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

Thursday 14 September 2023


I've had rather too many lagers on recent surveys, so let us try and find some cask for a change.  How about Formby?

I started at the station, in the Railway:

(The photo I took was rubbish so here is one from the last time I was here.)

This nicely done member of the Ember Inns chain has a good array of "standard" cask ales, you know the sort of thing, Wainwright, Doom Bar, Landlord, and personal favourite Ghost Ship of which I had an excellent pint.  A good start.

At two on a Thursday the pub was mostly empty, just a few groups dining.  I scanned the menu, the cheap afternoon prices look good, with fish, chips and peas only £6.49, a lot more after 5pm but I think you get a bigger portion then.  Quite a few tables had reserved signs for early evening so clearly it will be a lot busier later.

More people came in keeping the place ticking over.

Next, the Cross House:

Another up-market dining place, this time run by Greene King, again sparsely occupied but ticking over.

Oh wow, they've got my favourite ale Oakham Citra here, my plan for decent cask is certainly coming to fruition!

I looked around this pub, has it substantially changed or am I incorrectly recalling a different place?  No, I don't think so, it used to have a front part - a drinkers pub - and a separate diners area beyond, but it's not like that now.  Having said that, the room where I sat had no menus on display, so they are still aiming to split eaters from boozers to some extent.  I must say that the decor is rather well done, and certainly different from last time I was here.

An uncommon feature of the interior is a high table with four high chairs each side which has a row of mains sockets and USB sockets along the middle, presumably the idea being that people can do some work on the interweb while having a drink.  (Or if you're being professional, a coffee)

Next, somewhere where I can hope for yet another decent ale, it's Wetherspoon's Lifeboat:

Much busier than the previous two places, but still with plenty of free tables.  I spotted another favourite ale, Full Whack, but unfortunately it ran out after half a pint.  Impressively, the clip was immediately removed, why can't all 'spoons do this?  Instead, I had one from years ago, Ringwood Old Thumper, I haven't seen this for ages.  Very tasty.

This is one of those Wetherspoon's with an open kitchen, so I selected a seat where I could see what is going on.  They were having a thorough cleanup during the lull between lunch and dinner.  I noticed a big box of poppadoms ready to add to curry club orders.  Many years ago I grumbled that the poppadoms were always soggy, but more recently that hasn't been the case.  Do they give them a zap in the microwave to crisp them up, perhaps?  I hoped someone would order a curry while I was watching but no one did.  I observed other dishes, though:  the fish was dipped in batter and deep fried to order, not freezer to microwave as I expected.  I noticed they've changed the software driving the status screens, perhaps they are tired of smart-arses like me decoding the colours and knowing our dinner is ready/late/whatever.  So now the food order pops up on the kitchen display and only moves to the delivery screen when it's ready.  Finally a curry went through and I learned that that poppadoms go straight to the serve, so they must have a magic trick that keeps them crisp.

Sorry about that waffle, I'm a bit of a Wetherspoon's nut, and I need to keep an eye on my investment!

Next, a walk to Freshfield and micropub Beer Station:

Four out of four? Oh yes, somebody's Rum Porter was absolutely delicious.

It's half four by now and this place is doing well, I bagged the last free table inside.  A classic of the micro-pub class, with umpteen people and dogs enjoying a drink and a chat.  Or in the case of the dogs, mainly a snooze.  Almost everyone was my age or older, with just one younger bloke having multiple halves.

I scanned the inevitable pump clips stuck on the wall.  One or two favourites and some I'd like to try, but who brews "Fucking Bastard"?  I can't read the rest of the clip.  Subsequent research on Untappd tells me it's a barley wine by 3 Piers, named after the village of Fucking in Austria, of course.  (Actually, according to Wikipedia, the villagers tired of their signs being stolen, and changed the name to Fugging in 2021.)

There's quite a lot of "art" on the walls, some of it for sale.  I particularly liked a drawing of this bar, with multiple superlambananas outside and in.

Annoyingly, there is no mobile signal here at all, how will I know what time my train home is?  The answer is I can see the station from my seat, so I'll just note the times the trains go by and thereby deduce when the next one is...

That worked well and I was soon on my way home.  Four superb pints, what a wonderful survey.  Turned out nice again!

