Welcome to the first Liverpool and Districts CAMRA Newsletter. Here you will find the latest local pub and brewery news as well as suggested pub walks. This is intended to bring members up to date information and highlight local news and events, rather than waiting for the quarterly magazine.
A revamped branch magazine will still be produced focusing more on in depth articles looking at news, campaigns and events within Merseyside.
Liverpool Branch Chair
Closing time finally called at one of Liverpool’s iconic pubs.
Saturday April 9th was a sad day indeed for those who have enjoyed drinking in the quirky Bridewell pub and savouring not only its ales but its history as a jailhouse and police station, its food and the many events that have taken place in the upstairs function room, ranging from whisky tastings to book launches, and including lots of live music. But that night the doors were closed on it all for good.
Such closures must be a wake-up call for us all – ‘use it or lose it’. ’In recent months the Bridewell had branched out in its beer range, to encompass primarily local ales from microbreweries, including the newly established Red Star, Neptune and Rock the Boat breweries – though they didn’t forget their loyalty to Titanic Plum Porter! For those who don’t know, these could be enjoyed in one of the original prison cells, more comfortably furnished now, of course, or, for those who prefer to people-watch, in the open bar area or attractive outside courtyard.
Though very close to Liverpool One, the Bridewell was somewhat hidden away. But tourists seemed to manage to find it! And it did, of course, have its regulars. But it seems there are many local people who don’t even go those few extra yards off their familiar routes. Why not take a copy of CAMRA’s Liverpool Pub Map out with you (available free in most real ale pubs) and choose at least one pub when you’re out and about that you’ve never been to before and give it a try? You’re likely to be pleasantly surprised, and you’ll be doing your bit to help preserve the rich range of pubs we have here in Liverpool. Too late for the much lamented Bridewell though.
Big Bog discovered in Speke!
No...this is not an announcement of an archaeological find in L24 but rather confirmation that our branch has yet another 'new' microbrewery!
Big Bog Brewing Company Limited, to give it its full name, started life in Waunfawr near Caernarfon five years ago and has a well established customer base in pubs all across North Wales. But last year, the company decided that they needed to move to larger premises in order to keep up with demand and to enable it to expand into Merseyside and beyond.
Once they had secured funding to build the new kit and acquire new premises, they moved into a 3,500 sq ft unit in Speke. The unit is large enough for a custom built, UK-made, automated 10bbls plant, 2 fermenters (with space for 6 more) and a large cold store. From the point of order, the components of the plant and automation were manufactured within twenty-six weeks and were assembled then commissioned in only six weeks and the first batch was racked in early April.
Big Bog is made up of brewer, Paul Jefferies and his business partner, Gordon Hurst. Paul has over 30 years experience in the brewing industry and is a qualified Master Brewer of the Institute of Brewing and Distilling. At present, Big Bog beers are brewed up to three times a week at night and weekends, as by day Paul still works full time at Hydes Brewery based in Salford, as their Production Director.
Gordon is the Big Bog Sales and Distribution Manager and up until the move to Liverpool he worked for over 20 years in the NHS. He has now left to concentrate full-time on sales matters for Big Bog. Currently Gordon is going around pubs in our branch area drumming up business and has already successfully secured orders.
At present there are six regular beers ranging from the session Bog Standard Bitter (3.6%) through to the award winning premium ale, Quagmire (6.0%). This beer won the silver medal at the CAMRA Champion Beer of North Wales in 2014, followed up by a another silver at the prestigious International Beer Awards last year, not bad for brewery of only four years at the time.
Seasonal beers are also available, with the current one being, Spring Bog (4.0%) a straw-coloured thirst quencher to be followed by an amber coloured beer with light and refreshing citrus hop notes – Balmy Bog (4.0%) in June. All the casks (including 60 pins-36 pints) used are stainless steel as Paul doesn't like plastic!
To celebrate moving to Liverpool, the guys have produced their first 'Welsh' named beer in the form of Blonde Bach ( 'Little Blonde') and is described as 'a pale coloured ale with citrus/grapefruit notes derived from the use of South American Cascade hops' on their website (www.bigbog.co.uk) and is available now. All the pump clips are currently being re-designed to reflect the fact that the beer is now being brewed in Speke and thus giving it a local identity, but regular deliveries will still be made to their Welsh customers.
In time to come, there are plans to install a bar and introduce brewery visits by appointment – so watch this space!
From my point of view, subject to committee approval, I hope to become the Brewery Liaison Officer for Big Bog, which will enable me to keep local branch members informed of the brewery's development.
