Thursday 13 June 2024

Rain in Crosby

As I left home I noticed a few spots of rain.  By the time I got to Lime Street it was raining steadily, all the swiftys were donning cagoules.  Welcome to Liverpool! 

A second train carried me to Crosby where I was hoping for some overdue and some new ticks.  I started at Inside No. 4:

This is mainly a cafe/restaurant, but they have a comfortable bar area as well so drinkers are welcome.  It was surprisingly busy on a wet Thursday, although I was the only one in the bar. 

Very nicely decorated throughout, what else is there to say? 

After bringing me a pint (It's table service here) of Camden Pale in their "bucket" wide glass the barmaid/waitress was busy making cocktails and coffees for diners.

Something I've not noticed before, a contactless gizmo by the exit just for tipping.  Tap your phone and give them a fiver.  Or you can set another amount.

Next, I headed off in the gentle rain.  I was diverted on my way to a planned brand new tick by another brand new tick, I'd never before heard of Hampsons:

I must have been yards from here last time I was in Crosby but I didn't spot it.  I seem to remember it was raining that time as well. 

Anyway, this is a shop conversion with excellent decor, how can I describe the style?  Bare brick walls, large chandeliers, it really looks good.

Sadly I was the only customer at half two on a Thursday, which is a shame.

I've not seen a "Card payments £10 minimum" sign for a while, I think they need to move into the 21st century!  Under the circumstances I paid cash.

As I neared the end of my lager another customer came in, he wanted a small breakfast and a coffee.  Obviously a regular, so we can conclude that the breakfasts, at least, are good here.

Two more arrived, so the bar is now ticking over rather than dead.  Good. 

Am I permitted a grumble?  The answer is, of course, yes, since this is MY BLOG.  So, I hate attractive looking wooden tables which don't have a flat top, so you put down your goblet of Krombacher and it wobbles.

So, on to the new tick for which I was aiming, the Queen's Nook:

Another shop conversion, perhaps not as stylish as Hampsons but certainly pleasant, comfortable and attractive.  Actually, on reflection that's not fair; it is just as stylish as the last one.

There were three customers here when I arrived, so again not much custom.

I scanned the menu, it looks rather good, fish and chips was fourteen quid, and a number of items were not "pub standards".  I wonder who cooks it?  Does the barmaid disappear into the kitchen.  Some of the menu items looked like they would require a proper chef, is he/she sitting in the back waiting for my order?  Or maybe I am underestimating what commercial frozen food can produce.  I was tempted to order something sophisticated just to see what happens!  Suddenly my mind wandered to a bar in Dubai with a menu of Chinese food where ones meal came from a nearby takeaway.  I seem to recall it was rather good.

As I drank my Neck Oil more and more people came in, so it was doing alright by the time I left.  Still not busy, though.  All the other customers seemed to be regulars and to know each other.

Next, just a short walk down the road in the continuing rain is Pioneer:

This also counts as a shop conversion but it is a very large corner location.  Once again very well done out, green ceramics, lots of plastic flowers, pale wood flooring, altogether very pleasant.

No sign of anyone eating at four o'clock, in fact only three other customers and the couple I could see had a bottle of water and a can of Fanta. 

I had a pint of Madri here, in a Madri goblet of course.  Is it always this malty?  Very good! 

I set my course back towards the station, with the opportunity for another new tick and possibly some cask, at the Coop:

At last, real ale.  Once I'd spotted Jaipur I didn't need to look further.  The landlord had some trouble pouring it due to excessive froth so he took the money and I sat down.  Only a few moments later he brought me a lovely pint.  In an oversized glass, to boot.  [When I was young I was told off for using the phrase "an' all", and told that "to boot" was more correct.  I was slightly surprised to learn, on consulting Google, that that is true.]

Another shop conversion, of course, nicely done with attractive plain-ish decor.  Plenty of customers were keeping the place going, there was room for a many more, though. 

As I enjoyed the pint of the day more and more people came in.  Still not packed, but certainly doing well at five on a Thursday. 

How about that!  Three new places, bringing my total to 1,492; I can see that fifteen hundred getting closer!

Time to go home.

Pub of the day: Crosby Coop
Beer of the day: Thornbridge Jaipur 
Miles walked: 2.25
Maybe coming soon: Cantril Farm, Bebington

Friday 7 June 2024

All New in Meols Cop

Today I had a rather special plan; to scoop in no less than four pubs never before visited.

So, three trains carried me to Meols Cop station in the outskirts of Southport, from where it was just a short stroll to the Thatch & Thistle:

Another member of the exclusive group of thatched Merseyside pubs, I can only think of three others. Inside is a bog standard food led operation, pleasantly done out but nothing special except, perhaps, for the old stone floor.

The bar staff were having trouble with the ordering system, requiring five minutes and two tills to sort out a simple food order. Eventually one could serve me with an excellent pint of Theakstons.

The pub was doing a gentle steady trade at two on a Friday, almost everyone I could see was eating, the menu of pub standards included Fish and Chips for £11.20.

On to the Richmond:

This pub belonging to Holt's concentrates on dining but serves a fine pint of Two Hoots.  The friendly barmaid asked what I was doing this afternoon and before I knew what was happening I was showing her the Merseyside Pub Guide book, and soon it was being passed around bar staff and regulars, to the admiration of all.  Where are you going next was the most common question, and once I'd told them, some asked, "What about the Old Duke?".  That one was missing from my database so could I make it five new ticks?  I wondered if it was in Merseyside, we're not far from the border here, but the maps say it is. 

Anyway, back to the pub.  I think it was only built fairly recently, maybe since 2000, but it does seem to have some old features inside including some old timber in the ceiling so I could be wrong about that.

Custom was fairly thin at three o'clock, I gazed across vast expanses of empty tables as I enjoyed my ale. 

So, let's try the Old Duke next:

An enormous twenty-first century roadhouse built by Marstons in 2017 or 2018, with their standard plastic very good decor inside.

Worryingly quiet at three on a Friday with just a few diners scattered around the enormous space.  Bombardier and Wainwright were on tap, my Wainwright was spot on.  

Talking of beers on tap, I have been playing with the Untappd app for the last few days, logging all the pubs I have been drinking in.  As I wrote this I had eight pubs and eight beers on the scoreboard.  But what is the point?  I don't see what I am achieving, especially as almost all the pubs I visit are "not verified", whatever that means.  Looking back, perhaps I should have been doing this when I was in America, twenty brewery taps would certainly look good on any stats.  I'll keep going for the time being but I don't really understand what I am producing with all my check-ins.  Perhaps I'm too old to grasp the concept of this social media lark.