Pub of the day: Beer Station by a narrow margin.
Beer of the day: Oakham Citra by a narrow margin.
Miles walked: 1.75
Maybe coming soon: Wavertree, Bold Heath, Clock Face

Thursday 7 September 2023

Baltic Triangle

A mostly unsuccessful shopping trip (They'd run out of Er Guo Tou Jiu) left me in Chinatown, so a chance for a new tick nearby.  I headed for Duck & Swagger:

This is part of the Baltic Hotel and the "pub" section looked dark and closed from the outside.  I headed in to reception to check and in fact it is dark and open.

A good range of international keg appeared to be on offer, but Thursday lunch is pipe cleaning time and all the taps were pouring cleaning fluid into buckets.  So I had to settle for a bottle of Peroni.

Only two other customers in the pleasant dark room.  I sat on a repurposed pew, in fact all the furniture was old wooden stuff, no good for those with bony backsides, not a problem I have to worry about!

Next, I wandered down for a look at Camp and Furnace:

This "entertainment complex" advertises a bar, but nothing was open on a Thursday afternoon, perhaps unsurprisingly.

Round the corner used to be the Baltic Social, but my pre-flight checks revealed that it closed a year ago.  So I was pleased to see a big sign for Arts Bar Baltic in the same place:

A second new tick.  In the large open room with a stage at one end were a handful of customers.  The taps were working here, and I tried a pint of the house lager, which was tasty enough.

Plenty of people came in and out, but not many of them seemed to be buying drinks.

Next, I resisted the temptations of the Cain's Brewery Village (especially the former Tap) and headed down past the long closed Angel:

This building is poised to exploit the increasing popularity of the "Baltic" area, and could spring back into life at any moment.  I have to confess to feeling a little old when my database revealed that I last drank in there in November 1999.

On to the Coburg, last visited in 2012:

A classic traditional boozer this, two counters, three rooms, very clean and tidy, with just three or four other customers chatting with the barman.  Sadly, the real ale I enjoyed last time has long gone, so it was a Carling for me.

More customers gradually came in, for mid afternoon on a Thursday they are doing quite well here.

I noticed a billboard over the road advertising the Marina, general public welcome.  I haven't been in there since 1999 so clearly one to revisit soon, but perhaps not today.

So, in the direction of home or at least in the direction of a station, I headed along the busy main road to the Baltic Fleet:

This gem continues to please. In the past I have been caught out by finding it shut in the afternoon, but no such problem today and there are quite a few customers in to justify their opening.

Four or five cask ales were on (I couldn't read one clip, it might be cider) and I chose Trappers Hat which was very good.

I understand they have refurbished the upstairs making it usable as more drinking space, but I couldn't be bothered to climb the brand new open staircase to check it out, especially as the gents is now in the cellar.

This one seems to be the busiest of today's ticks, which is very pleasing to find.

Considering today wasn't supposed to be a pub survey I think four is more than enough, so it is time to head for home...

Pub of the day: Baltic Fleet
Beer of the day: Trappers Hat
Miles walked: 2.4
Maybe coming soon: Wavertree, Bold Heath, Clock Face, Sutton

Saturday 2 September 2023

Thatto Heath

Another train strike day, so I took a bus up to Thatto Heath where I began my researches in the British Lion:

I always think this place looks a bit down at heel from across the road, although looking at the picture above I'm not sure that's fair.  Anyway, inside is a pleasant plain two bar pub, the interior clean and well looked after.

I entered the smaller side where there were no people, so I quickly swapped to the larger room to find a cheerful barmaid and three regulars.  (Last time I was here one side was out of use.)

Everton were losing again on the giant telly, oh dear.  I watched for a few minutes and amazingly they equalized.

I looked around, the place really is well decorated, plain but very pleasant, and I like the large mural of a Union Jack overlaid with a lion's head.

Next, towards the station (With no trains today) and the Springfield:
Inside this rather fine building, dating from 1912 according to the stonework, is a pleasant two sided pub, sadly without many customers.

I couldn't see any Carling so had Carlsberg instead.  As I drank, it occurred to me that over the last few years there has been a gradual change to special glasses for many of the "down-market" beers, my Carling in the Lion came in a Carling glass (I think they are a great glass) and my Carlsberg here is in one of their goblets.  Wind back ten or twenty years and I think "ordinary" lagers usually came in a nonic or a tulip, unbranded.  Is this a marketing thing pushed by the breweries?

