A Grand Day Out in the Amber Valley

A planned busy day out using the Derbyshire Wayfarer ticket started with a train to Derby and a bus into Derby Bus Station. A Trent Barton service 6.3 took me to Belper in time for the noon opening of the 8th Amber Valley Beer Festival at Strutts, a former school, now a community facility. Numerous rooms and corridors are available for seating and the beer is racked in a separate marquee outside. A pleasant couple of hours was spent here sampling cask ales from Raw, Twisted Barrel, Marble, White Horse, Pentrich and the very tasty and naturally very cloudy Vale of Glamorgan Miami Weiss at 4.5%.

The hourly Trent Barton 7.1 service took me to Holbrook to visit the three pubs there. On alighting from the bus the nearest pub was the Spotted Cow where Littleover Gold at 3.8% and Falstaff Halifax Slasher (4%) were tried from the six hand pulled beers available. This pub combined an old world feel with some alcove seating but with modern overtones. A Macmillan Coffee Morning was still in progress so a nice slice of homemade lemon drizzle cake accompanied the beer.

A short walk then to the Dead Poets Inn, with its stone floors, low beams and more alcove seating. Six hand pulled beers were available and three from the barrel. I sampled a half of Welbeck Abbey Duck Decoy (4.6%). Another short walk to the Wheel Inn where one could relax in some lounge style seating while enjoying an Oakham Citra (4.2%) from the range available. The Yourbus 138 and Trent Barton 7.1 services took me to Openwoodgate and the Black Bull’s Head (CAMRA Good Beer Guide 2018 entry) for some Leatherbritches Lemongrass & Ginger (3.8%) from the nine hand pulls available. Wooden floors and panelling abounded around the central island bar serving two distinct areas. At weekends another 4 beers were available on gravity as well as 5 traditional ciders in the outside converted stables known as the Bedlam Bar. I had a half of Timothy Taylor’s Boltmaker (4.0%).

Back on the 7.1 into Belper and the Angels Micro Pub (GBG 2018) at the top of the Market Place. A small split-level micro with half a dozen tables and offering eight beers on gravity. Brunswick White Feather (3.6%) was sampled. Back down the hill towards the station and the nearby Arkwright’s Real Ale Bar (GBG 2018), a slightly larger micro-bar. I had the Market Harborough Super-hop Mosaic (4.3%) and Slater’s Maravilla (4.5%). A short walk to the Trent Barton bus garage for a somewhat delayed service back to Derby and the train home. Walking passed the Old Queens Head in Sheffield allowed for a half of Abbeydale Salvation No.5 Coffee & Doughnut Stout (5.8%) to finish the day off nicely, and all on a Derbyshire Wayfarer ticket.

Andy Morton

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