Thank goodness my fans in the Richmond told me about the Old Duke, if I had done the other four and not this it would have been a real pain to come back for this one.  Actually, it wouldn't have been a pain because I wouldn't have bothered.  (See Beer Den which will have to wait until that end of Southport comes round for another visit.)

What I didn't realise as I sat in the Old Duke enjoying my Wainwright was that this pub marked a milestone in the Merseyside Pub Guide, as it was entry number 2,000.

So far, so brilliant:  Three never visited pubs, three quality cask ales.  I predict I won't get any more cask, but I'm still hoping for two more new ticks.  Let's see...

Hickory's:

My new friends in the Richmond told me what this was called when it was a pub, but I've forgotten.  (A quick Streetview scan once I got home shows it was The Pageant.)  Anyway, an enormous food oriented knocked through place.  I was captured by a waiter at the entrance but when I said I just wanted a drink he pointed me towards the bar counter and what was clearly the non food end of the room. 

No handpumps so I scanned the taps until I spotted Hickory's Pale Ale - I always like to choose the house brew.  Despite the name it wasn't very pale, a hefty sweet beer, very good.  It was also hazy, I'm not sure if that was intended but it didn't spoil the taste: I would say it was a wonderful keg beer!

Once again, a large space with no one in, how do these places survive?  It's after four on a Friday and I suspect there might be more staff than customers.  As I typed that a family came in, so now there's more customers than staff.  I must say the delicious wafting odours of barbecue were very tempting here - luckily my table didn't have a menu on it, or I could have ended up eating.

I must stay I was impressed by this restaurant/pub, excellent decor, quality service, tempting food.  If there was a branch near me I would be a regular customer I think. 

I recall some time ago going to the Hickory's in West Kirby, also a conversion of a pub, it used to be the Moby Dick.  I checked my own blog and found I had Hickory's Pale Ale there as well, back in 2018.

One more target on the list, Forty Seven:

This is a really beautiful shop conversion.  No real ale so I asked for 47, he offered two different beers from which I selected the Pilsner style one which was really good. 

It could be the effect of the four previous pints, but I couldn't get untappd to work here, because it didn't have the beer I was drinking on the list.  How do you add a new brew? I couldn't work it out. 

About half way down my pint two other customers left, leaving just me, one other drinker and the barman.  Soon, two more regulars with a dog came in, so the place was ticking over. 

In summary, not the four brand new ticks I hoped for, but five!  My score is now 1,489, that fifteen hundred milestone is getting closer!  Time for a bus and two trains to take me home.

Pub of the day: Richmond (But they were all good.)
Beer of the day: Two Hoots
Miles walked: 2.7
Maybe coming soon: Canny Farm, Bebington

Saturday 1 June 2024

Allerton Road

Today I headed to Allerton Road, where I might be able to get a new tick or two.  I started at the Blackburne Arms Allerton:

I ordered a pint of Tetley.  "Mug OK?" asked the barman.  He reported he'd had a group of people in last night who had objected to the dimples.  I told him I slightly preferred a straight glass but it wasn't important, the beer still tastes the same. 

A pleasant shop conversion, nothing like the main branch in town.  Modern styling including a steel staircase and the usual exposed air conditioning ducts.

I haven't had a pint of Tetley Bitter for years, it was very good.  Where is it brewed now? 

They are aiming more at the diners here, with cutlery on every table, but I was welcome to order a pint at the bar and sit at one of the tables in a comfy chair (Some tables have bench seats, but not this one.)  There is also space upstairs which I didn't look at.

At one on a Saturday trade was slow, with only about three other customers, I suppose it's still early.  More came in as I enjoyed my ale.

Just a couple of doors down is the Allerton, but the shutters were down.


Is it still operational, I wonder?  Google says it opens at twelve on a Saturday, clearly it didn't today.  So that's my second new tick of the day failed.

So, over the road where I skipped the John Brodie because I was there last November.  Next door is the Allerton Oak:

I've not been in here since 2000, so I think we can say it's overdue.  Back then it was called New York and had an American theme, pleasantly done.  The only things I can remember is that it was peaceful after being deafened in what was then Yates' next door, and there was a long rotating shaft along the ceiling with multiple blades providing an unusual and effective fan for the whole room.

Moving back to 2024, there were only two other customers in the nicely decorated room, and there's also a mezzanine with lots of tables, but a velvet rope prevented access to the stairs.

I was surprised to discover a pint of Carling costs 50p more at the weekend.  Is this common, I wonder?  Ninety nine times out of a hundred I wouldn't know, I only discovered it here because the barmaid told me the price and then corrected herself with "no, wait, it's Saturday".

This is a down market pub but in line with the 2020s norms, it is clean, tidy and well looked after, with not a hint of the scruffiness one might have found in this sort of place twenty years ago.  Well done, keep it up.

I looked around, could I be the youngest person in the pub?  (Not if you count the barmaid who is significantly younger than I.)

Next, the Square.  This one is either closed or I walked straight past it.  My scribbled pre-flight notes already said "Not a pub? May be closed" so I won't be panicking about this failure.

On to the Penny Lane:

Previously known as the Penny Lane Wine Bar, I was last here in 2018, when I seem to recall it was a little tired.  I also noted that no one was drinking wine.  In 2024 the outside and the multi room interior are very well done and maintained.

The Beatle memorabilia on the wall seems to include some handwritten lyrics to Penny Lane, complete with crossings out.  Surely a fake or reproduction, I would have thought if genuine it would be worth six figures at least.

I had a pint of Penny Lane lager here, I wonder who brews it.   The tap badge is silent on that subject, and doesn't give a strength either.  More flavoursome than my usual Carling, and a somewhat paler colour.  I noticed they also sell a Glen Affric brew called Bevvie Across The Mersey, I don't often see beers from this Birkenhead brewery when I'm out and about.

Now, along the world famous Penny Lane to the Dovedale Towers:

The wonderful interior here, all "fake" I think, but great fun, is looking a little tired in places and the seat I sat on was certainly in need of re-covering.

The two handpumps were not in use, so I had a pint of one of my favourite "common keg beers" Beavertown's Neck Oil.  I noticed they also had two other less often seen beers from the same brewery.

A steady trickle of customers approached the counter, but not enough to keep the four bar staff busy.

I perused the menu; breakfast looks good (Served until three, maybe I should have one!) and after that the pub standards include fish and chips, £15.50.  I'm always a little suspicious of a place that serves fish and chips with "pea puree", this is just affectation in a failed attempt to seem POSH, I'm sure everyone knows what mushy peas are.

