Friday, 11 June 2021

New Brighton

On a rather grey but warm Friday I headed off to New Brighton.  The trains were quite busy.

I started in the Three B er I mean the James Atherton:

The temporary renaming as the Three Bellends has ended but there's still plenty of the related publicity material about the place.  I haven't been in here since 2006 when it was called the Railway, so I didn't really know what to expect.  What I found was a rather well done two room pub with, oh joy, the handpumps in use, and I was soon enjoying a fine pint of Hawkshead Pale.

Almost no other customers at two thirty, rather disappointing I think, quality ale needs drinkers.

Decent rock at a comfortable level was pretty much the only sound in here.

Next, let's try the Harbour:

Apparently not open at the moment although it looks to be operational, so on to the New Brighton Hotel:

Back in '03 when I was last in here it was an Irish style pub called Peggy Gadfly's.  I'm not sure why I've always missed it on subsequent trips to the area; possibly it was only open in the evenings, as indeed it is now Monday to Thursday.

Anyway, well worth another visit, the decor in the multi-roomed interior is rather good, not over the top just comfortable.  The theme colour is grey which seems to have become very popular in recent years.  Contrasted by a little mauve lighting.

Three handpumps on the counter but no clips, so I resorted to the black stuff.  

Again very quiet, only three other customers, chatting to the barman.  If we don't get more people out drinking on a Friday afternoon there are going to be a lot more pub closures to come.  Come on folks, I can't do it on my own.

The floor show arrived, landlady and friend and the handyman who was installing glass rails.  The banter was highly entertaining.

I was intrigued to see a font for draught cocktails on the counter.  I wonder what they taste like?  Can I have a pint?  Wisely deciding not to pursue that line further, I moved across the road to the never visited Homebrew Tap:

They don't exactly have a spectacular exterior style do they, this small chain?

A well done shop conversion, actually two shops knocked through, almost next door to the Bow-legged Beagle.  Sadly, no cask ales today, two naked handpumps on the counter and the friendly barman said they're just waiting for a delivery.

Instead, I selected a hazy pale from Magic Rock called Murk-Life Balance which was great, with a flowery hoppy flavour.

Continuing today's theme, only two other customers at four on a Friday, I'm getting more and more worried about the future of these places.

Next, I abandoned my pub ticking principles and headed next door to the Bow-Legged Beagle, last visited only nine months ago:

What a contrast with next door.  Running out of tables, outside and in, and the barman was constantly busy serving.  Clearly this is where everyone goes to drink!

Four handpumps in use, some great selections including Ossett Butterley and my choice, Peerless Oatmeal Stout, which was very good.

The soundtrack in here was animated chatter, I think there might have been some music underneath?  Actually, on further listening, no there isn't.

As often happens in micros, most of the customers know each other and the friendly efficient barman, Pete.

While I was enjoying my ale, a peanut butter milk stout was added to the blackboard.  Sounds great, but it's time to go.

Pub of the day: Bow-Legged Beagle
Miles walked: Only 0.7 today.
Maybe coming soon: Waterloo

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

... And We're Back

Finding myself unexpectedly in Rainhill I set out on a quick survey.  Not properly planned, this one, so I was expecting to find some places shut, and sure enough the Holt was, although it certainly looks operational:

A short walk down the road brought me to the Rocket, and it's open:

My first pub research visit of the new era.  (I've been in - or outside - quite a few over recent weeks, but mainly for social reasons rather than research - Lowlight was sitting outside the Fall Well with my hand over my pint to keep the rain out; highlight was my first indoor pint in the Ship and Mitre on Monday.)

I still haven't got the habit of the new arrangements:  I remembered to wear a mask and then walked up to the bar and ordered a pint.  The cheerful barmaid patiently explained the rules, probably for the hundredth time.

No real ale, it looks like the handpumps went in the refurbishment, so I was back to the old familiar Carling.

The interior has changed a lot since my last call, back in 2016, knocked through into one U-shaped room surrounding the servery.  Very nicely decorated in restrained style, perhaps a little "identikit" but very well done.

Only a few customers in, but not bad for half twelve on a Wednesday I suppose.

