this week due to it ending with payday, I have decided to get my drinking done and out the way at the beginning. So that's my excuse for why I ended up sampling the obvious and less obvious delights of Chesterfield in the pissing rain last night. Here's what we found during our extended weekend night out.
I met Davefromtshop in the salubrious environs of the Rutland Arms in Sheffield. The Internet, which is a person, had told me that the first beer from the new Chantry Brewery in Rotherham would be on the bar - and so it was. As I was planning quite a significant evening of refreshment and since Dave turned up after me we both stuck to halves like good lads. Mind you, the draw of the excellent and yummy XT Brewing "9" Black Velvet was too strong so we had another half, of that.The New York Pale from Chantry was excellent by the way. A lovely peachy, orangey citrus hit from the hops (including centennial) made it gloriously refreshing yet reassuringly luxurious - certainly a brew that promises good things. Heres their somewhat embryonic website, which has at least a line more info on the beer and brewery than the above paragraphs contain....
Off to Chesterfield next on the train - seemingly we caught the only one not delayed by floods - and made our way straight to Coco Bar. Davefromtshop is in the CAMRA, and we knew he was entitled to a discount, so it was his round. To be honest, neither of us expected it to be quite so generous, at 15%. This meant we had two pints of the excellent Dark Star Revelation (5.9%) at just £2.55 per pint. Dangerously good value, and impeccably kept.
Up the hill and off to the other Rutland next, for my first visit this century. A range of about 6 beers included larger regional stalwarts plus 3 guests from smaller outfits. Dave opted for half a Barbarian from Derventio Brewery, whilst I had a half of Black Country Ales BFG. Derventio are frustratingly inconsistent, and they were consistent in this approach by making Barbarian, which should have been really good, slightly poor. The BFG was excellent on the other hand.
Dave had long wanted to visit the Crooked Spire pub. We headed there next with my full approval since I had never seen or heard of it despite its central location. Alas, this enormous former Mansfield house had two handpumps but no cask ale - the barman said they have just one on at a time, but it wasn't ready. So our first visit will have to wait. We went to the Victoria next, recently reopened after plans were shelved to turn it into a strip joint. It was modern, spacious and comfy inside and was similar to Wetherspoons, except without the range of ales. Sharps Doom Bar and Wychwood Hobgoblin were available, served in not bad condition, at £2.00 a pint.
The Spa Lane Vaults was another pub threatening to be very inexpensive indeed. Not that its expensive at the best of times (real ales £2.09 a pint) but Dave had some vouchers for this actual Wetherspoons pub which we used when selecting a couple of pints from a range rather too top heavy with Derventio style masters of inconsistency Milestone Brewery. Their Old English Ale was tasted and found to be grim, so we opted for pints of Rich Ruby which may have been £1.49 each. Either way they were inexpensive and on decent form.
It was my turn to purchase inexpensive drinks next as we ventured unexpectedly to Abacus bar across the road. Easily the oldest people there, we quickly noted that it looks more forlorn when empty based on the extent to which its clearly a place to be seen, glad ragged and wide eyed, strutting your stuff beneath flashing lights and glitter balls. Nothing says depressing more than an empty dancefloor. Still, there were two real ales on and we both had halves of the uninspiring if decently kept Morland Original, which sells at £1.79 a pint. Given that its the same price in the Anglers Rest in Richmond, I wonder whether Abacus is a Barracuda pub?
Our final stop saw us save the best till last. The White Swan had a full compliment of 8 or 9 real ales on plus some Keykeg offerings and as reported previously, bottled exotica. Myself and Dave both opted for halves of the excellent Bridestones brewery Dark Mild, whilst I also had a half of the Steel City Brewing Schrodinger's Cat is Alive and Dave the excellent Raw Try Ale. As this was our last stop we also treated ourselves (probably, this is one of those ghost memories!) to further halves in the form of Try Ale for me, since it was fantastic, and, erm, yer know. Beer. For Dave.
We finished on a half between us of the Arbor Ales Down Deeper on Keykeg. It was very very silly indeed, and unsurprisingly, quite difficult to drink what with its formidable 12% strength. What was perhaps more silly though, was that try as we might, we couldn't get the White Swan to revise their pricing policy. It was £3.95 a pint. That's right the same price as a half pint of a weaker albeit perhaps better Keykeg beer in the Rutland last week. Astounding value.
And so ended a very enjoyable amble, albeit in monsoon torrent, drizzle and high winds, round the largely deserted streets of Chesterfield town centre. Its worth noting that in my 4 visits to the White Swan and 5 to Coco I have never had a bad beer or reason to grumble, making the Vegas of the East Midlands a must stop when in the area. Long may the town's real ale resurgence continue.
P.S Stupid arse Blogger is still disbarring me from uploading any images (like some of the rubbish phone pics I took last night). Apologies for the unavoidable lack of photos whilst this daft situation is resolved.