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Hello again,

I am aware that aspects of this latest post may seem quite familiar to the one I posted last month about Matins from Abbeydale Brewery. Not least because memories - or a distinct lack of the same - are once again involved. This time however, instead of just memories and guesstimations, the real reason for my post is to share praise. For a classic beer brewed by Abbetdale Brewery, previously only available at a single pub, and due to the insufferable national closure of pubs, now available to all.

Back in the nineties, soon after Abbeydale started, and possibly on only my second or third visit to the same, I tasted some Abbeydale Black Lurcher in the Three Stags Heads at Wardlow Mires in Derbyshire. On my first visit the beers were all, or all apart from one, from Hoskins and Oldfield Brewery in Leicestershire. There was a bitter, a strong ale and an even stronger ale if memory serves. But when I discovered that Abbeydale Brewery in sunny Sheffield were supplying all their beers, I also became aware of a beer called Black Lurcher.

The first issue comes from strength. Checking on the Abbeydale Brewery website Archive of beers, Black Lurcher is listed as 7.0%. I also currently have a mini keg of this wonderous product and it is once again shown as 7.0%. Strangely I seem to recall it being 8%. And this is something I have found, on the tinterweb as well - including a blog called Beertalk. That said its not actually the strength of this fine ale that matters. its just it's fabulous taste. And that is in abundance.

The other thing to point out is the name - numerous websites (on the tinterweb, where everything is true, remember) state that the beer is named after one of the many pub dogs, one of which was the very same, a black lurcher. On my first visit I distinctly remember the lurchers - who are very large, and very dosile, most of the time - as well as a small dog which used to sit quite often with or near landlord Geoff. I understand the dog passed away sadly many years ago, but it is one thing that I specifically recall on a number of visits. Not how to spell the landlord's name alas.....

So, the beer - it is black. And it is, despite it's strength, a very easy drinking tipple. There is bitterness in there as well as dark maltiness and there is sweetness in the taste, but it sits soulfully and carefully at the front of the sup, and the aftertaste is mostly malty bitterness. And to state once again - it is very easy to drink. If you want to read other thoughts of mine about this there is something here... a point in time (2012 it says) when it appears that the pub bottled the beer themselves, a fact proven by my brother WK's visit in that year and never actually confirmed by the fab folk at either the pub or at Abbeydale brewery. I recall finishing there with WK, Chala and Christingpher in 2010 or thereabouts after a lengthy trip around much of Derbyshire and Staffordshire before Chris went down to Bath to study before becoming a teacher. Chris, a man of strong wills, definitely had a whole pint of this. His description of the beer was of it being an immense undertaking. It's also the Three Stags Heads where me and him went in late December 1999 and absolutely loved it.

The last point to make is that I also remember that around the same time that Black Lurcher - and indeed Last Rites - was produced, that Abbeydale produced a strong beer called King James the....third? Or James the....number. It was brewed especially for former brewer or employee James who had taken on the running of the New Barrack Tavern in Sheffield, also in the late nineties. Unfortunately the brewery website Archive is a very long list of beers and so whilst it may well be on there, I did not find it before finding the reference to Black Lurcher.

Finally, its one of the few benefits of this awful undertaking of pub closures that Abbeydale had some Black Lurcher spare and were able to sell it, and both myself and Wee Keefy were able to purchase a mini keg of this fabulous brew. Long may this beer last in my house - although am afraid to say it will probably all be gone by tomorrow. Meanwhile, long may Abbeydale continue to supply it to the excellent Three Stags Heads at Wardlow Mires after they reopen, and long may they continue to brew it. If it is still available I would strongly suggest that you purchase some......

A classic beer for a classic pub.


Wee Beefy.