Geoff Edwards, chair of the organising committee, reports.
Liverpool’s newly-refurbished Guild of Students was the venue for the 2016 AGM and Members’ Weekend and quite an event it was too. JD Wetherspoon’s charismatic boss, Tim Martin gave a keynote address in which we learnt Wetherspoon’s policy on opening and closing pubs and he delivered a passionate defence of our democracy and the implied threat to our very existence from those horrible Eurocrats in Brussels.
The whole event almost ground to a halt on Saturday morning with an attempt to adjourn the AGM over a row about proxy voting. Fortunately, Conference Procedures guru Dave Goodwin, who delivered the best speech of the event, was able to restore normal service and those seated on the platform didn’t need to worry about an early check out from the Adelphi Hotel!
The best news was that most people had an enjoyable few days in the self-styled 'real ale pubs capital of the Universe' (sorry, Sheffield-it says so in MerseyAle so it must be right!). Organized trips and crawls showcased local breweries and award-winning local pubs. The Members’ bar was drunk dry, so cider was tasted by those who might have thought they couldn’t. Retiring NE member Bob Stukins reminisced afterwards about the Who (they appeared here in the 1970’s) and our very own Regional Director (who could have reminisced about his beloved Everton but didn’t) celebrated his election to the top table and a comfy chair at the next meeting in Bournemouth.
In 2014 the Masonic pub in Garston deservedly won the local CAMRA award for the pub with the most improved beer range. Owner and licensee, Tony Murray, and friendly staff really pushed the boat out from Thursday April 14th to Sunday April 17th this year with a beer festival at which no less than 20 beers were on sale at all times. All the usual bar hand pumps were in use but many of the beers were on stillage in the outside, but covered, yard. The range featured four local beers from Liverpool Organic Brewery, and others from different parts of the country – Sheffield, Lancaster, North and West Yorkshire and several from Wales, both North and South. In addition, there were two real ciders and a real perry, all from Rosie’s Cider in North Wales.
About 20 local CAMRA members made a special Branch visit on the Friday afternoon – and some were still around in the early evening! It was possible to buy a day pass which allowed you to drink as much as you liked but, I hasten to add, those who did this, paced themselves well. Tokens were used and you could buy several at once, or just pay for an individual pint, or pints as you went along. Plenty of choice in all respects and a very convivial atmosphere.
Tony and staff will be building on the weekend’s success and holding another Beer Festival in September, from Thursday 22nd to Sunday 25th. If you missed out this time, or if you went along and enjoyed it and would like to repeat the experience, put those dates in your diaries now! But don’t leave it till then. The Masonic is a great community pub, where everyone is made welcome and up to six beers and a cider are usually available. It is only a few minutes’ walk from South Parkway Station, or the 80, 86 and 82 bus routes.
This newsletter includes details of pubs that do not sell cask conditioned ale. We are the Campaign for Real Ale and I consider good real ale to be the best beer available, so most of the news will be about real ale. However, I accept some members are interested in key keg beers that are now being brewed by a number of our local breweries. It would not be right to ignore these pubs.
One of the reasons for producing the newsletter is to encourage people to visit different pubs. I hope you do so.
What pub is CAMRA's online pub guide. Check out https://whatpub.com/ Currently nearly 36000 real ale pubs are listed, the details of which are input by CAMRA members. Use the guide to find pubs if you are in an unfamiliar area you. Once in a pub and supping your beer, CAMRA asks that you look at the pubs entry on What Pub for two reasons.
Secondly, to submit a score for the beer you are drinking. The pubs with the best beer scores are the ones that make it into the Good Beer Guide.
After most pubs mentioned in this newsletter I have included a link to the entry in What Pub, for further information and directions.
The Baltic Triangle
Constellations is at 35-39 Greenland Street in the Baltic Triangle, next to the part of the Contemporary Urban Centre that is now a school. This venue, like the Camp & Furnace further down the road, is in an old warehouse. The inside area is smaller, but Constellations also has a large outdoor area that used to be a scrap yard. The indoor consists of a bar area with a dozen tables and a separate performance area. Outside there is a large open space with a Wood Award winning canopy bar and the food hut. Some bars have a single flower on tables, but here there are large plant pots! A canvas canopy provides shelter for a few tables.
Constellations is now also open on Wednesdays, but is normally closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. It may open on these days, particularly bank holidays, if the weather is good.
Brunch is served from 10am to 5pm, after which there is a varying menu. One, or sometimes two if busy, cask beers are supplied by Liverpool Craft Brewery.
