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Previous Pint Pleasures - March 21, 2014

guinness eileen

The Old Hall, Market Place, Hope, Derbyshire

guinness eileen

The Peacock Inn, 412 Chatsworth Road, Chesterfield, Derbyshire

Last summer, on a rare hot Bastille Day, I went with some friends out to the Hope Valley in the Peak District. Famous for its sheepdog trials, the Hope Valley lies between Castleton and Hathersage. The name Hope means "valley", and there are traces of a Roman fort in Brough, located just east of the village of Hope.

We were there for the Hope Valley Classic Car Show. Situated in the open air opposite the Travellers Rest Country Inn, the show featured lots of gorgeous vintage cars. One of the highlights for me was when Holly and I checked out the vintage Route 95 bus, an earlier double-decker version of the same Walkley bus that ran me over several years ago. I was impressed by the amount of legroom on the upper level, much more than today's buses have. Sadly the bus was parked on display so we couldn't actually go for a ride in it.

Naturally ooh-ing and aah-ing over all those classic cars in the hot sun worked up a thirst, so we headed down the road for refreshment to the Old Hall in the village of Hope. Originating from 1272, the original Hope Hall was demolished in the 16th century and then rebuilt as a home for the Balguy family who owned lots of land. It first opened as an inn in 1730 and was called the Cross Daggers.

The pub was fairly crowded on this Sunday afternoon, but we managed to make it up to the bar where Andrew and I ordered pints of Harvest Pale (3.8% ABV, Castle Rock Brewery, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire). Always a good golden and nicely hoppy standby, this was a perfect summer's day pint, and it was very well kept indeed. Other viable choices available that day on the six handpumps included Theakston Lightfoot and Adnams Southwold Bitter.

The six of us sat out in the front garden by the large car park and next to the Old Hall tea room. The pub serves classic pub meals and the tea room is open for breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea. The Old Hall also offers accommodation, making it a perfect place to stay over for a weekend walking in the Peak District. I'll have to remember that.

On the other side of northern Derbyshire in Chesterfield is the Peacock Inn. Situated at the eastern end of Chesterfield's pub-rich Brampton Mile, the pub consists of two rooms, one -- labelled the Tap Room -- with a dartboard and the other with an open fire. There is a small deck with tables out front, and the decor is your old-fashioned traditional pub decor. I was there with Andrew and Dave to see Leicester-based singer-songwriter Calder McLaughlin perform. It was a Friday night and the warm pub was full of regulars playing darts and watching the end of the football match. We managed to grab the last table available in the room in which Calder was performing, between a speaker and the bar.

There were four cask ales on. Andrew and I went for pints of an old friend, Harvest Pale (3.8% ABV, Castle Rock Brewery, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire). It was a surprisingly pleasant lightly hopped pint, considering I've been spoiled lately on the much hoppier Nectar Pale. As we sat sipping and listening we were intrigued by the two doors near us, one labelled "Ladies" and the other labelled both "Gents" and "Beer Garden". We decided to investigate the Gents and found the huge back garden with a covered area and a marquis.

On a second visit just the other night, once again to see Calder perform, I accidentally ordered a pint of Mad Goose (4.2% ABV, Purity Brewing, Great Alne, Warwickshire). I say accidentally because I had been attracted by the sign perched on top of the handpump which mentioned a 4.0% ABV American IPA-style hoppy beer. This was a bit misleading, but fortunately my choice worked out okay, as the Mad Goose had a very very bitter edge, just like a wonderfully irate fowl turkey-trotting across my tongue. While we listened to Calder perform his new songs and a few covers, Holly and I were inspired to check out the quality of the concrete in the covered area of the back garden. (We're avid members of the Concrete Appreciation Society. What more can I say?) While checking the strength of the concrete by standing on it we asked the barman who was out for a smoke break if there was also a Ballet Room and a Cha-Cha-Cha Room as well as the Tap Room. He admitted he wasn't sure.

The Peacock was voted Chesterfield and District CAMRA Pub of the season 2012. Monday night is quiz night, Wednesdays features darts and dominoes, and Thursday night is Folk Night, with live entertainment on alternate Fridays.