One more?  Back on Allerton Road, or is it Smithdown Road by now, is Arthur Guinness:

Formerly Jalons, Grog House, and Dirty Nellies, this place doesn't seem to have changed to any great extent under its latest name although I've not been here since 2018, two names ago. 

A pleasant multi-area boozer with a subtle Irish theme, a lot busier than all my previous ticks with a couple of large pub crawl groups (The one with a number of young ladies departed as I arrived, I'm sorry to report) and plenty of other customers.

Given the name, I could only have Guinness here, of course.

The background music moved on to an instrumental version of Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.  I'm ashamed to admit I'm only familiar with this rock classic thanks to the Simpsons!  I really must add it to my "record" (or CD, download, etc) collection. 

Time for home I think...

Pub of the day: Allerton Oak
Beer of the day: Tetley Bitter 
Miles walked: 1.6
Maybe coming soon: Cantril Farm, Bebington

Saturday 25 May 2024

Closed and Closing in Bootle

I started today's excursion with a train to Bootle where my first target was the Merton:

As I'd already noted in my database, this one is well and truly closed.  I have ticked it a number of times over the years, before, during and after its time as a Wetherspoon.  It's a shame to see this rather fine building disused.  Give me a few million quid and I'll reopen it as a real ale outlet! 

I walked on, skipping the Jawbone because I've done it once this year already.  Soon I reached the Albion.  Would this rather out of the way pub be open?

It certainly is.  Something of a classic this one, with a dark wood and mirrors interior, beautifully maintained.  If I'm nitpicking, there was some gaffer tape involved in the comfortable bench seat along the wall, so perhaps a reupholster is called for.

Nearly a dozen regulars were keeping the place going, one or two watching the racing on the tellies and maybe nipping out to the bookie. 

Next, I retraced my steps towards central Bootle for a look at the Mayflower which I was also expecting to find closed:


And it was.  Another regrettable loss, this was a classic down market boozer where one drank lager or stood out as a stranger. 

On past the long closed Wharf, last visited in 2004.

And on to Lock and Quay:

Without checking my notes I seem to recall that in 2019 I felt both the interior and the ale were past their best.  Perhaps a false memory, and certainly not true today, the inside is comfortable and well looked after, and my pint of Republic Of Liverpool (A Bootle brewery) Pale Ale was excellent. 

Only a handful of customers at half two on a Saturday, they all seemed to know each other and the barman, always a sign of a good local pub, I think. 

Live music is clearly important here, there's a stage at one side of the room.

The bloke on a mobility scooter dropped something and half the customers started searching the floor.  They didn't find it. 

Next, on to the main reason I'm here in Bootle, the Top Rope Brewery:

This place is only open one Saturday a month so a few weeks ago I had it pencilled in for today.  Then this week I learned they are to close down at the end of June, so it became more crucial. 

Just like I'm back in Texas, an array of tables and chairs in the corner of a warehouse, but the ones I visited there are open for four or more days a week, not once a month. 

I was 'captured' by a friendly woman who guided me to a seat and then fetched me 2/3 of Oatimus Prime which turned out to be a rather gorgeous fruity hazy pale, once again reminding me of my American holiday.

They have got one handpump but sadly not in use.

Now I'm in American mode, I ought to have a stronger one before I go so maybe Bossk Time Imperial Stout, 10.5%.  Wow!!!  I'm always fond of strong stouts and I've sampled lots of them.  This one is an all time great, nutty and coffee flavoured, sweet (maple), smooth and heavy, just wonderful.  

Where next?  The nearest "required" tick is a long walk and I can't be bothered, so perhaps I'll visit what was the Wetherspoons Wild Rose when I was there in December 2022, to see what it's like post-spoons.  Well, that was the plan as I left the brewery, but on the way I spotted Aurora:

This used to be Iona House, after which it had changed to a restaurant many years ago.  Much more recently, in 2021 I think, it became a bar once again.  So not strictly a new tick for me, but long overdue as I was last here in '04.

Inside I found four customers watching the FA cup in a rather wonderfully decorated room.  The excellent apparently hand painted murals include some liver birds. 

Perhaps more of a late evening place, I think, but comfortable and welcoming at four on a Saturday.

The reds were leading two nil and I wondered if there would be anyone in here if it wasn't for the footie?  

Time for home, I think...  The previously sunny weather was getting darker, am I going to get wet?  The sun came out again before I left, so maybe not...

Pub of the day: Lock and Quay
Beer of the day: Bossk Time Imperial Stout
Miles walked: 3.9
Maybe coming soon: Bebington, Maghull, Canny Farm

Saturday 18 May 2024

Melling, Waddicar and Fazakerley

As I wandered around Kirkdale last week it occurred to me that I was wasting the fine weather, and it was time to do some more out of the way pubs.  So today I began with a train ride to Maghull.  I turned away from the excellent Great Moghul by the station and walked out into the countryside. 

I soon reached the Bootle Arms:

It is twenty years since I was last here and although I can't remember details that far back I suspect not much has changed.  This is a classic country pub inside and out.  

I waited impatiently at the bar, eventually noticing the Ring Bell sign.  I rang it just as the barman arrived.  Three handpumps but only one cask ale so I had Hobgoblin Gold which was very good. But what on earth is that glass about?


Actually, it's quite comfortable to hold, I could learn to like it.

Rather quiet at one on a Saturday with only a handful of other people in, but there was a gradual trickle of custom coming through the door, all locals judging by the conversations with the bar staff. 

I looked at the menu of pub standards, fish and chips is £13.29 which I guess is about mid-range for prices nowadays.

Only a mile and a half of walking down pleasant country roads and I soon reached the Horse and Jockey:

A contender for the worst picture of a pub award!

I headed to the plain pleasant bar room in this two sided operation, and enjoyed a pint of Neck Oil as there was no cask.

Gently ticking over with a number of customers scattered around both sides.  I could see no sign of a food offer, because it is only in the other side, so I can't comment on the selection nor price.

Another mile, mostly through open fields, brought me to Aintree and the Blue Anchor:

There were Greene King IPA handpumps on the counter but they had no cask ale so I had Guinness.

A Hungry Horse outlet where fish and chips is only £8.29, a whole fiver less than the Bootle Arms.  Despite that, this very large pub was mostly empty; it was now half past two and one would expect to see more people than this on a pleasant sunny Saturday.  Ah, due to staff problems the kitchen is closed, no wonder I couldn't see any food.

The decor in the enormous open space was rather well done chain pub standard style.  Well cared for, clean and tidy.

