a couple of Sundays ago I was out with Tash, and Wee Fatha for post birthday celebrations. We met him at the Abbey after 12.00 and drove over to Ashford in the Water for a snack and hot drinks in a Tea room. From here we drove up to Monsal Head, through Wardlow and the long closed Bulls Head, and into the Car Park opposite the Three Stags.
I first went to the Three Stags Heads with Wee Fatha in 1994. We did a tour of GBG pubs in Derbyshire and finished there for a pint of Hoskins and Oldfield, this being before Abbeydale Brewery started. The pub was, as far as I can remember, exactly as it is now. Except there is a young bloke behind the bar, whose name I can never remember(Robbie?), and his Missus, along with Geoff and Pat, and the dogs are all new in the intervening 22 years....
My next visit was with CAMRA when I was a member so still last century and they opened the room on the left for a massive spread - am guessing a pub of the month award. It was incredibly rammed, something that also hasn't changed, and I remember having a pint of Black Lurcher, the Abbeydale strong blend dark ale, which used to, and may stil be, 7.2%. Since then I have been in numerous times, most notably four or five with Tash. We had a proper good Saturday session in there on our first ever weekend away. Its fair to say I have been a trifle refreshed on more than one occasion. We have also eaten there, and the food is exceptional.
Don't go to the Three Sags Head if you don't like dogs. There are and always have been, numerous of them sat on chairs, sometimes venturing onto the tables, and sitting on the floor in front of the fire. Customers bring their own, and the lurchers or maybe whippets or others in the pub are well trained, even if they do, understandably bark, at strange hounds. The pub used to have two or three huge black lurchers who often took up the seat on the left by the bar, and when we were in earlier this month one of the snaller dogs got on the table and started drinking Tash's beer. She didn't mind, the dog seemed to like it (only a little bit was had) and the beer was replaced.
On my last four or five visits i have always drunk Abbeydale Absolution. A gloriously easy drinking 5.3% Sheffield brewed pale, in case you have been living in a cave for the last 20 years. Its not session strength but is always well kept and is very good (and easy) to have several pints of. That was true on this occasion, as I finished my third pint as the lights came on, after it had become almost dark except for the fire.
I understand the pub opens three days a week only - Friday from 18.00, and all day Saturday and Sunday. Its rumoured that he sells more real ale in those three sessions than most of the local pubs do in a week - I have never had less then two pints when I have gone in and most other drinkers follow suit so I imagine this could be true. There is cider, and there are some bottled beers as well, which may include a fruit beer and a lager - but I might have dreampt that. And please be aware that mobile phones that go off or make noise are very much frowned upon, so please respect the opinions of regulars and staff alike and turn yours off before entering....
It was good to see Geoff and Pat and the others and once again become immersed in an beautiful traditional pub atmosphere with real fires, real ale, real opinions and great atmosphere. Very much a no nonsense boozer. And despite and because of his recent ill health, I wish Geoff, Pat, possibly Robbie and Mrs possibly Robbie, the very best for the future. Lets hope they spend many more years at the helm of this wonderful pub.