Liverpool Pubs

Hoylake Beer Festival

Credit: Rob Shaw

August bank holiday saw the return of one of the Wirral’s newest beer festivals held in Hoylake Parade Community Centre, organised by Peerless brewery and sponsored by several local businesses the festival saw several very busy days and plenty of sold out beer. Plus it was all for a good cause helping to fund a new lift for the remarkable building.

I visited on Saturday with a large group of friends, for the purposes of this write-up and any future ones on beer festivals I am going to try not to ramble on too much. Truthfully I also had such a good time I can’t really remember many of the finer details but ill try to do it justice!

The community centre was originally a school but has been now re-purposed into a community centre that has a myriad of uses for local groups and residents. A beer festival being just one of them! The building was an excellent place to host as the various different sized rooms provided quiet areas to sit and chat, an area to enjoy the live entertainment and also the old school yard was made great use of for the catering and for anyone to soak up the last dying rays of the British summer. my party opted to sit in the room adjacent to where the bar was set-up.

The bar itself was very well-arranged, with all beers served from hand pulls and all fully labelled up. you could just as easily browse the length of the bar in search of your next ale as you could thumbing through the festival program. The army of volunteers many now familiar faces stood guard and were ready to serve and offer suggestions.

The range of beers was good, with several local brewers featured as well as those from further afield. a blackboard kept punters up to date as to any substitutions and which beers had been finished off. The beers were also in a good condition, despite the warmth of the day and the sun beating down on that side of the building the cooling system coped admirably.

Pricing for the event was kept flat regardless of beer strength, something very much welcomed by our party, 1 token equals one half of beer. Nice and simple. unless you were drinking wine then it required 2 tokens. A full sheet of 8 tokens cost £12, half sheets were also available. Its worth noting again that the proceeds from the event go towards the upkeep of the centre and hopefully provision of a much-needed lift as well. So its good value for money and it goes to charity!

Credit: Rob Shaw

my personal favourite of the day was local brewery Deva Craft Beer of Chester with their American pale “pandemonium” additional brownie points to the guys for letting us know what the IBU’s were on the pump clip, not strictly necessary for all us but im sure there are a few out there who appreciated that bit of info! Those of us who have seen the Japanese Animé and comic book series Dragonball Z will probably love the art on the pump clip also! Pandemonium was well hopped but not overwhelmingly so and had a smooth finish.

Other honourable mentions included beer festival début by Neptune brewery, based in Maghull the small brewery has just started delivering its casks and bottles to outlets in the local area. Amber-jack was their festival ale, a 4.5% Amber/red ale a nicely balanced beer with a marmalade after taste.

Loch Ness Brewery was someone I had not heard of before and after some of my party sampled it and commented it was a good choice I picked up their “Red Ness” which was a rather lovely 4.2% dark malty brew.

Predominately ales were mostly coloured blonde to amber. There were several nice stouts, porters and milds on offer, of particular note was “Dark Horse Stout” By Elmtree Beers and “Beijing Black” by potbelly brewery.

It was also possibly for everyone to vote on a beer of the festival, something that was while a small touch was a nice addition! the winner was the popular Salopian Brewery with “Kashmir” (que the led zep). Though i cant actually recall trying it on the day my friends reassured me it was a great choice.

Credit: Rob Shaw

Pen-Y-Lan pork were catering for the event with sausages, burgers and pulled pork on offer. I picked up a very nice pulled pork bap towards the end of the evening, and they were very popular by all accounts.

Alas we didn’t stay for the evening’s entertainment, our group wanted to visit other places in the area and make the right transport connections later in the evening. So after running out of tokens and then using up another stub of four we ventured onwards. Would I be coming back again? Most definitely. I believe that everything about the festival came together very nicely, it was a great venue with a choice of beers not too large or small and a great atmosphere to boot. Tie it in with a visit to some of Hoylake and West Kirby’s pubs and bars and you’re not only helping to contribute to the excellent Parade centre but also the local economy as well.

And just to back that up it was recently confirmed to me by the Parade centres twitter account that approximately £10,500 was raised over the weekend.

When you can raise that much at a weekend beer festival why bother with dry charity months?

