I may have mentioned it before but Sam Smith's, through its takeover of Rochdale and Manor Brewery, have a lot of pubs in my area. They also, in common with Sam's elsewhere, have a lot of closed pubs, with the usual sign in the windows "Management Couple Wanted - Live In". Thus was my plan to visit the Yew Tree, a fine and imposing pub between Rochdale and Royton thwarted. The pub was closed, awaiting the next hopefuls.
But you are never too far away from a Sam's boozer, so I went back towards Royton to one which is well known to me - it is in fact probably the closest equal pub to my local the Tandle Hill Tavern - but is in the opposite direction for Tandleman Towers. So, oddly, despite my thirty odd years in the area - and knowing many who go there, I've never set foot in the place. Time to rectify this oversight.
The pub, The Pleasant, is on a main road, a rather modern looking building in a residential row. Pretty ordinary really. As I approached at teatime in pissing rain, a fellow imbiber entered with me. At least I wouldn't be on my own. To my left a door said "Lounge" and right another said "Snug". My companion turned right and I glimpsed a pool table. Hmm. I don't think I've ever seen a pool table in a Sam's pub. I thought Humphrey scorned all forms of entertainment for the masses, but there it was. "How odd" I thought, turning left into the lounge.
A rather bare, but comfortable room greeted me. A sole drinker sat reading a newspaper, glancing up and nodding to me. The room was served by the same bar as the snug, in which I could see four workers in various degrees of highvizness, overalls and whatnot, bantering cheerily. So not that busy then, though I do know Sundays are popular. I should have gone then probably. Still we have to work with what we've got. The woman serving me remarked on the unseasonality of the weather - and being British and knowing the correct style of response, I agreed, adding for good measure some disparaging remarks about the quality of the summer we've just had. So all was well. My pint of Sam's Light Mild (perhaps a little sharp) was a mere £1.34. Looking round there was the usual number of prohibitions on the wall. No effing and jeffing, no phones, laptops or downloading music (why?) and a reminder of how long you had to sup up at closing time. This seems a somewhat repetitive obsession of Messrs Smith, but there you go. At least you know where you are. Beers were Light Mild, Taddy Bitter, Old Brewery Bitter, Alpine and Taddy Lagers. The famous half Alpine, half Taddy was the choice of my sole companion. The lads in the snug were all on lager too, though of what mix, I couldn't tell.
Then horror on horrors. A mobile phone rang in the bar and in hushed tones, after exchanging endearments with his/someone else's wife/girlfriend or whatever, the callee, said words to the effect of "I have to go. I'm in The Pleasant and mobiles aren't allowed." Seems Humph has put the fear of God into his customers on that one. Less so on the effing and jeffing I'd suggest, but all of it was in the context of fitting bathrooms, exchanges about how the day had gone and so on, so to my mind at least, harmless enough. One lad called through to me saying that he didn't care ("couldn't give a fuck") about Humph's rules. Sooner or later he'd shut the pub anyway, like he had the Yew Tree he observed. "Aha" I thought. "I could have saved a journey here."
My pint was finished, so bidding goodbye to my sole companion in the lounge and shouting a farewell to the denizens of the snug, which was answered by all, I left in the (still) teeming rain.
Pleasant in the Pleasant? Certainly. I hope Humph doesn't shut it.
I must go on a Sunday and see what it is like. It would, like most pubs, be better full I'm sure, but I quite like the bare 70s look. Sorry about the photos which reflect the gloominess of the day.
No evidence of any Sam's bottles were seen. Just a fridge full of various Scintilla soft drinks.
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. He also judges beer at both the International Beer Challenge and the World Beer Awards.
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