All they need is a hundred more customers and this place would be doing well.  My mind went back to the Farmers in Morton last year which was a very busy dining pub, admittedly a bit later on a Saturday.

Next, a walk beside the racecourse ...

and on to Longmoor Lane, Fazakerley.  My first target was the Avenue Lounge:

A particularly desirable tick for me because last time I was here, back in February, I walked past without even noticing it existed.  Fortunately someone told me in the blog comments - Thanks James!

A rather well done shop conversion, plain yet pleasant and very comfortable.  Yesterday I ticked a newish shop conversion in Huyton, called Dos Urbano, and the one negative I noted was that all the chairs were wooden without padding.  People who know me might comment that I have my own padding built in, but nonetheless I think I want something a little soft to sit on.  No complaints on that score here.

Sadly, there were no other customers as I enjoyed my Carling.  I've said it before and I'll say it again:  I can't save the bar trade on my own, you all need to come out and get drinking!  What are you waiting for?  Use it or lose it!

Finally, just a short distance down the road, is the Foresters Inn, last visited in 2018:

Ah, so this is where all the Avenue's customers have gone!  Hardly packed, but certainly doing a good trade at four o'clock.  

Plain, pleasant, traditionally styled decor in the down market boozer style; apart from the lack of split levels this could be a classic Oak Lodge.  The customers, some very drunk, were definitely in the down market bracket; nothing wrong with that, they were enjoying their Saturday afternoon, as was I.  I looked around, it's not often I'm the youngest one in the pub, but this might be such an occasion.

What a fine survey:  Plenty of healthy exercise, one new tick, one twenty years old, all five "required", all that was needed to make an all time great research trip would be more cask.

Pub of the day: Bootle Arms
Beer of the day: Hobgoblin Gold
Miles walked: 5.1
Maybe coming soon: Bootle

Saturday 11 May 2024

Last Home Match Of The Season

Everton's last home game of the season, so it's time to head for Kirkdale where I might find some match day only pubs.

I looked into the doorway of the Melrose Abbey as I passed and there's the same friend as I spotted last time, back in January.  So again I had to join him for another chat.  There were eventually five of us, they were all off to the match, of course, so the topics for discussion included VAR, points deductions and so on.  As you would expect, the pub was very full and very busy.

I left the gang and wandered up to County Road where I started in the Chepstow Castle:

It was crowded when I got there but the time I'd got my Carling in a plastic glass everyone was leaving for the ground and I easily found a table to sit at.

My notes for here refer to an island bar but there's no such thing now.  Did I miss the change when I was here in 2018 or has it happened since my last visit, I wonder. 

The crowd rapidly dispersed and the bar staff busied themselves collecting empties and tidying up ready for the post match rush.  Suddenly there were only about a dozen customers, what a transformation!  Eventually the music was turned down to match the levels of customers, thank goodness. 

Now the place was empty I could look round:  Plain traditional decor in one large well looked after room.

At 14:50 there were just three other customers that I could see, perhaps one or two hidden by the columns. 

Next, the closest to the ground of today's targets is the Spellow:

Ouch, match day pricing here, my Carling cost £5, still, on the plus side it came in a proper glass. 

The bar staff were a bit slower here than in the Chepstow, and all the tables inside and out were still full of empty glasses which were slowly disappearing into the dishwasher. 

I sat inside to better observe goings on.  The place has been completely redecorated since I was last here, in 2018.  A rather unusual, and to my taste very good, style with doors and everything below the dado painted black.  Above, Everton memorabilia, brewery stuff and, hanging from the ceiling, five canoes!  Above the canoes the ceiling is covered in random movie posters.  Altogether a rather attractive effect, it's really great to see that someone has put some effort into design for a backstreet boozer.  Well done, whoever you are.

Quite an impressive list of imported bottles on the wall, from Erdinger Dunkel to Singha via Kriek Boon.

I don't want to be the purveyor of negative vibes but I fear this place will be winding down towards permanent closure about a year from now, despite the excellent decor and beer list.  I hope I'm wrong.  Thinking about it, one or maybe even two of the pubs around the ground will probably survive long term serving the locals, it could easily be this one.

The landlord/barman was attempting to get the match commentary on the speakers, but the BBC wouldn't let him, and eventually he gave up and restored music. 

Now, back to County Road and a new one spotted as I passed on a bus a few months ago, JT's Bar.  There was a loud cheer from the ground as I walked up, could Everton have scored?  Yes they did.  

Well I never!  I certainly couldn't have predicted the opening of a new bar on County Road but here we are.  A pleasant plain but nicely done shop conversion, fairly narrow until it widens out at the back where there is a pool table.  Too many scatter cushions on the comfortable bench seat for my taste but other than that very nicely done, a cheerful friendly locals' boozer.

Only four taps on the counter, offering Poretti, Erdinger, San Miguel, and JT's lager.  I selected the house beer which was good.  And cheaper than the others! 

It's always good to get a new pub, that brings my total to 1,479.  The 1,500 milestone is getting closer! 

A delivery arrived, lots of bottles of lemonade and a keg of beer, and three empty kegs were returned.  Saturday afternoon is an odd time for this, I would have thought, and it's lucky it didn't come before kickoff or after full time.  Maybe the bar fetches it from a wholesaler in which case they would know when was a good time. 

The match reached half time, still 1-0.  I should be able to complete my research before full time and beat the crowds on the train home.

Just one more today, a few yards from JT's is the Harlech Castle:

This one is unchanged compared with my 2018 visit, a very nicely done two sided pub around an island servery.  I couldn't see the wooden beams I've noted in the past, perhaps they've been painted over or maybe they are only in the other side.

Cash only said the signs, I've been paying cash all day so no problem. 

Quite busy just after half time, I'm assuming it will be jam packed come five o'clock but I'll be long gone! 

Plenty of non-football customers in here, keeping the staff busy serving in between loading glasses into the dishwashers.  I tried to resist following the Premier League action on the telly or my tablet, but it was hard! 

Five pints, four required ticks, one a new one.  Time for home I think.

Pub of the day: JT's Bar
Beer of the day: JT's Lager
Miles walked: 1.7
Maybe coming soon: Bebington, Greasby

Saturday 4 May 2024

Claughton

A bus carried me under the Mersey for a second consecutive Saturday, this time to the little area of Claughton.  I commenced my research in Houlihan's:

 

A comfortable friendly cheerful boozer with plenty of happy customers at half one on a Saturday.  The barman called me "young man", always a bonus nowadays.  That rings a bell;  did he say the same thing six years ago? 

I have a vague recollection that it was quite dark in here last time I came, either my memory is wrong or they've changed things because it was pleasantly light despite the heavy grey overcast outside. 

