Friday 12 July 2024

St Helens

The weather forecast was very poor, so once again I abandoned a plan which required lots of walking.  Instead I headed to St Helens where there are plenty of required targets.

I started my survey at the Brasserie Chalon:

The name always conjures up a mental picture of a posh bistro restaurant sort of place, I wonder if it ever was like that? 

What we find now is a nicely done plain clean and tidy boozer, where I enjoyed my first Carling of the day.  Quite a lot of people in at lunchtime, and the rooms were filled with cheerful conversations.  One bloke, with two empty Amstel glasses in front of him, was asleep.  It's a bit early for that, I thought.  But why not - The place is warm, comfortable and friendly and he's not doing any harm to anyone.

Next, on to somewhere where I should get a pint of something good, the Sefton:

Or maybe not.  I chose Rev James.  I took a sip, er, that's not right.  I took a bigger swig:  Yeuch!  More suited to pouring on chips.  Now I hate taking beer back, and have often drunk dodgy pints rather than reject them, or even left them behind on the table and walked out, but this one was horrible so I stepped up and complained.  The cheerful barmaid quickly poured me a pint of London Pride which was very good albeit perhaps slightly short measure.  Even better, she immediately turned the clip round on the Rev James. 

So, the crisis over, I sat back and enjoyed my pint.  The pub was ticking over nicely with a scattered crowd of diners and drinkers.  On a Friday afternoon it really should be busier than this, though. 

The large open room decorated in traditional style was, of course, covered in euro flags, I expect many pubs will do well around the final on Sunday.  On that subject, I was somewhat surprised to find my local Wetherspoon branch extra busy on Wednesday evening, despite them only displaying sports on one telly.  All good for my shares, though! 

Next, along Westfield Street let's see what survives:  The Wheatsheaf is neglected and has a For Sale sign, Kingdom (Punch Tarmey's when I visited) is boarded up and also for sale.  On the other hand, Dreem has lost its D but is still going strong:

Nothing has changed in this plain down market corridor bar since my previous call, back in 2018.  The regulars all know each other and they just ignore the stranger fiddling with his tablet.

Carling was my choice here, only £2.60.   Good grief, this place has that rare thing, a clearly readable price list, and I've chosen an expensive beer!  Fosters, John Smith's and Strongbow are all cheaper.

The weather is so bad the central heating is on in here, and my chosen seat was in front of a pleasantly warm radiator.

Now, on to one of those wonderful things:  A new(ish) place I've never heard of, number 1,498 on my list of visited bars, Coco's:

The sign on the door says only over 35s are allowed in here, I'm not sure if that is a joke or are they serious?  Not a limitation I have to worry about, anyway.  I checked streetview to find out how new this place is and discovered it has been here for at least eight years, so I'm embarrassed to admit I must have walked past without noticing it on a number of occasions.  Oh well, better late than never.

Another small bar where everyone knows everyone else, and most (but not all) of them are older than I.  Once again, the pub ticker typing on his tablet is ignored.

The decor is very well done with black sparkle tiles in the floor and silvery walls decorated with Elvis pictures.  There's a small stage at one end of the room, so perhaps it's live music later; more likely karaoke.

Another Carling for me, £2.60 again. 

What a wonderful friendly boozer this is, everyone is cheerful and enjoying their chatter, although having said that a brief argument started while I was in the gents, I could hear some some raised voices.  It was all over by the time I came out.

Just one more target in this end of town, the Market Tavern:

There was only one operational handpump in a mainly keg pub, but I risked a pint of Moorhouse's White Witch.  It was gorgeous, definitely pint of the day, remarkably fruity.

Although by no means packed the pub was much busier than all the previous ticks, and the background music was mostly drowned out by chatter and laughter. 

It's not often I notice a humorous "quotation" on the wall I've not seen before, but I do like "Trust me, you can dance" credited to Beer.  I have fallen for that one on occasion.

