Saturday 18 November 2023

Northern Bootle

On a grey Saturday I made my way to Bootle for some overdue revisits.  I started by walking north, passing two targets that I'll come back to later and on to the Queens:

The For Sale sign was concerning but the door was open and inside I found a plain traditional two-sided boozer, with no customers visible at one on a Saturday afternoon.  Perhaps there were some in the other side.

The barmaid had to nip down to the cellar before pouring me a Carling, which cost £3.45  Two other customers joined me while I was waiting.  "Do they sell Guinness" one enquired.  I was about to tell him I hadn't been in here for over five years but I spotted a Guinness tap on the other counter so I was able to point that out.

I settled under the telly showing racing and took in my surroundings.  Like all these "basic" boozers these days, it is nicely done out, clean and tidy.  In the very grey weather it was quite dark until the barmaid turned the lights on.  No Christmas decorations; good.

Was this the one with the disgusting gents with mould-covered walls last time I was here?  I recall a regular saying "crackin', isn't it" when I came out of the gents last time.  Let's see what it is like now...

Well the gents here is very good, in fact in a triumph of good taste they've even got the same tiles on the wall as in my bathroom at home!  So am I remembering the wrong pub?  On examining my records I find that my memory is correct, so they've done a very good upgrade.

Next I retraced my steps towards Bootle, and stopped at the Salisbury:

The large interior is plain, pleasant enough, and almost completely deserted with just two other customers.

My Carling (£3.20) came in a branded glass, but it wasn't the odd shaped one I'm used to (which I had in the Queens).  I hope this is an older style and not a new one, as I really like the ones, I don't really know how to describe them, that have a "waist" half way up which has a ribbed surface for extra grip.  I wonder if I can find a picture:

Maybe I should start collecting branded glassware, or at least pictures thereof.  Come to think of it, my collection of beer festival glasses means I have no room for more, so perhaps just pictures.

Heating in here was provided by a couple of portable Calor Gas heaters, lucky the weather is warmer today than yesterday.  I suspect it'll be very cold in here come some real winter weather.

A few more regulars turned up while I drank, but the place was hardly busy.

Next, a classic sixties building, the Alexandra:

Another perfectly fine interior, in fact I think this one is better than the previous two.  At least a dozen regulars were creating a background of cheerful chatter.

My Carling (£3.20 again) came in my preferred glass this time.

OK, I am probably biased due to being three Carlings to the good, but this is a really great pub, a true classic.  Perfectly clean, very tidy, cheerful regulars, warm and comfortable, what else could one ask for?

Regular readers are probably expecting a rant about Premier League point deductions at some time today but I don't really understand what Everton are accused of so I'll keep my own counsel for now.  Except to say ... No No, must resist.

The jukebox moved on to someone's rendition of that wonderful song From A Distance.  Bette Midler's version wasn't as good as Nancy Griffith's original, but it's still a great song.

Now here's something I've not spotted before:  In amongst the greengrocers' apostrophes on the signs on the bar back is a notice stating that all spirits are sold in 50ml measures; so effectively everything is a double.

Next, through the centre of Bootle passing the post-Wetherspoon's Wild Rose which seemed from the outside to be doing very well, and the overdue for a visit Addison Arms and on to the even more overdue Beaky:

This is, or was, a social club of some sort, and still has the format of a small bar and a larger function room.  No hint of any membership requirements as I headed into the bar for another Carling. (£2.30, non-preferred branded glass)

The bigger room was laid out for a do of some sort, but maybe it always is.

About a dozen regulars were in the bar chatting and one or two were watching the racing on just one telly.

Lovely and warm in here, so much so that I felt myself in danger of nodding off, which is not good at half three in the afternoon!  I think it might be time to head for home.

I got back to Lime Street to find that the next three trains home have been cancelled.  I suppose that's what you get for letting the government run the railways.  Surprisingly, the train I eventually caught wasn't as jam-packed as I expected, clearly the majority of customers have already learned that there is no point relying on the train.

Pub of the day: Alexandra
Beer of the day: Carling
Miles walked: 2.2
Maybe coming soon: Kirkdale, Fazakerley, Wavertree

Friday 17 November 2023

Mancunian Miscellany

After completing some non-pub-related business in Glossop* I headed for the enormous Holt's house on the corner at the centre of this attractive town.  I've never been in the Norfolk Arms before:

I chose a pint of Two Hoots from the small range of cask ales, and it was excellent as expected.  And it came in a Two Hoots glass.

The beautiful interior of the pub is partly knocked through but still has some separation.  Most of the customers were dining groups.  I had look at the menu of the usual pub standards plus some less common options, I don't often see Wexford chicken.  Fish and chips was fourteen quid, so not at the cheap end of the spectrum.

The Christmas decorations were tasteful and not over the top, although I still want to say "Bah! Humbug!  It's only November".  This year's fashion seems to be greenery with gold and silver balls, the versions I've seen so far have all been nicely restrained.

Posters show they have live music in here this evening.  I wonder what kind of songs a "male vocal entertainer" does?  I'm going to guess Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, but the poster doesn't give any clues.  It could be Morrissey and Liam Gallagher for all I know.

