As I career aimlessly towards my dotage (I'll be 80 in just 40 odd years) I find that remembering stuff is quite difficult. Especially important pub related stuff, and more so, when one is distracted by celebratory events like Christmas and birthdays and New Year. A few of those events played a part in my weekend, as Alibob Jack and Miss N celebrated their recent milestones on the same night. And continuing last night's theme, as the damp cloth of sobriety falls over my head, I've ended up remembering some long out of date pub and beer sorta news that I was supposed to share with you. Probably.
Saturday I was dutifully up at the hospital thinking about how I'd like to walk back down Rock Street to photograph the long closed Rock Inn before it falls down, and how since the Bay Horse at Pitsmoor sold Wentworth WPA about twelve years ago, it had to be worth popping in now to see if they still did. These are the sort of beery thoughts that preoccupy me on the soul destroying public transport marathon to and from the hospital but all these noble plans were dashed by Wee Keefy giving me a lift to DAda. Later I would be seeing WK in our childhood environs of Crookes. Well, the pub environs of our...um...childhood environs. I know I ought to cut short this bit but I can't. Anyway....
After meeting Miss N for a coffee and no beer at Sellers Wheel we spent some time acquiring a taste for beer (it took no sips) at the Rutland, before both heading to Crookes for pints and a meal. The Crookes clan all met up in the Princess Royal but they had it easy. They only need to walk out their front doors and they're virtually there. We had yet another bus trek to undertake. So we met them in The Ball instead.
A few good guests adorned the bar and we both went for pints of Rudgate Ruby Mild at £2.90 a pint. This was in very good nick and was proving popular, although I'm sure the Kelham Island guest was selling at pace as well. We were meeting here for food and it was good to have them serve until 22.00. A lot of pubs stop selling food at 20.00 or earlier but that's just daft. At one stage I recall the Bridge Inn at Ford served food until 19.00 - for who!?! The sensible timings meant we could meet for drinks first and still get a few in the pub with our meals, which we did.
The Ball might be a Greedy King pub and the pub food is very much standard fare but you know, it was two for a tenner, its still a locals pub, and you get to sit in an area at the back away from the busiest spots and actually, the food aint bad. Especially when washed down with more excellent Ruby Mild. Its the first time I've had it for a while and it was a really enjoyable change.
As time was getting on we decamped, as is the tradition when Paddington, Jack, Jambon and the like meet up, to the Noahs Ark. This pub has changed management again in the last 6 months, at an educated guess that's probably the 8th time in a few years, but you can't bloody tell - and I mean that as a compliment. One of the slippery slopes that pubs get onto is the revolving door of landlords who all bring their own ideas, plans, misgivings and regulars to a pub that never establishes an identity. The lack of continuity and the inconsistent quality attached usually spells the end for a pub but somehow the Noahs seems to consistently be the place to go if you want one or two inexpensive real ales in a proper boozer, open late, with terrible, yet somehow brilliant, karaoke.
And so it was that we sat in our usual place (ish) with the karaoke music list whilst the long standing Karaoke compere introduced the songs in her highly individual style, and we supped inexpensive pints of real ale in a thronging pub. On this occasion, both myself and Miss N were on Jennings Cumberland at £2.50 a pint and it was in perfectly good nick. The proof of my appreciation was in the fact that I normally loathe karaoke but somehow, and it must be down to dark arts, I don;t mind it at the Noah's. Long may it continue to be the case.
Whilst celebrating the delights of my former haunts its time to reflect on two pub changes coming up soon. Firstly, and I'm not sure if this is a secret, but I found out on the 3rd January that the Devonshire Cat had been bought by a brewery and everything. That's all I know. Or am willing to tell. Its too late to text "them"and check its not a secret after all. Lets just hope it improves is all I can say!
Lastly, Barlow brewery what make nice beer are opening a venue on Chatsworth Road in Chesterfield called the Tap House in soon. Their unofficial brewery Tap is the Hare and Hounds at Barlow Commonside which is a pub I really rate. Yet even I have to concede that a pub in he beer centre of Chesterfield would provide a higher profile for Barlow's wares. The Tap House are on Facebook as of last week, here is their page, however that seems to be about it at the mo. If my "legendary" sleuthing is to be believed, the Tap House will be where the Brampton Ale House used to be, based on the Post Code, but am once again already out of info on this one. I would keep looking at their facebook page for updates.
What this shows, along with the Buxton Tap House (which, in a disappointing theme, I have also neglected to visit) is that some notable local breweries are opening dedicated outlets for their real ales. If you take the examples of Spire, Brampton and Acorn, to name but a few, I would suggest this is another positive development for the wider area.
It also justify's, as if that were needed, the selection of Sheffield as a top beer destination by the New York Times. Clearly chaps with their heads screwed on, and a love of eclectic public transport links....