Month: April 2014

May Madness approaches!

well there is a busy weekend approaching here in Merseyside and the surrounding areas, several beer festivals and events to please your hop soaked taste buds in! here is a very rough roundup, and my apologies if i miss anything, let me know and ill update!

Waterloo Beer Festival

a bustling evening session at Waterloo

I’ve actually lost track of how many Waterloo beer festivals I’ve been to, it’s that many! WBF ties for best festival in the area for me (with the LCBF) it’s a great mix of good size venue, friendly atmosphere, great entertainment, wide-ranging beers and lovely food. Some tickets may still be available the festival runs from thursday the 1st of May right through to the 4th on Sunday with an extended session for the final day. I’ve always enjoyed the Waterloo beer festival and i am looking forward to this one, there will also be a Keg bar this year but don’t expect to see Carling on tap only quality Craft Beers will be available!

As it’s in a church and the weather hasn’t quite settled down yet you may want to bring something warm if it gets cold, although being from Yorkshire I’m made of hardy stuff, anything above zero is tropical to me!

When you have finished at the festival don’t go home straight away as the surrounding pubs in Waterloo have a lot to offer, visit Stamps Too and The Old Bank on the south road for nice beers and excellent music afterwards or head to the Volunteer Canteen for a nice quiet pint if that’s more your style, Crosby is only a bus/train ride away too, head to the Liverpool Pigeon for another quiet quality pint (closes at 9pm though so be aware!) or visit the first stamps for more entertainment. You can see my suggestion for a pub crawl for the area here, also you can consult the local camra branch pub passport map or the whatpub website.

You can purchase tickets and get more info on the festival through the link below, and MANY local brewers products will be in attendance!

http://www.waterloobeerfestival.com/

Mad Hatter Brewery Micro Brewtap opening

reproduced with kind permission from mad hatter brewery

As the lovely poster above tells you mad hatter brewery will be enjoying its inaugural opening of their Brewtap this weekend in the fantastic Baltic triangle, these initial few days are to promote the business and Brewtap which will be getting more definite opening hours soon, beer will be available on Cask, Keg and in bottle on the days, and you can even buy some to take home!

Mad Hatter have been another great local success story for Liverpool and celebrated their first birthday in February and within that time have already taken their place amongst the pantheon of excellent brewers in our fair city. I’m hoping i can sneak over to the open weekend at some point i got tickets to two sessions at Waterloo, why not stop by mad hatters brew tap on your way to one of the other events this weekend and say hello? Or stay for a few hours and then pop around to visit the other places in the excellent triangle like camp and furnace and the Baltic Fleet pub? you’d be mad not too (pun intended).

Liverpool Cricket Club Beer Festival

As mentioned by me previously there will be a festival on at the cricket club running from the Thursday the 1st of May to sunday the 4th of may. There will be day and evening sessions on the friday and sunday, Live music appears to be on the cards for saturday but there is no information about entertainment at other sessions, typical beer festival food will be available and there will also be some cricket matches on at the same time by the looks of things, i am unsure if your entrance to the festival will allow you to see the matches but it would seem silly if you can’t.

you can buy tickets on the below link and there is more information on the official page

http://www.liverpoolcc.ticketsource.co.uk/

http://www.liverpoolcricketclub.co.uk/lcc-beer-festival-is-back-lccbeerfest/

St Helen’s Mild ale trail

St Helen’s CAMRA branch will be hosting a mild ale trail this friday night, meet at the Cricketers pub at 7.30 on friday evening 2nd of May, for more information please contact the St Helen’s CAMRA branch, they are quite active on twitter and Facebook!

Get out and about

If you’re not going to any events in particular it’s still a good time to get out and about and enjoy a drink or two, support your local pubs, support your regulars. Head to a new place like Chester, or Southport or West Kirby and Hoylake, even if you just pop to a beer shop and stock up for a drink at home your supporting an independent local retailer and in turn is supporting a brewery that makes proper good beer.

Have a good weekend and remember drink responsibly, drink good beer!

Thirsty Thursdays in a not so dry desert

In a unasuming industrial unit down a quiet Birkenhead backstreet Peerless Brewing Company open their doors (or should that be shutter?) to the ale fans of the area to pop in, see the brewery and most importantly enjoy the lovely beers on offer!

When we visited our first Thirsty Thursday it was also a first for actually going for a drink over the Mersey, and it didn’t disappoint! First off it’s a simple running order no entry fee to get in the brewery, a large swathe of the peerless range on offer (many of them award winners) and only £2 a pint, you can’t knock that! there are basic bar snacks but the folks at Peerless don’t mind if you bring along your own grub, a group near us seemed to have brought along a veritable picnic! good thing i had some tea before I came out!

