firstly, I would like to say that I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas, and to wish you a very merry new year, and a prosperous 2016. I was lucky enough to wake up on Christmas Day in the arms of Tash for the first time, and spent the day with her, then the Wee men at Wee Fatha's. Before all that however, blogging was temporarily suspended due to imbibing. Over the next few days, I hope to recall some of that.
On Saturday 19th December I met Wee's Fatha and Keefy, Mumrah and Martin and Matty and Tash at Crosspool for our Christmas meal out. Afterwards we went to the Punch Bowl and then were heading off to the Closed Shop and Hallamshire House to finish. More details of the first two pubs will follow. En route to School Road we were on Cobden View Road and Tash had a pressing need. Since it wasn't too late I agreed we popped in the Cobden View for a half and an obviate. In the end, we stayed all night.
The Cobden View, or the Cobden as its usually known, to me at least, is a back street boozer. Its on Cobden View Road, with houses or flats on either side and the back of Western Road houses overlooking it - there is even a jennel from the beer garden to Western Road. I first went in when I was seventeen - I used to drink Newcastle Brown in bottles, and bought and poured one hastily, causing it to be half head. Being so young, I mistakenly thought this was a Southern head, and went to see some such folks from Church (I know...) and loudly laughed at them and it. I made myself look like a tit to be honest. That never, luckily, stopped me going in.
Matty had never been in the Cobden. I told him, in a casual but believable sounding Beefy lie, that it was named after the industrialist Richard Cobden, as opposed to the guy who had a short-lived brewery and Nightclub in Stockport in the nineties. To my surprise, I found a poster in the loos confirming this was (virtually) the case. Richard Cobden was a commercial traveler then businessman, setting up near Clitheroe and then in Manchester a Calico printing factory. He later became a member of the Anti Corn Law league and a peace campaigner and campaigned for Free Trade, described as the "greatest classical-liberal thinker of International affairs". He wasn't just an industrialist, in fact his views meant he wasn't at all. Its nice to make up something which is virtually true however...!
We had halves of Belgian Blue for Tash, Hobgoblin for Matty and Copper Dragon Best for me. We sat in the room on the left and noticed a huge jug of mulled wine was nearby with mince pies. When I returned from the loo Matty and Tash were tucking into roast chestnuts. I've never had them, so joined in. The occasion? The 150th anniversary of the licensing of the Cobden View in 1865 (originally as the Cobden Tavern). There were carol singers, who sing only in pubs on request (and the woman singer leading had an incredible voice), a huge pot of stew, and regulars and newcomers alike.
We talked to the managers Andrew and Laura (am not sure, sorry!) who was a university student from Stoke. They were keen on promoting the pub and making it an inclusive part of the community - in my opinion this has been pulled off perfectly. There is an excellent mix of local students and local born residents, a former boxer who is unsteady on his feet who collects the glasses, friendly bar staff and a proper community spirit. We had stew and mulled wine and mince pies (we were encouraged to!) and carried on drinking pints of Farmers Belgian Blue and Blonde, and chatted to other punters.
One of the most amazing things about the night was that I went to the bar to ask if I could pay on card, telling the man serving me, who may have been called Chris (sorry!) that I needed the change for the taxi. "Where you going to?" he asked. "Handsworth via Arbourthorne " I replied. He said it would be fine to take us - even though, when I asked him where he lived he said it was just round the corner. When we pressed him for an explanation later he said " well, just think of it as a Christmas present". What a lovely kind gesture that was. His generosity nicely summed up the spirit of the pub and the friendliness we had been shown. For more information and news, here is a link to their Facebook page .
A short mention next about the White Lion on London Road Heeley bottom. Its short because I was only in shortly the other day. It is no lesser a pub!
Earlier this year the pub was taken over by my friends Jon and Mandy. I was surprised to say the least, because even though they were long time regulars in there, I didn't think either of them had any experience of running a pub. Going in soon after they opened, I found out this was the case. Despite that, more than 6 months on they are still there, making money, showcasing live music and have put their own individual stamp on a pub which had become a little predictable in its beer range prior to them taking over.
Initially Jon told me that he wanted to introduce his own prices as he felt the current were too high, and to make changes to the beer range. The first few times we came in that hadn't been possible, and it took a fortnight to get a card machine, but one thing that shone though was the quality of the beer - I understand the cellar is immaculately clean. However, other than seeing him run a bar at Tramlines (selling excellent Wild and Siren beer) I don't think I've been in the pub since.
On Wednesday I was up at Manhattan's Motorcycles buying a present and popped in the Sheaf View for a half of Geeves fully laden IPA - on my way to Davefromtshop's shop, I decided to pop in - and found that as promised, the prices were much reduced, and the beer range was incredible. As I was pushed for time I only tried a half - of Waen Snowball, a 7.0% chocolate, coconut and vanilla porter - a bargain, given its strength, at £3.50 a pint. Other beers on offer included Dancing Duck Hoppy Christmas, a beer from Coastal, one from XT and many more. For more info, see their Facebook page here.
Its great to see the changes that Jon and Mandy have introduced, and I wish them all the very best. I will have to start adding this to my Brothers and Sheaf View crawl from now on. Once again, Sheffield presents two excellent community pubs hosting live music, and selling excellent real ale at sensible prices. God bless the Steel City!