Live bands appear regularly which are ticketed events. The venue is also available for hire. Therefore the indoor area, or the outdoor, or occasionally both, could be closed to the public. Check out the website www.constellations-liv.com for more information.
One event here that beer drinkers will be interested in, is the annual Liverpool Craft Beer Expo, on 16th-19th June. There will 50+ cask beers on hand pulls, 40+ ciders and 250+ craft keg beers. See www.liverpoolcraftbeerexpo.com for more details.
There are two other cask beer outlets in the immediate area, the Baltic Social on Parliament Street and the Brewery Tap over the road from there. People may wish to visit the area and support all three venues by drinking the real ale offered. The Sheil Road circular routes 26 & 27, plus the X1 Runcorn Express buses stop on nearby St James Street. The 82 buses stop on Great George Street.
Not too far away, at 5 Kitchen Street, is the tap house in the Black Lodge Brewery. Cask ale is not available, but Terry, one of the brewers, told me one may be produced in the future. Meanwhile, only keg beers are brewed. Customers can often watch the small micro plant in action. There are 13 taps behind the bar, with the beer written on the tiles below. The middle one dispenses water for those who want to clear their palate before trying a different beer. Usually around four of the taps dispense Black Lodge beers, with the other eight having beers from other brewers. The Charcuterie food menu is excellent.
The tap room is open from 3pm on Thursdays and Fridays and midday on Saturdays and Sundays.
Although we miss the different 'Mine's Wapping' beers brewed by Angus, it is still well worth visiting the Baltic Fleet. Summer Ale continues to be brewed on the premises and is now labelled as 'Baltic Fleet' to emphasise this. The other pumps now dispense beers from other breweries, usually local, including Facers from Flint.
The Clubhouse at Chavasse Park has been serving up to four real ales. These have been;
Passionate Blonde, the special brew for bar owners NWTC by Cloudwater,
Phoenix White Monk,
Liverpool Organic Shipwreck.
The cask beers available on the gravity fed taps from the upstairs 'cellar' are shown on the blackboards behind the bar.
The Merchant has opened at 40 Slater Street, on the corner of Parr Street, the building once the home of Mello Mello. The pub opens at 11.00am daily and advertises itself as ‘Bar, Canteen & Garden’.
The bar has four hand pulls, North Brewing Prototype from Leeds is to be a regular beer and the beers on the other three pumps will rotate. To start with the beers were from Wylam, Saltaire and Thornbridge. There are 20 keg taps, six of which supply mass produced lagers, but the other fourteen dispense craft beers, including local brews from Liverpool Craft and Mad Hatter. The bar is open until midnight and 3.00am at weekends.
There are two parts to the Canteen, the Slice Bar selling Pizza slices from 11.00am to midnight and Patty Smith, selling mainly gourmet burgers from noon to 10.00pm. In addition a guest producer can set up in the garden.
The enclosed garden has covered seating down one side. Monday night is quiz night and a DJ is employed on the busier evenings. Hopefully the younger people this might attract can be encouraged to drink the good beer.
People may wish to visit the Jacarada on Slater Street for reasons other than the beer. The venue was originally opened in the 1958 by Allan Williams, the Beatles first manager. This is commemorated near the bar by the 'CAMRA Pubs in Time plaque no.14' from February 2006 and Memorabilia adorns the walls. The ground floor is a normal bar. The basement has live music from 8.00pm Thursday to Sunday evenings, with the traditional ethos of the venue to provide a platform for new music continuing. The first floor is a Vinyl Records shop/café, complete with Custom Listening Booths. The late opening, up to 6.00am at weekends, is good for a nocturnal drinker.
The Dead Crafty Beer Company has opened at 138 Dale Street, on the corner of Preston Street, opposite the old Magistrates Courts. There is no cask conditioned beer, but there are 20 taps to serve keg beers and a good supply of bottles. Beers come from local breweries, along with other British and international brews. Above the taps there are A4 size clip boards displaying an enlarged copy of the pump clip for each of the draught beers available. Different taps dispense beers at different temperatures according to the style of beer. A good feature is that each table has a water bottle and glasses. The original brickwork of this listed building is impressive.
At the Blarney Stone on Renshaw Street Liberation Ale from Jersey and Navigation New Dawn from Nottingham were on tap during March.
Two hand pumps have appeared in the ground floor foyer bar at the Everyman theatre. However, they have yet to be plumbed in, so beer drinkers have to rely on bottles, or go downstairs to the Bistro if it is open.
