Pub Chronicles - Three Stags Heads | Mashtun and Meow: Sheffield Beer Blog

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Pub Chronicles - Three Stags Heads

 A sign at the bar loudly proclaims:

"PLEASE DO NOT ASK FOR DRAUGHT LAGER, AS A SMACK IN THE GOB MAY OFFEND".

Our first experience of the Three Stags Heads, based on a busy main road in Derbyshire with only a farm and a greasy spoon for truckers as neighbours, was as part of a Duke of Edinburgh expedition. We'd travelled from Stoney Middleton across the seemingly endless Longstone Moor before reaching Wardlow Mires. Our digs for the night - a particularly non-descript field by the side of the pub, which serves the dual purpose of camping and lambing. On that first trip we were charged £1.50 per night to put our tent up - returning a few years later we discovered a surcharge of an extra 50p, along with the upgrade of a lightbulb in the cinderblock loo.

We've woken up on many a fuzzy morn in this field, only sometimes because of a wobbly lambing ewe tripping over our guy ropes, but always with the aid of Black Lurcher.

Brewed by Abbeydale Brewery solely for the Three Stags, Black Lurcher is a baffling anomaly, a quirk that the brewery has retained for decades. The pub was the very first customer of the brewery back in 1996 - they asked for something unique, and almost 25 years later they still have it. A 7% well-hopped dark ale, it's collectively one of our favourite beers (disclaimer: Jim has now made it a few times, but it's been up there since well before our days of working at the brewery). Named for the canine companions you'll find yourselves surrounded by in the Three Stags', it's one of those beers you get thirsty just thinking about - black as tar, always served in a heavy tankard with a thick yet effervescent creamy top which gently oozes over the rim of the glass in anticipation of that first sip. Heavy, satisfying, strangely refreshing and very much of the place.

The pub itself is an inadvertently Gothic delight. A mummified cat and a taxidermy hare carrying a shotgun are the main sources of decor and even Laura (at a not-so-lofty 5 foot 1) has to stoop to make her way through the heavy doors into the "front room" of the pub - the sort of room that even in the height of summer with blazing sunshine outside, you can guarantee there'll be a roaring fire inside, with one-time landlord Geoff ever-present in a rickety seat in front of it, a lurcher at his feet.

The pub holds no prisoners with their house rules - the aforementioned lack of lager, a strict "no phone" policy, and definitely no music or other such frivolous entertainment. One trip of ours coincided with the World Cup, and we were greeted by a blackboard which simply stated "WHAT FOOTBALL?" It's the type of pub where you make the most of it for yourself - a quiet, contemplative, well kept pint, a chat with the seemingly omniscient staff, and if you're really lucky, you'll even get to pluck your own pheasant for tea.

The Three Stags' is one of the last places we visited before lockdown hit back in March, and it's without doubt one of the pubs we absolutely cannot wait to get back to when they're able to re-open. We'd love to encourage you to visit when you can, but if you do so on the back of this, please don't tell the staff you read about them on the internet - they'll probably bar us for life.

Cheers!



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