Footie was on the telly, from Ipswich.  I was amused to see that the camera positions were rather unsatisfactory and when the crowd raised their hands to salute a goal they obscured half the picture.  If I were one of those fans and I knew about this I would be making rude signs, or a bunny rabbit silhouette.  

As I had entered Houlihan's I could hear very loud rock music emanating from the Claughton Hotel across the road.  Was I going to be deafened?

The noise in the street was terrible (From a sound level point of view, that is; there was clearly some talent in this band.) but it was from upstairs and was almost inaudible in the comfortable pub interior. 

I took another Carling round to the empty rear area where there was plenty of space.  For the second time today the pub seems nicer inside than my recollection from 2018, has it been nicely refurbished since then or perhaps I was just having a grumpy day last time.  Actually, perhaps both are true; apart from some nasty mould in one corner the decoration here is immaculate.  They really need to fix that leak, though, there's even some fungus growing under a picture frame.

The windows here have some old leaded stained glass perhaps from a 1930s refurbishment, some have been re-glazed over the years and I think all the front windows are plain glass.

Next, the pub I felt was most likely to be a fail on today's excursion.  Tucked away up a quiet side street is the Heather Brow:

Happily my fears were unwarranted and it was open.  On my previous and first visit I described this as a hidden gem, and there's no reason to change that assessment.  A beautiful classic. 

Plenty of customers were sitting at the counter, I took my third Carling and headed to the empty back room. The decor here is plain, traditional and very well maintained. 

I can't enthuse enough about this wonderful boozer, all it needs is real ale to make it perfect.

Ipswich were celebrating promotion on the screens, having won the match I was watching in Houlihan's.  Poor old Birmingham went down another level despite winning.  Why is this all happening when it's not even three o'clock?

Piped music, perhaps a little loud in the empty back room, mixed with conversation from the much more popular front rooms. 

Eventually a couple of regulars joined me to make the room seem less empty.  They spent a lot of time fiddling with the jukebox, after which some rather good Talking Heads was followed by more quality 80s stuff, I'm sure I heard her suggest "Stupid Cupid" but I must have misheard, or perhaps she was joking.

Having completed Claughton I caught a bus back towards Birkenhead, jumping off at the Queens:

I've never been sure how much of this giant building is still a pub.  I entered by the front door into a large open one room boozer with a long counter behind which no less than four barmaids were busy pouring drinks.  The room was reasonably busy but not packed enough to justify the staff.  The decor in here, plain well done traditional with a dark wood counter front and bar back - all repro I think - looks very good. 

I took my Carling to the raised area at one end of the room where I sat alone, overlooking the rest of the space.

My inaccurate recollections again, probably, I had this in my mind as a bit of a dump, certainly not true today.

I could hear music and speech from behind a door and people kept coming in and out that way, so I concluded there was some kind of a function in there.  So all of the building is probably still in use.  Should I sneak through to have a look?  I didn't.

A couple of unobtrusive tellies were showing racing with one of two of the regulars watching closely.  I was interested to note two vacuum tube TVs on the porch roofs, you don't see many of those nowadays.  The one facing me was not working, I imagine both are long dead but too much effort to remove.  (I remember when I got rid of my last tube telly I had to get a friend round to help me lift it and take it to the dump.  Thanks, John.)

It would be foolish to leave this end of Birkenhead with one overdue visit so I walked down to the Crown for a fifth tick:

When I first came here back in the 1990s it was something of a real ale destination but not long after they gave up cask.  Moving on nearly thirty years, the wonderful interior remains along with ten well polished handpumps on the counter, but no real ale now so a fifth Carling for me. 

I retreated to the rather good side room, which has a pool table surrounded by very well done bench seating and dark walls enlivened with brewery mirrors.  It really is beautiful in this pub, if only they could bring back the cask...

A gang of five or six women were occupying the pool table, they were enjoying their afternoon without being excessively noisy nor disturbing the rest of the clientele.  I think many other groups of women could, and should, learn from this!  Fortunately they ignored the old bloke in the corner typing on his tablet.

Five Carlings, five overdue ticks, time for home.

Pub of the day: Heather Brow
Beer of the day: Carling
Miles walked: 1.2
Maybe coming soon: Kirkdale, Bebington

Saturday 27 April 2024

The Rover's Return

Yes, it's me; I'm back!  After nearly six weeks in California and Texas where real ale was hard to find, I am once again surveying Merseyside.  In the next couple of weeks I'll "backfill" this blog with tales of American bars and breweries and even some cask, but in the meantime here's today's report:

I headed under the river to Bebington where I started in the Travellers Rest:

This wonderful gem of a pub never fails to please. 

My first pint in Merseyside for six weeks, and it's White Rat, what more could you ask! 

Just a few customers in at one o'clock, quiet conversation mixed with gentle background music as I admired the antique interior.  Nothing much happened as I settled back into pub research routine and tried not to fall asleep.  (Not so much jetlag, more that I got only twenty minutes of kip on the overnight flight home.)

The menu of pub classics looks rather good, and I noticed one or two tables had reservations displayed for later in the day. 

Next, down the hill to the Acorn:

Straight down to earth beer-wise here:  Doom Bar clips but they haven't got any, so a refreshing bland pint of Carling.  It was strange to realise that this is the least "interesting" beer I've had for ages. 

Anyway, an excellent "sizzling" pub, popular with locals seeking food or just a drink.  You might criticise the decor as "chain pub" but it is well done and well looked after. 

In one end of the large open room Liverpool were on the big screen, this place is big enough that you can sit in the other end and not know there was any sport.

I think that as chain dining pubs go this must be the perfect exemplar.  Cheerful friendly staff, clean, tidy and pleasant interior, plenty of happy customers, live sport (but only if you want it); exactly what they are aiming for.

Next, just a little walk down the road to a new one, the Hoptimist:

A standard micro-pub, nicely done out inside with distressed wood on the walls and counter front. 

Two beer engines, I selected one I've never tried from local favourite Brimstage which was pale and rather tasty.

Four other customers, one dog, and one baby were here at three on a Saturday.  One or two more came in as I enjoyed my pint.

Literally across the road is another one new to me, the Cow Shed:

Another recently opened shop conversion, but completely different to the one over the way.  Much larger, a big room plus a back area with the counter on which there are umpteen keg taps.  I chose Hoegaarden which, unusually, came in a giant very heavy Hoegaarden glass (Actually, the glass has a line for a pint, I got a somewhat more than that!)

