Saturday, 5 May 2012

The Bath Hotel revealed


  well, it was later than I hoped, since I was busy on opening night, but I finally got in the Bath Hotel tonight. Red of face and short of breath after an arduous trundle up from work via nobheads at the bank and idiots running the buses I was hopeful of a visit to an unchanged, unruined, even, dare we suggest an improved Bath Hotel experience.

DBH had already texted his rather more succinct review ("very little change to the innards") so I was mildly optimistic, and on entering I noticed only one change, that being a Thornbridge advert/branding on the sign outside.

Inside there were 3 Thornbridge offerings, Brock, Kipling and Wild Swan, and 3 guests, Phoenix Arizona, Allgates Napoleon's Retreat, and Dark Star American Pale Ale. I opted for the latter, given my love of Dark Star beers, and though the lively brew took a few goes to reach a full pint, I was richly rewarded. So, no reasons to cry yet, no need to engage in battle; lets look at the positives.

Principally, the positive is that nowt much has changed. A lick of paint, it seemed lighter but that's hardly factual, and it wasn't an orgy of Thornbridge ego wank on the bar. The Dark Star was, in fact, absolutely stunning - I was gutted to learn that they'd had Revelations on the opening night, as I still want to try that.

The bar has been revarnished, and you can now see all the woodwork, the stools appear to have been reupholstered, but thats because I think they were red not blue, but I am not going to claim this is a fact. The bar was busy, with a mix of after work crowds enjoying the beer and people starting a night out.

So the downsides? The horror and plague suggested, interpreted (by me, I confess) and the decline envisaged?

Well there are some downsides.

Firstly, dark grey paint. The same despairing shit they have coated the Hallamshire in. Why? What does it do? What does it say about the pub, or instill in the visitor? Gloom, is, I suspect, the answer. Also, there is no price list. Interestingly, I don't recall one before, but you are starting anew, so given recent emphasis on consumer rights and pub responsibilities am surprised this has been overlooked.

I also didn't get in the back room (but assume its not purple, baronial, pastel grey/green or light wood), and I didn't find out how much the lower gravity beer cost ( the 4.7% Dark Star was £3.10 a pint, more expensive than Shakespeares, but not exactly absurd).

There are minor changes to the outside, and it seems lighter somehow, but there appears to be nothing from my point of view to indicate that this is now suddenly a no go venue.

One thing stood out for me though. About 20 minutes into my hour long visit four blokes came in. They asked if there were any normal lagers, and on hearing the recommendations advised that they'd had them at the Sheffield Tap - the choice was Versa, and the Kolsch, Tzara. Choice discourse included far reaching assessments such as "theres two lagers and they both taste fucking shit" and "I could piss better than that". No-one is expected to be impressed or indeed pleased with such analysis, but the problem is this.

The Bath wasn't always a haven of guest beers. It has sold Tetleys for as long as I can remember and despite being a regular outlet for Tetleys Mild it wasn't exactly somewhere you'd flock for choice. During that time, and into Brian's tenure, Tetley has always been available, along with the standard, mass market brand lagers.

Now I can't see the point of moaning endlessly about the choice and staying for forty minutes "enlightening" customers with a new range of swear words and choice remarks such as (the Kolsch) "it doesn't even taste like lager" but if you don't usually drink Kolsch, and maybe favour Carlsberg as a regular (probably cheaper) tipple, Tzara and Versa are probably comparatively quite shit.

That they have removed two of the stalwart brands from the bar in the pursuit of proving how great Thornbridge is attracts rightful derision and engenders resentment. This lets the pub down following what is a surprisingly smooth and pain free transition.

Otherwise, this visit and the outlook for future trips serves as a rewarding demonstration of Thornbridge's desire to at least entertain the concerns of punters, mixed with a rather wearying lack of appreciation of context re colour scheme, and a blase approach to the mass market regular.

Wee Beefy


  1. Interesting mate, I look forward to visiting!

  2. Well I am interested in what keg beers they put on there as before the Bath Hotel had Schneiderweisse (very similar to Thornbridge Versa) and Anchor Steam Beer on draught. Will there be keg beers from other UK breweries? Or even Bernard Pilsner?

  3. Well Bernard seems possible (assuming its distribution is through Thornbridge not Pivni) but honestly, I don't know. There is certainly one, maybe two spare keg fonts so perhaps they want to gauge the crowd and then put the others in. Couldn't care less what lager they put in personally but it will be interesting to see if they go avant garde or trad....

  4. Unless the price list has fallen down it's still on the wall next to the left of the bar. I noticed it on the opening night - as a former licensing officer, I know you need one on display.

    They also sell 2 Bernard beers; The pilsner and the dark lager.

