Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Bootle

And I thought it was cold in Garston!  Bright sunshine and a heavy frost saw me on my way to Bootle.  My first call was at Jollys, a 1950s construction I would guess:
Inside is a traditional two bar boozer, well looked after.  I'm not sure if the other side was in use as I joined three customers in the bar side, for a pint of the black stuff.
I suppose the Christmas music is now inevitable but, bah humbug, it's still two weeks away!  Later, one of regulars had a word with the barmaid and a quick fiddle with the computer saw Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer replaced by Nick Kershaw.

Having written well looked after, I took a good look at my surroundings and it's really spot on, the bench seats recently recovered, the vinyl flooring with a dark marble pattern was free of marks and scratches, and so on.

Next, a Wetherspoon's I haven't visited since 2004:
Behind the brutalist architecture, the Wild Rose (I was going to call it the Briar Rose but that's in Birmingham, I think.) seems smaller than the average spoons.  It was pretty busy on a Tuesday lunchtime, and there appeared to be a queueing system for food orders which I only noticed after I'd stood at the other end of the bar.  Luckily the queue didn't apply to drinkers so I was soon enjoying a gorgeous porter from Ringwood.  Watching as I drank, I realised there was no queue after all, it must have been a gang of diners all at one end of the bar.  Good!

There were plenty of real ales on, but they didn't seem to be selling much so it must be difficult to maintain quality.  Mine was great, anyway.

Twenty years ago this pub was the scene of a disagreement when the barmaid illegally refused to top-up some very short pints and was backed up by the manageress when we complained.  We didn't argue further, so avoiding an altercation, we just dobbed them in to Trading Standards and Wetherspoon's headquarters.  Today's measure was acceptable (By modern standards, he says grudgingly.)

Just off the main street I aimed for the Beaconsfield which now seems to be called Beaky:
Inside this large social club sort of place I headed for the small lounge bar, once again clean and tidy, where I joined two other customers and the barmaid who, after I was served, went back to chatting and warming herself on the radiator.  With only four of us in the place, I was inevitably drawn into a cheerful conversation about Christmas dinner and presents.   Eventually, I escaped.  "Are you going back to work?"; "No, just to another pub!".  Inevitably, I only came up with a better reply half an hour later:  I should have said "This is work." and showed them the book.

On in the arctic conditions to the Cat and Fiddle:
Unusually located in the bottom of a tower block, this rather good pub is totally unexpected if you haven't been here before.  All four handpumps were in use, but my pint of Liverpool Organic 24 Carat Gold was hazy and well past its best.  Very disappointing, I probably should have rejected it.

Perhaps it's time I sorted out how to submit beer scores on whatpub.com, this was definitely a 1.0, or even 0.5, I think.  Of course, that is to miss the point of whatpub, I would also need to put in 4.0 for the porter in the Rose, and 0.0 for the other two.

Quite a few people in the place, both groups and loners, were keeping it ticking over, but no-one wanted real ale.

I left to find it seemed a bit warmer outside, maybe, and it was raining.  I headed quickly to Oriel Road for trains home.

Friday, 8 December 2017

The Bullring Bar

Blood donors again, then up London Road to the Bullring Bar:
One large open barn of a room, with comfortable booths lining the walls, pleasantly decorated and ticking over nicely on a very cold Friday afternoon.  Background music mixed with cheerful chatter and the click of pool balls on the two tables, as I settled down with my Guinness* which costed only £2.50.

Intriguingly, the rear part of the room has a high ceiling with large skylights, and a glazed floor - I couldn't see what was below as it was frosted glass.  I wonder what this was before it was a bar.  Hopefully street view will tell me when I get home...  And the answer is, it used to be the Blind Tiger Bar, so not a new place after all.
* I wonder if I can get them to sponsor this blog, as theirs is the beer which gets the most mentions!

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Free Beer in Grey Garston

A chilly grey day saw me on the bus to Garston, and I soon reached my first destination, the Dealers Arms:

This place has been thoroughly done up since my last visit, I think, creating a very pleasant two sided pub, although hiding the dark wood panelling. There were no other customers at two on a Tuesday. I ordered a pint of Guinness and after a short delay the barmaid returned with a half-full glass, "I'm sorry, we've run out and the delivery hasn't come, you can have this for free." So I did! The pub was rather chilly inside, otherwise very comfortable and, as is usually the case nowadays, spotlessly clean and well cared for.

I have always had a suspicion that a pub which has "run out because the delivery hasn't come" is actually on its last legs and the non-delivery is because they haven't paid the bill. But I have no evidence to support this theory, and in fact a Manchester pub I used to drink in regularly which was always running out of Guinness is still going strong years later.