The eclectic interior decor is very good, rough wood walls covered with mainly music oriented memorabilia.  Are those guitars really signed by Jimmy Page, Dave Gilmour, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Brian May and Keith Richards, not to mention all four Beatles? I suspect not, especially as they all seem to have the same handwriting! They've also got a K6 telephone box.

The menu looks very good in here, I was tempted but resisted.  Lots of cocktails, beers and food were being brought out by the waiting staff, this operation is doing really well.

The next target was a longer walk to another new one, the recently opened Collaboration, but I decided I couldn't be bothered, and just got the bus back for a train home. 

So, two brand new ticks (Bringing my total to 1,477) one gem and one good chain pub, a great result for my return to normality.  As I said above, US blogs will be added soon...

Pub of the day: Travellers Rest
Beer of the day: Ossett White Rat
Miles walked: 1.3
Maybe coming soon: Claughton, Wavertree, Kirkdale

Friday 26 April 2024

Texas

My American holiday continued in Texas.  If you want to find out what I was doing when I wasn't in a bar, check out my other blog here.

Saturday 06 April:  Denton County Brewing Co, Denton



A rather good brew pub, pleasant and welcoming with quite a few people in five minutes after opening on a Saturday.

The queue at the counter was delayed by an order for a flight but it wasn't too long before we were drinking some great hefeweizen, sitting outside in the pleasant breeze. This was followed by a 9% hazy IPA.

Eastside, Denton
A large craft bar with an extensive seating area to the rear which is surrounded by food trucks.
The beer menu has 77 entries, number 77 being Guinness. I had something tasty and local instead. And then a milk stout which was very good, and only 11%.

The American equivalent of the UK's collection of pump clips is this array of tap handles.  I reckon there are five hundred of them in all:

Oak Street Drafthouse, Denton

This old wooden house contains a great bar with umpteen craft taps, the beer yard is surrounded by food trucks. Very busy on a Saturday afternoon when the road is closed to give more space, impossible to get a table.

I had an Oak something hefeweizen, very good.

They need to provide a power hookup for the food trucks because the roar of the generators spoils the outside space a little.

That's enough for one day, time for home.

Monday 08 April: Three Nations Brewing Co, Carrollton

We broke the record for earliness by arriving here for their eclipse party half an hour before opening.  We selected a table with the best view, and then sat in isolation until a few more early people arrived.

Once official opening time arrived at 11 more people came in, and we could buy drinks from the extensive selection.

Royal Blood was a delicious Weiss with blood oranges.

The clouds set in and then cleared, and we sat in bright sunshine. Was the weather going to be kind?
Next, Sucker Punch is an excellent sour Weiss.  The crowd grew.

It got darker and then came the eclipse, to a chorus of cheers.

Yes, we saw it all, diamond ring, prominences, Venus and Jupiter and finally after what seemed like ages, another diamond ring and the sun was back, gradually getting brighter again.
I celebrated this wonderful experience with a Saddle Up which was a superb IPA at 7.5% to finish.
Eclipse photo by Howard R Wheeler on Unsplash.

Harvest House, Denton

A modern styled craft bar with 50-odd taps in which I had a gorgeous Founders Breakfast Stout which wasn't local but was superb. Ticking over slowly in the post eclipse calm, actually here it was only 99% so there probably wasn't as much excitement.

Tuesday 09 April:  Bearded Monk, Denton TX

A plain well decorated room with about 24 taps, deserted at opening time on a wet Tuesday, I had a delicious hazy IPA, Bells Oberon I think.

This bar has a great selection of bottles for sale, ranging from Rochfort 8 to Sam Smith's. And even a trappist one I've never heard of, Zundert. Ah, it's Dutch, so not a "proper" trappist, that's why I didn't know the name (Sheer nit picking, I bet it tastes great)

No one came in or out, the barmaid sorted things behind the counter and then fiddled with her phone until eventually someone else arrived.

I moved on to Three Nations (Yesterday's hosts) Pineapple Upside Down Cake Sour, which I felt would have benefited from more sour, more pineapple and more cake.  Not bad, though.

Eastside, Denton TX

A repeat visit to this excellent craft bar which was also deserted on a wet afternoon. I plumped for the amazing Peanut Butter Crunch from Texas brewers 903. You really can taste the peanut butter.  A good contender for the beer-of-the-holiday award.

We sat inside this time, because of the intermittent rain.  Next, FiftyFifty Eclipse, an 11% stout which was superb. Very rich and sweet, and alcoholic! Not one to be swigged.  I think it comes from California?

The place seemed to get more busy but my local guide recognised them as a staff meeting, so only a small number of real customers.

Wednesday 09 April:  Westlake Brewing, Dallas

A modern warehouse with the brewery in the back, to be honest they're getting a bit samey by now, and I've still got two weeks of drinking to go!  A very tasty hazy IPA to start with.
Arriving a couple of minutes after opening time (Is there a theme developing here?) we were the only customers and one of the staff was busy mopping the concrete floor.

Next, a rather good and unusual wheat beer, not cloudy at all. Accompanied by a gorgeous buffalo chicken flatbread, with just the right amount of spice in the buffalo sauce. A very good lunch.

By this time, two other customers had come in. When we ordered food we were issued with a beeper to collect it, "in case there's a late rush" said the barman.

Deep Ellum Brewing

This one has more about the decor than the last, looking very good, with some quirky features such as beer keg lampshades. But the air conditioning was a bit cold.  As many as a dozen customers in at one on a Wednesday, so doing a little better than Westlake. No one was using the extensive outside seating area in the cold and damp.

Their IPA is one of the best, I'm told, and it certainly tastes gorgeous.

A group of about eight women came in, substantially raising the decibel level, although to be fair once they had sat down they weren't noisy at all.

Meanwhile outside the occasional raindrops turned to torrential downpour, we might be stuck here for a while. Better have another beer...  I did but I forget which one it was.

Eventually the weather improved and it was time to move on.

Chet's, Dallas
Ooops, no photo.  A randomly selected restaurant in downtown Dallas, but we were allowed to sit at the counter and enjoy a good pint of IPA from local brewery (About a mile away) Four Corners.  The place is conveniently located for the metro stop for the ride home.

Only one or two customers in at four on a very wet Wednesday, the staff were preparing for the rush of diners later. More people came in and also sat at the counter for drinks.

We got a free shot of whiskey from Jen in return for a positive Google review. How about that!

Looking round, I noticed everyone else was sitting at the bar having a drink, perhaps we started a trend!

Time for home.

