A.J. Walker


A Festival First

After doing a blog weekly - which let's face it should be easily doable - for about five weeks I messed up last week by not getting one out. Not entirely sure why, but I guess time seemed to be at a bit of a premium. Maybe because I was working on Monday this week when I don't usually. Anyways so here are a few words about the last week or indeed the last fornight.

I haven't had any away day trips away from Liverpool since the visit to Wigan in mid March other than a visit to the Bow-Legged Beagle in New Brighton (which also took in the James Atherton opposite), so the pub numbers haven't risen significantly since Wigan. Indeed in the last fortnight I've only been to 9 new pubs for the year.

A pint of Salopian in the Bow-Legged Beagle, New Brighton.

Last week I did make it to the Wirral Beer Festival, organised by the Ship & Mitre pub in Liverpool. Many of my mates have been several times. All of them thought I had been as they always assume that if they are at a beer event I must be there… surely. But I haven't been. I dare say by the time they've left each event they've been to then they may well be struggling to remember much precisely. I'd met a couple of them a few times back in Liverpool in the evening after they've been there and they a) always say how good it was and b) at least one of them is very wobbly (somewhere between funnily wobbly and worryingly wobbly). Maybe they remember bumping into me in the pub and then back date their assumption that I must have been with them all the time. Who knows? Anyways last weekend was indeed the first time I'd been to the festival in Hulme Hall, Port Sunlight.

A group of eight of us met up in Liverpool first and had a quick bite to eat and then a pint in the Globe before catching a train at Central to Port Sunlight. It was noticeable that only two of our group wore masks on the train. The two of us happened to be the only two of the group who haven't had Covid (at least as far as we know) - make of that what you will. The train was busy and we kinda guessed looking around that a fair few were heading to Port Sunlight too. Hey, some people have a look, don't they?

Walk in the Port Sunlight sunlight.

The day was surprisingly warm for April (and even more surprising when I realised it was in fact March) and proper sunshine was bursting through the train windows on the journey, making us doubly buoyant for an afternoon of beer with our mates. At Sunlight in the Sunshine the train did disgorge the predicable occupants into the famous Wirral enclave. We'd timed it to arrive for about midday; the festival actually started at 11am (until 5pm) but the hours seemed a little over the top to us.

A fair few on the ale march.

Hulme Hall

The walk from the station to Hulme Hall was lovely. The architecture of the village is brilliant - and now for me will always remind me of early
Peaky Blinders as it was used early on (to represent Bourneville I assume - it just be cheeper up norf. By the time we got there just after noon there were already people sat outside with beers taking in the sun. It was more like Bishop's Castle in July than Wirral in March. The QR code tickets on the phone worked perfectly (which was better than the experience in the Liverpool Beer Festival earlier in the year) and then we were in.

First up a glass (pint glasses with appropriate markings) and a programme. Then a queue to pay for tokens - "
anyone paying cash?" It was all very well organised and then we were in with an empty glass and beer tokens. Wonderful.

Beer Tokens

It's smaller than the Liverpool Beer Festival of course, but at the end of the day you only need enough beer for the session you are at, don't you. Bumped into a few people I knew - and the guys & gals from Liverpool Cake Co too - and a few who knew me only from Twitter.

Later on after a few beers.

Say cheese.

There were plenty of beers I enjoyed. But I don't go to festivals often with a need to try new stuff and had mainly beers I knew or breweries I knew. The attitude towards really strong Imperial Stouts was ridiculous with a 13% not being served in thirds but only in schooners. Ridiculous - and needs to be rethought for the next festival. Assuming the purpose of the festival is to provide a range of good beers to pick from rather than an opportunity to find oblivion, or at least an early end to the visit.

Good news in the programme about the Sanctuary return.

There was a nice advert in the festival programme heralding the return of the Sanctuary on Lime Street. I for one have missed it and am looking forward to seeing what has been done to the place.

Cheers to a good event.

Got home to Liverpool in one piece and a few of us were up for a couple more pints in Rigbys, the Angus, and Dr Duncans. Ended the night with a lovely donner kebab from my local joint in Fazak. All in all a good day was had.

98 pubs and counting…

Pie Week And Wigan: But No Pies

After trips to Chester and Manchester the last two weekends I decided to get out once again to another Northern Town: Wigan. Famous for coal mining in the past (and then maybe collapsed shallow workings), an FA Cup winning team that got relegated in the same year: and PIES! It was National Pie Week this week apparently - or was it last week? Who decides these things? Anyway, I wasn't going for the pies, I was going to check out a few pubs I hadn't been to (and a couple I had in years gone by).

