I was going to write this post on Wednesday, however, I accidentally went to the pub instead. Gah! Damn those hostelries. Whilst the three I visited then were well regarded locally and nationally, its not always the case for local pubs - by which, I mean, any pub that is a half mile or more out of town. During the end of my homelidays me and Tash visited three local pubs. Heres what we found.
The Forest is an unusual pub. It seems isolated, yet is on a main road. Its on Rutland Road at the end of Rutland Street which leads to Woodside Lane - in recent years, the street which goes under the railway to join Platt Street (which may be Woodside Lane) has been an open air dumping ground for broken rotting furniture and bags of rubbish. There is little evidence of occupied buildings except for a couple of industrial units and a factory across the road which may still trade. On the other side of Rutland Road is an empty space for sale for development. Behind the pub, sort of, is Toolmakers and Stancil Breweries - I'm told. In fact, I have never been past the pub. The Forest is to my eyes, therefore, an oasis of ale in an area of industrial and urban depreciation. Good for them!
I only went in for the first time about three years ago when it reopened as the Woodside Inn - see my blog post.. It was previously, and a small sign still attests, a show bar, rented out as a whole for parties. Prior to that, it was , I understand,. the last pub in Sheffield to get a spirits license. I imagine back then there was far more industrial activity going on nearby.
The pub is in effect the Toolmakers brewery Tap and sells four or five real ales, mainly from them. We had a pint each of the Philips Driver, a 4.2% Amber ale which I understand is brewed wit European hops. We sat outside in the last of the sunshine and stared out over the railway and watched the traffic, and an interesting mix of locals past the pub. Despite its location the pub is usually quite busy - I understand they hold darts matches and there is a small band of regulars every time I have visited.
The beer went down far too easily so I went back in for another couple pf pints (£2.80 I think) and a pack of pork scratchings at 70p and returned to sit with Tash. The scenery may not be inspiring but the pub, I think, is. Long may it continue to offer a pint to passers by and locals.
On Monday we went to Crystal Peaks for a shop and headed out to the Alma at Mosborough. I used to go in the Alma back in the 90's with Wee Fatha every other Tuesday for quiz night, read in his own inimitable style by Jim, supported by Jean his wife, who also provided free food. Jim, I think, left soon after Wards Brewery closed and the pub was immediately given a clumsy and unwanted "upgrade". Gone were the trinkets and bric-a-brac that adorned the shelves and ledges, gone was the faded cream paint in the Bar room, and gone of course was the cask Wards and Vaux Samson.
Since them I have visited infrequently, but not for about four years or so. Walking up from Westfield near where the Mill pub used to be, it seems a long way to walk to a pub hidden away down a back street. Once on the main road in Mosborough you head up past the Royal Oak and the flats and bear left, past some now older buildings, and eventually onto South Street which is a couple of corners away. There, as we did, you will see the lit sign of the pub.
On this visit we sat in the Lounge. For reasons unclear, myself and Wee Fatha always sat in the bar. I have perhaps only ever previously been in the Lounge once, when Jim told us he didn't sell hand pulled ale during the day because the older clientele didn't buy it, so the cask was sold on electric pump. Now, years later, the odd fakeness of the refurb is still evident - although there is still a, potentially unused, 1980's or older jukebox protruding at the head of the fixed seating. Other than that its not obvious how old the pub is, apart from the low ceiling and small windows.
There is one cask ale on and one cider. Which is not on the pump - its in the cellar. On the Monday this was Doom Bar. Regular readers will know how little I like the malty mediocre concoction, but it was well kept and was crucially the only real ale. Since it was popular and selling well it would have been daft not to have a pint.
The pub became busy quite quickly with a games night taking place. Darts was being played in the Tap room and dominoes cards and other games in the Lounge. Its a strange mix to see predominantly older customers playing traditional pub games, whilst horrendous recent chart music plays - I think me and Tash were the youngest clientele.
Two further pints and a pack of Space Raiders crisps - correctly sold for the 20p pack price, were consumed, before we headed off from the pub down into Mosborough. Here I got some funds and we headed up the road to the George and Dragon.
My last visit had been in the mid nineties. Myself and WF had crawled round all the local pubs in one night, and had struggled to get a full pint of Wards here despite several requests to top up. As I recall, the barmaid had said that pressing the button dispensed a whole pint - she was right. Mostly of froth. To our astonishment locals were seemingly happy to take what was at best three quarters of pint - but we weren't. Cue a rather long period with no visit. I read in Beer Matters or similar a few years ago that they were now selling real ales, so that night we ventured into found out what.
A range of ales was advertised but there was only two pumpclips, one turned round. Wadworth 6X was the sole beer on so we had a pint each of this. It was quiz night so very busy, but we found a seat in the back of the room on the left and listened in on whet were mediumly difficult questions, and then to the bizarre method of reading the answers out - if you got five of the first five read out at random you won the quiz...
Free food was laid on when it had finished and the atmosphere was friendly and there was a good mix of drinkers sat with us. It was good to visit two busy pubs on one Monday night, especially given the location of the Alma.
All too soon we had to get off, and headed down School Street. I suggested we nip in the Vine for a half - and entered to find it was now an Indian Restaurant (don't ask me how I missed that on the sign!). Interestingly, the large space was completely empty. It was gone 22.30 and they had no customers. Perhaps the pub would have been busier.....