Tuesday, 3 July 2012

3 Cheese Hall

Visited On 17 April 2012

Here's the photo ...
... and here's the map

This pub was indeed originally called the Cheese Hall. But then it became the Three Lamps, and later Oscar’s (I kid you not), which may have seemed a good idea at the time to somebody. Now it has fortunately reverted to its original name.

It says Marston’s Pub Company outside. But this is no guarantee of seeing a Marston’s cask ale on offer once you get inside. It’s all a bit of a corporate reverse ferret. I will explain.

Marston’s had a tied estate of around 600 pubs, distributed around the country, and did a lot of business in the free trade. They were taken over by Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries, whose beers were marketed under the Banks’s and Hanson’s labels. W&B had an estate of over 1,000 pubs, these being concentrated heavily in its West Midlands heartland.

Only later did someone hit on the idea that the Marston’s name might be rather more marketable, and so the Marston’s Pub Company was born. You should get a cask beer choice in these pubs, but don’t expect Pedigree. My midweek visit to the Cheese Hall revealed just Banks’s Bitter.

A long passage leads to a recessed entrance: you then have raised seating areas behind to both left and right. As it’s another corner pub, there is more space down to the right hand side of a long, long bar. There is food on at lunchtimes.

So it’s, er, a pint of Banks’s, then. “It’s a bit lively” says the barman. Maybe this is A Good Thing. I let it settle. And then my Cheese Hall Experience begins to go downhill in short order. My pint of Banks’s Bitter has somehow defied the laws of fluid dynamics. A couple of minutes after being served, it’s as flat as the proverbial fart. It’s, well, drinkable. And then I begin to notice the surroundings.

Somewhere to my left, the bloke who failed the audition for front of house bore at the Unfunny Even When Terminally Ratarsed Bar in Torremolinos is talking up his manhood. Very loudly. Eh? I say! Dead funny, right?!? And! I say!! It’s not the way he tells them. Christ on a bike, I hope he doesn’t decide to do an encore.

A number of studenty types are being asked for ID, which suggests there may be a problem here with under age drinking, or maybe over-zealous management. One obviously under 18 young person is not getting away with being served even after donning an MMU sweatshirt.

There is loud and apparently uncontrollable music playing. And a lot of empty space: this is, after all, a big pub. But there is one plus I can take from this visit: the idea that Marston’s Pub Company equals a decent boozer is not necessarily true. In a word? Disappointing. Hopefully the next stop on the tour will salvage the evening. Ho hum.

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