myself and Davefromtshop recently spent the day out travelling around Derbyshire, well a specific part at least, sampling the beers and hospitality on offer in numerous real ale pubs.
We started the day at Sheffield station and were quickly on a train to Derby. Arriving about 11.30 we decided to pop in the Brunswick for a quick half. The Brunswick, which I understand is now owned by Everards (or if its still Brampton they are unrepresented on the bar...) as usual offered a wide choice of real ales. Dave tried a half of the Bitter Lemon, the least lemony drink of that name, from Stockport Brewing and I had a half of the Hambrook Pale from Great Western Brewing Co. We sat in the main bar and decided some of the details of our route. We wouldn't stick to these - they were mainly suggestions....
Round onto Corporation street we spotted the bus stop and jumped on a Y1 to Smalley. The Bell is potentially still in the beer guide (I haven't looked at the GBG for a year) and has a choice of real ales mainly from local breweries. In the room on the left it took a while to get served and we had two pints, one of Black Hole Supa Nova Pale and one of Church End Fallen Angel. This was on fine form, but the gurgling sound the Black Hole made indicated it was rather poor and watery - so was swapped for the Church End. The Bell is a traditional boozer selling food as well, and set back from the main road in Smalley. An excellent stop.
We caught a bus into Ripley next - alas, being a Monday, the Amber Tap doesn't open til half five so we were four hours early! Thinking the George on the hill may also be shut we instead quickly nipped in the Red Lion spoons to have two surprisingly dark halves of Elland Nettlethrasher. This is a malty dark amber ale with pleasing bitterness in the finish.
From here we caught a nines bus to Little Eaton - except, we got off in Coxbench. This is an error we have made before..... We walked down the pleasant lane and stopped off for a half each in the Bell and Harp. The pub was open but we were the only customers and we had halves of Banks Sunbeam - which I thought was Everards, but maybe not. The beer was very lively but settled OK to reveal an amber ale with a little hoppiness. We sat in the window area overlooking the fields and the brook. I get the feeling the pub sells food, its very much set out in a dining style, but it was comfy and an enjoyable stop.
Next followed a protracted amble round Little Eaton trying to find the Queens Head. Having taken the east specific instructions (correct, as long as straight on means turn left) we happened across a man in his garden who told us where the pub was, and said he would be in there later. On the main Alfreton Road the pub is large and long inside with modern but subtle decor and has recently been taken over by Derby Brewing Company. Its probably the only pub I know in Derbyshire with a blacksmiths next door....
We started on pints of the Hop til you Drop from Derby and spent a while determining where the hops were. To be fair, hops come in all manor of forms and strengths of acidity and citrus notes and although the pint was more of a traditional pale bitter, there were some hops in there. Whilst here I noticed my phone battery was almost dead having fought for signal since we left Derby, so after phoning Tash outside I turned it off. No more access to bus timetables for us!
We ordered food - two omelettes and chips and salad came to £10.50 so we ordered that and had more pints of the hop til you drop and then moved onto halves of Red Tom and Dashingly Dark. I have to say the Dark is usually a favourite Derby beer of mine, and I really should have had it from the start. Never mind, this was another enjoyable stop and the food was much needed.
Round the corner we found a bus stop and started asking locals what time the bus came. Some said ten past, some said 10 to - in the end we asked a lady who had access to the building next to us and she leaned out of the window 10 minutes later to announce its imminent arrival. Having tried to catch the school bus the 7.1 pulled up behind and we caught that, alighting in Openwoodgate.
The Black Bulls Head is a cracking pub that I have been to twice before - admittedly on the same day. From a good range of regulars and guests, to our delight the Oakham Green Devil was on, at 6.0% and £3.70 a pint - or maybe £3.60. We both had a pint each and went through to the other room, where I frustratingly missed a step and spilled at least 50ml of the precious liquid on the floor. Sorry!
We sat on comfy chairs in the back room and tried to find out when the next bus was to Holbrook. Alas, it was in 20 minutes - and we had hardly started our pints. Despite this we soldiered on and although this was so far the best pub of the day we only stopped for half an hour, in order to to get the bus.
Back on a 7.1 we alighted at Holbrook Moor and walked down to the Dead Poets. Another classic Derbyshire pub, we both had pints of Pedigree from the jug in here. We sat in the small room at the back and supped and chatted and warmed up nicely. Its rare I get to the Poets but this is a fantastic back street boozer. Alas we could not stay longer, as we had a walk to undertake.
It was windy and cold on Holbrook Moor as we headed down the lane to Makeney. We were soon heading towards, and into the excellent Holly Bush. Its probably Bass from the jug in here, to be honest am not certain, and we sat in the private bar snug (well, its not actually private) and supped these , warmed by the fire and the fantastic curved seating. Had we been less pushed for time this too would have been a longer stop, but we had to get down to Milford for a last one.
Which we did, about half an hour later, and we were at the King William 4th. Here we had pints from the jug once again - to balance things out and going to claim they were Pedigree, however, if am to be honest, we were a trifle refreshed by this stage. We sat near the fire in the front and restarted my phone to check what time it really was. This long possibly part subterranean pub serves cracking beer and as me and Tash found out, excellent B and B. Well worth a visit.
Soon we headed for and caught the bus into Derby and fragments of my memory suggest we went in he Alexandra for a half. If that is the case, I will have to ring Davefromtshop to ask him what we had!
We arrived back in Sheffield sated and happy and were even early enough to get buses home. Once again we used a Derbyshire Wayfarer ticket to travel around Derbyshire and visited some excellent traditional boozers, and apart from the one we took back and swapped we didn't have a bad beer all day - the best probably being the Oakham Green Devil and the Bass from the jug.