Further down Hope Street the Refinery has opened on the corner of Myrtle Street, taking up a lot of the ground floor of the new Josephine Butler Building. This is a sister pub to the Hub at the bottom of Hanover Street. There are banks of three hand pumps at each end of the bar, although currently one bank is not yet in use. When the pub first opened Liverpool Organic Josephine Butler was available and no doubt will this appropriately named beer will be available often, although an different Organic beer was available on my last visit. A beer from Liverpool Craft has been the second beer available on my visits and the third pump has dispensed other local beers.
The pub opens from 8.00am daily, with alcohol served from 11.00am.
The Blackburne Eatery has opened at 133-135 Allerton Road. It is related to the well established venue on Catharine Street. The empathise here is on food, but people are welcome just to drink. There are three hand pumps, although only one might be in use. Should the draught run out, bottles are available. Like the parent pub, beers are supplied directly from breweries, usually local. Different Rock the Boat beers were available on my visits.
It is good to sup a Locale on Allerton Road. The John Brodie opposite normally only serves national beers.
The Rose of Mossley on Rose Lane near Mossley Hill station is now serving Greene King Abbott and Old Speckled Hen.
Butchers on Booker Avenue near West Allerton station, like other micropubs in the area, no longer opens on Mondays. There are a couple of pavement tables out front, should the weather ever warm up! There are now two hand pumps. On my last visit one was dispensing a Red Star beer as usual, while the other had a beer from Sandiway Brewery in Cheshire.
In Old Swan, the Black Horse at 641 Prescot Road, is finally serving real ale. I was told that at one time this was the only Greene King pub in the country not to do so. Four hand pulls have been installed, with three serving IPA, Abbott and Speckled Hen. The fourth can serve a different beer from the group. This pub is part of the 'Meet and Eat' chain.
Not far away, the Masons Arms that for a short time after Greene King took over did serve real IPA, continues not to have hand pumps. Is this now the only Greene King pub without real ale?
Also on Prescot Road, next to the library, work has started on converting the old Connexions Job Centre into the Old Swan Ale House. Licensee, Lee, hopes to open in May and plans to fit 9 hand pulls.
Although I can never remember it serving real ale, it is the sign of the times that the Red House further down the road has been converted into a Costa coffee shop. Does anybody know of any other pubs in our area succumbing similarly? Perhaps it could be converted back to a pub, should the government equalise the duty between coffee and beer for drinking on the premises!
The Cygnet, diagonally opposite became a furniture shop some years ago. On my bus ride along Prescot Road and Kensington, I counted only seven pubs still open. As far as I know, the Picture Drome is the only one that serves real ale and I do recommend people to visit this pub.
Two pubs along the route were in the process of being converted to domestic accommodation and the Farnworth Arms was a heap of rubble. Tell your MP to do something to save British Pubs!
I have been told that the plans for another micro pub on Eaton Road in West Derby have been abandoned.
The Crosby, on Liverpool Road in Crosby, has reopened after being closed for a few weeks. There is the usual 'under new management' sign outside. There is no cask beer, though.
In Woolton the White Horse that previously had generally stocked national beers has recently been dispensing beers from other breweries. On my last visit Clarks Merrie City Cascadian and Twickenham Spring Ale were available.
Across the road the Elephant Pub & Bakehouse is still subject to a tie, so only one guest is available. During April Tiny Rebel One Inch Punch has been on tap. There are also four cask national beers available. This pub is operated by Flying Pig & Lobster Ltd, headed by celebrity chef Simon Rimmer. The company has acquired the Hilltop in West Kirby that should open in June as the Viking Pub & Bakehouse and will be free of tie.
The Cobden on Quarry Street continues to sell the same four cask ales. The licensee, Jackie, reports that all are popular, so she dare not take any off. The local beer is Peerless Pale.
Nearby, Jackie's previous pub, the County Court, is being converted to domestic accommodation. Another pub lost.
Down the hill on Vale Road is the Gardeners Arms. The guest beers on my last visit were from Wales, Purple Moose Dark Side and Cwrw Lal Limestone Cowboy, both were lovely.
Licensee Peter has now taken over the lease at the Victoria on Cobden Street. He has selected London Pride and Weetwood Cheshire Cat as the best beers on the Punch list available to him.
Nearby the Grapes, plus the Coffee House in the centre of Woolton, do not sell real ale.
In Wavertree, the Edinburgh on Sandown Lane, was selling Bosun’s Bermuda Triangle during April.
Nearby, on the High Street, the Pound Pub has given up selling real ale. It is a pity the regulars prefer the gassy mass produced beers, to the cask conditioned beer.
