Boarding a mid-morning departure from Woodhouse to Worksop allowed plenty of time for a visit to both the Unicorn (a CAMRA Good Beer Guide 2017 listed pub) and the Liquorice Gardens (Wetherspoon), both located in the centre of Worksop. Whilst quite palatable, no seasonal ales were available at either. A short train ride next to Retford and a nice Chilli & Rice courtesy of Crawshaws Butchers whilst waiting for the Idle Valley Tap to open at noon. This is another GBG 2017 pub with a spacious and modern interior with the emphasis on Idle Valley Brewery beers. Three of their beers were sampled including a very nice mild at 3.6%, but alas, no Christmas offerings, so off to another GBG pub, BeerHeadz. This is a smaller establishment just off the Market Square with four changing guest ales. No Christmas beers but a very pleasant Wantsum 1381 at 3.8% was tried. Back to Worksop now and a quick visit to the Mallard on the platform for a Cheshire Brewhouse Lindow tasty stout in order to prepare for what was to come in the shape of a very long bus ride to Chesterfield (Stagecoach service 77). This journey was made even longer by two sets of roadworks and two schools finishing for the day. Whilst such a daytime half hourly service must be applauded for connecting several villages on route, those wanting a quicker journey would do better to get the train back to Sheffield and then another train to Chesterfield. Anyway, the first port of call on arriving was the Chesterfield Alehouse which is an excellent GBG 2017 listed split level micro pub near the market place and afforded me ales from Half Moon and Brewsmith breweries on this occasion, amongst the six available. Next to the similarly named Chesterfield Arms on Newbold Road (GBG 2017). Of the ten real ales available, a nice Rat After Rat Mint was sampled. Still in search of a festive ale, a bus was caught towards Whittington Moor and the Derby Tup which is now an outlet for Pigeon Fishers ales. Their Dark Harvest Blackberry IPA at 4.9% was pleasant. There was just time for a short walk to the relatively newly opened Spireite and as the name suggests, it is very near to Chesterfield’s football ground. Their winter beer festival was just getting underway and a stillage had been erected in the rear garden to serve beers on gravity. Being an outlet for Dronfield brewed Hopjacker Brewery beers, two were sampled and at last, a Christmas beer was encountered – Hopjacker Figgy Pudding Porter. The limited stop direct Stagecoach service X17 runs passed the door and whilst this is a half hourly service during the day, it tends to lose interest in the evening with the last bus back to Sheffield being at 19.02 which meant that only two beers were possible here. There are other later services back to Sheffield from Whittington Moor but these take longer and I had had my fill of long bus rides for today. On arriving in Pond Street there was just time for Thwaites Clementine Chocolate Orange stout in the always reliable and welcoming Old Queen’s Head before the walk up to Arundel Gate and the bus home. Andy Morton
In his second report our beer correspondent went on a pre-Christmas trip in search of some seasonal cheer (and festive beer).