Thursday, 15 April 2021

It's Been A Long Wait

When I ended lockdown at ten on Monday morning at the Huyton Wetherspoon's I was not a little disappointed to find that they hadn't got any real ale; "we only tapped it yesterday".  Monitoring the (unreliable) app showed that today they might have a guest on, but I had things to do in town so hopefully I could get something decent.

Having quickly completed my shopping, I headed for the Bridewell.

Arriving on the dot of twelve noon, I was offered a selection of tables; I chose one inside the yard, out of the cold breeze.  The efficient waitress handed me a sign-in slip (Surprisingly, it didn't ask for my phone number) and fetched me my first pint of real ale this year.

I started with the excellent Kirkstall Pale, followed just fifteen minutes later by another of the same.

A brewery delivery provided entertainment as casks were thrown down the hatch, which was in the yard right in front of me, and there was a steady trickle of customers arriving and being allocated tables.  The friendly cheerful staff (It's always been like that here.) were chatting to customers and promptly fetching drinks as required.

I resisted the temptation to just stay here all afternoon, and headed on to the Baltic Fleet.

Plenty of free tables here, but the few in the sun were all taken.  The waitress soon came to take my order, and started the list of real ales, but I stopped her at the first one which was Trappers Hat, a favourite of mine.  

Not my ideal pub experience, in a chilly breeze with the traffic whizzing past but the beer was wonderful and, after all, that's why I'm here.

Plenty of empty tables at one o'clock, I hope they're getting enough customers to keep going.  I noted there were quite a few tables under large umbrellas, useful to know if it's raining.

Hypothermia was beginning to set in - Roll on 17th May when we can sit inside - so I headed back towards Lime Street and the train home.  But diverted via the Dispensary.

Here I signed in using the NHS app before being allocated a table.  Once again I didn't get the full list of ales because the first one was Oakham Citra, another of my favourites.

Most, but not all, of the tables were occupied, there won't be much room for more customers.  None of the tables had umbrellas, being your own if it's raining!

Once again a delivery arrived, in this case a truck full of gas cylinders.  Only two for this pub.

So, in summary, three great pubs, four great pints, but very cold.

Pub of the day: All three were wonderful but I'll choose the Bridewell, simply because it was first.
Miles walked: 2.2

Monday, 8 February 2021

New Book

The latest edition of the book of the guide was published today.  Not really the best time for new version, when I haven't been in a pub yet this year, but at least I had plenty of free time to do the typesetting and so on.

This time, I've gone for a simple paperback format.  The book lists 1,868 pubs of which I have visited 1,337, on 258 pages.

You can order a copy direct from the printer by clicking here.

Friday, 11 December 2020

A Survey in Tier Two

While my greed might tempt me to try a five pub survey here in tier two, I don't think five substantial meals, or even five scotch eggs, would be very good for my health so normal researches are once again on hold.

However, looking at my maps I noticed there's only one or two pubs left in Halewood, making it difficult to research in normal times because I then have to travel on to somewhere else to find some more targets.  So, a golden opportunity for a one pub trip out.  I headed for the Eagle and Child, last visited in 1998:

Some time ago this was a Greene King pub and was renamed the Reverend Plummer, but it's no longer branded in one of their chains, and the original name was restored just a couple of weeks ago.  Mind you, as you can see, there is still some Greene King signage on the outside.

A good looking old building houses a rather fine three roomed pub with traditional decor.  No sign of any handpumps so I had Guinness.  The menu, not one of those giant chain ones, offers a small range of attractive options and I chose bangers and mash.  At ten quid it's a lot more than Wetherspoon's charge, but it was very good.

A few regulars were in, creating background chatter to mix with the inevitable Christmas songs.  Surprisingly, there didn't seem to be any Christmas decorations visible, oh wait - there's a snowman on the end of the counter.  Not the usual over the top stuff you find in every pub.

As usual I listened in to the chatter, the main topic seemed to be how long one can stay drinking after a meal!  Can we go home and come back this evening?

It's very pleasing to see, in these difficult times, a pub that seems to be doing well, long may it continue.

Saturday, 17 October 2020

Good Beer Guide 2021

My preview copy of the Good Beer Guide arrived today, and I can report that twenty pubs have been dropped and twenty-one added in Merseyside since last year's edition.

As I say every year, if you want to know which pubs they are you'll have to buy the book when it goes on sale later this month.

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Not Goodbye, Just Au Revoir

Time for one last crawl before I get locked down again.  How about a few favourites in town?  

Before anyone gets upset or offended, this is not a list of my top five pubs in Liverpool, it's just a few of my favourites.

I started at the Bridewell:

An efficient friendly barman soon had my order and allocated me a seat in one of the cells.  Moments later the landlord bought me my pint of Kirkstall Pale, I think it was.  He stopped for a brief chat about the current daft situation.