Thursday 11 April:   Pint & Barrel Drafthouse, Palestine, TX

This bar was much nicer than my poor picture might suggest.  Something of a find in this quiet town, about 15 taps I think, offering mostly beers I've never heard of.  I had a superb hazy IPA, only 9.3%. Crash Pad by Real Ale Brewing Co, a Texas brewery located between San Antonio and Austin.

There was no one inside apart from two or three sitting at the counter, I headed outside where many more people were enjoying their Thursday evening. It was 7pm, there were single blokes, couples, families and one or two large family groups.

My Reuben and fries was really good, and came very quickly. I only spotted the "chicken parm sandwich" on the specials menu after I sat down, I wonder what that's like - Any relation to the parmo of Middlesbrough?

There was a slow flow of customers coming and going.

I headed inside to choose another beer: Buried Hatchet from Southern Star, another Texas brewery. This 8.2% stout was quite smooth and oatmeal stout like, but with a little bitter tang to the flavour.

I think two is enough, time for home.

Tuesday 16 April:  Flying Saucer, Houston


A wonderful high ceilinged room in this bar located in the centre of downtown. The walls and ceiling are covered with gold plates*, each bearing a slogan. Presumably you can buy one to add? The bar back, where there are not far short of 100 taps, is decorated with pennies. American ones, that is.

*Flying saucers, of course - It took me at least half an hour to get it!

Ticking over at half twelve on a Tuesday, I sat at the bar to better see the taps (Unnecessary as I was immediately handed the extensive beer menu) and eventually chose 11 Below's Naughty Words, a tasty hazy 6.3% IPA from a Houston brewery, and a reuben for lunch.

The wide ranging beer list includes lots of Houston breweries and from further afield Delirium Nocturnum and Red, and Sam Smith's Lager!

I'm afraid I broke with my intention of drinking Texan beers, and went for a Belgian Delirium Red for "dessert". How often do you see that on tap? It came in the correct glass, of course.

Equal Parts Brewery, Harrisburg Boulevard, Houston

A classic Texas brewery tap, now that I can recognise them. Part of an old warehouse converted into a brewery and a bar, the latter plainly decorated but pleasant.

About eight customers in at two on a Tuesday, all sitting or standing at the counter except me.

I started on their Medina Sod, another delicious hazy IPA, 5.7%, with hops including Citra.

The regulars at the counter were engaged in cheerful conversations, drowning out the music in the echoey space. A main topic was European soccer, should I join in and pretend I know all about it? I think even Americans might see through me!

Next, a delicious smooth stout called Nocturna, 7.9%.

Wednesday 17 April:  Man Overboard, San Antonio

A plain pleasant bar in a brewery, this one in a modern block-built warehouse, could it have been purpose built?

Four regulars chatting at the counter, I sat at a table in the middle and wrote this while enjoying a tangerine wheat beer.  I studied the notice on the table: Join the Beer Club for $205 and you get one free beer every day of the year that you visit. Mind you, they're not open Monday and Tuesday. If this was my local...

Not much more to write about this place, to be honest.  Thirst quenched, I returned to the counter for a New Zealand Pineapple Imperial IPA, at 8.2%.  Not my favourite, I felt it needed more pineapple, but still very good.
I notice they've got one of those can making machines here, two of the lads at the counter took a can each home.

No food in here on a Wednesday (Food trucks the rest of the week.) so time to head out and find some dinner.

Growler Exchange, San Antonio

Just round the corner from Man Overboard is the Growler Exchange. About fifty taps, although the one I chose ran out, so I got a free third of a pint or so. My second choice was from 512 Brewery in Austin, their (clear) Wit , 5.5%, was a bit bland after the strong one in the last place, but once I was bedded in tasted rather good.

When I tried to open a tab two credit cards failed. I was expecting to be rejected but the helpful barmaid just said "we'll sort it out when you go".

I did see one or two growlers being filled, but the majority of the custom was drink and dine in.

I had a Mikes's Special pizza, very odd with honey added, I really enjoyed it! I've never had a sweet pizza before it was wonderful.

For "dessert", I had 512s Whiskey Barrel Double Pecan Porter, just a small one as it is 9.5%. Wow, that really is gorgeous, definitely beer of the day, of the week, and another contender for beer of the holiday.

After that great pizza and great beer, maybe I'll come back here tomorrow, breaking the habits of a lifetime with a repeat?

Thursday 18 April:  Chart House Bar 601, San Antonio

This up market cocktail bar is located at the top of the Tower of The Americas and offers impressive views over the city.

At half eleven on a Thursday there were only two other customers, who were enjoying a "Mojito flight" each. I stuck to beer, something called Golden Ale, which came in a chilled glass.

On the floor below is a revolving restaurant, the tables disconcertingly passing by below the balcony where I was sitting.

Not many customers in the restaurant at this time. For one group a waiter was doing something with one of those chemical flask tea brewing gizmos that also involved dry ice I think. When the time came to fire up the burner it wouldn't light and he had to come up to the bar to get a different one from the barmaid. Sadly, the table had rotated out of sight so I didn't get to see the show.

Back Unturned Brewing Company, San Antonio

This one was pretty popular at one on a Thursday, most of the customer were eating.

I selected a small pizza from the menu and a very tangy hefeweizen. Lunchtime special meant I got a salad for only $1 more.

Having eaten my tasty pizza I had a Rio Reserve imperial stout which is 11.8% and tastes it. Wonderful.

The place continued to do steady trade as I sank into an alcoholic haze (Pure hyperbole, I only had a small one of the stout.)

Ming's, San Antonio

This is a restaurant/cafe not a bar but I had to log it here because I drank Young Master Neon City, brewed in Hong Kong. It says "with mandarin and bergamot" and it has a rather attractive flowery taste/smell.  (When I start writing nose instead of smell you'll know I've gone over to the dark side and become one of those posh reviewers.)

Having apparently started reviewing restaurants I should note that this is fast food style, order and pay at the till. There was total chaos behind the counter with items coming from the kitchen and being queried and sent back without ever getting near a customer.

Eventually my sesame chicken rice bowl arrived 33 minutes after ordering and to be fair, it was very tasty but certainly not fast food.

Friday 19 April:  Hideaway, Austin

This bar/restaurant is attached to a hotel but seems to be a separate operation.

They have a few draft beers on offer, I chose a local hazy IPA which was very good, although I didn't like the jam jar it was served in.  I couldn't get the scan, order, pay system to work, luckily the friendly waitress took my order instead. Have you got wings? Yes, of course, she pointed at the menu, just here ... er ... oh. Instead, she found them on her terminal. They won't sell many if they're not on the paper menu. (I only asked because I'd seen them on the internet before I came here.)