Next, the only Good Beer Guide pub in Glossop I haven't ticked, Bar 2:

A standard shop conversion micro pub this, but somehow better than most.  I selected Ossett Silver King from the range of cask ales, tasty as always but not as good as favourite White Rat, which was on the coming soon list.  (By the way, further to my comments in last Thursday's blog, this week the Big House had White Rat back on.  Yippee!)

All the other customers in here were locals and regulars, and chatted with each other and the barmaid while the solitary pub blogger sat on a comfortable bench seat and wrote his notes.

It wasn't very warm in here; everyone kept their coats on.    I realise times are hard in the hospitality business and fuel prices are high, but people will stop coming if it's not comfortable.  There's something very special about a warm pub on a cold day.

Next door is Bar 1, a wine and cocktail bar, not open when I arrived.  There's an interior doorway connecting the two.

Now, off to Stalyvegas.  This part of the day didn't go exactly to plan.  Stepping out of the pub I spotted the bus just approaching the stop.  Drat, missed it, or have I?  The traffic lights were in my favour and I made it to the stop before the queue had all got on.  A good start to the journey.  Last time I did this move I seem to recall a pleasant bus ride of thirty odd minutes.  That must have been a quiet time because today it took more than thirty minutes in heavy traffic just to get out of Glossop.  My upstairs at the front seat offered a fine view of the cars queuing into the distance!  Eventually the traffic eased and we reached Stalyvegas at last, over an hour later.

I initially resisted the obvious choice here and instead tried a place not ticked before, the Old Thirteenth Cheshire Astley Volunteer Rifleman Corps Inn:

I think they chose the ridiculously long name specially because they are next door to Q which has the shortest pub name in the country.

Anyway, a pleasant enough one roomed boozer, maybe a bit down market but, having said that, actually rather nicely done.  And it was warm!

Two handpumps and I selected Tiger Rut from Millstone, which wasn't too bad but perhaps slightly past its best?  Actually, a tired ale always gets worse as you drink it, this one got better in the second half.  I think that means my initial assessment was just plain wrong, and the ale was good.

Next, I can't come to Staly without visiting one of my favourite pubs in the world, so in to the Buffet Bar:

Wonderful as always, this place, and doing a good trade, although I think when I started coming here many years ago it would have been necessary to push just to get in the door at five on a Friday.  No need for pushing today, and I even got a table to sit at.

Continuing today's theme I can report that the place was comfortably warm, with a real fire in the main room.

I had somebody's Cherry Vanilla Porter, pretty good but could do with a bit more cherry I think.  I've said it before and I'll say it again; if you're going to put a strange flavour in a beer, it should smack the drinker in the face.  "A hint of ..." is no good at all; I want lots of flavour!  Titanic Plum Porter is a fine exemplar.  Today's ale was close, but need a little more cherry to be truly great.

The soundscape here was some background music completely drowned out by cheerful conversations.

What a wonderful pub.  I would have stayed here longer and perhaps enjoyed some of their famous black peas, but Northern's cancellations would have left me stranded, so I enjoyed my pint and then headed off by train.  I'll be back in a couple of weeks for an annual reunion to which I've been going since 1980.  Gosh, forty-three years!

Next, a short train ride for a new tick, the Victoria Tap.  (Sorry, no photo.)  Run, I believe, by the same people as the Piccadilly Tap, this one is actually in the station building, occupying a space which has been offices for a long time, I think.  A great addition to Victoria station, offering six handpumps and about twenty keg taps. On a Friday night they could do with three times as much space!  I had J W Lee's Plum Pudding, a long standing Christmas brew always tasty.

One tiny room plus quite a lot of space outside in the cold, I managed to stand in the corner, it's certainly too chilly outside.  There was a waft of cold air every time the door was opened, but for the rest of the time it was comfortably warm in here.

This is one of those rare pubs which doesn't have any toilets, you have to go out and use the station's facilities.  After which I headed for home.

* Yes yes, thank you pedants, I know Glossop isn't in Manchester.

Pub of the day: Stalybridge Buffet Bar
Beer of the day: J W Lee's Plum Pudding
Miles walked: 1.3, and most of that wasn't for the pubs.
Maybe coming soon: Bootle, Kirkdale, Fazakerley

Saturday 11 November 2023

Kirkdale and Walton

On a sunny autumn afternoon I set off towards County Road without making much of a detailed plan.  There are so many "required" pubs around here (About twenty) that finding some not open will not be a problem.  From Kirkdale station I skipped the Peacock because it has already been ticked this year and carried on to the Hawthorne:

A large well appointed boozer this, two sides plus another area which today was set out for some kind of function.  (Baby shower I later learned by listening in to the chat at the bar.)  Everywhere is nicely decorated, wood panelling and stained glass, and is that counter front genuine 1930s/50s or is it a 1980s re-creation?  Either way, the whole place is attractive and pleasant.

Only a handful of customers, watching the early match on the telly or chatting to the bar staff.

I avoided messing up the party area and sat in a corner with the footie fan, to enjoy a fine pint of Guinness, which only cost £3.35.

Next, towards County Road, with the Stuart on the way.  Sadly estate agents' signs warned me that I was probably too late for a revisit and sure enough the doors were all closed.  A sad loss, this one, I remember an interior retaining the classic layout with lounges served from a hatch in the bar back across a drinking corridor.