Plenty of chatter which was louder than the background music, mostly conversations about lockdown, of course.

Next, towards the waterfront and the Baltic Fleet.  Curses!  It's not open.

On to the wonderful Lion:

This architectural gem never fails to please, and although they had less ales on than usual, my pint of JHB, quickly brought to my table, was delicious.

Only one other customer in the bar side and, I think, just one in the lounges, I had thought there might be a bit of a pre-lockdown rush, but apparently not yet.  I bet this evening is busier than usual.

The regular in the lounge departed, "Have a good Christmas" said the landlord.  Cynical?  Sadly, he might be right.

I enjoyed most of my ale in total silence, until the music suddenly started up, at very low volume.

Two more customers came in to double the trade.

Next door is the Railway:

Not as historic inside as the Lion but still a rather fine traditional interior, although I think all the etched glasswork is modern.

They seemed to be winding down for lockdown, the barman informed me they were out of Guinness and the last of the Doom Bar had just been poured.  They still had Black Sheep and Tribute and the latter was spot on.

More people in than next door, with animated conversations mixing with the background music, but still no sign of a final rush.

The "Welcome back we've missed you" sign seems a bit ironic today, let's hope they get to use it again soon this year.

Where next?  How about the Excelsior:

All cask ales £2 until it's gone said the sign and I was soon served with a spot on pint of Shropshire Gold.

Only two other customers in here, and I got the impression one might actually be staff.  Certainly no sign of the end of term rush that I had been expecting, I guess Merseysiders are resigned to their fate and don't see any reason to party.  I can see their point.

For some years I've always felt this pub deserves to do better than it seems to achieve.  It was a regular haunt of my Wednesday night friends for some time, but we eventually moved elsewhere, probably more due to the desire for a change than a problem with the Excelsior.  In fact, given a few more weeks of opening I think we would have come back here, but that's obviously not going to happen in the immediate future.

Time for a "final" pint, perhaps just up the road in the Ship and Mitre:

I worried:  What if my "last" pint is 'orrible?  Or I can't get in?  Back in March I really regretted that my last two drinks were Guinness in keg pubs, I don't want to make that mistake this time.

No need for concern!  At just after three it was the quietest I've ever seen in here, with just a scattering of customers about the place.  The beer I chose had run out but my second choice, Marstons Saddle Tank, was in fine nick.  It's not looking good for this evening, with only two real ales left, and a number of keg taps out of action too.

As always, no music just chatter in here, and it's a bit more echoey than we're used to with so few people in.

There was some pulling through going on behind the bar, were they adding another cask ale or just cleaning the pipes ready for lockdown?  The latter, I think, confirmed when some more lines were also flushed through.

A great pint in a favourite pub to end this drinking season, one can only wonder how long it will be before I get to drink in a pub again...  

How about that!  Five excellent pints in five excellent pubs, what more could anyone ask, but there was one more bit of excitement before I got home:  They're filming something at St George's Hall, and I walked past a number of Gotham City police cars and buses.

There was quite a crowd of onlookers so I'm guessing there were some stars involved, I look forward to watching the film when it's on free TV in a few years time.  The whinger in me wants to know why my pubs have to close but overpaid celebrities can still bring umpteen staff in to make a movie.  A quick search of the internet revealed that they're filming "The Batman", particularly amusing since the auto spelling on my tablet insists on changing barman to batman every time I type it!

To end on a positive note, the table service today has again been exemplary, with every pub providing prompt service and a polite enquiry as to whether I'd like another as I approached the end of the pint.  This is the one thing I'd like to retain long term from the current mess.

P.S. The new rules don't seem to add any travel restrictions, maybe I should move to somewhere where the pubs are still open?

Pub of the day: All of them!
Miles walked: 2.75

Have a good Christmas!

Saturday, 10 October 2020

Mathew Street Again

Judging by the news this could be my last survey for some time, in fact I did consider doing a crawl of my favourites rather than research today, but I resisted.

As last week, poor weather and doubts about opening scared me off the planned trip to Hillside, so once again I aimed for Mathew Street, but first there was a little call I'd been meaning to make for some time:  A couple of years ago when I visited Kensington I got a comment on the blog pointing out that I'd missed a pub.  Until then I hadn't been aware of the existence of the Liver Vaults.  So, today I took a bus to Kensington and headed off down a side street with, to be honest, little expectation of success.  Sure enough, it was closed although I couldn't tell whether permanently or just because I was too early:

On to Mathew Street, and I started in Legends:

A rather well done sports-oriented place, this, with genuine looking bare brick walls covered in TVs and sports pictures.

