After a lot of buggering about on New Year's Eve due to sick visiting, we finally made it to the pub at around half past three. We had intended to visit the Landlady in Delph, but that didn't work out time wise, so we went to the Baum, where there was an excellent atmosphere and Hawkshead Windermere Pale. No complaints there. Simon the landlord was gearing up to his New Year's Evening do, which had a gangsters and molls theme. We inspected the poster; no entrance fee and food, if you wanted it, was a fiver a pop. A customer asked what time the kitchen would be open until. "Nine o'clock for normal meals service" was the answer. Thereafter, presumably, you forked up your fiver.
On the way home, we decided to call into a local Lees pub, the Ship Inn. It was heaving. "Sorry the bar closed at five to prepare for tonight" we were told. My protest that we only wanted a quick pint and that it was only five past five were swept aside. I reasoned then that we'd go to the Rose of Lancaster, which is tied to Lees, but unlike the tenanted Ship, is managed. Surely a food led managed house would definitely be open? At ten past five all external lights were off and the doors shut. So no, it wouldn't be.
On the way home we checked out every pub we passed. The Old Cock (Lees) was in darkness. The Nowster (Lees) similar. The Carter's Arms (Lees) seemed to be open and trading, the Lancashire Fold (Lees, managed) was in semi darkness and presumably closed to the thirsty. Thornberries (Free) had the doors closed and the curtains drawn.
Now call me naive, but is this a good state of affairs? I have a lot of sympathy for hard pressed tenants who need a rest before opening late and serving like people possessed into the wee small hours, but not much for a managed house who can't keep the doors open. Of course, and call me suspicious if you like, I think it is reasonable to assume that those keeping potential customers out were looking to maximise revenue by charging entry to revellers later. That's fine and dandy, but is 5 p.m. a reasonable time to kick people out? I think not and it is instructive to note that the Baum, a former CAMRA Pub of the Year seemed to be taking a more customer friendly line.
These are hard times, and it seems to me as a very regular pub goer, that I was sidelined for the later lure of a pack of high spending occasional drinkers. Is the denial of service in this way something that happens elsewhere in the UK, or is it a local thing?
I know it is only once a year, but is it right that those who do not intend to pay to go to the pub for New Year celebrations are consequently denied a tea time time pint at the very reasonable hour of five pm? I somehow think it isn't.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
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