I carried on to County Road and the Black Horse:

A Greene King outlet with no real ale so it was another Guinness for me.  (Over four quid this time)  This large pub has a very well maintained interior in traditional style and I sat in the impressive "concert hall" area which has a high arched roof with a square stained glass lantern.  The modernisation has not been kind to this feature, with a servery extension and the kitchen occupying part of the space, but at least they didn't demolish it.

I looked at my marked up map with orange highlighter indicating all the required ticks.  Today really would have been a good time to revert to a half in each pub, but frankly I can't be bothered, and anyway it takes me a whole pint to write this drivel.  So you can expect further visits to this area in the near future.  Thinking about it, I need to come on an Everton home match day, as some have limited opening hours.  Why didn't I do that last Saturday?  Who knows!

A family group with a number of very young kids arrived and occupied part of the room.  It's good to see people still come to the pub for a family outing. The little ones were well behaved, I'm pleased to report.  These are the people who will be keeping the pubs going twenty years from now!

Next, on to the Top House.  Another estate agent's sign caused a moment of concern, but it was on the next door building, and the pub was open:

A beautifully cared for traditional boozer ticking over with a number of regulars chatting with the friendly barmaid who soon poured me another Guinness.  (£3.70 I think)  I sat in a quiet side room, the two bar layout of this pub has obviously been modified over the years, so historic features are thin on the ground, but it is very pleasant.  My guide entry from 2018 called this a "backstreet gem", you can't say fairer than that.

The early match continued, but hardly anyone was paying attention, sometimes I wonder whether the pub gets any value from their (presumably expensive) subscription.  Do they get the occasional more "interesting" match - Top of the league and/or a local team - in their package?  Wolves, who I'm guessing were the underdogs, equalised near the end and then scored a winner in injury time, to the general approval of the clientele here.

After the Top House one can only really go on to the Bottom House, more correctly known as the Anfield Hotel:

Curses!  It's shut.  Handwritten signs in the window say Open 12 November, so it should be back in action tomorrow.

Back to County Road and in to what used to be the Glebe, now Bernie May's.  My picture was very blurry so here's one from 2018, it hasn't changed much:

This knocked through pub with very good contemporary decor was remarkably busy, probably because they've got the Everton match on.  So my comments last week were well wide of the mark!  Just a moment!  Five minutes in to the match and it's already one each?

The majority of the customers in here were watching the football, but by no means all of them.  Racing fans were watching the horses on other screens, and others were just chatting with each other.

There's something special about a boozer on a Saturday afternoon, with blokes (they're all blokes) enjoying lots of beer, and the sports on the tellies.

Is it time for home?

Pub of the day: Bernie May's, for the atmosphere
Beer of the day: Guinness
Miles walked: 1.9
Maybe coming soon: More Kirkdale, Wavertree

Thursday 9 November 2023

New Brighton

I commenced a tour of pubs near but not in New Brighton at Stanley's Cask:

What a beautiful pub this is.  Mostly knocked through and nicely done throughout.  And, even better, White Rat on one of the four hand pulls, and it was delicious.  (I was disappointed to find the Big House had run out of White Rat yesterday evening.)

I tried to remember what this place looked like last time I was here, in 2017, it doesn't look familiar.  Has it been further improved since then?  Very good, anyway.

Very gentle background music mixed with conversation as I enjoyed my pint.

A thought wandered into my brain:  I haven't seen any Christmas decorations yet.  Excellent!  How many more pubs before I see some holly?

Next, a short stroll to ... what's this?  I've never heard of the Phoenix, is it new?

Subsequent research on the internet seems to show that I've missed this one; it has opened and closed since I was last here.  Oh well, on to the Sandridge:

A very pleasant two sided interior in this boozer, no cask on offer so I had a Carling.  Just a handful of customers, the one sitting near me was watching the racing closely.

Did I comment in a recent blog about the increased appearance nowadays of beer specific glasses?  I've noticed that a pint of Carling now usually comes in a Carling glass, as it did here.  Twenty years ago it would have been an unbranded sleeve or nonic.  I saw in Wetherspoon's trading update yesterday that some of the spending on existing pubs is for "glass racks above bars (To cater for increased usage of brewers branded glasses)".

Now, another short walk to the Telegraph.  The internet says it opens at two; does it?

Yes.  "Only" two cask ales on offer, but one was my second White Rat of the day.  Yippee!  In a branded glass again.

Only two other customers, I think, in this large two sided pub.  It's done out in a sort of food place style, I think, but there was no sign of any menus.  The beer garden looks very pleasant but today is not the weather for that!

There are two more "near New Brighton" pubs on my target list, so a slightly longer walk down to the waterfront took me to the famous Magazine:

This wonderful pub is well known as a provider of real ale, and it is also famous for always having Bass on, so that was my choice, a pint of this brew which is fairly rare in Merseyside.   And it was gorgeous.

I retreated to a quiet back room, but I could still hear chatter in various other areas of the pub.  This one is busier than the previous three, chit chat and the occasional bark mixing with quiet muzac.

Just next door is the Pilot Boat but despite the sign saying it opened at twelve and the lights being on, the doors were shut, so it was time to head towards home.