A short step down the road to the Mariners, a one roomed local with traditional decor. Unlike the last place, it was doing a good trade with lots of regulars chatting. Clean and well cared for again, the atmosphere was warmer both literally and figuratively, as I relaxed and consumed a paid-for pint of Guinness. It's unusual to see a pub which has none of the three bog-standard keg bitters, Tetley, John Smiths, and Worthington. Instead, they have Banks's Amber.


Next, across the road to the George.
Another cheerful local boozer, two sided, and in the middle of redecoration - I was a bit worried about touching the paintwork in case it was still wet - It wasn't. Again, a quiet background of chit-chat created a friendly atmosphere, although it wasn't as busy as the Mariners. Various regulars came in and out, not all for a drink.


It's hard to assess the quality of the interior in mid redecoration, but assuming they replace the paint-spotted upholstery when the work on the walls is complete, it will be very pleasant. My enjoyment of another Guinness was perhaps slightly reduced by the paint smell but I can't really complain about that.


That completed the main street in Garston, so I headed off into the side roads for my next targets.
The Derby is another street corner local, also ticking over nicely on a Tuesday afternoon. Once again, spotless and well cared for with the quiet background chit-chat making a friendly comfortable atmosphere, although the music was perhaps a touch loud. The friendly and efficient barmaid was busy sorting out one of the regulars' phones with a new SIM card, in between serving everyone.


Next call was the Palatine, which has a rather odd interior, and with just two other customers the atmosphere was a little on the dead side. Nonetheless the place was, as with all today's ticks, spotless and well cared for. There were lots of adverts for food at cheap prices, I wonder how that works on a quiet Tuesday: Does the barmaid fire up the grill/microwave when necessary, surely they can't afford a cook on standby?

More customers came in while I drank another Guinness. I think we were all following The Chase on the telly.

Of course, the down side of researching a pub guide is that sometimes you have to miss out good pubs in order to tick off others, so the two pubs I didn't do in Garston were the Good Beer Guide listed Masonic, and the rather fine Swan, both of which were offering real ale last time I visited them.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Everton in the Cold

A cold and sunny day saw me on the bus towards Everton again, this time to May Duncan's:

This hasn't changed at all since I was here in 2004, one large open knocked through room around a u-shaped counter. Nicely decorated and very well cared for. A handful of regulars briefly all looked round as I entered, before resuming their chit-chat. No real ale so I had a pint of Canada's famous fizzy yellow stuff (Although I note the glass is branded Burton-on-Trent.). The whole place has a friendly, comfortable feel to it. I notice they do accommodation upstairs.

I was trying unsuccessfully to remember what it was like when it was called the Thistle. On returning home and examining my database I discovered this was because 2004 was my first time, when it was already May Duncan's

My next destination was just up the road, but unfortunately the Old Campfield was boarded up:
Continuing along Heyworth Street brought me to the Grade II listed example of "brewers' Tudor" that is the Mere Bank:
Another one that hasn't changed much since my '04 visit, a very pleasant half-timbered inside to match the outside. Just one other customer when I went in, one or two more came in while I swigged another Carling.


I resisted the temptation of pinching a free drink while the barman had a smoke break!

Intriguingly, just as I was finishing my pint three trays of sandwiches were delivered. I wondered if there was any chance of some free food, but they disappeared somewhere!

I headed eastwards in the failing light. The area where I drank in the Granton and the Waverley back in 1999 has been redeveloped out of all recognition, but further down Breckfield Road North things returned to 1910s architecture, and the beautiful ceramic frontage of the Grove was soon in view. (Too dark for a piccy, I'm afraid) The interior has been pleasantly modernised since I was last here, also in '99, but without changing the comfortable three roomed two-sided layout.
There were plenty of customers in both sides, at least one of which had brought an irritatingly friendly little dog - Once I'd convinced it I'd got no food it went to bother someone else. I later discovered there were three of them (dogs, I mean), and they probably belong to the pub.

I headed off in the bitter cold and darkness to the Midden which still looks like an operational pub, but wasn't open, so I continued through the maze of terraced streets to the King Charles, a fine traditional boozer with a tiny front snug served from a hatch, which has retained signage and other aspects of a 1960s refurbishment. (Don't you just love that font.) I don't mean to suggest it has an old tired interior, it has obviously been well looked after since then. Some of the regulars were tucking in to bowls of nuts and crisps, but I didn't get any!

Another place that was ticking over nicely early on Tuesday evening, I get the feeling pubs round here are still doing alright. On the other hand, none of the pubs I visited today was warm, I never took my coat off at all, so obviously all are economising on heat on what was admittedly a very cold day (for Liverpool.)

