Friday 31 December 2010

Now It's "The Barker's Brewery"

According to Wetherspoon's web site the new branch in Huyton will be named The Barker's Brewery, and not The Baker's Brewary as they were calling it last week.

It's still scheduled to open 23 January, subject to licensing approval.

Wednesday 15 December 2010

Cains In Trouble Again

Today the Post are reporting that Cains are once again struggling to continue trading, with auditors reporting there is uncertainty about their survival.

It was only a little over two years ago that the current incarnation of Cains was created from the the previous company which had gone into administration.

Sunday 12 December 2010

The Beer Economiser

Yesterday I travelled over to Yorkshire where I enjoyed some beers in a few pubs. I won't put the reviews here since it's well out of the area, but the trip did remind me of a question which has bugged me for some time: What is the status of the beer economiser?

For those who've never seen one, a beer economiser (or Autovac) is a system which collects the overspill as a pint is poured and recycles it by mixing it with fresh beer as the pump is operated. It is traditional in Yorkshire and parts of Scotland I'm told.

My personal philosophy has always been that a bit of dirt is good for the immune system, so I have no complaints, but I must say I'm surprised that more people (Not to mention Environmental Health.) don't object to drinking beer that has washed over the hands of the serving staff. Perhaps most drinkers aren't even aware of the system?

I found one web site which claimed these were no longer legal, but I find that hard to believe since I observed them in a number of pubs. UPDATE: I have communicated with the Environmental Health team responsible for the area I visited and they confirm that economisers are used and are legal.

How to spot an economiser

1. There is a square metal funnel below each swan-neck.
2. The barman/barmaid seems very wasteful of beer. They often give a hefty squirt from the pump before putting the glass under, and any excess head is dealt with by pulling more beer and letting the head overflow.
3. If the beer is too lively, larger quantities may be pulled with the glass held aside, driving the excess gas out before recycling.
4. I'm told they have a distinctive noise as the valve opens and closes, but to be honest I've never noticed.

Thursday 9 December 2010

A Couple in Town

Blood donors again, so I surveyed a couple of pubs, starting with the William Gladstone on North John Street. I'm fairly sure this used to be the Hogshead or was that on the other corner, now Slug and Lettuce? Anyway, I haven't visited under this name. A busy popular food-oriented two floor place, nicely decorated especially the chandeliers. Three hand pumps on the bar, including one of the weird Bombardier ones that confused me in Rainhill yesterday. Unfortunately "No real ale, we're waiting for a delivery" so it was my favourite fallback, a pint of Guinness.

After a bit of shopping I headed for the New Penny Farthing. I haven't been in here since 2002, and after quite a long period of closure this year it has re-opened basically unchanged except for a new carpet and a new coat of paint. The clientele were just as 'liveley' as before.

Wednesday 8 December 2010

A Survey in the Cold

Nothing to do this afternoon so I donned my arctic gear (slight exaggeration) and headed out into the bright sunshine to crunch through the snow and ice up to the station. A quick train ride took me to Lea Green, and then it was a short walk to the Millhouse, a pleasant comfortable pub concentrating mainly on food, which was ticking over on a cold Wednesday lunchtime. A generous supply of Timothy Taylor's beermats but no real ale to be seen.

Next, back towards the station and the Bull & Dog, another pleasant comfortable food-oriented place with no real ale. I was pleased to see that instead of the usual unfriendly "No work clothes" the sign on the lounge door said "Gentlemen in work clothes please use the bar." The bar was much plainer than the larger lounge side, and featured a vinyl floor. Once again, food sales were slow but steady - not bad for a cold Wednesday.

One stop on the train and I was in Rainhill where I headed for the Black Horse. Yet another food-oriented pub ticking over at two on a Wednesday, but this one has some decent ale, including one called Black Horse brewed by George Wright. There was a strange font on the counter for Bombardier, featuring a tall stand with an illuminated sign on the top which made me think it was keg at first glance, but behind was a tall handle and a standard swan-neck so probably cask after all. Some kind of marketing ploy trying to look modern, I presume, but in my case it lost them a potential sale!
UPDATE: The following day I saw another one of these, and I can confirm it is apparently a traditional hand pump hidden behind a marketing sign.

Next and final pub was the Commercial round the back of the station. What a surprise: By now it was half past two on a still bitterly cold Wednesday afternoon, and yet the place was busy. I collected my excellent pint of cask Tetley Bitter and perched on a stool by the only unoccupied table. They have a small range of real ales, including Tetley Mild. What is the secret? How do they get so many people in? It's a mystery to me, but I've always liked this place with its beautifully preserved interior and exterior, so long may it continue.

Sunday 5 December 2010

Wetherspoon's The Baker's Brewary

Latest from the Wetherspoon's web site is that the former Wheatsheaf in Huyton will open as The Baker's Brewary on Sunday 23 January 2011. See you there!

I don't know the derivation of the rather odd name, is it just a typo?