First up for the night was Boston Red the newest seasonal brew by peerless and another addition to the baseball themed lineup, it’s an American hopped malt ale, red colour and a fruity hop finish. it was a good start to the night, after that a Paxtons Peculiar which is one of my favorite peerless brews a well-balanced beer with a light malty biscuit finish, followed by a Red Rocks named for the red sandstone found around the Wirral namely around Thurstaton hill and Hilbre island, another fave of mine. The penultimate ale was Storr which is an old norse word for great or strong, Storr is the brew which takes the longest time to complete and is a Lager Pilsner, i wasnt particularly fond of it myself though it was a clean sweet tasting brew! Finally finishing of drinks in the brewery was oatmeal stout a firm favourite amongst local drinkers in the area and it was in top form at the source!

where the magic happens, watch out for yeast farts….

During the night all the staff were friendly and welcoming, one lady very helpfully recommend a couple of other pubs in Birkenhead to try before we caught the train home. Steve even gave us an impromptu talk down in the brewery which was very informative and humorous, topics included the grief brewers had to go through with Her madges customs and excise (booooo) and yeast farts!

Getting to sample the end product actually in-house surrounded by all the impressive brewing kit was a great experience all rounded off by the staff being great hosts. Time waits for no drinker though and as last orders were called we decided to amble off in the direction of Hamilton Square.

We popped into Gallaghers well-known as a place of good beer and haircuts, yes that’s right haircuts you can also get a shave if you like! though that does requires booking. Gallaghers doubles as a barbers and is an award-winning local so its really worth a visit, it was towards the end of the night so it was quite quiet when we arrived however it still gave us a chance to enjoy the surroundings of the pub and the beer, i had a Queen Rat by the Rat brewery from my native Yorkshire, a chocolate porter that was very scrumptious. the bar is decked out in various bits of military paraphenalia, photos and paintings and i could have stayed and looked at them for ages but we had to get one more in before last orders!

Not to far a walk from Gallaghers is The swinging arm “wirrals friendliest rock venue” according to the website and although it was pretty devoid of people at this point in the night the staff were very obliging in serving us a nice pint. The Swinging Arm wears its love for all things rock on its sleeve and i love it, its a great big open plan pub with a great big view of the magnificent waterfront in Liverpool, great beer, great music, great surroundings and a great view! Here i managed to squeeze in one more Peerless brew in the form of Full Whack, this was a real smooth beer with a real kick on the end of it.

One hour is too short a time to enjoy the two above pubs so i plan to go back in the future and also explore further afield maybe towards West Kirby as well. A great night is to be had though pop along to peerless brewery for the next thirsty thursday and then visit some of the other great local pubs in the area its well worth the trip!

Real Ale desert my arse….

Handy Links

http://www.peerlessbrewing.co.uk/

https://twitter.com/PeerlessSteve

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Peerless-Brewing/178035068888683?fref=ts

https://twitter.com/Gallaghers_pub

http://www.gallagherspubandbarbers.com/

http://www.swingingarm.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/TheSwingingArm

Expedition to the desert

Feeling the blues from the 4 day easter weekend? fear not, the last Thursday of every month Peerless Brewing Company hold “Thirsty Thursdays” at their brewery on Pool St in Birkenhead. I only became aware of it myself after the ill thought out article by Wirral camra stating that the Wirral was a “real ale desert” (it isnt).

Basically on the Thursday afternoon into evening Peerless throws its doors open to the public and lets you into the Brewery to try their beers and see the goings on inside the brewery. All beer is £2 a pint, there will be no food but bar snacks available, and NO ENTRANCE FEE.

This particular Thirst Thursday will see the introduction of a new brew “Boston Red” an 4.5% american hopped malt ale, red in colour with a fruity finish, something im looking forward to trying.

the brewery in pool street is quite close to Birkenhead centre and the docks in Birkenhead, it’s about a 10 minute walk from Conway Park station, the session starts at 4pm, so there is really no excuse!

I’ll write-up about the Thirsty Thursday Later on.

Local pubs closed temporarily for refurbs

Three of Liverpool’s most popular watering holes will be closed temporarily from 20th of April (easter sunday) for refurbs.

The Fly in the Loaf, Thomas Rigbys and Lady of Mann are all part of the Okell’s stable of pubs here on the UK Mainland and regularly feature in lists of best pubs in Liverpool. I myself am a regular visitor to the Fly in the Loaf.

