I recently had time to kill after an appointment at the Northern General. I had been going out later anyway so had made no plans for getting home, although my original arrangement had been cancelled. It was a nice sunny day so I went for a walk, intending to catch up with the Corner Pin on Carlisle street and the East House.
The walk to the Pin took quite some time, I know the route onto Upwell Street and you can either head up and then down to the Pin past the Hallcar Tavern, or right down to the railway bridge and along which is what I did. Its worth pointing out that I didn't try all the pubs en route, mainly because I was heading to the two above and also beccause I wasn't hopeful of finding any real ale at the Sheffield Arms for example, although the Hallcarr sold a decent pint of Pedigree back in 2009.
Prior to reaching the Pin, I noted with dismay what a ball ache of a walk it was along desolate and dusty Carlisle Street, quite possibly the side effects from which were less halthy than the exercise. Luckily I was soon at the pub, admiring the promise of real ales on the board outside.
Alas, as the lady behind the bar explained, the handpumps are "for show " and their guest offering was Caffreys. I didn't question what had happened to the Ossett and Bradfield real ales from 2009, but in a state of dry mouthed exhaustion plumped for a half of magnet, which was invariably keg, but an acceptable enough drink.
I got chatting to two gents at the bar about pubs in the area and it was a friendly place to be, but it rankles that the sign is knowingly misleading, and that the change of ownership had resulted in the disappearance of real ale, when it was likely the only place in the area you could drink it.
So i trudged on, noting the apparrently still closed Royal Oak on a sideroad between two giant factories, and eschewing the temptation of visiting the Staffordshire, which would only be for old times sake and would not be selling anything I'd fancy drinking. I arrived at the East House to find an "under new management " sign on the door and inside, most of the artwok gone, a large speaker rig on one of the tables, and a noticable shift in the portion of the community who now owned it.
When I heard, with dismay, that the Kashmir across the road had closed, I wondered if the removal of the slow drip of irregular and one off visitors coming to buy beer and take it to the curry house, or even returning after for a pint, would affect the pub. The East House did seem to have a few regulars when I came in, usually a good mix of ages and cultures as well which is unusual for a traditional pub, but never seemed overly busy.
Now there were three handpumps still but only the Moonshine seemed to be on. The barman laboured for what seemd like 10 minutes to pull me a pint of slightly hazy moonshine, which tasted OK, but this may have had more to do with my thirst than anything else.
The barman left the pub after I had sat down and I listened in on the conversation between two guys sat at and parallell to the bar watching a rerun of the 2009 champions league final. One was from South Africa, the other Zambia, and they were earnestly discussing the changes in South Africa, as the screen flicked back to the modern day fixture about to be played. When I left, the guy at the bar asked if the beer was OK, which I confirmed was ok, and I quietly left to jump on a bus.
I don't know what the future holds for the East House as a traditional pub. Its not impossible to think that the real ale is on because of a recent change of ownership and one had been left in the cellar ready. Or perhpas there is still demand for pints to be taken to the Mangla up the road. I don't know the nationality of those running the pub or of course of its visitors, so I wouldn't try and guess how popular real ale is likely to be, but I can't be sure and am not confident that the Moonshine wiill have a place long term either. Since I have promised myself I wil try the Mangla, that will provide the opportunity to see how things develop beer wise.
Once in town I walked past the Three Cranes on Queen Street again, unfortunately there is still no sign of it opening, so I made my way to the Dog and Partridge. Here I got chatting to Bill and Stuart who, only afterwards I realised I recognised for the Bath Hotel. The irony is I had made certain I went to the Dog and was not going to let any perceived lack of customers or atmosphere deter me, but unlike last time they were now only selling Tetley. I opted for a half, and had a brief chat about the beer with the staff. This is another classic punch versus reality scenario regarding beer.
Not oly do Punch appear to be reluctant to let them choose which real ale they have as a guest, but they want to provide it instead of it coming from the brewery. This is a familiar scene from almost any pubco managed house, but this unjustifiable license to print money means Punch can charge £50.00 more than the cask should cost, which then has to be reflected in the price and met by the customers. Its situations like this which make the Governments slow stuttering amble towards reigning the pubco's in look incredibly negligent and ill thought through. Punch are quite simply bad for pubs, as are most other pubco's. Sort it out.
Next I popped into Trippets for a pint of Lord Marples and to take some pictures which I promise will appear on this post soon. One of the guests as well as the regulars, which includes the Red Lion which is almost certainley Thornbridge White Swan, was a Wentworth spring offering featuring summer fruits ( it may be spring fruits for practical reasons ). This ewasn't to my taste, but its nice to have a choice, and shows that along with the Kelham offerings theers usually a good range of styles and brewers available.
I should really have taken this opportunity to sit in the back with the high ceiling admiring the postsers and bottled beers, since I almost never seem to go in this part anymor. This is a a shame because on a sunny evening its a bright and cool place to relax, waiting for the stampede of suits which inevitably occurs after 18.00on weekdays.
From here I headed for the Wick At Both Ends, my original intended venue, and bumped into Namesake, who was somewhat incongrously drinking a vodka and coke. I opted for the Thornbridge beer, which on their website states Airtight, although i couldn't see this on the clip. They also had Sheffield brewing Co Tramlines, and, perhaps because it was now after 19.00, the beer was £2.90 a pint, not the £2.60 touted on the website. The WABE looks a tad different from when it was the Mailcoach and sold Tetleys and that empires various guests, and it no loinger seemed to have an area behind the bar where they used to have the DJ playing rock music on a Wednesday, or possibly Thursday night - my uncertainty stems from not having been in since about 1996. Insie now is comfy with plenty of seating and tables and some decent music playing.
I stopped for a pint and a catch up with Namesake but turned down the chance to try the food and went instead to the Red Deer. Here the beer range was much changed since it seemed now to include many more guests than regulars, alsa I can only remember my choice which was Castle Rock pale ale, which I washed my homemade fishcake and chips down with greatfully. I also bumped into the Bath drinkers again, now with companion James in their ranks, and suggested I may see them later on, depending on where my wander took me.
In the end I never reached the Bath but tried a few new or past places whilst I was out and about. Bar Lounge on West Street used to sell a good range of bottled beers although am unsure of its previous draught credentials, but I also noticed it had changed its name to Route 66. On entering, the music was good but there were not even any fonts tp be seen on the bar - I asked optimisticly about the range of bottled beers but only Sam Adams was even vaguely tempting, and when I politely declined to stop the barman said " we did away with all that draught tap stuff ". Whatever could he mean ?
I also looked in the Green Room to find empty handpumps yet again, although the lady behind the bar did confirm it may be back on in a couple of weeks. Further diwn Devonshire Street, I popped my head round the door of Bar Olive, but the handpump in the former Foresters pub has disappeared altogether.
So I headed for the good old Rutland, which had a good range of beer on, and, to its credit and my amazement, Hollow Hills by Bauhaus playing on the jukebox. My beer choice was Twist and Stout from Spire Brewery at an eye watering £3.10 a pint, which I supped slowly whilst listening to what else the jukebox had to offer, and smiling contently at the sign beseeching users not to play Meatloaf...
So, a mixed trip, with 1 confirmed real ale loss, a few maybes, a gain and some reliable stalwarts of the scene.