Rather than returning the way I had come I decided on a pleasant stroll along the shoreline and then up through New Brighton's town centre.  Here I found a slightly unexpected bonus:  Tallulahs Emporium:

According to my database, this never visited pub was formerly the Corner House, then Tallulah's, then closed, and finally re-opened.  I'm not sure how accurate that history is, but it is always good to get a new tick!

What I found was a pleasant high ceilinged room, or rather rooms, and a good looking counter with about eight keg beers on, I selected the tasty Pilsner Urquell.  I noticed the sign on the wall, which the friendly barman had pointed me to when I couldn't read the pump clips, spelled it Urqell but the branded glass (See what I was saying before) confirmed the correct spelling with a U.

A good handful of customers were keeping the place ticking over, conversation mixing with pleasant music.  I noticed some signs promoting live music here, obviously not on a Thursday afternoon.  I've often thought that if one of my local pubs did live music I would be in there every week, but sadly Huyton isn't that sort of place.  Yet.

Time for home.  Some superb ale, and a brand new tick (Number 1,456), what a great day.

Pub of the day: Stanley's Cask
Beer of the day: Ossett White Rat
Miles walked: 2.2
Maybe coming soon: Kirkdale/Walton

Saturday 4 November 2023

Near Old Swan

On a day of rubbish autumn weather I headed for some overdue ticks in the vicinity of Old Swan.  I was expecting just "routine" pub visits, but I was in for a surprise.

I've done all the pubs in the middle of Old Swan recently so I headed along Prescot Road aiming for the Derby Lodge.  First, I wanted to confirm that the former Corner Tavern is closed, and it is:

Having photographed the Corner and the Derby I carried on to the next pedestrian crossing to get over the busy road.  While I'm here I might as well go a few yards further to see what the state of the Old Stanley Arms is.  My last visit was back in 2002 and it closed not long after.  Much to my surprise I found it open, now called Mr Smiths:

Well I never!  What a great bonus tick this one is;  I never thought I'd see it open again.    Mind you, the area has got form in this regard; I remember walking up Green Lane a few years ago to photograph the closed Melbourne only to find it open.

Plain well decorated and maintained rooms in this classic ordinary boozer.  I tried to recall what it looked like 21 years ago,  but failed.

Just four regulars were chatting with the friendly barmaid who soon provided me with a pint of Carling.

Across the road was the Stanley, this has been derelict for many years and is now covered in scaffolding.

Back up the road to the Derby Lodge:

A plain comfortable boozer this, ticking over at two with a handful of blokes aged between ten and seventy watching the early match.

Again, the place is clean and well cared for although the carpet is getting a touch tired in places.  Unchanged since my last visit, in 2018, two rooms with counters, plus a back room.

Above the counter was an Everton flag.  Are LFC fans welcome as well, I wonder?  Luckily today my teeshirt is blue!

My next move was up Green Lane where there were two pubs about fifty yards apart.  Surely they can't both have survived COVID?  Yes they have; I started in the Melbourne:

Another classic boozer this, with plain but well maintained decor in two rooms.  And it's had an external repaint since the last time I was here.

Man United had managed to win the early match in injury time, again footie was on the tellies here.

The dominant soundtrack was animated chatter, plus the weirdo in the corner talking to himself.  I was sitting in the quieter side room with just two others, there were a lot more in the other side.

One bloke departed, leaving me with just the wierdo.  Should I join his chatter?  I didn't.

The tellies switched to rugger, of course the three o'clock soccer matches are not legally available.  Years ago pubs could buy dodgy decoders or cards and show all matches but maybe that doesn't happen any more.  I remember being in a pub in Tuebrook and fifteen minutes into the match the illegal feed went off.  There were a lot of disgruntled fans!  I'm guessing it was a deliberate tactic to change the encoding so that pirate decoders would stop working right in the middle of the match.

Just a short walk now, to the Wellington:

Having purchased yet another Carling I had to retreat to the back room because there were no seats available in the front bar, where everyone seemed to be watching the racing on the telly.

Another classic boozer this, with more traditional styling I think.  The back room was fairly empty, just three other drinkers and I shared plenty of space.

I seem to remember coming in here on a very chilly day and enjoying a fan heater in the front room, no need for that today as the whole pub was at a comfortable temperature, if not exactly warm.

Definitely a horses pub this,  Everton went 1-0 up  then 1-1, then back to 1-0 thanks to VAR and no one noticed, while they all watched the horses at Wetherby.  I apologise for the excess of footie coverage, especially as I know absolutely nothing about the subject, but a friend who lives in West Wales and is an Everton fan is here for a visit and we enjoyed a few pints together last night.  He'll be at today's match so I have a special interest in how the blues are getting on.

What a pleasant pub this is, regulars chatting to the barmaid/landlady, lots of customers watching the racing, what more could one ask for on a Saturday afternoon?

Having found more pubs open than expected, I didn't need my fallback options, Cask and the Stag and Rainbow, so I might as well head home now.

Pub of the day: Mr Smiths
Beer of the day: Carling
Miles walked: 1
Maybe coming soon: New Brighton

Thursday 26 October 2023

St Helens

This time, a wander around St. Helens.  I started in Wetherspoon's Glass House:

It's not often a Wetherspoon appears in my list of pubs overdue for a revisit, but I was last here in September 2018, so here we are.