St Helens truly is a wonderful pub destination, even if you don't go looking for the specialist cask places.  All life is here, which I fear is the snob's way of saying it is all down market.  Can I put it better?  Real people in real pubs, is that closer to what I'm trying to say? 

Pub of the day: Market Tavern
Beer of the day: White Witch
Miles walked: 1.2
Maybe coming soon: Cantril Farm, Bebington, Prenton

Saturday 6 July 2024

Cains Brewery Village

The poor weather made my plan with a long walk rather unattractive, so instead today a train and a bus carried me to Cains Brewery Village where there are a number of outlets not visited since 2018 and, I hope, a couple of new ones as well. 

I started in the beautiful Brewery Tap:

On Wednesday I was chatting to a pal about beer quality and I said it was a long time since I'd had an off pint.  So inevitably my very next pint of cask, Beartown Glacier, was somewhat "on the turn" here.  I probably should have rejected it.  Another customer took back a pint of Madri and it was promptly replaced by a Staropramen.  Does that mean all the beer is awful?

The gorgeous interior is unchanged since my last visit, and the pub was doing a decent trade despite the cold weather.  Multiple conversations mixed with "grunt-bonk-bonk-bonk-bonk-applause-thirty-forty".  

Next, a new one, Cains Brewery:

One fairly small room with bare brick walls, I don't think I've been in here before.  Completely deserted at two o'clock, just two bar staff and me. 

Four handpumps on the counter but no clips, I think the small brewery which can be seen behind the servery is currently idle, which is a shame as their recreation of Cains FA was superb.

Gosh, two more customers! I glanced down at my tablet and when I looked up they had disappeared.  Maybe sitting outside?  Then another one, and he stayed. 

Looking out of the door I could see plenty of people walking up and down the street, so at least some parts of the complex must be busier.  It's a bit early for footie fans to be bagging their places, the match starts at five.  No tellies in here so this one will be a football free zone, I guess. 

Baltic Market:

This one is a giant busy food hall, I got a pint of Dortmunder from the bar and sat at the corner of one of the bench tables.  Lots of food was coming out from all of the little kitchens, very tempting I must say. 

This is where all the people I'd seen on the street have ended up, the place is packed. 

Definitely not a "pub" but somehow I like this place.  All you have to do is sit at a bench and order food and drink on your phone, and it magically appears.  My idea of heaven! 

Platform 89:

Another one new to me, once again a smallish bar; this time it seems to aim at live music or maybe karaoke, there's a large table with microphones and a big mixing desk.  And some enormous speakers.

Modern decor in here, nicely done with a "black sparkle" counter front. 

The cheerful barmaid quickly left her chat to serve me a pint of Madri, in a plastic glass.  The weather has put everyone off, she said - There were only two other customers.  Another footie-free one, this.

No one else arrived or departed while I swigged my beer. 

Finally, the Tank Room:

I seem to recall the special feature of this outlet was proper Czech lager from a large tank.  No longer the case, the special tanks are out of action although still present.  So I chose the always tasty Neck Oil.

Quirky fun decor in here, once again I like it, but it's a shame the tanks are no longer in use. 

Custom was gently ticking over.

Amusing sight of the day:  Two women ordered a large quantity of shots, I guessed there was a gang of them outside.  One was left with four or five of those little thimbles to carry, and to ensure she didn't spill any she took a sip out of each one!  Don't worry, I won't tell.  (Except here)  Of course, it's equally possible that there was no "gang" and all the shots tasted were hers, but my version is more fun, I think.

Five ticks, two new ones, time for home I think.  My total is now 1,497, we're getting close!

As I departed I passed the building which was a nightclub-style place called Black Pearl when I was here in 2022.  It is now called BOXPARK and according to their website it is a large "events space" surrounded by food and drink counters.  At four o'clock there was a long queue of people waiting to get in, presumably wanting to watch the football.

Pub of the day: Brewery Tap
Beer of the day: Neck Oil
Miles walked: 0.75
Maybe coming soon: Cantril Farm, Bebington, Prenton, Southport