I don’t know what the exact details are of the refurbishment due to take place on the three places, im not actually sure why they are being refurb myself as they all seem quite nice as they are BUT i dont run them or work in them so I’m sure there are good reasons behind it

I just hope they are not closed for too long! speaking of refurbs if anywhere could do with a lick of paint it would be Keith’s on Lark lane! i don’t think its been painted since the ice retreated at the last ice age! Mind you it’s probably like the ravens at the tower of london, if Keith’s ever got done up lark lane would vanish from existence*

*I do love Keiths by the way so its a tongue in cheek mention

Wapping Russian Imperial Damson Stout

Its been some time since i wrote about a specific beer, but this Wapping stout is a cracking beer and has a great story with it to boot so why not write about it?

From the Cellar under The Baltic Fleet pub this brew was lost for quite some time! it seems it was misplaced amongst the variety of other wonderful stuff concocted in the Fleets cellar by Stan and Angus, hence its title 2010 vintage! and its bloody nice! Beer doesn’t really “go off” as such so it’s quite fine to drink and it was a cracking brew. Dark and rich with smooth malty flavour, a sweetness on the end from the damson and a very subtle hint of smoke. This is a when its gone its gone brew unless Angus decides to brew some more (and then lose it for a few years hehe!)

I recommend picking some up if you can! I got my bottle from the Delifonesca branch on Sefton Street (it used to be the Harry Ramsden’s remember?). It may be available elsewhere

Some news relating to Wapping is that previously brewing was to stop at the pub and move in with Mad Hatter, this will not be happening now as Angus will be taking over from Stan who has now retired (im not sure he can i think he loves it too much!) and moved to Melwood beer company. There will still be collaboration brews with Wapping and Mad Hatter, so in a good way we have got the best of both worlds in my opinion, and i wish both breweries a continuing busy and prosperous future!

Republic of Liverpool Beer Festival

Another new beer festival to add to this years ever-expanding list of beer festivals is ROLFest (nothing to do with Rolf Harris)

ROLFest will be running from the 25th to the 27th of April, which forms a nice bridge between the CAMRA festival and the Ever approaching Waterloo festival, it’s the inaugural Republic of Liverpool beer festival so if you can, get your self along and support another fine festival, alas i myself will not be able to go.

full details of the festival and how to buy tickets can be found on their website: http://www.rolfest.com/

in summary though they expect to have 70+ Real Ales and Ciders, 50 of which to be dispensed by hand pump instead of direct from the cask (the method a friend of mine prefers), there will also be food and entertainment at each session.

The festival is to be held at St Luke’s parish hall next to the church its self. located just in the centre of Crosby its easy to reach, if your feeling up to it as well don’t forget you can visit the other great pubs in the local area on the same day, checkout my own suggested pub crawl here.

One of my first posts was saying how blessed we are for festivals in the Merseyside area, i reckon we are fast becoming the beer festival mecca of the UK!

I wish ROLFest a succesful 3 days and hope to see it next year when i might be able to visit!

Crosby and Waterloo Pub Crawl – updated 2015

hmm tides coming in, best go the pub and dry off… (photo G Hutsby)

Right on the northern fringes of the Merseyside metropolitan area sits Waterloo and Crosby, wedged up against the Irish sea its a great place to visit for a day out and even a few pints!

Depending on your direction of travel there are a few ways to get to Crosby, its very accessible by Train, Bus and car. My own personal recommendation is to take the train, the northern line services are excellent and there is a train every 15 minutes. Grab yourself a travel pass so you can hop on and off as you choose, especially if your not to keen on some of the longer walking stretches.

Waterloo train station and Blundellsands & Crosby station serve their respective areas. Waterloo’s station puts you right on the south road which is awash with great pubs in the area. Blundellsands and Crosby station is a short 10 minute walk from the centre of Crosby, pubs are a little more spread out in this area.

The Route

Route Length 2.5 miles approx. suggested time allowance 5 hours.

My own personal route is as follows, of course don’t be afraid to explore and check out other pubs in the area, you can use the fine Liverpool pubs passport available for free from the Liverpool CAMRA branch website or use the handy http://whatpub.com/ from CAMRA as well, which also has a mobile website, handy when you are out! Please remember this route is of my own opinion, places are included and excluded at my own choice, I believe that it offers a good spread of experience and beer quality. You are of course encouraged to have a wander around and explore places for yourself and discover something I might have missed. Directions on the map are a rough guide feel free to take another route if you wish.

