I have, as suggested previously, found less time to write these tomes of late due mainly to stuff, not to mention things. In short I have been busy being out, but rarely to the pub. This is a sad but ultimately much cheaper predicament, which I hope will not continue for too long.
That said a couple of outings in the last of the warm weather over the last two weeks have dug up a bit of gen, and an opinion or two, which I will share below.
Firstly, I appear to have been drawn to spend much more time frightening off young folks by standing at the bar looking thoughtful, glaring, and opining on bibulous subjects at Dada. Its testimony to their care in the community credentials and good natured outlook that no-one has sought to politely dissuade me from frightening the more timid customers, either that or no-one has noticed. Either way Dada has been a friendly house to hang around in of late and I like that.
Its interesting based on my experience that the perceived atmosphere and theme, which I myself commented on a few times in the early days, continues to be a gripe with customers of a beery slant who might enjoy the ales. Beer people, whatever the hell that means (!?) seem to be of the opinion that it loses points for its lack of guest ale, and for having a theme, making it instantly pretentious and therefore unwelcoming.
l still think the the theme is obtuse, puzzling and misplaced, but having watched a mixture of confused, enthused, bamboozled, happy and suspicious customers come and go from the bar over the last 6 months I am certain that the warm welcome isn't in doubt. Admittedly its not traditional bar fly territory, since punters, mainly groups or couples, retire to the furthest corners (and more than two stood at either bit of bar is just impractical), but if you take the time to hang around and talk to the staff, I think you'll find the banter is good. Ergo, the atmosphere is good.
There are two regulars who go in on a Tuesday which is my default visiting day. I feel I should know them because I have seen them in the Dog and Partridge, Red Deer and Bath Hotel for as long as I can remember. The above list of boozers has little in common with Dada so its testament to the qualities mentioned that they seem to be as happy as me sitting at the bar and enjoying good conversation.
Beer recently spotted includes Thornbridge Kipling, Bradfield Stout and they have been having beers from Sheffield Brewery. There has also been some decent Keykeg choice, if such things float your boat, such as Nogne O barley wine, Magic Rock High Wire and on my last visit the excellent Schlenkerla Rauchbier. And for those unsure, Steph, Emily Jamie and James know their stuff when it comes to the beer. Its a shame their aren't more guest cask ales but I suspect this is out of their hands, thus more a blot on Thornbridge's copybook. If they could just sell less of my "sigh beers" Brother Rabbit and Sequoia, I'd find it hard to stay away.
Other pubs do exist of course and on a recent unexpected visit I found that the the Wig and Pen still sells real ale (and not a bad price). I say this because it was starting to get a bit grim and I wondered if the expensive tastes of their clientele might see it stop being sold. Admittedly it was only Wentworth, WPA and a Wentworth guest on Tuesday, but it means a drop of the real stuff can be found to accompany the food if you are there for snaffling.
Its interesting though that I am now in a position where I feel the need to say "only Wentworth". When it was launched and for years after it was reliable stuff with Oyster Stout, Gun Park Dark and WPA standing out. WPA used to have a big hop finish, lots of grainy dry bitterness that realy hit the spot. However, I don't think I've had a good Wentworth beer in years. WPA now tastes like a beer of 3.0% and more malty, with almost no hoppy bite in the finish. Is this a case of familiarity breeds contempt or have they changed the recipes? Either way its a groan beer Which is a shame.
Talking of not exactly renowned venues for real ale, I was in All Bar One (not by choice) the other day and noted they once again only had 1 real ale on. I get the feeling two is unsustainable. This time it was Black Sheep, and to be honest its difficult to decide which is the more average of the two offered across their estate (the other being Doom Bar) - perhaps the Sheep edges it for being independent. And, even having said all that, contrary as I am, I didn't even try the real ale!
Instead I had a pint of Rothaus wheat beer, and was quietly amused by the barmaid telling me when I asked for a drop more that the line was a pint - I could see the beer was well below and after my top up it settled just on, meaning my request was perfectly judged. The thing is, the line is on my side only, so how would she have known it was already at the line? I've moved on now though....
In developing news, as I think I mentioned previously, the Dog and Partridge finally closed in July but to continue my Kevin Keegan-esque predictive talents, is now set to reopen under the management or potentially ownership (a bit fact light I'm afraid this particular segment) of those running the Sportsman in town. I hear they intend that the venue will operate along similar lines,and they are hoping to sell good value beers. I couldn't be sure if it was open when I went past earlier in the week, so will update you when I know more.
Finally, this weekend (23rd to 26th August in fact) sees Potfest held at the Flowerpot at Derby. The idea of a beer festival at the Flowerpot is a bit like a sand festival at a beach, since there;s always a festival sized selection of beers at any given time. Expect an emphasis on the excellent Black Iris brewery output and guests from Yorkshire and Lancashire, and also perhaps the sight of a lesser spotted blogger or two. Well worth a visit.
Thats all I have for now, hopefully the last week of the month will herald some further beer adventures.