Category Archives: news

Nearly There?

Suddenly, it seems, we have something to look forward to, and I don’t just mean a haircut that looks as if it hasn’t been done by that shepherd in the Specsavers ad.

April 12th we could be pouring beer. Of course the government being what it is, they couldn’t make it straightforward for hospitality, so although wide disparities with other sectors will exist, we can only open outdoors, table service only. This will feed in better for some pubs more than others and its significant that some big players in and around here are electing not to open until the May date.

So, first step, we asked our regulars what they thought. “Stampede” was the word that came to mind and yes, like us, they are gagging for a pint of cask. (If anyone had any doubts about the future of cask , embrace this moment).

Outside it is then. We had a visit from the council, who, told us that, surprisingly, we can use 2/3rds of the front pavement on a permanent basis for outdoor seating. That’s good, but we need barriers that conform to various stipulations (white stick contact for one), oh and you will need a cafe licence… (Cost suspended for this year)

Awning? well, yes, April isn’t exactly known for its searing heat. Awning man arrives. All good apart from “you’ll have to move your sign lights otherwise they’ll snag the awning”

Sigh, the thousands are ticking up, and yes, I do mean thousands, but a rare oasis of good news, SMBC are throwing out free gazebos! Suddenly we can get a big table round the back and it will be under cover too. Suddenly also, the brewery emails that have been ‘can, bottle, minikeg’ are now extolling, praise be! Cask and keg.

We opened bookings and day one sold out double quick ( Can you fit in a table of 6 – only if you don’t mind being round the back, how long do you want? – We’ll come and 12:00 and stay until we’re full…)

Its starting to feel a bit like normal, and there’s still a lot to do, but when we open at 12:00 on the 12th, whatever thousands we have spent, when Roy dips his lips into that 1st pint of Mallinsons, his expression will be worth millions. And I just know he’ll say “Fucking hell” and we’ll all know, I suspect, exactly what he means.

January

Never a good month for the hospitality industry, when “dryanuary” raises its ugly head. Usually as a postscript to rampant overspending at Christmas, its perhaps understandable and everyone in the industry braces themselves for its impact after Christmas. However, this year, we didn’t have a Christmas as such and January has seemed interminable as we continue to eke out a living based on the governments’ frankly unbelievable criteria.

It seems almost beyond comprehension that in a very short time it will be 12 months since we have traded significantly. (As a wet led pub we had to close earlier than others, and with only a brief operating window with full social distancing in place.)

As it is, the latest suggestions are that we won’t be opening until May, as the very last sector to re-open when restrictions are eased. For us, the shop has been our lifeline, which fortunately we set in train after Lockdown 1, when John, our joiner, built shelving for all the beer we had left over and we were all;e to swing over to shop sales when new restrictions were introduced.

But its not been fun, more a grinding out of an occupation; no banter, no special projects, no trips to plan, no Saturday County fans and when I go into the pub for any reason there’s a sad, forlorn look about it.

January of course, for us is also about our first Monsters Weekend of the year. Its our perfect response to dryanuary and also one of our more popular and anticipated events.

This year, it will be much later in the year, but we have the beer, safely secreted in our “cupboard” at Torrside Brewing. 6 casks, including 4 exclusive beers casked just for us, means whenever it comes, the Monsters will be a classic and hopefully be a moment when we finally start to put all this behind us.

What do you think of it so far?

That’s partly rhetorical by the way and possibly more a question for us rather than you. It’s not been easy to be honest, although to be open again and see so many familiar faces has given us a real tonic. It was a real boost to hear Nicky saying she was so excited to be back drinking Windermere Pale! We’ve had a few teething problems as we’ve all adapted to a new way of working, but I think we’re getting there. You may have noticed (you haven’t??) that I’ve not been behind the bar since we re-opened, this is partly because we’ve got so much stuff to catch up on behind the scenes and I’m developing the online shop, the physical version of which is slowly taking shape upstairs.

We’ve a new member of staff, Luke, who is settling in really well, so we’ve been able to cover the need to double our staff presence for every shift.

So what next? Hard to say isn’t it? But we do feel that we’ll be in this situation for some time to come. Winter is coming and we could be into a repeat scenario of lockdown, in the meantime, like you, we’ll just keep plugging away.

We thank you for your patience in logging your contact details and observing the need for extra vigilance on sanisation.

At least the beer’s as good as ever!!

Cheers.

Opening Soon!

Well it seems very strange to us, as I’m sure it does to you, but we’re intending to re-open on Thursday 16th July at 12:00. This will be table service only – no standing at the bar, I’m afraid – and we have to confirm to the various government guidelines that are in operation.

We’ll be looking after you with regular cleaning and social distancing the pub as much as is possible. There’ll be extra staff on every shift and we ask that you respect them if they ask you to do something which maybe seems a little strange – its strange to us too!

Please bear with us, it will feel so good to be back selling great beer to great customers!

Will we ever open?

Currently, the industry is gripped by uncertainty, not helped, it has to be said, by a lack of clarity and guidance by the government. In the meantime, brewers aren’t really sure when to start brewing (cask beer has a shelf life even when its not been broached). So when to start and allow the fermentation period to take its course before they can sell beer that can be used after its been conditioned?

What do we do as a pub? What staff precautions do we need to take, what precautions do we have to take? Just how many people will we be allowed to serve? Outside only? Inside but with social distancing? We literally have no idea, of how, let alone when.

The worry is of course that finishing the lockdown (i.e. when we can open) will come too soon. We are already trying to emulate other countries who have reduced their infection rate to either nil or a very acceptable level. We are not yet in that position, and if we were, are people ready to come out and socialise yet? Will mates want to come out but socially distance. That is so alien a concept they may decide to stay at home a bit longer.

So many – too many – variables.