CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> Two Chesterfield Pubs
The Chesterfield Ale House, 37 West Bars, Chesterfield, Derbyshire
The White Swan, 16 St Marys Gate, Chesterfield, Derbyshire
A few months ago, on the Monday end of a long bank holiday weekend, we decided on the spur of the moment to take a train to Chesterfield. Not everyone would consider doing this, of course, especially if you happen to live in Athens or Detroit or Tokyo. But we had a couple of friends there who we hadn’t seen for awhile, and it’s only about a 20-minute train journey from Sheffield and would make us feel like we’d gotten out of town for the day. Besides, Chesterfield is a pleasant little town noted for its crooked spire and market and featuring a plethora of great cask ale pubs.
Arriving in Chesterfield by noon, we met our friends Ali and Marion at the Market Hotel next to the Monday Market which was only just opening, with some stalls not yet ready for business. So we quickly moved on to the Chesterfield Arms. I had previously visited this excellent pub with Ali and Marion on one occasion and again with the late Trevor, so I was excited that Andrew would finally be able to experience it.
At that point Ali insisted on taking us to a couple of relatively new gems a bit closer to the Spire. Located near the corner of Clarence Road, the Chesterfield Ale House is the town’s first micropub. Opened two years ago, it’s laid out on two small levels and seems to be very dog friendly. The decor is very simple, with wood floors and very basic seating. For a Monday afternoon the place was surprisingly busy, but we managed to find a seat at a table in the lower room by the front window. There were 6 real ales on as well as 12 ciders and perrys. I had a pint of Shuffled Deck (3.8% ABV, Blackjack Brewery, Manchester), which is a good low-ABV beer that packs a good hops kick. It was a very friendly brew, and I felt I was being quite sensible with my 3.8, which is a good ABV for a daylong pub crawl. Andrew went a tad stronger with a pint of New Deck (4.2% ABV, Blackjack), which he said was a cracker of a beer. It was good, hoppy, and full flavoured. Ali had a pint of Four of a Kind (6.2% ABV, Blackjack). Brewed with Cascade, Chinook, Centennial, and Columbia hops, it hit all the electrical impulses in my tongue that were directly wired to my brain. All lights were going off inside my head: bong, bong, bong! Marion had a half pint of Red Rye Saisson (7.0% ABV, Blackjack). With a spiral pepperiness and the distinctly wonderful taste of mace it was very nice indeed. But it was also very strong indeed.
Our last stop of the day, but definitely not the least, was the White Swan. Located on a corner directly across from the Spire, this pub had been rapturously described to us by Ali a while back, so we were looking very forward to it. A Raw Brewery free house, it offers a range of Raw beers, several local guest ales, some craft kegs, and lots of bottled beers from around the world as well as wines and ciders. It was here that the stronger beers from earlier started to take effect, especially with our extremely hospitable friend Ali. As it was our last stop before stumbling back down to the train station Andrew and I decided to shoot the balloons and go for pints of Ape Ale (5.4% ABV, Blue Monkey Brewery, Giltbrook, Nottinghamshire). I had a pint of this years ago and I remembered it as being a very dangerous choice. But it’s also absolutely gorgeous: pale and hoppy and citrussy, reminiscent of the summer that we never had. Ali had a pint of Euro IPA (5.6% ABV, Raw Brewing Company, Stavely, Derbyshire) which was also very nice, as I recall in a blur because Ali insisted on buying us all another round of these strong beers. At some point I remember tasting – or was it actually having -- a pint of Flower Power (5.3% ABV, Buxton, Derbyshire), which was pale and very nice with wonderful zoomy hops. Zoom, zoom! Yes, I was starting to feel it all...
The Swan has a nice looking food menu featuring locally sourced home-cooked food. We’d like to remember this as a potential spot to get a good pint and lunch the next time we’re back. (We never did get lunch on this particular day. Always fatal...)