Tuesday, 14 February 2012
A Hare Raising Experience
Ever walked into a pub where the first ‘patron’ to greet you is a hare with a shotgun? No…didn’t think so. Neither had I till I was ‘welcomed’ in such a way at The Three Stag’s Heads in Wardlow Mires. The hare is (of course) stuffed and seems to have kidnapped Barbie - whom he carries in his backpack. The bizarre yet highly amusing window decoration is testament to the local folklore that you always shoot the rabbit but never the hare.
Hunting in this area of the world is as much a part of the day as breakfast, lunch or dinner and the results normally form the staple part of those. Proof of this could be found behind the bar on a snowy Sunday lunchtime when I had the pleasure of visiting this remote pub. A dead grey squirrel, passionately despised by locals, is notoriously difficult to skin apparently and said squirrel was to be used as an experiment in how such a task could be made simpler (insert here discussion of bicycle pumps – no really!) and no doubt form the base ingredient of some ‘delicacy’ later.
The Three Stag’s Head is an incredible jewel in the Derbyshire real ale crown. About an hour drive from Stoke this pub is something to behold. The building is over 300 years old and has 2 stone flagged rooms, heated by open fires and frequented by (on this day) a war veteran and his son. The hare may have been an eye opener but the sight of an armoured car pulling onto the car park extended the brilliant bizarreness of the day. I felt firstly welcomed by the display of Titanic Stout bottles behind the bar (always a reliable back up should the real ale disappoint) and also the owner, manager and locals. You have to go outside to use your mobile, not because of some new Derbyshire law, simply because the belief is a quiet pint and chat with friends shouldn’t be ruined or interrupted by modern technology, an idea I would love to see rolled out to other venues.
Abbeydale Absolution (5.3%) was on the bar accompanied by its fellow brewery product Deception (4.1%). The former is a tangy and extremely pleasant session beer, the latter palatable but not of the same enjoyment. We finished with just a half of the house beer (a meaty 8%) Black Lurcher, affectionately named after one of the previous housedogs. Definitely not a session ale! Pottery is made in the stables and sold here too and I was assured that they are superb ware to cook with as they hold their heat incredibly.
Naturally the menu is adorned by local game and though time didn’t permit any sampling, the atmosphere, people, building itself and ale mean that I will definitely return.
I cannot guarantee war veterans and armoured cars, but what I can guarantee are an intimidating hare, a warm welcome (just don’t ask for Carlsberg!) and a hidden treasure.
The Three Stag's Heads
Only open Friday evening, all day Saturday and Sunday