Maybe a dozen customers in at one thirty and the barman quickly brought me a pint of Carling.

The tellies I could see were showing horses, but the one behind my head was on a different channel.  The other customers, mostly men of around my age, chatted and swigged their lagers.

Just across the road is a place, never ticked, that has had a number of names, the latest being Strawberry Fields:

Not sure this is really a pub, it's more of a cafe, part of a Youth Hostel.  When was the last time I was in one of those, I wonder? Probably more than forty years ago.

Pleasantly decorated in modern "industrial" style with a fine quarry tiled floor, is it fake?

There's was a slight delay while the keg was changed but my tasty pint of Goose IPA was soon brought to my table by an efficient waitress.  And it was only £3.37.

I glanced at the TV which was showing Sky News.  Pubs in Liverpool to close from Wednesday, they predicted.  Disappointing but not surprising.

Gentle background music and two or three staff busy wiping surfaces and chatting were the sound in here.  The other two customers were dining, their burgers making me feel a pang of hunger.

I was rather amused by the menu on my table, apparently they do an "all day breakfast" from 8am to 11am.

That's almost it for Mathew Street so I headed to the other end and out onto North John Street, intending to visit the William Gladstone, but then I spotted Harrison's:

I had this recorded as closed, the former Beaconsfield, but it's back in action and very nicely refurbished inside, I must say.

Once again, prompt efficient service, and I was soon enjoying a pint of Blue Moon, which cost five quid.

The half basement is very well done out with some nice ceramics on the counter front and some rather good decoration including a great mural of the Beatles crossing a zebra crossing in the style of the famous Abbey Road album cover, but it is located on the street outside here and they're heading towards this bar.  Lots of TVs were showing footie.

The two staff were kept occupied with orders for cocktails, and once again they clearly demonstrated that table service can work well, unfamiliar though it is to British pub customers.   A friend of mine commented a couple of weeks ago, when our drinks were delivered to our table, "I could get used to this".  Perhaps table service in pubs will be, long term, a positive outcome of the current crisis.

I checked my previous notes for this place.  I think I saw live music here many years ago.  It hardly seems big enough.

Over the road is the entrance to a bar I've never visited (or even heard of), the Wall Of Fame:

Annoyingly they didn't seem to display an NHS code so I had to use their own track and trace to sign in, no idea if it worked.

Noisy music and louder chatter filled this remarkably popular bar which has bare brickwork and coarse wood decor.  Very nicely done but I couldn't work out what the theme was.  I guess it's music.  The array of album covers, the motorbike covered in fairy lights, all made for a great appearance.  Physically it's located immediately above the Cavern Pub I was in last week and it runs through the building to a second entrance on Victoria Street.

They'd run out of Carling so I had something from Camden Town which tasted like it was the first one they'd poured for days.  And it cost £4.80.

Not my sort of place but being this busy at three on a wet Saturday afternoon they must be doing something right.  I say busy but there were plenty of empty tables so they could easily accommodate lots more people, but nonetheless the two bar staff were fully occupied serving drinks.

Is that rain I can see outside?  Perhaps that's why the scantily clad young ladies headed for the door and then returned to rejoin their friends.

I finished my pint and headed out by the other door, on Mathew Street:

It occurred to me that this might be my last survey for some time so I skipped the target ticks such as the Gladstone and headed back towards Lime Street, and a final visit to the Crown, so at least I could finish with a decent pint.  Sorry, no picture, it's hard to get a good shot without risking getting run over, especially four pints into a survey!

It was quite busy, although I'm sure it would have been a lot busier on a Saturday afternoon pre-covid.  My Landlord was quickly delivered to my allocated table in the back room.

I await with some trepidation Monday's announcement

Pub of the day: The Crown
Miles walked: 1.7
Maybe coming soon: Who knows?

Monday, 5 October 2020

Denbigh Castle

Blood donor day again, and a chance to visit a pub which has changed name and gained real ale since the last time I was there, so I headed for the Denbigh Castle:

Only one other customer in here at half one on a Monday.  I zapped the NHS code and chose a table where I was quickly provided with an excellent pint of Dissolution IPA from Kirkstall.  What a great tasty ale, quite sweet but still hoppy.

They've got five handpumps, three had clips, Banks's Amber and one I couldn't read from my seat being the other options.

I was trying to remember what this place was like last time I visited, in 2012, when it was called Jupiter's, but I couldn't visualise the room then.  I suspect it's been totally remodelled since.  Anyway, now it has pleasant slightly dark decor with a pale wood floor.

I hope they get enough customers at more popular times to keep the quality ales flowing.

There's no sign to indicate the way to the gents, I eventually worked out it's downstairs where there is also another room with a counter and two handpumps, obviously not in use at this time.