Anyway, returning to the topic at hand, that is the Springfield, the decor in here is very good, once again carefully maintained, clean and tidy.  The disco lights and speakers, and the wiring thereto, make the ceiling look a bit cluttered, but nothing to complain about.

Come on, folks, it's nearly three on a Saturday, we need more people in the pubs, I can't save them all on my own.  I've ticked eight in three days, with two or three more lined up today, I can't do any more!

Despite trying hard to resist getting involved, I had to check Everton's result and they've got a point at last!

Next a quick check of the Vine Tavern which I believe is closed.  But what do I know?
As she poured my Carling (In the proper glass) I said to the barmaid that someone had told me the pub was closed, and she replied that they had reopened a week ago.  Good news indeed.

Another plain but very well cared for two sided boozer in which I found myself alone in the front room while there were quite a few customers in the larger back room.

There was plenty of cheerful chatter from the back but the main sound was "Now 80s" on the telly.  Another Brick In The Wall, Pink Floyd's only number one single, I think.  This was followed by Wham's Freedom with a video filmed in Beijing, it was very different from the Beijing I knew in the noughties:  Everyone was on a bicycle in the Wham video, they would have been wiped out by the cars when I was there.  I really enjoyed my time in China, I wonder if I'll ever manage to go back?

So, on to the Elephant just a few yards further down the road:
I'm afraid I'm getting a bit repetitive; a plain but carefully maintained interior inside this impressive building which dates from 1903.  Carling in a proper glass.

The differences are that the interior has been knocked through into one large space, and there are quite a number of regulars drowning out the music with cheerful chatter.

Another good boozer, busier than the other three but could still benefit from more customers.  Come on, people, it's up to you; use it or lose it.

Someone won the jackpot on the fruit machine, the clanking of coins being dispensed going on for ages.  He carried all of them to the bar, in a number of handfuls, presumably for the barmaid to convert to more portable currency.

There are two more pubs in Thatto Heath but perhaps I'll save them for another time and head for home.  The bus ride will take ages, can my bladder cope?  It did.

Pub of the day: The Springfield, but only by a narrow margin, they were all good.
Beer of the day: Carling
Miles walked: 1.6
Maybe coming soon: Wavertree

Friday 1 September 2023


I headed to Prescot for domestic reasons, but why not collect a few ticks before I do the shopping?  Firstly, the Royal Oak:

Last time I was here I recorded that it was very pleasant.  Has it had another refurbishment since then?  It looks even nicer, in fact I would say immaculate.  It's hard to put my finger on exactly what they've done right, but they certainly have.

No clips on the handpumps so I guess the Cask Ales sign outside is no longer true.  (Was it ever?)

I sat with two other customers in the smaller "bar" part of the two sided interior and drank a Carling.  The background music was at a very low level making for a wonderfully relaxing peaceful atmosphere.  Some people would complain about the pub being "dead", but I really enjoyed the quiet.

Next, Tommy Hall's:
No, wait, it's called the Thomas Hall now.  I can remember when it was the Hare and Hounds, and Tommy Hall's was a nickname.

A more historic boozer this, retaining some of its woodwork and a rather fine fireplace inside.  Which incidentally displays a very impressive selection of sports trophies.

I noticed the woodwork above the counter was very low so, being over six feet, I couldn't see the barmaid's face while she poured my Carling.  How odd!  The woodwork looks pretty old, is it just that no one was this tall when it was built?

Two sides again but no obvious difference between them.  About half a dozen regulars, making some conversation but the main sound was a racing channel on the multiple tellies.  Some of the drinkers were watching closely and clutching betting slips.

Next, what about a new tick?  Mercutio's:
Oh dear, it's after two on a Friday afternoon and this nicely done corridor bar has three staff and zero customers.

As soon as I'd typed that some more people came in, but they turned out to be friends of the staff and didn't buy anything!  So not good.

A sign on the counter said Please pay cash if you can, so I did.  Someone suspicious might think of a tax dodge, but I'm guessing they just want to avoid paying the card company's charges.  I don't know what the fees are for an operation like this but I bet it's at least a few percent.  If you're only just managing to make a profit that's serious money.  Plus, of course, the card people won't actually pay you for a few weeks.

No Carling here, so I had San Miguel.

Pub of the day: Royal Oak
Beer of the day: Carling
Miles walked: 0.75
Maybe coming soon: Thatto Heath, Wavertree