The Alternative Derby Mile

Merry Widows 22.10.17 (5)

I recently posted about a top stroll around the West End of Derby towards the city centre that takes in some well-known boozers.  However, I like a walk so why stop at just one mile?  Everything is bigger and better in the modern world (so we are led to believe) and an extra 1.3 miles (I looked on Google maps) mean my modern version of the mile is super-size.

One of the positives of Derby for its quarter of a million inhabitants is that it has an abundance of pubs.  En route from the aforementioned Mile boozer to the train station the possibilities are endless but I like to look beyond the glaringly obvious as pub life exists in many different guises.

It would be a fair assumption to make that Derby’s cultural centre isn’t huge but it does possess a museum and art gallery and one of the pubs in close proximity is 79- Bishop Blaise DE1 1EX.

B Blaise 22.10.17 (7)

This was a funky, arty laid back place and the barmaid had the best woolly hat I’ve seen for some while!  She was also chatty and relaxed and the whole place had a chilled Sunday afternoon vibe with a good mix of people. It also had a good selection of ale on but, at this stage of proceedings, an Estrella did the job.  I like the look of this place and think it might be a different animal of an evening.

B Blaise 22.10.17 (2)

Sticking with the arty theme and one of the stalwarts of the Derby Music scene 80 – The Hairy Dog DE1 1HT was next on the list with a poster inside that even I found too offensive to put out in the public domain!

It was to do with behaviour inside the pub and the message was certainly unequivocal and couldn’t be misinterpreted….

Hairy Dog 22.10.17 (4)

Anyway, this felt very much like a music bar with lots of posters around of forthcoming bands and not a lot of seating but, it also kept a top notch beer at a reasonable city centre price of £1.70 for a half.  It’s also in an area that is full of Urban beauty/earthiness if that’s your thing…

My half pint of Morgan (Stancill) was excellent and proves that you can find good beer where you sometimes least expect it and with the Cockney Rejects, UK Subs, Penetration and Subhumans on their gig list then I reckon I might be visiting again soon.

Hairy Dog 22.10.17 (2) is also catered for as I noted that Saracen are playing at the Hairy Dog tomorrow night!

Hairy Dog 22.10.17 (8)

Heading towards Derby’s station there are a couple of boozers that have been well documented and rightly so for their quality of beer and atmosphere.  The Brunswick and Alexandra Hotel are legendary, with some justification but there are plenty more pubs in the vicinity worthy of a mention.

81 – Merry Widows DE1 2RU is slap bang in front of you as you walk out of the main entrance of Derby station but it has the feel of a local pub.  Like a lot of pubs in Derby it is very much a Derby County pub with plenty of historic Rams pictures adorning the walls and it was full with a wide range of people when I arrived.  There were a large group of women in one corner, lots of couples and also a group of blokes – doing a tremendous job of bar blocking  to the point I couldn’t see any of the hand pumps – situated between the dartboard and the bar.

Merry Widows 22.10.17 (6)

I can’t say for sure if there was any ale on as I couldn’t get to one side of the bar, which is arguably a positive on a Sunday afternoon so I ordered a Coors and was greeted by an excited barmaid on her first day pouring possibly her first pint!

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that you can’t really go wrong with mass produced lager but she was suitably chuffed not to spill any and her boss was full of praise for this feat!

The bar banter was flying and once again Chaddesden (a suburb of Derby) appeared to be getting some flak. A bloke was arguing it was a village but getting shot down in flames by a group claiming that Breadsall was a village and he did a straw poll amongst the group of 20 who all agreed it was the least likely village in Derbyshire and probably Britain (I need to find a pub there!)

Merry Widows 22.10.17  (3).jpg

It’s also got sport on the TV and clearly isn’t trying to compete against the two aforementioned ‘big boys’ of the Derby Railway boozers and has a different market but is just as full. The hanging baskets always tell a tale and the owners of this place clearly care.

It’s always good to go off the beaten track a little bit and pub life in this part of the world is still very much on an upward curve.

Merry Widows 22.10.17 (1)

12 thoughts on “The Alternative Derby Mile

  1. Nice to have some alternatives so close to the (in)famous A514. 🙂

    That Hairy Dog looks hairy indeed! (tattoo studio on site forsooth)

    And well done on not puncturing the enthusiasm of the barmaid pouring her first pint (even, as you said, it would be hard for her to muck up pouring a Coors). 😉


    PS – No snark intended, but good on ya for having a lager once in a while if the mood takes you or it’s just easier to order due to circumstances. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hate to disagree but….from my experience (as an inveterate lager drinker) it is far easier to mess up pouring a pint of lager than a pint of real ale. Sometimes it’s too frothy/gassy; sometimes it is a bit flat….not actually as easy as you’d think. On a networking event, sponsored by Heineken, we were instructed on how to pour the perfect pint of Heineken and then many of us had a go. I was confident that I knew what I was doing, having watched innumerable pints of lager being pulled, but I didn’t get it done as well as I’d hoped/expected. So, I’m going to praise that barmaid for a job well done!!

    PS I’m enjoying a blog that visits the full range of pubs and celebrates them in all their quirkiness – keep up the good work!


  3. Thanks Russ for the video…I’d not seen that before…but I usually don’t want that much head on my lager! I do like to find a bar that keeps the lager glasses in the fridge, not just a cold wash!
    The way I was shown was the second pour and I failed when it came to put the frothy head on top!


    1. “but I usually don’t want that much head on my lager! ”

      Agreed. 🙂

      Just put that up to show there are different ways to pour and it’s not always foolproof, even with lager, as you said. 😉



  4. The Merry Widows usually has Doom Bar on,it was called The Wright Vaults when i first did it,got a photo of with that name.
    I added The Hairy Dog to the Pubs Galore site either this summer or last summer recently anyway,i had a cracking drink of Srpinghead Left Lion in there,must be another 5 or 6 pumps on the bar.
    Bishop Blaise is bugging me as i am sure i did it years ago under a different name,could have been The Rising Sun,but not sure.
    Did you read the list of pubs i posted on your original Derby Mile crawl.
    Cheers Alan


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