Thursday, 18 November 2010

Cock and Magpie, Chesterfield

Ask most people what they know about Chesterfield, and you will likely be regaled with an account of the ‘Crooked Spire’ – the twisted and warped spire of the parish church, which looms over eastern edge of the town centre. Chesterfield’s fame, it seems, is owed entirely to its incompetent church-builders. Had those artisans constructed the spire with properly dried-out wood, the resulting edifice would have pointed straight into the air; but the little Derbyshire town would have been robbed of what little notoriety it now possesses.

In point of fact, Chesterfield has a handful of ancient buildings, some of which have interesting historical associations. Chief amongst those is Revolution House, situated in the suburb of Old Whittington Moor. At that little cottage, in 1688, a few English aristocrats hatched the plan to invite a Dutch prince, William of Orange, to invade England, and depose the reigning monarch James II.
Next door to Revolution House is the Cock and Magpie. I visited that establishment on a cold, overcast, weekday in October. To my surprise, I found that the place was packed to the rafters. At every table, in every snug corner, and throughout the conservatory, silver-haired diners were tucking in to their lunch. As you may have gathered, the reason for the pub’s popularity was its ‘senior menu’, which offered pensioners a two or three course meal at a discount price

My companion and I did manage to find a table, opposite the bar. The smartly dressed staff were very polite and attentive, and our food was quickly served to our table, despite the ubiquity of other diners. I washed down my roast turkey sandwich and chips with a pint of Jennings Sneck Lifter – though I do not recall the nuances of its flavour, as my mind was elsewhere, distracted by the Toby Jugs, brasses, and other pseudo-antique paraphernalia with which the pub was decorated.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Johnson Arms Beer Festival Day 1.

I trundled down to the Johnson Arms with three friends in tow for the first day of their beer festival. The first days beers focussed on the Blue Monkey brewery, which is one of my favourite breweries. It was good to see that the Johnson Arms was very busy including a large contingent of the University of Nottingham Real Ale society.

Here is my brief review of the Blue Monkey beers that were available.

Blue Monkey Original (3.6%). It is a dark amber/copper coloured ale with a thin head and sweet nose. Fruity chestnut flavours can be tasted in this smooth drinking beer, which finishes with some tobacco. It is perhaps a bit too sweet to drink lots of and I would like a bit more bitterness at the end. A nice beer, but usually I expect more from Original - 6/10

Blue Monkey BG Sips (4%). BG sips is a pale golden beer with a thick creamy head. It is a lovely hoppy ale with very nice floral and citrus (grapefruit) flavours. The body is light and it is very easy drinking. 8/10

Blue Monkey Evolution (4.3%). Light amber colour with a malty nose. Grassy flavours can be tasted as can floral tones. It has a good bitterness, but is not as complex as the batch I tried at the Notts beer festival. 6.5/10

Blue Monkey 99 Red Baboons (4.2%). Dark ale with malty gingerbread, and slight coffee flavours. It is a very smooth beer which has a warming character. 7/10