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.  UPDATE: Since my visit I have learned that by December they had fitted the handpumps and are now serving good cask.

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.