during the (literally and metaphorically ) foggy days of the Christmas break, I did manage to to visit a few pubs that i don't usually do, and some new ones, so here is a quick run down.
Between Christmas and new year me and Wee Keefy went out for a drive between Barnsley and Penistone, coming off the M1 at Darton. We were soon out into countryside heading for a very British experience, going for a drive and then a a walk in dense fog, and visiting a pub renowned for its views.
The Cherry Tree at High Hoyland has been in the GBG for a good few years now ( possibly not 2011 ) and is a traditional long stone building, which, i am assured, affords spectacular views to the visitor. Alas, the fog put paid to that idea, but I was feeling good about my choice when I saw a chalkboard sign outside advertising a husband creche. Inside is a long bar and 3 different areas, the end two being intended, I think for diners.
The beer was Black Sheep and something Greedy King based, and possibly another national. Much is made in the last 2 beer guides about the Eastwood and Sanders beers, which, from personal experience, i can confirm are excellent. There didn't look much chance of a guest beer though so opted for the Sheep, which was a well kept if uninspiring choice.
In keeping with the British theme, we were able to witness some archetypal British service when a customer rang requiring a table for 20 or so for that afternoon. The lady at the bar was very helpful and went to chck the bookings in what is a notoriously quiet period after Christmas, but the bloke at the bar, who i wished for the pub's sake was a customer but later it seemed more like he worked there, chuntered loudly about the potential customers lack of planning and called them wankers. When the lady returned it seemed that was not heard by the customer on the phone, but that is a miracle. The grumpy bloke carried on complaining after she had finished the conversation, which gave the bar person chance to say just how few customers they had of late, and to suggest that it was customers that helped him get paid. We left thinking that this wouldn't happen in other places in Europe, where thy appreciate the custom and sometimes the company of visits, and do not share our bizarre mind set of customers being an inconvenience that keeps us away from doing what we love.
Anyway, we headed on through the soup and into West Yorkshire and the village of Emley. The fog was so thick here that even when we found the White Horse you almost couldn't see it through the mists. Inside there were about 8 ales on the bar as you enter and a long room with a real fire and a large tastefully decorated Christmas tree, with another room off and one at the end.
We had the Ossett Christmas beer and a strong stout from Fernandes and another porter, which I think was from Ossett. Adding friendly and helpful staff and customers meant we would, with hindsight, have come straight here. A must return to pub I reckon.
Next we headed for Ingbirchworth and the reservoir, where we had our walk in the fog. The dense plumes on the frozen reservoir made an eerie and surprisingly photogenic subject and it was an enjoyable if brief couple of miles round and back to the car. From here we headed to Victoria - by accident, and the pub wasn't open anyway - before making our way to flouch and on to the Dog and Partridge at Hazelhead.
Inside this very large roadside inn is a comparatively small old wooden bar, with 4 handpumps dispensing Barnsley bittier ( which I had ) a regional and a Robinsons guest - Wee Keefy had a hot drink since he was driving. There is also an enormous fireplace with a fire roaring away, although you probably have to queue to get a seat at the table nearest to it. For all its old world features there's no escaping that this is a food orientated pub, but it was a decent pint of Acorn nonetheless, and a nice change.
Back to Sheffield news, and in January I visited the Sportsman at Lodge moor, heading out to Redmires. I was meeting for a family meal, and this too is a pub that makes a lot of its money and attracts a lot of its patrons from food. The Sunday lunch comes highly recommended ( not stingy with the meat ) and there are two real ales, tetley and Landlord. I had a few pints of the landlord which was nice, but the price is steep - £3.20 a pint (if my maths is right) making it nearer to town prices.
The thing is though, the pub is always full when I have been in the last 4 times, and I'd rather have sensibly priced food with two albeit standard expensive real ales, than expensive food and nothing to sup.
My final news is of them what er in town. To my surprise, the other night All bar One was selling real ale with two somewhat overly modern handpumps in evidence, Black Sheep and Sharps Doom Bar being on offer, not sure of the price. This is supplemented with some excellent continental draught beers such as Rothaus wheat beer and Paulaner lager from Germany, and Sierra Nevada from the U.S, a fine strong hoppy pale ale ( which is orange in colour, but will let them off ) which packs in a huge amount of flavour. Granted its not everyones idea of a pub, and it can be pricey, but its still a positive development to see cask available.
Round on Trippets lane, the Trippets wine bar (above) is open as a pub, with predominantly Thornbridge and Kelham beers on, but all locally brewed. We go in fairly regularly, probably once a fortnight, and the picture above us from our anniversary drinks back in October last year.
Over the road, the Grapes, for decades a music pub with a strangely ultra traditional interior, has always had a Flynns sign on the side. It turns out the Flynns own the Grapes but leased it, as well as the Dog and Partridge. The Grapes now has a traditional carpeted interior and, alas, no pool table, but one piece of excellent news is that they have reopened the snug bar on the left. I admit that regulars of the Grapes who went for the music are likely to be bewildered and disappointed by what is quite a big change, but the bigger impact appears to be on the dog and partridge.
Visiting the other night was like stepping into an empty house, with almost nobody in, only Tetley on the bar ( I know it was never renowned for real ale but usually had some Abbeydale on, which has been retained at the Grapes ) and absolutely no atmosphere. Hopefully this won't see the decline of this great old building, with its fantastic and unusual back snug, and the small room on the left. I will certainly go to the dog and partridge again to see how it is going, but I can't overemphasise the change. So overall positive real ale news and some new pubs that i have tried. I will update again soon on South Derbyshire and elsewhere.