, sharing family history alongside local Dublin lore and a clear passion for the product. Once our tour was complete, we moved into the tasting area for some sampling.

We opted for two different tastings - Laura going for the Small Batch release which was served with a Winter Spice cocktail.

The Small Batch is based on a 75/25 corn and barley blend, aged in bourbon and subsequently finished in Nicaraguan rum, releasing waves of spicy creaminess, vanilla warmth and a rum character worthy of pirates. The cocktail comprised a Small Batch base with Teeling's own vanilla liqueur, a homemade cinnamon and apple syrup, and chamomile and lavender "Put the cat out" tea from local suppliers Wall and Keogh. The result was a warming, floral delight that was perfect to brighten up a dull winter's day.

Despite it being but early in the day, Jim decided to go for the top tier of tastings, sampling the Single Malt, Revival II and a port wood single cask. The Single Malt was a delightful blend of 6 casks: bourbon, madeira, port, Cabernet Sauvignon, White Burgundy and sherry. Figs and forest berry massive on the nose, with a canteloupe freshness following up. The finish was reminiscent of sweet port, but with a dry finish and a touch of saltiness towards the end.

The second release of the Teeling Revival was aged for 12 years in bourbon and then for a final year in calvados barrels, resulting in a wonderful vanilla sweetness and a rounded body that is rich and smooth on the palate, and an apple pie finish.

Finally was the distillery exclusive single cask - an eight year old whiskey finished for a year in port wood, and bottled at 60% cask strength. A pale and delicate colour, but with bold flavours of dark chocolate and rich fruits with a huge black forest gateau character.

We completed our trip with lunch in the cafe, delicious sandwiches and more Wall & Keogh tea rounding off a great experience. A highly recommended destination for anyone fancying a break from all that Guinness!


Jim & Laura