As noted many times before, the Beer Guide leads you to places the average Englishman has never heard of and will never visit, waiting instead for a Virtual Reality headset that allows them to explore Goole and Maidenhead from their living room.
They’ll miss out on the delights of Dronfield, a resolutely traditional bit of Derbyshire despite housing Sheffield FC and a clutch of Blades fans enjoying pre-match lagers in the Dronfield Arms, a stunning new Beer Guide entry and home to Hopjacker.
The walk from the station with its little information board rather confirmed I was Dronfield’s only tourist, not an uncommon feeling on GBG trips. “Twinned with Sindelfingen” I read, and Sindelfingen looks like a must visit;
My large spreadsheet tells me I’d been to Dronfield a couple of times, but it’s a hard place to get to grips with geographically. The recent GBG entries and the newbie are outside the old town, while the Dronfield Woodhouse entry is an exciting walk over the A61.
Hopjacker Brewery’s new Tap is a classic stone-build, it’s allure only marginally diminished by the “humorous” advertising.
This is a proper pub, not a micro, with a variety of seating and no obsession with cask. That said, their house pale was super (NBSS 4), despite the thin glass. One chap at the bar (a Blade, not an Owl) asked what an IPA was and got a more sensible answer than you might expect.
There was comfy bench seats and scary posing tables, so I moved around the pub a bit, to show I was a pub blogger. One of the tables had a glass bottom with a view down to the brewery, which was even more scary.
As you’ll see, the proper seating had a view of a Bass mirror, which is worth an extra 0.25 on the NBSS scores anywhere.
A cheery place, with some of the best beer this year and much to encourage a return visit. I really appreciated the large illustrated town map on the wall, which told me why I’d missed the centre before.
The small clutch of buildings round St Johns looked stunning as the rain cleared.
Mr Fisher’s family butchers is one of those “time stood still” shops that Derbyshire does well; unfortunately no scratchings to bring back to Mrs RM as a present.
What really stood out was the emerging pub scene. Most intriguingly, True North have just taken on the Blue Stoops, a smart foody places on a level with the Thornbridge house to the north, and I passed a couple of other micro bars/bottle shops.
Time prevented a trip to the famous Treehaus Micropub, whose opening times remain a mystery.
And if that’s not enough, look what’s coming in April.
Dronfield really impressed, and I suspect I’ll be back in September for a new GBG tick or two. I had it down as the New Mills of the east, actually it’s more of a Glossop. It’s that good.