Month: March 2014

An Interesting Few days

Over the course of a few days the local CAMRA branches; Liverpool and District and Wirral and Merseyale seem to have done their best to court a bit of controversy. Where did it all start? well innocuously it started both with the Pub of the year announcement. I also shouted out on twitter for some suggestions on where to drink on the Wirral, this led to a fantastic response from several people of where to visit. It also opened a pandora’s box which doesn’t seem to want to shut! (not without good reason though)

All the while through this the local CAMRA branch and the local beer publication merseyale have continued to subtly insult craft beer. when i started this i intended it to be a mostly informative, light hearted ramble about drinking in the Merseyside area. However i am getting tired of the outmoded attitude of Liverpool CAMRA branch, im glad i havn’t joined CAMRA now! considering the great work CAMRA has done in its 40 years it could do with a serious attitude check and maybe move with the times.

anyway in summary here is what has happened over the last few days

Liverpool Pigeon announced as POTY 2014

you can read about why CAMRA chose the pigeon on their own website, this choice has proven contentious amongst local drinkers as the pigeon is not technically in “Liverpool” as such but also because it hasn’t even been open a full year. Again in the article the local branch trys to get the boot in one of the positive comments made in reference to the pigeon is “not having any keg products on sale” really? because all keg products are like carling arn’t they?

I would like to take this opportunity to say i love the pigeon, at the risk of repeating myself I am pleased the pigeon has received recognition, I agree with some of the stuff in the CAMRA article, last time it was visited i got the last pint out of a barrel and was asked if i wanted to try it and if it wasn’t satisfactory i could change it. Thats great service! I’d strongly recommended a visit to the pigeon and other pubs in the Crosby and Waterloo area they are fantastic.

Runners up this year were The dispensary and The Belvedere

Merseyale

the latest edition of merseyale is available in local drinking establishments now and available on-line for you to read, and I really insist you do.

Brewdog battles

For starters there is a piece on the new Brewdog bar which is soon to be opened in Liverpool, a large contingent of people are very happy about this, yes Brewdog can seem like they enjoy courting controversy and have “attitude” but its good to have another outlet of good quality beer. But do they take the opportunity to welcome them? No. They bang on about how Brewdog made real ale once but switched to craft which is apparently in CAMRA circles the equivalent of being a Judas, they continue to say that Brewdog make strong beers and seem to suggest that its the only reason they are famous. Brewdog have done their best to say one of the reasons for their bars is to educate people on good beers, a noble cause but Merseyale says:

if  the mission is education then why seek to  locate  their  bar  in  the  premier binge  drinking  zone  in  Liverpool which is a designated CIP and has experienced a 25% rise in assaults. There are many other Liverpool city centre  locations  which  would  suit an  educational  mission  aimed  at people with money to buy and sit and savour the expensive BrewDog beers. Which begs the question “so why  go  there?” It  couldn’t  be money could it?

Binge drinking zone? so what the hell happens at a beer festival? bloody grow up!

Wirral Wanderings

well now this has caused the biggest stink this week, and as i mentioned it all started with me trying to find out what are good places to drink in West Kirby and Hoylake. It ended in the self crucifixion of the area by the Wirral CAMRA members! I will point out that this wasn’t written by Merseyale but published in it, this particular piece was written by Wirral CAMRA members likening it to a real ale desert (because decent craft or keg doesn’t count remember in their book)

I won’t quote a particular section fully you can read that yourself but in a nutshell the Wirral CAMRA members have said if you want to get at real ale you need to go to Chester or Liverpool for better choice and quality. Quite a self defeating attitude for a organisation intended to correct these sort of inadequacies?

And the beat goes on

the above little snippet was taken only just yesterday from the districts facebook page, a thinly veiled kick in the ribs to craft/keg beer again from CAMRA! no mention of the silly import taxes that foreign beers have when they enter the UK. and who drinks a whole pint of some of this stuff? its nice to enjoy as a half or a 3/4 pint!