Quite a good choice of ales on and I couldn't resist favourite Wobbly Bob, which was sweet and lovely, as usual.  Actually, it looked a little cloudy, but tasted fine.

This nicely done and always popular 'spoons was doing well at one on a Thursday, mostly drinkers but also some food coming out.

In Liverpool I was in Blacklers and the Northwestern yesterday evening and we couldn't get a table in either, Wetherspoon's seem to be doing very well at the moment, although that isn't reflected in the value of my shares!

Next, a call at what was formerly another Wetherspoon's until they closed it in 2021.  The new operators have kept the same name at the Running Horses:

Not much change since the takeover, they've even kept the "Local historical figures" panels.  A number of pool and snooker tables have been added, I'm guessing they weren't here before.  I also noticed a DJ booth and a small dance floor with a glitter ball.  This was previously a Lloyds No.1 so they probably aren't new.

The whole place was covered in a surfeit of Halloween decorations.  As it's only a few days away I suppose I'll have to allow it.

Wetherspoon's handpumps stand forlornly on the counters but I don't think we'll get any cask in here any time soon.  I had Carling which was a mistake as I could have had a Carlsberg for only two quid, saving a pound.

Custom was sparse but not nonexistent, just a handful of drinkers in the place plus some pool players in the far corner.  The lone barmaid spent more time working on decorations than serving drinks.  (Not a complaint, she had dropped what she was doing to serve me the moment I entered the door.)

I wanted to check out the Sefton, where I'm told my favourite beer, Oakham Citra, is always on, but it wasn't so I skipped that one and headed on to an overdue visit to the Lamb:

A great pub this, last visited in July 2018, with a rather wonderful interior with a few bits of historic wood panelling and leaded glasswork.

A good selection of cask on the counter but I didn't look further than the wonderful White Rat.  Are you a CAMRA member, she asked.  Yes, I replied  and that was enough for a discount.

Gentle conversation mixed with a rather eclectic music video channel on the TV - I've Seen All Good People by Yes is not the normal currency of "Now 70s" or whatever the usual rubbish channel is called.

A steady stream of customers were greeted by the friendly barmaid as the place ticked over.

I looked around.  This really is an immaculately cared for pub, someone has put a lot of effort into creating a very pleasant space.

Next, back towards the station and can we get a new one?  The Little George Quarter:

Yes we can.  The ground floor of this new place, opened in February I think, is a tiny nicely decorated room with a counter at one end.  There's one handpump but the clip was turned round so I had another Carling.

No one else was in and I watched Sky News in splendid solitude.

There's another room upstairs but I suspect that's empty as well.

The modern decor in here is very pleasant, the whole operation seems well done.    I hope this bar does well long term.  One of the TVs was advertising live music, I'm guessing that would be upstairs.

Now I'm on this street it would be daft to miss a visit to the George next door:

More of a traditional boozer this one.  If you want cask you need the bar side, and I chose Hop Dancer from the two Wigan Brewhouse beers on offer, a rather fine hoppy pale one.

CAMRA discount again, and I had to show my card this time.  I forget what the price was but it was very cheap, under three quid I think.

Ticking over nicely at half three on a Thursday, the soundtrack in here was a mixture of rubbish piped music and cheerful chatter  with the clack of pool balls in the background.  The lounge side where I sat was very quiet.

The inevitable Halloween decorations in here were not over the top:  Well done!

So, a rather good pub survey reaches its end, I certainly did some good places today and now it's time for the train home. St Helens is struggling judging by the number of boarded up shops, but the pubs are really good.  No Oakham Citra, but you can't have everything!

Pub of the day: Lamb
Beer of the day: Wobbly Bob
Miles walked: 1.5
Maybe coming soon: Undecided

Saturday 14 October 2023

Round Will's Mother's

I took a bit of a gamble today, the BBC said over eighty percent chance of rain so perhaps it would be unwise to do a survey with significant walks involved, but the sun was shining brightly so I decided to risk it.

The 61 bus "goes round Will's mother's" as my mum used to say, and then we met a very oversized load on a lorry which meant a twenty minute delay.  There's no excuse for this sort of nonsense, these loads should be moved at three in the morning, not on a Saturday afternoon.

Anyway, eventually the bus reached its closest point to my first pub and I jumped off.  The skies were darkening as I walked a mile and a half, and very light rain was starting as I finally reached a pub last visited so long ago that my records note Greenalls Bitter!  The Griffin:

This is a very nicely done out pub, mostly knocked through, in an old building with some very old wooden beams and brickwork.  Having said that, my notes from 1999 describe the decor as "all fake", so who knows?  Very attractive, anyway.

Being in the Chef and Brewer chain it is concentrating on food, and doing a roaring trade at two on a Saturday.  There was a queue at the bar (Which I think I jumped somewhat, sorry guys.) but there wasn't much delay before I was served a decent pint of Deuchars.

The place was packed out with family groups dining, the muzac completely drowned by a hubbub of cheerful conversations.

There wasn't a menu on the table I eventually found after a tour of the busy pub, so I can't comment on the food offer.

