Sunday, 12 August 2012

Mount Pleasant beer festival and other tales


    yesterday I continued my walking theme and managed to get to another new pub, and a recently refurbished one into the bargain.

I had seen a few beer festivals advertised at the Mount Pleasant on Derbyshire Lane at Norton Lees over the last year and since I had never been to the pub before this seemed like a good opportunity to make my first visit. To save myself the princely sum of £2.00, I opted to walk there from Handsworth and then down to Heeley and into town, hoping to stop at the Cricketers on Bramall Lane.

Legs still aching from the other night I was slow getting going as I walked along Richmond Park Road and up and down the hills of Richmond Road to Intake chippy. I cut across to Ridgeway road and with most of my climbing now done picked up pace walking through Gleadless Townend then cutting up Raeburn and two lefts past my first pub of the day, the Nailmakers, set well back from the road in a area of dispiriting modern housing. It is I think, the longest licensed public house in Sheffield, not the oldest building, and years of shortsighted clumsy modernisations inside have made it look like a small 19th century pub on one side and a fake Hungry Hedgehog chain pub on the other.

I wasn't going to go in but since I also wasn't pushed for time I nipped in past the solitary customer outside. On the bar were two handpumps with the clips turned round. When I asked if that was the choice of real ale the man behind the bar said that he hadn't got any at the moment, so I said never mind, and went on. A warm Saturday afternoon and only a solitary customer plus no real ale you say? There's an equation in there somewhere....

I came out on Hemsworth Road next and walked past the New Inn. I hadn't visited before and there were customers sat outside and in, so I ventured across the threshold and was hit by the looming waft of the smell of chips, which despite my description, I don't mind as it makes me nostalgic for pubs I visited with my parents on holiday. Alas, having spotted two pumps with the clips turned round, and having to ask 4 times if there was any hand pulled available, I was informed that they didn't do it anymore, so I thanked the guy and walked onto my destination. I wondered how the recent Thornbridgification of the Cross Scythes would affect the fortunes of my intended target the Mount Pleasant, and to be fair if two of the 5 pubs in the area don't sell the good stuff I think that's wind in their sails.

I arrived at my destination, the Mount Pleasant on Derbyshire Lane, 1 hour 48 minutes after setting off and set about ordering a half of Phoenix Arizona and a half of water. I was met at the bar by Stuart and I think the Lady behind the bar was the other half of the management team at this cosy and traditional pub. I was handed a programme and told what was on the bar and what beer was available from the outside bar, plus what was waiting to come on.

After a quick chat about my walk it was time to sit down in the spacious car park in the bright sunshine and admire the range of beers, whilst already noticing the small of food, thinking dreamily about what I could snaffle.

All beers were £3.00 or under per pint which is a decent price, especially for the first and only pint I tried, which was an impeccably kept, smooth and slightly chocolaty Black Pearl Stout from Wooden Hand brewery in Cornwall. I also bought 4 tokens for the other beers I wanted to try outside, and got chatting to a couple on my table, who were drinking Titanic White Star and the Phoenix Arizona (the White Star wasn't on the programme, so was a bit of a bonus).

I soon got fed (hot dog and onions £1.50) and set about trying the following beers :

Dark Star Partridge 4.0%
Pictish Alchemist 4.3%
Wylam Magic 4.2%
Salopian Hop Twister 4.5%

Stuart in the outside bar

All the beers were well kept, some were served on gravity from the outside bar, although as it turned out only the Salopian and Dark Star were of the ones I tried. The best beers of the day were probably the Wooden Hand, the Wylam and the Dark Star, in that order. There were also ales from Oldershaw, Abbeydale, Bradfield,  Derventio, Slaters, Brampton, Idle and Wolf in a selection of about 18 if you include the Mount Pleasant Tetley re badge on the bar.

Its great to see a small traditional pub thriving (it was very busy when I left) and able to sell an interesting and desirable range of ales despite the pub being leased from Punch, whose logo along with that of Camra, adorns the programme. A final point is that they are Cask Marque accredited. Where this usually means a pub sells decent examples of the dullest beers ever produced, it does not seem to be the case at the Mount Pleasant, a pub well deserving of a trip if you are in the area, or not.

I headed off for Scarsdale Road next, eschewing the chance to visit the Prince of Wales across the road, but not for any negative reason. I was soon at the smart looking Cross Scythes, with customers enjoying the sun outside at the front and back, and inside, a revelation. Quality wooden floors, light woodwork, a bar with 10 handpumps on (I think, and two were for guests, from breweries what aren't Thornbridge) comfy seating as well as traditional, 3 distinct drinking areas, and a large function room with its own bar access, through which you walk to the beer garden. And crucially, not very much dark grey paint!

I sat outside (one gripe, why have a weighted sprung door on the entrance to the beer garden? Staff coming in and out were struggling as much as I was with my two glasses) with halves of Thornbridge Pollards (of course!) a glass of water and a half of the excellent Saltaire Cascade. The beer garden had always been a neglected and wasted resource at the Scythes as long ago as 1994 when I worked across the road, and it has been done up nicely if a little unnaturally, and there is now parking round the back.

Overall this is one of the more subtle and admirable Thornbridge makeovers and a welcome return to their habit of returning dreadful boozers to brilliance instead of interfering with already excellent boozers.

I walked down next to the Archer Road Beer Stop to see Dave and have a quick beer (not in the shop of course!) and had a very well kept pint of Moonshine from a choice of that and a Salamander beer. Some good recent additions are on the shelves, so I must pop back when I have some money, and just a note to remember if you are visiting, there are Bradfield mini casks for sale, but they are kept in the back where its cooler. Thanks to Dave for his hospitality, and also the chance to watch Mo Farrah win gold whilst sat in the back talking beer.

My penultimate call was a 15 minute walk away at the White Lion on Chesterfield Road. I was meeting Fluffy and John for a quick catch up before next weekend's trip to Manchester and managed to get a seat in the snug. It was great to see Blue Bee available from the range of excellent Sheffield area beers, plus Osset Silver King, and I had a half of Nectar Pale and a glass of water whilst waiting.

Soon after my companions arrived, they were on Sequoia and Silver King respectively, latterly the Nectar as well. It was great to sit in the snug chatting and drinking quality beer in this excellent traditional boozer, with a decent band playing rock covers at the other end of the pub.

All too soon though we were off for our last stop at the Sheaf View. Despite my dire warnings that we'd never get a seat, arriving about 22.00 it wasn't too busy and we got sat down easily at the front of the pub with pints of Salamander for Fluff, something dark but less strong for John and an excellent earthy pint of Burton Bridge Golden Delicious for me.

With time getting on, and having established that the Ale House was shut by 22.45 (established was not quite the right word, there seemed palpable confusion about the actual state of affairs) we decided to stop for a last one, which for me was a pint of the Salamander Stout, before heading down the hill to the main road and getting on a bus straight away into town.

This was a fantastic day out taking in some fine pubs (even if I still haven't made it to the Cricketers....) and a well attended well run beer festival which was a great way to spend my Saturday.


Wee Beefy.   


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