As usual, there is still time to bail out, and much of this entry consists of re-reviews rather than new ales, so there's a dash of Midlands and the South thrown in for good measure. Would you like to know more?
The first ales were had on the Friday evening after a second visit to the Tap Room in Duffield - alas, I was driving and so was unable to partake of some rather good ales on offer. It's got waiter service, plenty of selection, it's own bottles (though the brewery is at Calke Abbey) and some really rather nice pies (with wholegrain mustard). I can sense I shall have to pop up via bus at some point to sample their wares properly, maybe next time I patronise Matlock Bath or Belper way. Anyway, a good pie there and some good company set the scene for an evening of relaxation and ale once back home.
The first up of the evening was Ilkley Pale Ale from the Ilkley Brewery at 4.2% ABV that I last had sometime last year (see this link) when it was a gift from my Leeds host.
Second up was my first revisit of Golden Sheep from Black Sheep Brewery since January 2013 (see this link) at 4.7% ABV. I was not impressed back then.
Third in this bevy of rather esoteric reviews was the half I grabbed in my local on the way back from shopping. This was Planchette Porter from Full Mash at 4.8% ABV.
Finally, I brought out the T.E.A. from Hog's Back Brewery that I have had in the fridge for the best part of a month. 4.2% ABV and an amber. See this link for the last time.
Winner, if such a thing is possible, was the Planchette Porter but it was an unfair contest. The bottled ales aren't really meant to be world beaters, they are drinking ales to have at home and, preferably, with company. Decent, forgiving, and potentially good with a meal. The Porter was more of a social affair that could be had without sharing, it was designed to be had in a pub setting, with friendly publicans and a big pork pie on a platter with some mustard and pork scratchings. That's why it wins, it was had in its natural habitat and went well.