This past weekend, MrsBeerSnob and I had the pleasure of attending one of our oldest friends wedding in Belper in Derbyshire.
Now, expecting a similar dearth of craft beer, as is usually experienced here in Ireland, we were pleasantly surprised to see that the hotel itself, had it’s own Ale served via handpump, and a range of bottles from local brewery Peak Ales
I tried a few of their beers, and I enjoyed the Bakewell Best Bitter, with a matching pint glass no less, and all for a very reasonable £3.80 a bottle. so approximately €4.50. No craft tax here, infact, it was cheaper than Peroni!
The house ale, Makeney Ale, was cellared a little too cool for my liking, but it had a vibrant nose, and was easy at 3.8% volume. A nice little beer, and did the job nicely. I must give the hotel credit here for supporting a locally made product. Something our own could learn a think of two from. Even my golf club doesn’t stock the locally made beer.
It’s utterly hypocritical of Publicans and Hoteliers to expect it’s patrons to “support local” when they themselves only pay that sentiment lip service. In a lot of cases they’re getting food from local suppliers and producers, but in the main the beer is usually your mainstream nonsense. Given that nearly every county has a brewery now, why not stock their product? Even if it was bottles! Anyway, I digress.
While we were there, we discovered a lovely bar at the top of a hill called Holly Bush Inn, a very typical English country pub. A range of ales on the pumps, simple bar snacks available, such as pork pies, cheese and meat boards, and pickles! The lounged serving food also. The beauty of this type of bar, is it’s simplicity. It just does simple things right.
Janice saw an old favourite on the bar, a Timothy Taylor Landlord, and she just had to have it. I went will a beer by Abbeydale called The Sipper. A Session IPA, or SIPA! Do you see what I did there? The Landlord was it’s usual dependable self, but the SIPA was a bit of a surprise, being an eminently sessionable beer at 3.7% it was full of flavour and definitely one you could sip on all day.
Another striking thing was that dogs were more than welcome, and MrsBeerSnob wasted no time making friends with a Pug named Penny, and a Setter called Eric.
We’d one more there before we left, basically Thornbridge, while we see their regular stuff here, these were two specials. ExAlted, a collab with Magic Rock – a modern take on a German Altbier, and Fika, a big breakfast stout, brimming with coffee & chocolate flavours.
On our way back for our flight from Manchester, we stopped in the town of Buxton in the Peak District. There was only going to be one stop on the agenda, Buxton Tap House, the tap room of Buxton Brewery. It’s long been on our agenda to get a stop there.
On a dull dreary Saturday afternoon, we got there early, we were there for 12 and there was a nice little crowd in, a mix of people taking a break from their shopping, to people sampling the alcoholic wares of the establishment.
First up for the Mrs was a lovely fresh Axe Edge, one of Buxton’s several IPAs. I’d a lovely Americano made with Hasbean Coffee. I was looking enviously at the draft list, and spotted the Omnipollo Bianca Blueberry Gose and figured i’d have a third. At a low ABV of only 3.5% this was a lovely refreshing drop. In fact they serve in 1/3 measures up to Pint, and 2/3 for the stronger stuff. It’s the stuff that Beer Tickers salivate over! Of course from a more practical perspective, it allows you to taste more beers. Even where they suggest a half of a strong beer, you can ask for a third and be charged appropriately. Why, oh, why, do we not see a similar option here?
We sampled several of Buxton’s beers over the course of the lunch stop. Which by the way was amazing, we just had a light enough bite of Nachos and Mac N Cheese with Candied Bacon. But the show stopper of the afternoon was MrsBeerSnob’s Chocolate Ice Cream Brown Ale, which is a collab with Buxton and Omnipollo. The trick here is to ask for it with Ice cream. What they do is pour half from the tap, and the other half from a slushy machine. It sounds so bonkers it shouldn’t work. But it does. Not only do you get the chocolatey flavours from the ale, but you still get the bitterness there. A truly unique experience and one i’d love to try again.
All in all, we were most impressed by our visit, and it certainly will not be our last.