I notice I've got this pub listed under Anfield whereas all the previous ones were Everton. I really must decide where the line is and sort things out!

A short walk took me to Breck Road for a bus into town for a train home. Just think, when I'm sixty all this travel will be free! Hopefully.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Southport Line Miscelleny

The weather was cold and mostly bright as I used two trains to travel from Huyton to Hightown. Opportunities for confusion over these place names perhaps? I once had a taxi driver head towards Walton when I wanted Woolton, but I've not had problems with Huyton/Hightown yet.

But I digress. It's just a few steps from the station to the Hightown Hotel:
When I first came here the interior was decorated in an unusual fifties/sixties style which I rather liked, but that has long gone, to be replaced with standard "traditional pub" decor, done very nicely. The only other customers at 3 p.m. were a group of regulars chatting at the bar; no-one else came or went while I was there. The six hand pumps included Directors' (Now brewed by Wells & Youngs in Bedford.) which I haven't had for years so I enjoyed a good pint of that in the comfortable surroundings.
I had a quick look at the menu of standard pub classics which seems good value. It's quite rare nowadays for a pub that isn't in a chain or franchise to do food.
I also noticed an advert for new year's eve: Free entry, free food, two free drinks, and fireworks. If only I lived within walking distance!

The plan was to walk across open country to the never before visited Pheasant, but a cold north wind was whistling in across the sea, bringing with it ominous black clouds and a few spots of rain, so I wimped out and left that one for a warmer day, instead taking the train a couple of stops to Freshfield to tick off the Beer Station:
A standard micro-pub in a row of shops this, worryingly deserted as I approached but the sign said Open and it was. The usual micro decor of plain walls, but decorated with pictures of local scenes instead of breweriana. Very pleasant, although somewhat lacking in atmosphere with only me and the landlord. My pint of Melwood's Liverpool Porter from one of the three hand pumps was nothing short of perfect. No other drinkers appeared while I enjoyed my ale, I hope they get more people later.

Back to the station, and a few stops towards town, to Crosby and the Corner Post. (Too dark for pictures by now.) Another micro-pub, pale walls with local scenes again, but this time with the difference that there were nearly a dozen customers, despite the fact that it was rather chilly inside. Five handpumps on the bar, and I had an excellent pint of Prohibition APA from Wily Fox. Unlike the dead silence of the last place, there was a gentle background noise of cheerful chit-chat here, making it feel more welcoming/comfortable, although on the negative side this is one of those dog-friendly places - There were two well behaved ones while I was there.
More people came in as I enjoyed my ale, to the extent that eventually I had to share my table.

The trouble with using the excellent whatpub.com to help plan these researches is that it has a "nearby" button which quite often throws up a place I've never heard of. Thus I found myself in the This is Livin Bar and Grill. This is mainly a restaurant, but there's a pleasant drinkers' area by the bar which feels comfortable and not just grudgingly provided for people waiting to eat. As far as I could see, the only customers at half five were me and one other drinker, severely outnumbered by the staff (Four front of house, at least three in the kitchen.) but I expect they get more diners later. No real ale so I finished my day with a Guinness.

So, two of those critical "In the Good Beer Guide but I've never been" places ticked, plus another I'd never heard of before. Time to go home.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Two Hundred And Fifty

I visited the Blood Donor Centre today for my hundreth donation of platelets, giving me a total score of two hundred and fifty which I'm hoping will win me a certificate or something.  All I got today was a packet of crisps and a Penguin. (That's the biscuit, not the bird.)

Anyway, afterwards I headed to a favourite pub of mine, the Globe on Cases Street:
This splendid tiny pub is far too busy most of the time but at 3pm on a damp Tuesday afternoon I managed to get a table.
The famous slanting floor is particularly noticeable if you sit at one of the (sloping) tables facing the (level) bar counter.
I was served a rather short pint of Landlord, and was slightly miffed to note that a regular, ordering the same a few minutes later, was told "I'll just let it settle."  Apparently strangers don't merit this treatment.  Never mind, the ale was, as usual, of excellent quality.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

An Omission In Town

The building on the corner of Victoria Street and Stanley Street has been Molly Malones since 2014 but somehow despite walking past it on a regular basis I've never put it in my database, let alone visited.
I corrected the omission today, and found a pleasant pseudo-Irish pub, very quiet at 1pm on a Thursday.  Obviously I had a Guinness, and by the time I'd finished it the handful of workmen in for their lunch break had gone and there were only three other customers.
There seems to have been a gradual increase in the number of "Irish" pubs in Liverpool in recent years, and I often wonder what real Irish people think of them, as they're not much like a true Irish pub in my opinion.  (Pogue Mahone is an honourable exception.)