Over the last few days its become clear to me that CAMRA and Merseyale are becoming something of a dinosaur, we all know what happened to them, failure to adapt. CAMRA has done a sterling job in 40 years of helping to preserve certain beer styles which might have been lost forever, they campaign for drinkers and publicans, yet this outdated attitude to craft beer, keg beer or whatever you want to bloody call it is getting silly and childish. If CAMRA is to survive another 40 years i think it needs to look now at being more inclusive, maybe it should just be the campaign for real beer? or the campaign for good beer?

and as for Merseyale? shockingly i enjoy reading it, it can be very informative, i enjoyed the piece on Wapping brewery, but it can be VERY opinionated and very high and mighty case and point:

Readers of MerseyAle will be aware that “craft beer” is a meaningless  term  which  has  no definition of what it means, unlike real ale.  See MerseyAle Spring 2012 edition page 29, entitled ‘Craft Beer – Keg Beer by Another Name?

Unfortunately you cannot currently get at previous versions of merseyale on the camra website possibly due to a technical error. But if you can get a hold of the issue i think its a worthy read, because it seems the pro craft beer opinion is simply swept under the rug.

Merseyale could do with being a lot more broad-minded and less biased.

Pub of the Year 2014

Hello all! its been a while i have been enjoying some time off for my birthday, i even had a cracking pub crawl more on that in a later entry for now the recent news for our area definitely seems worth talking about!

Our local CAMRA branch have announced Pub of the Year (POTY) 2014, and it has already caused something of a stir, its good to see debate about such things it certainly is a decisive decision.

Pub of the Year 2014 is the Liverpool Pigeon, which is actually located in Crosby, which is not really a part of Liverpool, its within the Merseyside area certainly but even “Merseyside” as an entity is something often argued over, so that’s the first odd thing about it that has been observed.

The second observation is that the pigeon has not been open a full year so how can it qualify for pub of the year status? I have been to the Pigeon myself and its a cracking place, very well run, the beer is always very well kept, its rotated regularly and there is a great selection of ales available from both local and national brewers, the atmosphere is nice. The pigeon is a micro-pub, Merseyside first one, the hours are not typical of other pubs.

I’m pleased for the pigeon to receive some recognition for the work put in since they have opened its a great place. Its certainly going to be debated for a while, as one person I know mentioned it would be interesting if our local CAMRA branch published the voting. I cant say how transparent the system is I’m not a member of CAMRA and for the moment I don’t wish to be.

Again not to take anything away from the Liverpool Pigeon its a GREAT place to go for a drink, and i really do recommend you do, its included in a pub crawl I’m currently writing about for the Crosby and Waterloo area, you can get more information on them here. http://liverpoolpigeon.co.uk/

Pubs are full of surprises

Last night me and a friend went for a wander around Liverpool’s pubs specifically in the Georgian quarter. Our first intention was to visit the new Everyman theatre bistro, the old one holds semi-mythical status amongst Liverpool drinkers, my memory of it is quite vague as i only visited twice so i cant say i hold it in much high regard as i never went enough to form an opinion.

Anyway! the new bistro is quite nice, very modern of course when we visited there were 4 ales on the hand pump including Liverpool Organic Brewery’s “Everyman Ale” a nice session starter but a tad too cold for me, i know someone else who made this observation as well. It was quite pricey too, probably one of the more expensive places to drink real ale in the city, but its only just opened so lets see how things progress.

We didn’t have time to sample the others as we moved on to the 23 Club which was pretty busy for a Thursday evening, a nice pint of Tiny Rebel Hank was on here. We tried Frederiks a new place on Hope Street that has opened in the building once occupied by Korova again quite modern on the inside and for the beer drinker it sells mostly draught craft beers and bottle craft as well, its a nice place to pop in for a craft beer but again a bit on the pricey side.