On to the Victoria:

This one hasn't changed since last time (also 2016), the decor is not quite as"new" as in the Rocket, but still very pleasant.  No sign of any handpumps here either (I've got a suspicion this might become a theme in my researches now.) so I had another lager.  Again, customers were sparse, surely not enough to pay for the two friendly efficient staff.

Even in a fairly empty boozer I must say it's good to be sitting inside and absorbing the atmosphere.  The soundtrack in here was a music channel on the tellies, mixed with the happy chatter of the bar staff, obviously pleased to be back on duty.

As I finished my pint I wondered how many more of the Rainhill hostleries would be open?  Would I find some real ale?  Let's see...

On to the Commercial:

Open?  Yes.  Cask?  YES!

This pub - one of my favourites - never changes, thank goodness, and I was soon ensconced in one of the side rooms with a fine pint of Wainwright.

They've gone mad on the social distancing in here, with miles of hazard tape marking off alternate sections of the bench seating round the room.  I wonder how long into Friday night that'll last!

Not very busy, unsurprisingly at two on a Wednesday, but I could hear mixed chatter from the regulars scattered around the wonderful interior of this architectural gem.  An important part of the conversations was along the lines of "you have to sit down, she'll take your order" as people got used to the hopefully temporary rules.

I must admit I was somewhat concerned about this pub's survival a few years ago when it closed for a few weeks with a banner advertising new owners, but apparently I was worrying unnecessarily.  I note it is on CAMRA's list of historic pub interiors, but not (yet) listed.

Next, the Coach And Horses, but the blackboard says opening at 4.30.  So, on to the Black Horse:

A pleasant food-oriented pub with standard "Sizzling" decor inside and out, pretty empty at this time on a Wednesday.

I spent an annoyingly long amount of time wrestling with installing the app so I could order, I should have said no and given a manual order instead.  No real ales on offer in the app, to be honest I didn't actually check the counter for pumps.  Once I'd sorted out my technology, my lager was promptly delivered, but this isn't really what I want in a pub;  I look forward to ordering at the bar before too long.

A few more customers came in, and had a lot less trouble with the technology than I did.

So, my first survey post lockdown.  How was it?  No real problems, but I am a little worried to note that all four of today's ticks had real ale last time I visited but we're down to just one now.  I hope that as things settle down and restrictions are further lifted we will see more cask.

Pub of the day: The Commercial by a wide margin
Miles walked: 2
Maybe coming soon: New Brighton

Saturday, 1 May 2021

Blown Out at the Bombed Out

I nipped into town with the objective of collecting a brand new tick which I'm told serves real ale.  The train journey was extremely crowded, they've had years to sort out the new trains of but still we get a six car train with everyone crowded into three carriages.

Once I'd escaped from the station I marched hopefully up Renshaw Street to the Bombed Out Church:

This has been open as a cafe for some time, I think, and I recently learned that they do real ale so time for a visit.

Unfortunately it is reservations only on Saturdays, apparently, so I didn't get my tick.  Hmph!  I'll be back, perhaps when it is a bit quieter.  Irritatingly I could see umpteen empty tables.

So, where's the nearest real ale?  The Dispensary, of course:

Only my fourth visit here since lockdown!

They were doing a decent trade at 12:30, but with plenty of free tables, so I was soon enjoying a pint of favourite Oakham Citra in the chilly breeze.

I must say I am looking forward to two weeks time when I will be able to sit in comfort inside pubs instead of freezing on a wobbly bench in the street!

Where next?  There's another new one, well a new name anyway, just round the corner so I headed for the Coach House:

Formerly Hard Times And Misery and then Dickens and King, this now belongs to the Angus on Dale Street.

The waiter reeled off a list of real ales I didn't recognise and Inferno, another Oakham brew, so I selected that one and it was very good, although I still prefer my favourite Citra from the last place.

Again, ticking over nicely but with plenty of free tables.  This place, usually the smallest pub in Liverpool, has benefited from the current situation as they have a lot more space outside in the street than they have inside.  I wonder if they will be allowed to occupy half the width of the road long term.

Town was getting a bit busy, what with a kill the bill march and Saturday shoppers, so I decided to beat a retreat at this point and headed for home.

Pub of the day: Dispensary
Miles walked: 1.5

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.