Some kind of charity event was happening in one part of the room, suddenly loads of people congregated at that end and I could hear occasional applause and cheering.  Eventually they all returned, some having suddenly gained shaven heads!

Next, another long walk took me to the oddly named village of Clock Face, and its eponymous pub, last ticked in 2012:

I'd forgotten what an excellent pub this is, inside and out are immaculate and very pleasant.  Two sided, plus a side room and a designated restaurant.

I had a quick look at the menu which doesn't seem to be in a chain of any sort and I must say it looks very good, although not at the cheap end of the price range with fish chips and peas at £12.50.  Chicken, bacon and black pudding Caesar salad looks like a tempting option.

From my seat I couldn't see directly outside but I could tell that the sun was shining.  So I was somewhat disappointed to see, from the gents window as I made my departure, that it was also raining quite hard!  (See picture above)

I can ease off on the walking now, it's (just) under a mile to the next target, the listed (in two meanings of the word) Wheatsheaf:

Having done the left hand end in 2018 I thought I'd try the right hand half of this wonderful building.  "Can I help you, have you booked a table?  Or do you just want a drink?".  Once I'd made my intentions clear it was "Out of the door and in the other end."  I obeyed and soon found myself in the drinkers end of this glorious mess of a pub, where you can't get from one side to the other without going outside (Or through the servery) and everything is on a slope or, as my mother would say, "on the huh".

I was soon enjoying a pint of Shipyard in one of the rooms, admiring the woodwork and the leaded glass gantry.

In the corner was a cage containing a grey* parrot, I can't immediately recall the last time I was in a pub which had a parrot.  There was a bloke sitting next to it so I was too embarrassed to attempt to engage it in chatter.

[* That's grey as in the colour, not necessarily a breed of bird.]

Actually, now I think of it I remember a rather sad looking parrot in a scruffy smokey bar on Berry Street with a sign warning that he bites.  Ah yes, the Saint George was the bar.  Today's parrot looks a lot more lively and active than that one did.

On to the Millhouse:

A very busy two sided operation this, I thought I might cheat the throng at the counter by sneaking through the door to the bar side to join the pool playing and rugby watching crowd but the barman was on the ball and served people in order before eventually bringing me an excellent pint of Landlord

The bar side was filled with younger men, chattering and playing pool, it's good to see a pub this busy.  The "posh" side was equally busy with diners, so they've got both ends of the spectrum covered, well done.

While I was enjoying my pint I noticed a sign on the counter asking people to go through to the other side for service.  Did I buck the system?  I don't think the sign was there when I was waiting but I can't be sure?

Time for a train home, I think.

Pub of the day: Wheatsheaf
Beer of the day: Landlord
Miles walked: 4.6
Maybe coming soon: Anfield, Wavertree

Friday 13 October 2023

A New One In Town

Blood donation complete, I headed for a brand new pub, the Eberle:

In an old building (Was it ever a pub before I wonder.) are two large rooms with high ceilings, the rear one has a small bar counter.  The decor is best described as nicely done plain.  There is a tiny stage in the corner for live music.

The sign outside promises cask ale but there is none, so I had a good pint of the house lager.  The place has only been open for a month, why pay for the signwriter to put CASK ALES on the outside if you're not going to bother.

I was alone in the back room, there were a group playing pool in the front.

It's always very pleasing to collect a new pub.

Next, on to one last visited in 2017, the Dead Crafty Beer Company:

They insist on table service here, I was guided to a table and handed a long beer menu.  The trouble with a list in strength order is that I automatically start at the end, so I chose a wonderful imperial stout at 10%, Mortalis Brewing Company's Chronos.  Only a third of a pint, though.  Oh my, cocoa, coffee, vanilla and almonds go in it, it really is superb.  I noticed I could buy a growler to take away for £33.50, now that's tempting!  How much is in a growler?  I'd probably get home and then drink the lot.

The bare brick and steel joist decor along with the old floorboards create a rather good "industrial" vibe.  The open door meant it was cold inside, as was the Eberle, I think it's time pubs switched to winter mode.  (On my usual Wednesday visit to the Big House this week I hesitated for a moment as I approached as I hadn't seen the door closed since the refurbishment.)

Now I'm not supposed to do this on a pub survey, but this isn't a formal survey as such and anyway I get to choose the rules as I see fit. So let's have another even stronger one:  Brew York's Give That Wolf A Cherry is another super powered stout, twelve percent this time.  Pow!  Not quite as treacly as the previous one and not over cherry flavoured, just right.  It's got a hell of a kick to it.

I've just noticed it says crowler not growler on the menu, not heard of one of those before but Google tells me it is a metal version.

Having enthused about the bar and the beers, I must record a negative note; Friday the thirteenth or not, it's too early for Halloween decorations.

There's one more strong one on the menu, a Citra hopped IPA at 10.5%, but I'd better head for home or someone will have to carry me.

Pub of the day: DCBC
Beer of the day: Mortalis Chronos
Miles walked: 2.0
Maybe coming soon: Bold Heath, Sutton, Anfield

Thursday 12 October 2023


Finding myself in Tower Hill, Kirkby for non-pub-related purposes* it would be foolish not to revisit the Windmill, last ticked five years ago:

What can I say?  A classic sixties estate boozer, plain, clean and tidy inside, and ticking over gently at two on a Thursday afternoon.