There was a slow but steady flow of customers, all ordering food. Most sat outside but I preferred the air conditioned comfort indoors.  My Buffalo wings were good.

Vacancy Brewing, Austin

Yet another warehouse on an industrial estate, there's not much more to describe.

I started with Hitchhiker Hazy, another cloudy IPA, this one tastier than most, or is that just because I was very thirsty after walking a humid mile or so through a rather dodgy industrial area.

More and more people came in, the background music was mostly drowned by happy chatter.

My second beer was Radio Fuzz, described as peach almond tart. When I ordered it I wasn't sure whether tart was as in acidic or as in pie, it was the former and gorgeous. I know I've said it a number of times already, but beer of the holiday!

Next, a short walk to St Elmo Brewery, Austin

Same again, a shed in the corner of a warehouse, except this one is very busy with a queue at the counter.

I was soon served, I ordered Vaya, described as "coffee cream". It came pale coloured, has he misheard? No, it has a fantastic coffee smell and taste, which is really odd every time you pick up your pale beer. I really liked it.

The only sound I could hear in here was animated chatter, I think there was some music in the background.

The queue ebbed and flowed but never quite reached zero, they are doing a good trade but of course it is Friday night. Outside was busier than in.  I was surprised how many people being their little kids to the pub on a Friday night, another difference, I think, from the UK.

Saturday 20 April:  Warehouse BBQ, Burnet

Strictly this is a food place but with your excellent barbecued meat and tasty sides you can have a bottle of beer.  (I had failed to find a bar in this small town.)

Sunday 21 April: The Pub, Austin

A large vaguely Irish themed pub, noisy with footie fans as Man United and Coventry were in extra time in the FA cup.  Surprisingly not completely packed, obviously there aren't that many soccer enthusiasts around here.

I had Independence Amber from Austin brewery Independence, and bangers and mash.

Central District Brewing, Austin

In part of the ground floor of a large building is this nicely done brewery and tap.  A few customers were generating quiet chatter at two on a Sunday afternoon. There was soccer on a TV but no one was watching.

I started with a hazy IPA called Weird Goodbyes, sweeter than average, I think, very good.  Next, an imperial pineapple sour which was great, just the right amount of both pineapple and sourness, I really enjoyed it.

I was going to go home at this point, but maybe one more, how about Belgium?

Mort Subite, Austin

A great corridor bar with a Belgian theme. Every customer except I was sitting in the sunshine on the pavement outside.

A wonderful array of Belgian beers on draft, from Kwak to Delirium Tremens to three types of Chimay. All, apparently, with the correct glasses, including the Kwak for which they seemed to have dozens of the flasks.

I selected Chimay Cinq Cents (White), I'm not sure I've ever had this trippel before, very good but hardly in keeping with my aim to drink local beers!

One of two other customers joined me inside the high ceilinged room decorated with Belgian breweriana.

Pinthouse, Austin


Yet another brewery tap, but this one is slightly different. Still a bar in the corner of a large warehouse containing a brewery, but this bar is properly done out with pale wood panelled walls and comfortable bench seating around the room. There's also a conservatory area out front. The ceiling of both is two or three storeys high.

I started with a hazy 6.5% IPA called Cryogenic Jellyfish, which was very good. Some problem with my card meant I couldn't open a tab, so it was, unusually, pay as you go here. I also ordered a burger, you get a vibrating puck but then they bring it to your table without any vibration, what's that about?

For my second, and final, beer I tried Lost Wild, another hazy IPA but this one's 10.5%. Pow!

There was a steady stream of food coming out of the kitchen, and lots of people in the conservatory, slightly fewer in the inside area.

I resisted the choco stout cake for dessert.  This caused me to notice that the beer list was lacking any "daft" dark beers, a chocolate imperial stout would have gone down well at this point.

Monday 22 April:  Fred's Texas Cafe, Northbrook, Fort Worth

Unfortunately I drove here so I was unable to sample the range of standard beers.

A splendidly done out part of a small shopping mall, with a bar area and a dining area, although there's nothing to preclude ones sitting in the "wrong" half.

The food menu is of Texas standards, I had a very good chicken fried steak with white sauce, I mean gravy, mashed potatoes and green beans.

Tuesday 23 April:  Oak Street Drafthouse, Denton, TX

A second visit to this very old house, beautiful inside and a lot quieter than last time. We arrived to find the door locked and had to hover on the front porch for a couple of minutes.  

Manhatten Project (A Dallas brewery) Quarter Life was a very refreshing hazy IPA.

There was plenty of activity but it was all staff carrying things in and out. Eventually a customer came in.

Three Nations Horchata Milk Stout was very good at 8.3%, I had wanted one of these to celebrate after the eclipse but the brewery tap had run out.

Eastside, Denton, TX

A third visit to this excellent craft beer bar.  This time I didn't bother to browse the list of 77 beers on offer, I just had another two pints of the wonderful Peanut Butter Crunch from 903 Brewers of Sherman, about 40 miles away.

It was fairly quiet at two on a Tuesday, we sat outside in the breezy sunshine. The line up of food trucks were all closed, they'll be open later, I guess.

Wednesday 24 April:  Denton County Brewing, Denton, TX

For my final brewery tap of the holiday, a second visit to Denton County Brewing.  It was very quiet just after opening time at three on a Wednesday. I started with Triple Play, a hazy IPA.

Then I spotted they've got a handpump or as the Americans say, beer engine.   So I had to try the Pub Ale which was a classic bitter, a real taste of home.

Finally, Nighthawk, a 15% Russian Imperial Stout, Bourbon Barrel Aged.  Another candidate for the beer of the holiday and I think this one wins!   Wow!  I had two before it was time to stagger home.

Thursday 25 April:  IHOP, DFW Airport Terminal E airside

A standard airport bar, better than most, I think. I was surprised and impressed that I ordered a pint, then some food and another pint, and no one had seen a credit card or anything. It would be tempting to run off, they'd never catch me and I'd fly away.

My Philly Cheese Steak and fries was very good and the Sierra Navada Hazy Little Thing IPA was great, although not a Texan brew.

Rock Squeeze, Toronto Airport Terminal 1 airside

A small island bar in the bedlam that is international departures. I sat at the counter and enjoyed a Shock Top Belgian White.

Final Scores For The Holiday

56 bars visited, of which 20 were in breweries.
Beers of the holiday (Too hard to pick just one):
Denton County Brewing, Nighthawk
903 Brewers, Peanut Butter Crunch
Vacancy Brewing, Peach Fuzz
512 Brewing Company, Whiskey Barrel Double Pecan Porter