Saturday 15 December 2018

A Pub A Day Helps You Work Rest and Play

Time to give in and tick the contentious Connoisseur Brewery.  After all, my moan is with St Helens CAMRA, not the brewery itself.  And I've had good reports so ignoring it would be cutting off my nose to spite my face.

So, on a bitterly cold and wet Saturday morning I got one of the few trains running, and soon walked to the mysterious location, marked only by a tiny sign which says 1st Saturday of the month.

I walked down the ramp just as the gate was being opened, so I knew where to go.  There were no more signs, apparently it was too windy for the banner:
I was first in, and some pulling through was required before I could be served a gorgeous pint of "Bloody Mild".  I'm not a great mild drinker, as I find some of them a bit bland, but this was flavoursome and delicious.  I settled on a comfy sofa in the small room to enjoy it.

One more customer came in for a quick half, and chatted to the barman while I wrote this.  Later, another regular arrived.

Conversation is inevitable in a place like this, and I soon got some good pointers about where to go next, which out of the way pubs are still operating, and other local pub info.

Next, I took a bus for a short ride to the Windle:
Inside this inter-war (?) roadhouse I found something like a standard chain dining pub, except that it's still got a slightly plainer bar side as well.

Three handpumps but no clips, so I was on lager as usual, probably just as well as an average real ale would have been disappointing after the superb one I'd just had.

Oddly, there were none of the expected menus on each table, just at the bar.  Perhaps this isn't in a chain after all.  Either way, almost everyone in the lounge side was eating, and a delicious smell of fish and chips made me feel hungry.  But I must get on and do at least one more pub...

Now, a longish march (Well, it seemed long in this weather!) to the Abbey:
This rather fine multi-roomed partly knocked through pub has always been a provider of good beer, but my first glimpse of two handpumps without clips was a little worrying.  Luckily, the bloke being served stepped away and I saw the other three pumps had clips.  I ordered something from Bootleg from the friendly barman, and got an excellent pint and a buy six get one free card.  I was offered the choice of a non-dimpled mug or a sleeve.  I selected the Bootleg branded mug.

I was a little confused:  Why is this Holts house promoting Bootleg beers?  Google has the answer, Holts bought Bootleg a few years ago.

I settled down in a comfortable side room to enjoy my pint.  What a great pub this is, tastefully decorated, understated Christmas decorations, live football on at a sensible volume (Everton lost at Man City) and the main sound was happy chatter amongst the customers and staff.

At this point, I permitted myself a smug grin of satisfaction, as this was my 365th Merseyside pub visited in 2018.  One a day was a target I had felt was too high, but I've made it!  With various Christmas commitments keeping me busy this could be my last survey of the year, so when I realised how close to the magic number I was, I braved the weather instead of going home after Connoisseur - Or more likely staying at home all day.

Next, a mystery:  I've been to the Abbey a couple of times before, so why have I never tried the Gerard Arms across the road?  I've no idea, but it's time to rectify that omission now:
Another good pub, much busier than the Abbey, with loads of food being served.  It carries Greene King's "Time Well Spent" branding.  Real ale on the counter, I had Moorhouse's Witches Cauldron which was a fine bitter.

The sound in here was a loud hubub of chatter, with the clatter of crockery and cutlery in the background.  The music was mostly drowned out.

Unusually, an enormous tent out the back contained a Christmas Market.  I had a quick look in, it wasn't doing very well with hardly anybody in there.

Despite the steady flow of people to and from the market letting in an icy blast, the place was comfortably warm.

I checked the train strike timetable and realised that if I hurried and if a bus back to St Helens turned up, I could just make a train home.  Everything went as I hoped and I was soon warming up in my house.

Pub of the day: Difficult.  Best beer was in the brewery, but it's NOT A PUB.  So the Abbey, for quality ale in comfortable peaceful surroundings.
Miles walked: 1.4
Maybe coming soon: Perhaps a Christmas break?  Although there is another milestone coming up.

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