Moving on down to the Fly in the loaf for a couple of drinks, which is soon to be undergoing a refurb, im not quite sure why myself as its not like the place is falling to bits, hopefully it wont be shut too long as the range of real ale and craft beer is very good here and the staff really know their stuff. Its also one of the few places in the city that was an outlet for Wapping beers, which we sadly wont see any more now since Stan the head brewer has retired, however the final brew “the end” from Wapping will be on sale this weekend so grab a pint of Liverpool’s brewing history while it lasts.

we popped in the Pilgrim which we hadn’t frequented for a while next and then onto the ever colourful Ye Cracke. Afterwards we decided to mosey up to the Caledonia for a few final beers, and what we discovered is what prompted me to write about it today.

Upon going into the Cali my friend pointed out that some of the folks from the Loose Moose band were present (whom we are big fans of) and they were having an impromptu acoustic session in the corner, it was brilliant, quality beers in fantastic surroundings and all to the sound of sweet live music! This is what i love about pubs you just dont know what you are going to find when you go in sometimes! The Caledonia was threatened with closure last year, everyone rallied around the good ship and its staff saving it from closure, this is the sort of thing that makes pubs worth saving!

So thanks to all the pubs for the great night we had, and special thanks to the Caledonia and Loose moose for the unexpected but fantastic entertainment!

Grimbergen Double-Ambree

well my first blog brew post is a euro beer, and there’s nowt wrong with that! I don’t often drink beer from the continent, usually because im quite happy drinking British cask and craft and American craft. But i often enjoy the likes of a De Koninck or a kwak when in places such as the Pi on Rose Lane!

I picked up tonight’s bottle in Morrison’s supermarket of all places! nice to see the supermarkets stocking more than just crates and crates of ubiquitous lager!

The label description once found buried amongst all the other languages on offer describe it as; “Full bodied amber beer with a rich mouth feel. If offers a mix of sweet and bitter flavours with subtle notes of caramel” I can certainly agree with that its got a lovely texture to it, deep and rich, if there is one thing that puts me off something straight away its a watery weak taste. It might appear too dark for some but really its a lovely brew definitely worth a try if you enjoy your malts over hops or if you just had something crammed with hops and you want something at the other end of the spectrum.

2014 Year of the Beer Festival?

Hey look! its my first blog post, erm what can i talk about? Well its certainly not massively old news (ok few days old), but Liverpool Craft Beer Expo 2014 (LCBE) tickets are now available for general sale, and you can get them online from the official site by clicking here.

if you tap it, they will come

I managed to get to the first LCBE and it was absolutely fantastic. A great amount of effort went into putting it together by Liverpool Craft Beer Co, the Camp and Furnace and some hard working volunteers. A cracking amalgamation of both Craft and Cask beer is on offer and last year all the cask beers were available on hand pull! something a friend of mine was quite chuffed about.

Lets not forget that there was also a whiskey bar hiding in the corner and also some epic grub on offer as well as great music, we were able to see the Loose moose string band for the first time and became instant fans of them.

Loose Moose in action

Beer Festival centre of the universe?

Liverpool really is quite blessed at this point in time with a year round set of beer festivals big and small, the official CAMRA festival has been and gone at the Liverpool catholic cathedral crypt but it wont be long before the next festival in may which is at old Christ church Waterloo comes around (a bi-annual festival). LCBE is in June, a slight summer break then gives us St George’s beer festival and then we round the year off with the second Waterloo festival and maybe a Christmas one in the Black-E.

Not forgetting of course lots of other festivals that spring up, Mad Hatter Brewing Company have had quite a few little festivals and shindigs around the city within the last twelve months, and charity festivals are becoming quite frequent too, not forgetting many of the cities pubs which run their own festivals i can think of three such as the Ship and Mitre, The Caledonia and The Dispensary all host festivals, there are probably also many more, if i forgot you let me know!

Current Beer Festivals in the Area

  • CAMRA Liverpool Beer Festival: February (been and gone but annual)
  • Waterloo Beer Festival 7: May 1st – 4th
  • Liverpool Craft Beer Expo: June 5th – 8th
  • St George’s Hall Beer Festival: September 25th – 28th
  • Waterloo Beer Festival 8: November 20th – 23rd
  • Black-E Christmas beer festival: TBA

Not a bad year ahead then eh? get practising folks!