1. Liverpool Pigeon

The pigeon has been open only a few short years and was initially the areas only micropub. In that time it has garnered a lot of fans and two pub of the year awards from the local CAMRA branch. Because it is a micropub opening hours are not the same as your standard boozer. Cask ales and real cider are on offer, as are bottled beers from the continent, but you will not find any mainstream lagers, keg products alcopops or spirits. There is no music, no TV and no live entertainment, nice surroundings and conversation rule the roost at the Pigeon. Beer changes very frequently the selection tends to come from other North West England and national brewers, furthermore its all served in over-sized pint glasses! It can tend to get quite warm in the pigeon when there are plenty of people in seating is limited to you may struggle to find some where to park your bum if it is busy.

The staff are big on quality here, on a previous visit the first choice drink had only just gone off, the gentleman behind the bar serving me let me know, asked me if I wanted to try it and if I was unhappy he’d swap it immediately, it didn’t seem right so a replacement was soon whipped up, a lot of other pubs could learn a lesson from this small establishment.

Full details and opening hours can be found here: http://liverpoolpigeon.co.uk/

2. Stamps

A short bimble up Liverpool road northwards will take you to the next nearest port of call Stamps.

The original stamps is a two tier building right at the junction of Crosby town centre’s main roads to Liverpool and Southport. Stamps is a great little venue for live music, every time i have been there is usually some entertainment on, whether that entertainment is to your liking is of course a matter of taste. Within recent years Stamps have started a brewery auxiliary located elsewhere in Merseyside, it supplies not only to the Stamps but to other pubs, eateries and bottle shops. Six handpulls are present with at least one stocking a Stamps brewery beer. There is also usually one national beer present. On my visits the beers have been in good to OK condition. While the choices on offer may not ever be mind blowing its a good reliable place for a nice drink. And one of the few live music venues in the area!

Seating during busy periods can be at a premium it’s often quite lively and noisy with the crowd and visiting bands competing for the airwaves so if you’re a quiet pub lover this may not be for you unless you get there before any entertainment starts.

3. Crows Nest

Coming out of stamps you will need to navigate your way over the road system nearby towards the direction of Victoria Road, once you round the corner you next goal will be in sight.

The Crows Nest gives off the aura of a typical community pub, its warm and welcoming and has been pretty busy the previous times we have dropped in. The pub is set out into three distinct areas a snug area which you might typically enter if coming down victoria road from Crosby town centre, a back lounge and then the main bar area. It is possible to be served from all three of these areas, however be careful of fellow drinkers hiding behind the door in the bar area, a polite sign will ask you to knock before entering so you don’t whack someone with the door.

You wont find any mind-blowing choices of real ale here, but what you will find are a decent variety of national brands and pretty well-kept to boot, I’ve usually gone for the Theakstons and its one of the nicest pints of it I have had outside my native home land. There are tv’s for showing sport etc and the crowd is quite friendly.

To reach your next destination follow Victoria Road until it forks left and becomes College road until you reach the roundabout, head across this along Mersey road, until you meet the next roundabout, take a left turn onto bridge road and keep an eye out for the post box.

4. The Corner Post

In a previous life the corner post was a post office at the end of a terrace row, hence the corner post! and the post box outside kinda gives it away too. The Corner Post only opened in 2015 and has rapidly become a popular place for local drinkers and those from a far. Being a micropub it does not have extended opening hours, typically it is open from late afternoon until 9pm at night. please check their social media accounts for accurate hours. Basic bar snacks and quality local pies from Satterthwaites of Crosby are available should you fancy a bit of snack.

5 handpulls dominate the tidy corner bar, which regularly host many local beers, a cider and a beer from elsewhere in the country, it has to be said the Corner post does a very good job of supporting Merseysides local breweries and especially those in close proximity to the pub. A smaller selection of bottled beers are also available. Wine and Gin are also available, Micropub purists may scoff at this but I can see the advantages of offering an alternative to those who maybe in a visiting party and really don’t feel like a beer. It doesn’t detract from this being an ale destination whatsoever.

Being a micropub emphasis is put on the care of the beers, and while I have only been a handful of times in 2015 they have always been in great condition during visits. The corner post does an excellent job of updating customers and followers via social media as to what is on the bar through the week. more so than some other local pubs! so follow them to see what’s on the bar. A excellent addition to the local pub scene and the growing collection of Micropubs in the area.

5. The Volunteer Canteen

A fairly long walk along bridge road in the direction of Waterloo is now required, please note this road despite being long and straight changes name several times along its length but the bearing remains the same until you come across Wellington street on your right. Follow Wellington street and take a left onto East Street, your next stop should now be in sight. Please note if you wish you can return to Blundellsands and Crosby station to get the train to Waterloo if you dont feel like the walk.