On the way to Wavertree, I noticed the Weighing Machine on the corner of Marmaduke Street had been repainted as a Marstons pub and renamed the Rose Vaults. The pub still has no real ale.
The Sandown at the start of the High Street is now the Eureka Greek restaurant.
Ad Hop has been brewing in Liverpool for some time now, using a 2bbl plant. So far they have been only supplying key keg and bottled beers. The brewery is moving into much larger premises on the Erskine Industrial Estate at the beginning of May. Brewers Anders and Andy hope to be able to raise finance to install a 10-12bbl plant. The extra space will allow cask conditioned ale to be produced and there is a promise to supply the Birkenhead Beer Festival at the beginning of June. (See diary)
Steve Crawley, who stepped down as Managing Director of the Caledonian Brewery a couple of years ago, appeared at a meeting at the Members Weekend and reported that he was intending to revive the Higsons name. A planning application was made at the beginning of the year in the name of Higsons Brewery, for premises on Bridgewater Street in the Baltic Triangle. The plan calls for a warehouse to be converted into a brewery and distillery, with provision for retail sales and a sampling hall. The address is the one where Liverpool Craft Brewery was planning to move to last year. I am sure Higsons beers will be popular.
Thursday 26th May - Last Thursday Meet Up, Queens Picture House, Waterloo, 7.30pm.
Sunday 29th May - Day out in Chester by train. Meet Sue at Central Station at 11.00am in time for the 11.15am train.
Wednesday 1st June - Committee meeting 7.30pm.
Thursday 2nd to Saturday 4th June - Birkenhead Beer Festival at Tranmere Rovers. For details click http://wirralcamra.co.uk/BeerFestival.php
Sunday 5th June - First Sunday Lunch at the Blackburne Arms, Catharine Street. Space needs to be reserved at this popular venue, so ring Sue on 07801 656 570 if you are coming.
Saturday 11th June - Coach trip to the Black Country and Wolverhampton
Wednesday 15th June - Beer Day Britain. Branch Get Together. Peter Kavanaghs, Egerton Street. 6.30pm for the 7.00pm nationwide communal cheers. For information on this national event click http://www.camra.org.uk/beer-day-britain
Thursday 16th to Sunday 19th June - Liverpool Craft Beer Expo.
Saturday 18th June - Wigan pub tour by train. Meet Sue at Lime Street Station for the 11.00am train.
Thursday 30th June - Last Thursday meet up, this time in the AFTERNOON. 2pm Richmond, corner of Williamson Street.
Credits for other news: Tony Morgan
Copy date for the next Newsletter 27th May.
PUB WALK number 1 - CATHARINE STREET
Four excellent pubs are away from the city centre in the Georgian Quarter where the terraces in the area are regularly used for filming period dramas. Each one receives many of their cask beers directly from the breweries.
This Pub Walk can also be downloaded316.84 KB02/05/2016, 17:59
Take any 75, 80 or 86 bus from outside the Blacklers Wetherspoon pub and alight at the Egerton Street stop at the end of Catherine Street.
Peter Kavannah's is just around the corner on Egerton Street and is one of Liverpool's classic pubs. The original pub has been extended over time into the next two houses. It was featured in the Spring edition of MerseyAle. Cellarman Arthur, as well as looking after the beers, will tell you the history of the pub if he is around. Rita has run the pub for many years, during which time the ownership has swapped between a few Pubcos.
You could take a bus one stop if you wished, there are plenty of them during the day. Otherwise, it is about a five minute walk back along Catharine Street to the Blackburne Pub and Eatery. As the name suggests, half the pub is an eatery, so you might wish to try the excellent food. The other half is normally for drinking. Four hand pulls dispense beer usually delivered directly from the breweries, so are often local. You may want to try them all before moving on.
Walk down Falkner Street and on the right is Sugnall Street. Here you will find the Belvedere. This small pub has a listed interior that saved it from conversion to another use a few years ago. Again there are normally four cask beers on tap here, usually including one from Liverpool Organic. There is limited seating in the bar room and there is a second room to sit in, plus outside tables should the weather be clement.
Retrace your steps and turn left back onto Catharine Street to find the fourth pub in the area, the Caledonia. This pub was under threat a couple of years ago, due to redevelopment in the area, but common sense prevailed and the developer realised such a pub would be an asset to their new tenants. The pub now has an ACV to help protect its future.
Here there are six hand pumps usually dispensing local beers and regional ciders. Live music is held here regularly, so you might wish to stay here.
From here you can either walk or catch a bus back into town. Alternatively, some may wish to continue with the Hope Street walk.