Acknowledgements

Several photos in this blog post were kindly provided by my friend and peer Rob Shaw. These photos are clearly marked and all other photos were provided by myself.

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Fly in the Loaf Reopening

There’s a bit of a buzz on Hardman street! (fly based pun sorry) After a short period of closure for renovation the grade II listed former bakery has reopened again and i thought i’d pop in for the very first open night!

One thing that is immediately apparent from the outside is the pavement seating! a nice little addition especially coming up to the summer months, there are some awnings as well and none of it spoils the original exterior which im pleased to see has remained untouched. The second thing you will notice is it seems much brighter on the inside and indeed it is!

Inside there has been a nice blending of the classic with modern (as my friend Joe put it). Lighter, brighter and more roomy is the overriding feeling I get from the interior of the Fly now. The dividing wooden panelling that partitioned off part of the seating area from the door to the upstairs has been removed, coupled with the new paint scheme, new lights and removal of the old air conditioning ducting has given it a new brighter atmosphere, but still a lot of the old charm remains.

a lot of the remaining wood panelling has been given a lick of paint and the contrast with the black bar and the rest of the brighter paint and wooden furniture is pleasing to my eyes anyway, certainly its a place i could sit for a good few hours! the new furniture is pretty comfortable too!

A lot of the old favourite seating places remain, the raised section at the side and at the rear remain, the pulpit has gone to some people’s disappointment, indeed i heard a few affectionate shouts of bring the pulpit back from one group which was all in good humour!

People watching punters will be able to still gaze out onto Hardman street and the fantastic view to the Anglican cathedral, the chest high counter areas have gone to be replaced with lower down ones, again letting more light in and opening up the view to the outside world

But what do you go to a pub for? not to admire the architecture usually! but as far as work goes a great job has been done on the Fly i cant praise the staff and workers enough. The range of pumps has remained and all were serving great ales during the night my first pint was a Okells 1907 which went down very well and looked great in the glass, my dad said to me when i was younger “if the head holds the side of the glass its a good pint son” and this certainly did as did many others after. there was a good range of Okells and national ales on first day im hoping that some more local beers will make a showing in the future, i know it was one of the few places in the city that sold beers from Wapping Brewery, indeed i know Stan retired brewer from Wapping regularly visits the fly. So i hope ill see some Wapping beers in there soon!

I’m very pleased as well to see that it seems the craft beer range has expanded! there were several alternating craft brews available on keg before the renovation and it looks like more taps have been added and which in my opinion makes the Fly one of the better outlets for craft beer in the city alongside 23 club and Pi on rose lane, they even had the great idea of hanging little blackboards on the taps with quick breakdowns of what they are, this honestly to me is a piece of genius, most pump clips or labels don’t tell you much so a quick breakdown like this is excellent also it looks quite natty! I like it!

My friend tried the Oakham green devil IPA and it was indeed VERY hoppy as mentioned in the photo! i also tried the 13 Guns by Thwaites as i have heard a fair bit of talk about it, and being rich and malty it suited my palate well, a really cracking beer.  My friend also spotted that they have started selling cans of craft beer too, now I don’t get this canned gimmick, you get less than in a bottle or glass and it tastes the same as far as I can tell. We decided to test the water with an old friend Founders all day IPA and it was excellent as always, but really I don’t get what all the fuss is about with canned ale. The more the merrier though eh?

At this point ill touch very briefly on the food, Dom head man of the Fly very kindly brought us half a steak and ale pie over during the night, and it was awesome, very meaty and the crust was great, the Fly in the Loaf will be partnering with the Baltic Bakehouse when it comes to preparing the new menu, before the refurb I thought the fly did great value scran so now im really looking forward to seeing what comes next. And also the building has come full circle, what started out as a bakery is now doing bread again, and its also working with another local business, great news!

definitely get yourself over to the new look fly whether you’re a regular customer or someone who hasn’t been before, im pretty sure it will turn you into a barfly in no time (sorry again with the fly based puns). Best of Luck to the Fly in the Loaf and its staff for the future, because from where I was sitting it seemed damn fine indeed.

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