The Volunteer Canteen affectionately known as the “Volly” its a traditional style pub in a grade 2 listed building. The Volly is a quiet community pub so there is no music or TV. I have only visited the Volly a handfull of times myself. It’s a fantastic looking pub on the inside dating back to 1871 and was previously owned by Higsons Brewery of Liverpool, the inside. Typical bar snacks and food are available, there are 4 handpulls and usually one is from Liverpool Organic Brewery. The Volly has won several awards from the local CAMRA branch over the years. Beer was of a good standard on our two previous visits and table service is still available, a rarity in British pubs nowadays.

6. The Old Bank

“Its a bit of a mad house this place! I like it!” i immediately said to myself when i first walked in the old bank, music blaring from a band on stage, Local characters having a natter loudly with one another and the walls cluttered to the celing with various Music and Football (mostly red sorry blues!) paraphernalia. The old bank is certainly very lively! if you prefer quieter places then the old bank may not be for you. You may prefer to return when there are no bands on but even then it can be quite busy. Beer on offer is usually one or two pumps from Liverpool Organic Brewery and one or two national ales and is well-kept. of all the pubs on the crawl its probably the second most “spacious”, cosyness is the running theme here I think!

7. Stamps Too

Sister pub (or should that be sequel?) to the first stamps you visited, Stamps too really is one of my favourite pubs in the area, its got a great atmosphere, a terrific selection of Beers, a lot of them local and well-kept (by my standards at least) and has some cracking music on. Like a lot of the places on the route it has a fantastic character of its own, checkout the wall of barred famous (infamous) people for a good chuckle! The acts that are on vary massively but we have really enjoyed the music when we have visited, seating is at a premium so be prepared to stand! the beer is usually of a wide colour range there are often lighter coloured ales coupled with a stout so you can give your taste buds a workout. As with the other live music places on the crawl if it’s not your thing you can pop in when its quieter, ive visited stamps too when i’ve been cycling in the area it’s still a great place through the day but i think its heart and soul is best seen when its jam-packed with heads bobbing to good music and clutching a nice ale in your hand.

In Summary – Last Train Home

If your making Waterloo the last part of the crawl and you came by train make sure you check the time of the last train! I enjoy this particular route around Crosby & Waterloo, the walking distances and breaks in between, including the train journey help to add a break into your drinking. Of course if your feeling brave you could go on the train further onwards, although I remind you to drink responsibly of course!

Enjoy!

Liverpool Cricket Club Beer Festival 2014 dates

LCC is having another beer festival this year, the currently arranged dates are from the 1st of May to the 4th of May, more information for it is available on their Facebook page, for some reason it is not properly listed on the cricket clubs page, you can also book tickets if you like here, at the time of checking the ticket source website there were 50+ tickets available for all days.

However some people may have already realised that Waterloo Beer Festival is also on at exactly the same time, now depending on when you have booked tickets you might be able to make it to both! However i and a friend are going to Waterloo on Friday and Sunday (extended hours for the sunday session) so we wont be able to make it. I’m not sure who confirmed which date first the cricket club or Waterloo but you would think that organisers would try to not clash with one another? Then again as i said some people might be able to visit both!

We tried to go to the beer festival last year at the cricket club, i called the club for some more information as it was a bit scarce at the time and was told i could pay on the door if i wanted. On the day we arrived ready to enjoy a few beers and were told flat out that we couldnt come in as it had sold out, a bit deflated we left.

LCC Beer Festival is actually the very first beer festival i ever attended, way back in the mists of time (pre 2010) and it was quite fun, things may have changed since then but basically you had a big marquee and that was it. It helped to introduce me to more real ales and actually helped convert a couple of my friends who to this day will not touch a drop of stella ever again.

the beer pricing was a bit mad though, involving what i could only describe as a bingo card covered in £1, 50p, 20p and 10p squares instead of the simplified version most other festivals in the area employed. Also amusingly the power went off while some poor guy was trying to entertain us with his one  man rock show.

Again this is quite some time ago now so things may have improved, though i have to criticise the use of Facebook as a main “webpage” for the festival, not everyone is on Facebook (and who can blame them). A simple one page web site probably would have sufficed there doesnt seem to be much publicity for it either, i only found out about it after seeing a banner on the LCC wall facing aigburth road.

Currently there is no List of what beers will be on offer.

I hope anyone going though has a great time and wish it a succesful year, ill be soaking up the fun in waterloo though myself.