    Your complaints then:- No shit lager, no Tetleys and you don't like the paint job. However, Thornbridge haven't ruined the place and your pint of Dark Star was superb.

    Hmmm. Stinks of pointless Thornbridge bashing from where I'm standing.

    1. Thanks Daniel, alas I couldn't spot the price list, but given my eyesight thats not something I'm even willing to argue, I will look at it next time I am in.

      I didn't see any Bernard beers either - I saw one empty lager font (i.e one without a sticker showing the brand), and of course it seemed only the Versa and Tzara were being proffered, but as above I'll be in again to see for myself as the article clearly suggests - I like correcting myself so if I have been remiss that will show up in later posts...

      However, I am trifle puzzled about your summary of my complaints. Seemingly during your reading of the article (and consideration of the context in which it was written, which you would have garnered from assessing the tone and angle of the preceding three posts on the subject) you have not picked up on my positive descriptions of the interior (lighter, more wood visible), and other assertions that it has not been altered much, which was my PRIMARY concern.

      Further, the suggestion that I complained there is no shit lager is a blunt literal reporting but misunderstands my point. I personally like Tzara and Versa (see posts passim re Dada) but not everyone does. I didn't like the attitude or appreciate the crass assessments of the lager drinkers potrayed but having only Thornbridge options (or also Bernard, although thats linked to them) does nothing for punters like some of my mates who prefer, as they put it, cooking lager. I think there should be good Thornbridge lager and lager that appeals to a wider audience, as is explained in the post.

      Also, this point included the omission of Tetleys, a beer I don't like (seee posts passim). I haven't been drinking regularly in the Bath but I don't presume to know that those punters who have, would prefer not to drink it. Its a simple case of careless change - find out what the regulars want first and then decide what to stock. I am glad there is Dark Star on and the darker Thornbridge beers would often be my choice - hence my point about the Pale ale, which despite your placing in the summary isn't contradictory, rather accurately reflective of my drinking experience.

      Your last point seems ill thought through, and a touch dypsemotional (sorry, can't find a spelling for that). As you will have noted, and as I admitted, my initial fears were about what they would do with the interior, which was impeccable. They couldn't have done anything to improve it (and seriously dark grey doesn't) but nowhere is their any suggestion the place has been ruined (as indeed you point out).

      I set out my initial fears on the basis of what Thornbridge had done to the Hallmashire House, and they have (see "surprisingly smooth and pain free transition.") managed to do nothing horrendous to the Bath. However, this does not mean they deserve credit. That they have put guests on is a releif not a feather in their cap. Importantly, this is therefore not Thornbridge bashing.

      In the world of pointless Thornbridge bashing I would have first worried about a lack of guest beers and significant reckless changes to the interior and then not referenced that these fears had been allayed.

      I would also have not written anything positive, nor balanced many statements out with a but or however.

      To which end, there are 2 scene setting paragraphs, one bridge, 1 conclusion (balanced for and against) 3 positive paragraphs, and 6 to elucidate on my concerns. That means just over half of the post is not negative. Thornbridge attract criticism, for a number of reasons. My concerns were set out clearly previously and in this post, where those concerns have not been played out, that has been noted.

      It seems therefore that perhaps a reassessment is required on your part. Having two posts of criticism of what Thornbridge may do, followed by one with a tag "sarcasm" then one appraising the changes based on those initial concerns is surely the very epitome of balance. WB

  5. Arse - noticed some spelling errors. Hallamshire not Hallmashire House, see not seee, preceding may also be wrong, relief not releif as well. I still win though...

    In an astonishing U-turn, the Bath Hotel has decided to replace its Czech Pilsner with Carling after complaints on a beer blog. The new landlord is quoting as saying 'We've had some scrotes in and they were disgruntled at not having anything piss-like to get smashed on. They decided to leave, and this is where Wee Beefy's startlingly accurate prediction came true. The customers who sat at the table opposite the bar drinking Oakham beer and having a conversation felt really sorry for the 'nasty pieces of work' and walked out in protest. Obviously we want the Bath to be full of scrotes, so Carling coming back. Jaipur has also been banned to allow the glorious Tetley's back on the bar. We were missing that old fart who sat in the corner stinking of piss and talking to himself - he only ever drank Tetleys. If only I'd listened to Wee Beefy'.

    On a serious note, I'll only be annoyed if they start putting too many shitty guest beers on. Then it'll be like all the other Sheffield ticker dens that want to serve only 'new' beers (not tasty or well-brewed) and stink to high heaven of piss and wet-dog whenever the ticker brigade comes out to play.
    However, I've been assured that he only wants beers that taste nice, so we'll see how that goes.