The audio kit and speakers suggest loud entertainment later, but at the moment all I can hear is quiet racing commentary and lively conversation, with quite a lot of swearing.

In the other side of the large interior they were playing pool, I think.

(* If anyone's interested I came to visit Merseyside's newest railway station, and ride on our pointless battery trains.)

Saturday 7 October 2023

Smithdown Road

I arrived home at midnight last night after a week or so in Spain, so I was in great need of a decent pint to start today's research.  Where better than the Willow Bank?

And what better than perennial favourite White Rat?  Delicious.  Welcome home!

This pub just goes on being great, and it was doing a fine trade at half one on a sunny Saturday, with quite a lot of people eating.  Fish, chips and peas, £8.79 looks good.

Next, Black Cat:

I must be out of practice, as I walked straight past the handpumps offering two Big Bog brews.  Instead I ordered a lovely pint of Clwb Tropica from Tiny Rebel, from the excellent range of known and unknown craft brews offered here.

It's always good to get a new tick, and this is a great pub to boot.  Two former shops knocked into one creating quite a large multi roomed place, plywood and bare brick seem to be the themes of the rather attractive decor.

Football was on the telly, as it had been in the Willow Bank.  No one was watching here, despite it being on a very high quality giant telly.  That really is a good picture, I feel I can see each blade of grass!

Gradually more customers wandered in, and a girl with a guitar began to set up for an afternoon set.  Should I wait to see if she's good?  So many alehouses, so little time!  She joined her friends at a large table, so maybe it's not time yet.

Hang on, What's this?  Thirty seconds off the pitch for taking a dive?  Is that some new rule or did I misunderstand?  Sounds good, that'll curb the histrionics.

The place was filling up, chatter drowning the commentary as Tottenham won the early match.

Kelly's Dispensary is next:

This place has completed its transmogrification into an Irish bar, and what a great job they've done.  A proper Irish style Guinness font and the correct pour;wait;top-up sequence.  (And no shamrock, thank goodness)

As I arrived there was rugger on the tellies. Whether anyone was interested I couldn't tell.

A feature of this pub is the opening front windows, I sat on a table with pedestrians on the street passing my shoulder.  I made sure not to leave my mobile on the table in grabbing range!  Only twelve days ago I was sitting in the Head of Steam in Leeds, at a table by an open window onto the street.  Of course, on my Spanish holiday I spent some time sitting in the street with people walking past as I enjoyed my tapes.  A dining type to which I am now a convert, having learned that ham egg and chips is a staple!

Sadly, rather quiet in here, from my seat I couldn't see any other customers although I'm sure there were some in the other side I didn't know about.

On to Frank's Bar:

This one eschews the new up market styling of Smithdown Road and remains a proper boozer, and it's none the worse for that.  I had a Carling.  Only three other customers in which is a shame.  This is not just a plain boozer, it's a classic of the type and I hope it continues for ever.

Drat!  There's "Frank's Laaager" for £2.30 on the counter, I should have had that instead.  

Now, there's one more place on this stretch of Smithdown, can I squeeze one more pint in?  Why not!  The Beeswing, formerly Evil Eye:

At four in the afternoon on pint number five it's always pleasing to discover I'm not the drunkest one in the pub!  Two lads were singing along with the music.  Loudly.

A narrow corridor bar with a selection of kegs, I had Staropramen to finish off my survey.  No trace of the former burrito bar, it's just a boozer now, I think.  The Czech beer came in a proper Staropramen mug, as it should.  Very good.

The gents is signed Fir, suggesting an Irish leaning, but nothing else seems to be Irish style?  

Painted on the wall is a Richard Thompson quote perhaps showing where the name of the place comes from. A truly great song.

Oddly, loads of people went out and came in, and then suddenly the place was empty with just one other customer in the indoor part.  I could still hear chatter from the back yard, though.

Time for home.

Pub of the day: Willow Bank
Beer of the day: Ossett White Rat
Miles walked: 1.3
Maybe coming soon: Bold Heath, Clock Face, Sutton.

Thursday 21 September 2023

Minus One, Plus Two

I headed into town to mop up a few targets in the London Road area, starting with the Bullring:

This is a rather impressive high ceilinged room with skylights, I wonder what it was before it was a pub.

"I'm sorry, it's bottles only" said the barmaid as I perused the fonts, "we're closing tomorrow" she added.  Mixed feelings for me, on the plus side I got here just in time for a farewell drink - last time was December 2017 - but every closure is bad news.

I sat in a comfortable booth to drink my bottle of Corona.  Only two other customers at two on a Thursday, no wonder it's dying.

Although you could describe the decor as plain, it is certainly clean and tidy, looking quite good with the sun shining through the skylights.  The shower that dampened my walk has obviously passed.

Next, I'm hoping for a new tick or two, so I wandered into the so-called Fabric District (No, I'd never heard of it either) an area of tatty warehouses and new student flats.  After a couple of wrong turns I circled round and found Melodic Bar:

I entered what is basically a lean-to at the side of a large warehouse, but very nicely done.  Two taps on the counter, eventually after a barrel change and then a non functioning card machine I enjoyed a very tasty pint of something pale and fruity - I think it was from local brewer Carnival but I forgot to note it down.

