Two Nights’ Drinking: Pilsner Urquell, Moonshine & Reliance’s Best Bitter

Moonshine

Moonshine, because I didn't take any photos

Thursday night was always going to be a good one. The combination of a trip to try some food at Calls Landing stew and oyster bar (great cheeses and stew, plus, unexpectedly, two real ales: Theakston Best and Copper Dragon on tap), then a rum tasting at Boutique (I may have been an hour late, but one can hardly complain about free daiquiri, rum punch and rum and ginger), then a trip to Leeds Brewery’s nicest bar, Pin can never been a bad night, really.

Events at Pin picked up though when we realised that they were giving punters free half pints of Pilsner Urquell – all you had to do was hand then all your contact info and you were away.

Having little concern for personal privacy and data protection, I merrily signed away on my work email, address and phone number in return for a free drink and was pleasantly surprised.

It’s not a life changing beer, by no means. But the skunky, sweetness on the nose (it smelt a lot like the scent the nearby Tetley brewery unleashes once a month – or maybe that smell was prevalent in the bar) was a highlight, and it was very drinkable indeed. Golden with a decent creamy head, it gives off a citrusy flavour and a nice hoppy bitterness with the citrus spice well balanced with the creamy smoothness. A nice session beer, and well worth signing away your privacy form if not handing over cash.

Back to tonight, and a trip to my post-work local The Reliance (handily situated next door to my office). Barnsley’s Acorn brewery have been brewing a Reliance Best Bitter for the pub for a while now and though it means they only ever have one guest at a time these days, it’s a very reliable house special.

A dark nut-brown ale, the hops and malt are well balanced. The flavours would please both a fan of dark, stronger beers (despite being less than 4%) while not putting off those looking for an easier-drinking session beer. In short, a great post-work pint.

More interesting in Abbeydale Brewery’s Moonshine – the other offering at The Reliance. An intriguing pale ale with strong floral notes on the nose and a citrus hit on the palate (predominately grapefruit). It’s dead popular in its homeland Sheffield and you can see why. It’s interesting without being downright odd, and would win over fans of blander pale ales. As for me, I’ve been supping this for a few years now, thanks to a Sheffield-living brother, and it’s won me over to Abbeydale’s product. It’s a quality (and local) brewery.

So, what better way to finish than a forced conclusion of hooray for Leeds’ bars!

Find out more about Pin and The Reliance

Caldera Pale Ale

A can of Caldera Pale Ale

A can of Caldera Pale Ale

The first thing you notice about this beer is that it’s IN A CAN. Surely no good beers come in a can these days. Look at the shelves of any respectable beer merchant and it’s all bottles and bottles. No cans.

Cans have connotations of nasty, cheap lager, not quality, hand-crafted ales. Yet one craft brewery in Oregon is making the stand for the can. Why, well there reasons are that cans protect the beer from light and oxidation – thus keeping a better quality of product when it comes out of the can and hits your tongue. So far so valid. They also claim that the can is less easy to break than glass (more on that later) and is lighter and more likely to be allowed in beaches, sports arenas and the likes, where bottles have long been banned.

That claim of cans being harder to break is disputable. This blog post has come some seven days later than it should have done. Why? Well because the first 355ml of Caldera Pale Ale ended up all over the street outside my house when my box of beers fell to the floor, resulting in four breakages from the 10 beers bought. Surprisingly enough, the can was one of the victims. We didn’t see that coming.

Turns out our pavement had a bit of a treat with this one. While the can makes this beer look more like some cheap fruity soft drink than a quality pale ale, the flavour tells you something quite different. On pouring the beer looks fantastically golden and clouded, with a bitter hoppy nose with hints of citrus.

The can suggests that you “keep [it] cool, just like you”. I’m not so sure. While serving it nice and cool means it’s thoroughly refreshing, with a sharp, bitter, crisp front and an intriguing floral (sagey perhaps?) flavour comes through, it’s only as the drink gains some heat that it shows off its real class, with a rich, warm malty flavour hitting in at the end – the kind of strength you’d expect from a 5.5% ale.

The old adage “never judge a book by its cover” comes into good use here. This can may not look like much – it looks pretty crap, if we’re honest, but the beer inside puts a number of more well-known American Pale Ales to shame. By far the best beer I’ve ever had out of a can.

355ml, 5.5%, for more info see www.calderabrewing.com. This beer is available at Beer Ritz.