Saturday, February 10, 2018

Zero Waste Beer


Dry January is over. With most people getting back to their usual drinking routine, I thought it would be quite fitting to give you some ideas about Zero Waste booze. And because we live in Sheffield which is heaving with craft beer and real ale culture, it would be rude not to dedicate the whole post to beer. But as you know me by now, there has to be a Zero Waste twist to it! I am not a beer expert but I tend to hang around with people who know their difference between a lager and a real ale and it was inevitable that I experience some of that through many conversations and pubs visits. It is just one of those things about living in Sheffield- chances are that you will experience this wonderful side of drinking culture which focuses less on getting hammered and more on enjoying and discovering local beers all whilst having a good catch up with your friends. 

                                                     Quite the usual sight in Sheffield 

Beer usually comes in glass bottles and cans which is a lot better than with other foods and drinks. Just a bit of warning. Whatever you do, you should not drink beer that comes in a plastic bottle. The fact that it comes in plastic is a reason alone but this stuff would not be touched even by the most frugal students around here, and they have been known to drink some interesting combos! Recycling is better than just throwing something away and glass is a really good option. However, there are better solutions as you are still using up resources. If you have no other possibility than to buy glass beers or cans (or you like to experiment with beers from different breweries or countries) it is a good compromise.


                                              Some of our local ales in glass bottles 

The best options are often the simplest ones and in this instance, it is to get your beer where it was always meant to be enjoyed - in the pub. There is such a pub culture in Britain. This is where people socialise, meet up, go on dates, eat, chill, play board games(!) and read books just to name a few. And the environment is so conducive to conversation, especially when the pub is located in the Peak District with roaring fires and a large selection of cask ales. It is the answer to a closed coffee shop at 5 pm. Although I’m not much of a drinker, I am a sucker for these sort of places and I appreciate that it is a good platform for a bit of time to yourself or meeting up with your friends, ideally after a walk in the Peaks! 


                   Is there something better than a post-walk seat by the fire? 

Wherever you go in Sheffield, you will get your beer served on tap (unless you ask for a bottle or a can of course). It comes in a glass which differs from beer to beer. Who would have thought that beer would taste different depending on what it is served in? And there is no waste which is a pretty good solution to me!


        Can you classify a solitary beer as an opportunity for mindfulness? Photo by Sid Dongre


 The bonus is that you can often taste hundreds of different beers which all vary depending on where you are.  Over the years we have been to lots of pubs in Sheffield. Some are more modern than others, some are pretentious and some are just awesome.  


                         One of the most awesome pubs in Sheffield- The Blake Hotel 

One of our favourites is The Blake Hotel which is the best kept secret of Sheffield. The beer is a lot cheaper than in most places but it is very well kept. The staff know their thing or two about beer and so you can get some good recommendations. It is also the sort of place that you know you are going to have a really productive few hours – good chat, relax, and some mindfulness by staring out of the window contemplating life and the flavour that you are experiencing. I have also had the most intense game of Scrabble that I have ever played in there!  


                               Who said that board games don't belong to the pub? 

If you have some friends round and you want to take your beer with you, there is a solution. Reusable containers! You can ask to get your jar/glass filled up in any pub. It will stay fresh for a few hours so that you can take it home and drink it with your buddies later on. You can use any containers really and in fact, my Kleen Kanteen has been used before for this purpose. Pubs are starting to do take away beer as a normal option now and they often provide tetra packs which we kindly refuse and use our containers instead! The Sheffield Tap is one of those pubs which serves a selection of well-kept beers and is conveniently located at the train station. So fill your boots and make your train journey a bit more of an experience.


                               Take away option sorted for today - photo courtesy of Sid Dongre 

With the boom of small independent shops in Sheffield, there are now lots of options of getting Zero Waste beer through a bottle refill scheme. The aim wasn’t necessarily Zero Waste but the result is,  which is fantastic. You buy a bottle from them to start with and get delicious beer in it to take home with you. Next time you come, just bring that bottle and get it filled up again. If you decide that you no longer want it (I imagine this rarely happens) -you can return the bottle and get your money back. Just like the bottle return scheme in some European countries but with the difference that you can get some delicious beer. Brilliant. 


                                          Zero Waste Option - and it looks so appetising!  

There are a few places that we venture to but our favourite ones are located within a walking distance to each other so we usually get a different beer from both. This way, you support more than one small business which is a great thing in my books!


Independent shops - you get to know the people who live in your local community who make it what it is 

Hop Hideout is conveniently located on our way home from the climbing wall which is a good excuse to pop in. The owners are super friendly and you always end up having a chat. The place is really cosy and comfortable and you feel like you are at their home, in the living room. You can have a beer inside this cosy den (called the tasting room) or take it home with you to enjoy later.  Sounds like a good post climbing recovery don’t you think? You can pick from a selection of bottles or beers on draft which they update on a regular basis and get a little taste to see if you like it. This is another great thing about Sheffield- you can ask to taste beers. Don’t trust an establishment which doesn’t allow you to do that! When you choose your beer, they just fill your glass bottle and off you go home with some tasty beer which will keep for a week due to some carbonation magic – that is if you can manage that long without opening it up. You can get a tag to go with it (fully recyclable) if you are buying more than one so that you know which one is which. 


                                                          This week's favourite  

Turners Craft Beer Shop which is just around the corner has a similar offer. They stock lots and lots of beers in glass containers, both local and from abroad and have a really good Zero Waste option. I really love their growlers which have a prominent place in the shop as to encourage more people to use this refill system. They use a machine which carbonates the beer so that it keeps up to 6 weeks. I was pretty mesmerised by that piece of kit! 


     A pretty cool piece of kit isn't it? Thanks to this, your beer can keep for up to 6 weeks 

So if you are looking for some Zero Waste gifts for someone, why not give them a beer like this? Ask for a tag to go with it (or make your own from recycled materials which is an even better option) and you can show the lucky recipient the best of Sheffield’s pub culture, no matter whereabouts in the UK they live!


                        Never trust a pub which doesn't let you taste the beer first 

I hope that it is clear that I am not promoting the drinking culture that you associate with stag weekends in Magaluf. This is very different. The pub culture that we have in Sheffield is an experience and something to be enjoyed. Yes, it may occasionally lead to some drunken conversations and stumble home late on a school night but somehow, you wake up in a morning and there are no new tattoos on your arm, police knocking on your door or residue of sick in your bed, just a great memory of a nice time with your friends.


                     The culprits responsible for most of my pub experiences 
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