It was a cold grey day. A million miles away from some of the warm days we've had so far - and there were some heavy showers, which I did my best to dodge - only partly successfully.

Wigan Central, where I sat outside and froze a little. At least the rain was holding off for now

First up was the famous Wigan Central which is just around one corner from Wigan North Western station. I'd never been there but it is well known and has been on my radar for some time. When I got in it was heaving and there was a rather confusing queue to the bar when the bar had some room to stand, but after an exasperating few minutes all was well and I had in my hand a pint. I initially had to sit outside - and was freezin'. Got inside eventually when it calmed down a little.

First up out of the Centralin the cold

Second up was the very close (just opposite the station)
Swan and Railway. It's a lovely old pub, which I had been to before, all tiling and glass. The Wily Fox 'Karma Citra' was spot on. As I sat there the rain outside began pelting down horrendously. When it calmed down a little I made my way to The Anvil. It used to be a fab pub when I last visited Wigan many moons ago. I got wet on the way, but it was improving a little from when I'd been sat in the Swan.

Swan and Railway

The Anvil was not as good as it was back those moons ago. But there was still some ale on. There was some footy on the TV which I can't remember being very interested in.

The Anvil

Fourth place was the Tap 'n' Barrel. It's hidden away a little from the road in a cobbled pedestrian area near the bus station, called Jaxon's Court. It was a new place for me; a nice little micro with three casks on. There was a guy playing some songs in the back room and the place was pretty much standing room only.

The Tap 'n' Barrel micro pub in Jaxon's Court

Headed a bit further up the road next to Real Crafty for my fifth pub of the Wigan trip. It's great place and probably the highlight of my trip. Good cask options, I had a Cloudwater, which I don't often see on cask. Chatted to a nice couple and the bar staff. Even saw Neptune Abyss appear on the keg lines whilst I was there. But I stuck to cask.

Cloudwater cask on in Real Crafty

Last stop of the day was in
Doc's Ale House. The signage outside is a little confusing from the name they use for the place. It wasn't that busy at the time, but the beer was nice and there were some good options. It was time to go after just the one there. All in all a nice six pub jaunt. I won't leave it that long until I go again. The highlights were definitely Real Crafty and Wigan Central but I'd always go the Swan and the Tap 'n' Barrel too. Recommend them all if you're up this way at all - and I didn't even have a pie at all.

89 and counting (still)

By the way
Doc's was pub No. 89 of the year.

Back in Liverpool I had the joy of doing a couple of open mics in the Head of Steam and Keystone on Thursday and going to Jimmy's for a John Witherspoon gig on the Saturday.
Music, ale and good people it's all good.

A Short Manchester Trip

A Short Manchester Jaunt

On Sunday I watched Liverpool win the League Cup in Kelly's Dispensary with Ossett '
White Rat' and Titanic 'Plum Porter' which was pub 76 for the year. Of course it was an enjoyable, stressful, exciting and ultimately brilliant afternoon in Kelly's. First time I've been in there for a long time and I was pleasantly surprised by the beer that was on. Of course the place was packed and they ran out of the Rat during the second half of the match. The Plum Porter was a more than adequate alternative. And I was happy to raise a glass of it to Kepa's woeful penalty.

Last week I went to Chester to scout (excuse) for pubs to go to this week for my mate's birthday, as he couldn't do it after catching Covid. This weekend was supposed to be the delayed Chester visit, but again has had to be postponed due to his housemate catching Covid from him. We can't do it next week as there are other commitments already in place. It may happen one week before summer. Then again maybe not.

With Chester 2 being delayed I ended up popping over to Manchester for a couple on Friday. I didn't add too many more new pubs this last week. I didn't feel like a big day so only went to five pubs over there. Three were old classic favourites:
The Britons Protection, The Peveril of the Peak, and the City Arms. All were busy, which was good to see. Then I headed over to a couple of new ones to me: The Gas Lamp, on Bridge Street, and the Cafe Beermoth, on Brown Street. Both were fab.

Manchester Group
Britons, Peveril, City Arms, Gas Lamp

As I didn't go to that many pubs this time there are plenty left in Manchester to get to at some point in the weeks and months ahead. And I'm looking forward to going back there.

Here's to the next time

Of course in addition I've been to my usual Liverpool hostelries for beers, meet ups, watching the footy and reading & writing, including; Head of Steam, Keystone, Grapes, Doctor Duncans, Fly in the Loaf, Coach House and the Roscoe Head. They've all been on top form and there are generally plenty of people about.

I still haven't decided on an ultimate aim for the burgeoning pub numbers but will have a wee think about it. In any case Cafe Beermoth was pub No.
81 for the year.