Beer in Derbyshire, UK

Beer in Derbyshire, UK

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. dsc01093-collage

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.

#GoldenPints 2015 – Our look back over a great year for beer.

Ok, so we may be cutting this close to the finish line for 2015, but here’s our look back over the last 12 months in Beer in Ireland and beyond. This should be fun! There may be arguments as we write this!! (Janice’s are in Italics)

Best Irish Cask Beer 
As we all know, Cask is a rare beast on these shores, but there are some notable exceptions. There are some bars pouring some quality Irish Beer on cask. Oddly, Janice & I are in mutual agreement on the winner. We first had the luck of having it pouring at our festival in Smyth’s during the summer, but got to revisit it in Porterhouse Temple Bar with Will Siss who proclaimed it his favourite beer of the evening. None other than Brehon Brewhouse Shanco Dubh

Best Irish Keg Beer
Now, this is where it gets really difficult. There has been a large number of standout brews this year which have genuinely given loads of pleasure. But as Highlander says, “There can only be one!” for me, the beer that gave me a genuine Wow experience was McGargles Francis’ Banging IPA, this is the beer that should change a lot of peoples perceptions, as this was such a juicy banger. I’m so happy it’s widely available in Bottle too.

Those loveable scamps from O’Brother Brewing have announced themselves to the Irish Beer audience with a sequence of excellent beers, my favourite of theirs is Bonita a juicy delicious Black IPA. I really hope to see this again.

Best Irish Bottle Beer

Only one winner for me, 200 Fathoms by Galway Bay especially after we reviewed it with the Beer O’Clock Show recently after the bottles had been conditioning for a good number of months after. Such an amazing beer and can’t wait for the 2016 edition

Our favourite Antipodeans Scott & Cam of 8 Degrees have regularly been knocking it out of the park this year. My favourite though was Polar Vortex which highlighted that classic hop Cascade in a great IPA.

Best Irish Canned Beer

Not too many potential winners here, given canning is relatively new to these shores, but if anything Blacks Kinsale Pale Ale is a shining example of a beer perfectly suited to this medium. Keeping this beer ultra fresh for enjoyment. Also being reasonably priced this helps. We’re looking forward to trying more Irish Beers in Can in 2016

Best Overseas Draught

Oh good lord, how is one to choose only one here! This year we’ve had some truly amazing beers on our travels. Really it’s such a difficult one. But for me it’s going to be a beer I had at Indyman in Manchester back in October. For me it was the amazing Yellow Belly Sundae collab by Buxton & Omnipollo. 1st beer of the Saturday session a true pleasure.

Again reaching back into the Indyman box, was the Key Lime Tau brewed at Hawkshead in collaboration with Crooked Stave just tasted like liquid Key Lime Pie. Amazing

Best Overseas Bottle

Wow this is another tough one. For me, I adore hoppy beers. So it’s literally a toss up for me between Brewdog Born to Die 27.11 or Cloudwater DIPA both absolutely amazing beers. Got to try the two pretty close together in Manchester back in November. I think the Born to Die just sniffs it for me, as they’d balanced it out better than their first version. A truly great beer, and delicious fresh
For me, it was another tough choice, while I loved Born to Die. The best foreign bottle beer i’d had this year was Mikkeller Crooked Moon DIPA such unbelievable fruity flavours. 

Best Overseas Can

Well we’re getting a fair few overseas cans over here. But my caveat for this is as yet i’ve not drank Cannonball in Can’s yet. So it’s not there. It’s a straight up choice for me between Beavertown Power of Voodoo DIPA and Vocation Life & Death. The Vocation beer just pips it, on the basis that i’ve had all the cans in their range now and Life & Death just sings in this format.

As if there weren’t enough reasons to get more Roosters beers over here, but really enjoyed the Baby Faced Assassin that we got in a care package 

Best Collaboration

Only one winner for me. Buxton & Omnipollo combining for Yellow Belly Sundae. Although I was genuinely impressed by the Irish Collaboration between Stone Barrel Brewing and Simon Lambert’s & Sons – the Stone Belly IPA was genuinely great. 

My favourite collaboration was Key Lime Tau by Hawkshead & Crooked Stave

Best Overall Beer

For me Brewdog’s Born to Die 27.11 was the best beer in 2015, however really honourable mentions to Shanco Dubh and Francis’ Bangin IPA as they are available a lot more easily. 

My favourite Beer of 2015 was Bonita by O’Brother Brewing

Best Branding

I personally love the branding on the O’Brother Brewing bottles as it stands out from the crowd. The sleekness of the Wicklow Wolf is also very good. But showing growing maturity as a brand, the labelling on the 8 Degrees portfolio, especially the specials is fantastic.

I love 8 Degrees branding for me. Notable mentions to Mountain Man, and Black’s of Kinsale

Best Pumpclip

As far as standout pump clips go O’Brother Brewing Bonita surely got them chattering. Which we both loved. Great to see them work with an Irish artist for their labelling.

Best Irish Brewery

For me, 8 Degrees this year just pip it from some of the others. A really solid range, and a regular slew of specials throughout the year. Well done lads looking forward to seeing what you come up with in 2016

Relatively new to the table i’m going with O’Brother Brewing who have some great American style beers, and aren’t afraid to use hops, as well as some great specials like Brutus, and Joe that show they’re more than a one trick pony.

Best Overseas Brewery

Based on the range of beers they produce alone, and their collaborations, Buxton Brewery have really impressed us, we’re looking forward to trying more of their wares in 2016. Axe Edge is a really good IPA that would challenge any other beers out there.

Best Pub / Craft Beer Bar

Based purely on range of Irish craft on draft i’d give it to them alone, however add in their quality food offering and genuine hospitality, 57 The Headline is my favourite. It’s well worth the short trip out to Clanbrassil St

How could I not say Brew Dock after all, we’ve been pretty much drinking their since it opened. It’s had a paint job, and rumour has it they’ll have more taps on soon!

Best Beer Festival

We didn’t attend the Irish Craft Beer Festival this year as we were in Belgium at the time but we did attend other festivals. Abv Fest in Belfast back in May was a great event in a great location. There was also the Alltech Brews & Food Festival in February. But our favourite experience this year was Indyman a truly unique festival with a great vibe and great people.

Independent Retailer / Online of the Year

Usually when buying beer I buy it off line, and spread it around a few indy off licences. Baggot St Wines, Carryout Tyrellstown, Winehouse Trim, Drinkstore. All truly great places. Too hard to pick a winner, but if I had to, it’d be The Winehouse in Trim, mainly as it’s local and I can get there in 10 minutes. For Online Drinkstore is hard to beat. We have used Brewdog online a bit this year and they know how to package their deliveries! 
Best Beer Blog or Website

There can only be one – BeerOClock Show – a nicely laid out site with blog, podcasts and other bits and bobs. We also enjoy Simon Says You Should Drink This, The Beernut, Belgian Smaak and Total Ales.

Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer 

It would have to be Tom of @CraftBeerHour he has created a truly great thing with #Craftbeerhour and we love to take part. It was great to meet him recently, and who knows what the future may hold collaboration wise! 🙂

Best Brewery Website / Social Media

For Website – 8 Degrees all day long, they always have info on their new beers including recommended food pairings and tasting notes
For Social Media – O’Haras do a great job via their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds.

Thanks for reading our Golden Pints!