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Eefnin all,

tonight I have been very pleased to open a mini keg of Abbeydale Absolution. Whilst writing up it's pouring on Faceache I claimed it was probably the first Abbeydale beer I ever tasted. I remember said event was at the Cask and Cutler, now the Wellington again, on Henry street. But am not so sure whether Abbeydale started out with both Absolution as well as Moonshine, or one or the other. And this got me thinking....

Nearly a year ago (give or take a few weeks) I had a grain injury, and readers may already be aware that this has affected my memory - initial tests suggested that both my recent and long term memories had been affected, but strangely, including references to old beermats by John Clarke in his recently re-ignited posts, I appear to be managing somewhat better with longer ago memories. Which in this case at least is good news - since the SCBIRT in Sheffield suggested it may take a further three to six years for me to recall more of my memories.

I remember when Abbeydale started. Neil and Sheila at the Cask and Cutler had got two casks of their very first output, and I remember trying and enjoying both of them. Unless it was just one? If I am right, am thinking that Patrick Morton used to brew or have some involvement with Kelham Island Brewery. This is something that he may also share with Canadian James who currently owns Neepsend brewery. Alas am not sure he ever was involved at Abbeydale but in fairness that matters little - because my dip into excellent Absolution tonight revived memories of a pre Daily bread beer from the same brewery.

It took me a while to remember, and I did think of asking my chums on Faceache if they could remember it's name. Am not 100% sure but I am likewise fairly certain that thy do not brew this anymore. So what was it called., and where did I try it?

It was called Matins, and, if my otherwise frothy memory comes out OK, I think this pale ale was 3.6%. Where I first tried it is a puzzle, because I tried it a number of times initially. However, the first time I can remember was at the wonderful Three Stage Heads in Wardlow Mires, probably in 1998, or 1999. WF was still driving coaches at that point and invited me to the Yondeman's cafe (or one of many other names) across the road from the pub for some Sunday morning scran, before he set off to pick up his passengers. After the nosh I distinctly remember nipping across to the Three Stags Heads just as it opened - I was very much the first customer of the day.

I recall that then, and on the 30th December that same year, the pub was served by a lass behind the bar whose name absolutely escapes me. Although it was twenty one and a half years ago. She was possibly a friend or family member of one of the two owners, and It was a short period where they had Matins on cask - I remember I had three pints of it due to its lower strength. My friend Christingpher also had some when we visited just before New Year's Eve. For reasons not that important, I also recall that this was my first ever visit to the Red Lion in Litton - taken over at least twice since and very much improved, I remember sitting outside, maudlin, with a half of something bland, and being very much surprised on my return to find that the pub had improved immensely. But I digress...

I recall that as well as the three pints or perhaps two pints and a half of Matins I moved up to the excellent Absolution. This and other experiences started a lengthy love of Absolution - which despite my well known desire for and stated appreciation of hoppy and fruity DIPA's, remains one of my favourite beers. When me and Tash went on our first ever night away we stayed in Litton and after a meal in the Red Lion we walked to the Stags and really enjoyed a night of Absolution and lemon peppered tomatoes sat listening to Jeff (or maybe Geoff) and Pat.

The next time I recall hearing a reference, never mind tasting Matins, I was in the Gardener Rest with Pat and Eddy and Tim and another guy who were setting up the Sheffield Brewery Company. I was tasting their decent standard pale ale and as they thought I may know my stuff, asked me for my opinions about the same against perhaps, the output of Abbeydale. They rightly recognised the excellence of their, at that time, astutely pale beers such as Moonshine, and suggested they might try and brew a slightly more traditional version of Matins. I admit that I had seen it less and less, and wasn't aware at that point of plans for Daily Bread, so I assumed it was still in production and suggested that it would have to be quite different, in order to compete.

Alas, at some stage in the noughties am certain Matins was scrapped, and at some time in the last twelve years they introduced Daily Bread as their lower gravity offering. Tonight's experience however, has shown me how much the excellent Absolution has meanwhile firmly stayed in my heart and palate thereafter.


Wee Beefy