As I was being served some more customers entered, but they were on coffee/tea which I suspect is the majority of sales in the afternoon.  Oat milk?  I've never tried it.

Another man came in, but he was a DJ for the internet radio station they run from here.  Now that's another hobby of mine, I wonder if I can have a go?  I suspect my musical taste might not align with the theme of the station if the rather bland background music here is the station's output.  And I was never any good at it, anyway, although certainly better than the bloke on at the moment.  I'll have to give the station a listen when I get home and see if I can offer them anything.

I considered my surroundings:  This is probably the best lean-to I've ever drunk in!

Next door, actually inside the warehouse, is HopScotch, a whisky bar, but they don't open until four so perhaps I'll have to come back later as it's only twenty past three now.

On along London Road which soon becomes Prescot Street, to the Old Fort:

Last visited in 2007, this place hasn't changed much since then, although certainly a redecoration or two has happened in the intervening years since it looks immaculate inside.

Going back further, I recall a much more traditional/historic two sided pub in 1999, where I think I had cask Cain's.

Only three or four other customers were in at four on a Thursday.  I had imagined that a pub across the road from the Royal Liverpool Hospital would be full of nurses and doctors after their shifts and escapee patients as well, but I guess I'm living in the Carry On Nurse era, sixty or more years ago!

Now that's unusual:  The dartboard is mounted on a tripod in the middle of the back room.  Doesn't that double the number of seats in the firing line?

Let's go back to the Fabric District where HopScotch should be open now:

And it is.  I descended the steep staircase and entered a very well done cellar bar.

Here, something very rare occurred: Having asked the landlady what lambics they had on offer we got talking and before I knew what was happening I had spent my entire drink (An Oude Geuze) chatting to Beck and Matt (They arrived home from their honeymoon at three this morning I think she said.) about world travel, pubs in Liverpool, trains, craft beer, my pub guide, and various other topics.  What an enjoyable pub visit!  We shared a taste of a Pina Collada beer from Azvex (Where they had their wedding reception), it was very coconut and pineapple but to my mind needed a bit more beer flavour.

My review might be biased by the friendly reception but I think this is a great bar which deserves to do well.  Sadly no one else came in while I was here.  Hopefully it'll be busier once the new students find it.  I didn't even start on their fantastic range of whiskies which is, after all, the main reason the place exists.

Time for home.  Two new ticks, one closure.

Pub of the day: HopScotch
Beer of the day: Oude Geuze
Miles walked: 1.9
Maybe coming soon: Wavertree, Bold Heath, Clock Face, Sutton

Good Beer Guide 2024

Mine finally arrived today, I'm told some people have had theirs for a week already.

I can report that in Merseyside seventeen entries have been removed and eighteen added since last year's edition.

As I say every time, if you want to know which pubs they are you'll have to buy the book when it goes on sale next week.

Friday 15 September 2023

Tithebarn Street

Blood donating took me in to central Liverpool so obviously I had to replace lost fluids!

I started with a brand new (to me) one, Tempest on Tithebarn:

I really like the contemporary decor in here, polished concrete floor, bare concrete ceiling, naked ducts and pipework, all contrasting with lots of pot plants.

I perused the selection of standard kegs, and then spotted Tempest Tank Bier which comes from two large stainless steel tanks at the end of the counter.  It was a tasty lager.

Many of the customers were using laptops, presumably it's more comfortable than an office.  There were enough people to create a background of chatter which mixed with the gentle music.

On to Shenanigans:

A rather fine "Irish" bar, this.  Every inch of wall space in the tiny front room is covered in pictures, posters, and so on, and a bicycle and a plough hang from the high ceiling.  Someone has managed to create a very good overall appearance, I really like it.

Of course, I had to have a Guinness here, and I got the proper pour-wait-finish serve, and no shamrock.  Well done.  I noticed they've got Irish crisps (Tayto) - A nice touch.

Quite busy, well the place is only tiny, but I managed to bag a table.

Next, across the road is a place I hadn't even heard of until I walked past to get here, so let's try Hemingways:

Hmmm.  I think the phrase that leapt to mind is "poncy coffee bar".  But a pint of Shipyard is good anywhere, so no complaints.  It cost £5.50, but came with the offer of a bowl of olives.

The friendly barman/barista seemed to know all the other customers, and chatted with them while I enjoyed my beer.

The slightly quirky decor is very good in my opinion, dark walls relieved by some rough wood panelling behind the counter.

One of the customers sneaked behind the counter and started fiddling with the coffee machine.  If I was the barman I would have rapidly ejected him, but our host took it in his stride and chatted about how to drive the machine.  Perhaps the "customer" was a colleague?

No one else, inside or on the tables outside where most were, was drinking anything alcoholic; all the sales were coffee.  No, wait, he's just poured four pints of Poretti and taken them outside. A few minutes later another bloke came in for a pint so clearly beer is also popular.

I noticed they've got one of those Guinness surgers on the counter, not as good as proper draft in my opinion.

Pub of the day: Shenanigans
Beer of the day: Tempest Tank Bier
Miles walked: 2.2
Maybe coming soon: Wavertree, Bold Heath, Clock Face