If Middlesex is my least favourite modern county (alright then, it’s really Bedfordshire), then Staffordshire is only bettered by Lancashire. Hopefully someone will start a motion at CAMRA’s AGM to re-establish the old county boundaries in future Beer Guides; that would really upset the applecart in Liverpool.
It takes a bit of adventure to appreciate the appeal of Stoke and Tamworth, but the Staffordshire Moorlands and National Forest should surely have greater appeal.
We stopped in Denstone, in sight of Alton Towers, for lunch on Friday. It was a really pleasant, unpretentious pub lunch in the Tavern, a typical rural Marstons house. Young management were running a foody pub with all the right touches – simple menu, proper chips, fresh flowers on the table, and no diner/drinker separation. And hunting prints.
It wasn’t actually a stellar pint of Pedigree, but it was good enough to persuade you to stay for another (NBSS 3). Four pumps seemed a bit ambitious, though New World and the Wychwood Goddess do provide a contrast to Pedi. I have no idea how a casual visitor wold choose one from those four though, unless they were a Pedi drinker.
There was a decent crowd in,mainly smartly pensioners dressed in blazers and a few walkers, all enjoying the Sinatra 78s. Of course, twenty years ago the pub would have been busy with lunchtime drinkers from the nearby JCB HQ, but now drinkers are the exception, and that reflects in the shift from ale to wine.
The scenery round here, particularly the stretch east of Alton Towers up towards Leek, is outstanding, and I can never quite believe our major theme park is hidden a couple of miles away, in some of our most attractive gardens.
My last Staffordshire Guide entry for GBG2016 is on the edge of the wonderful National Forest, and in contrast is a real drinkers pub. Odd that, because it’s as smart a roadside place as any around Burton, and looks like it should have a food trade similar to the Tavern.
Instead this is a straight forward boozer than even Mrs RM likes a lot, and I confess I was rather taken by the young manager’s South Shields gorgeous pronunciation of “Bass” and “Pedigree”. She provided a model of how to run a pub,asking us what we thought of the Pedi (NBSS 3.5), apparently well outsold by the Bass. I’ll go back for that.
As it says on the bar – real beer, real people, real pub. A great way to end Staffordshire.