following my complaints about the poor customer service at the Peacock in Bakewell, I thought it only fair to point out the better side of pubs in the area. To say "the area" I must admit this is a large space, but all the pubs featured are in the shire of Derby.
Prior to Bakewell myself and Tash had traveled, in the pouring rain, to Matlock. Matlock gets very crowded in Summer and at Bank Holidays, traffic gets snarled up and my patience quickly wears thin. What a treat then, to arrive mid downpour. The streets were deserted. The park was empty. The only people we could find were enjoying the warmth of the indoors.
After a quick shop and dinner in a well known bakery chain, we wandered into the park to look at the river and make our way to our first pub. MoCa Bar is near the junction with Olde English Street and overlooks , if I recall, the river Derwent. Inside its modern, with a long bar bestowed with keg pumps and hand pumps. It sells coffees, wines, excellent sounding pork pies, and beers mainly from Abbeydale, Kelham Island, Dancing Duck, Oakham, Brampton and Blue Monkey.
On this occasions we had pints of the Blue Monkey Rhesus to be cheerful, and Oakham Bishops Farewell. I haven't tried the Oakham brew for a while but it was reassuringly bitter and very moreish. The Blue Monkey was simlarly excellent, not actually pale but more reddish in colour. Both beers were perfectly kept, and as a steady stream of customers and dogs came in, we were able to relax and chat and listen to some excellent music.
In Bakewell, we opted to try the Manners. This Robinsons pub is on the road heading towards Matlock and used to have, a couple of decades or more ago, a reputation for opening late. I hadn't been in for at least 10 years but I remembered it being a traditional boozer selling real ale - the perfect antidote to the greed and lack of customer service in our former venue the Peacock.
The Manners has been recently taken over and is a perfect local. OK, some of the decor is a bit odd, its is on places quite modern and others old, but that aside its a friendly boozer where you are treated well and not charged extra for halves. We both had Robinsons Double Hop from a range of 5 or 6 real ales. This was £3.20 a pint and in very good form. We sat in the room on the right and in the room next door a whole family had come out to eat. A friend of mine says that this is where the locals go in Bakewell - how accurate this is I don't know, but its my certainly favourite place for a pint and a relax in the town.
Recently, in less rain, we visited Chesterfield. Being creatures of leisure, and thirst, a day off does not see us up too early but we arrived about 15.30 and went to look at some charity shops. We also went to the excellent cheese factory for lemon Wensleydale and Innkeepers cheddar amogst other delights.
Our first stop was the micopub on West Bars. The Chesterfield Ale House has seating for about 16 or 18 downstairs and an upstairs room, and the bar is up some steps at the back. There are six real ales on, the strongest on the day being nearly £3.20 a pint but most being much less. Tash had a heavy but enjoyable Gyle...2...x..not sure from Lincoln Green Brewery, an Imperial Pale Ale in style if not taste, and i had excellent pints of something pale that probably came from Atom brewery. Although it might not have.
The pub became busier as we sat there and the beer range was of a very high quality, as were the snacks on offer and decent bottled beer list. However, as the light faded and the train time approached we scooted off for a quick half in the White Swan. We had halves of a saison and a Raw pale (work that out!) in our short visit, before jumping on the train to Dronfield.
Here we visited the Dronfield Arms, now run by our good friend Edd, previously manager at the Bath hotel in Sheffield. The two pubs are very different, clearly in terms of architecture, also in terms of tie as well, and in terms of customers. Despite this, Edd seemed perfectly at home in his new pub, and there were dogs and people of all ages enjoying some excellent beer.
We also tried some olive stuffed with Sicilian chillies - to be far these were absolutely amazing and very moreish, as was the pork and apricot pie, and the beer we had three or more pints of - alas, somehow, in the weeks since, the knowledge of the name of this beer has escaped me entirely. I assure you however that it was very tasty.
Overall, its still well worth your while heading out in to near or far Derbyshire to sample cracking ale in traditional - or non traditional, real ale pubs. Lets hope this situation does not change.