A.J. Walker



The White Hart: and The Engineer

I’d such a soft spot for the Keystone and I was so disappointed when it closed back in May 2022 (see a short blog on its farewell here). I remember being at the last drinks in there with a few of the regulars, and it was the feeling of a wake: sadness tinged with smiles for the memories. The follow up place was more food focused and didn’t hang around long at all. Last week the latest incarnation which appeared from the flames of the phoenix erupted onto the Liverpool scene as the White Hart and, its smaller sister pub, The Engineer. And I can report that they both look and feel fab. If you don't know where they are the White Hart is on Hope Street sandwiched between the Everyman and the Casa, and the entrance for the Engineer is on Arrad Street, which is parallel to Hope Street behind the WH (although the Engineer can also be accessed through the WH) Another sister pub—the Queen of Hope Street—is a few doors down on the corner opposite both the Philharmonic Pub and the Philharmonic Hall.

The White Hart, Hope Street

Those familiar Keystone/White Hart steps

As a sister pub to the Red Lion, Vines, Queen of Hope Street et al it has much of the same form of decoration with dark wood, plenty of paintings & prints, stuffed birds and animals and the like along with the candles and wood fires. The White Hart in particular looks like it has been there, in its current form, for years—much like the Red Lion did when that appeared on Slater Street. They’ve put up plenty of dark wood and some shelving around the edges of the rooms so there’s plenty of places for you to drop your drinks on—and for them to put those essential candles on—which are a necessity in this series of pubs). They’ve knocked a wall down near the bar too. With the decor and darker colours the phoenix process has produced it is amazing how much such a relatively small space has changed (see pics below). The room on the left as you come seems a little smaller than it was due to the changes to the edges of it. I used to come to the Open Mic here, hosted by John Witherspoon, and it hard to see if it could work in there now. That is not a negative though, as the room feels very homely—especially with the heat from the obligatory wood fire.

FirstRoom WH
The first room on the left as you enter the White Hart

Last time I played open mic at the Keystone, April 2002. Looks a lot different now (the pub, not me).

Six cask lines on the WH bar

There are rooms upstairs in the White Hart and even a second bar (not sure when it is planned to be used during the week). The downstairs room which used to host some events is not in use now, indeed it may be that it disappears as the cellar will probably need to be extended to keep all the drinkers happily watered. The main bar on the ground floor is just where it was in the Keystone
era and there are now six cask lines. It is very much a wet led pub, so much so that the kitchen that was used during the earlier iterations has been fitted out as a separate pub: The Engineer. As mentioned earlier accessed from Arrad St or through the WH: access through the conservatory. It has four cask lines, with a similar choice of beers to the WH. There’s a set of stairs above the street entrance which lead up to a mezzanine where there are three small rooms (formerly offices/storage for the kitchen) not that dissimilar in vibe to the cells in the Bridewell. There’s also a few seats and casks for putting your drinks on along the mezzanine corridor itself. Each room has a TV, so if your in a small group you may be lucky enough to claim a room to watch the footy (or a.n.other sport, of course). There’s also a TV above the door to the conservatory. There are several TVs along the the centre of the conservatory fixed to the ceiling.

Spot the difference—I may be in both. (Keystone above, WH below)

The view from above on the mezzanine in the Engineer

Four cask lines on in the Engineer.

It’s only been open twelve days or so and I’ve been three times. Each times it’s been very busy. Each time the service has been excellent. And each time I’ve ended up meeting some lovely people. So although it may not be the Keystone, it is boss to see it back in use and I’m sure it’ll survive significantly longer than the last venue did (sorry, I can’t even recall its name).

Well done to all involved in the design and implementation of the works involved with the new venues: and best of luck. See you soon. Again.

Sequins & Glitter

It's been a mad couple of weeks in Liverpool as we hosted the Eurovision Song Contest. It has certainly been a good success for the city and Eurovision. It was good to see on so many levels: even for a none Eurovision fan like me.


The news coverage has been about how successful it has been and how much money has come into the city with all the visitors - and forecast to come as the success of the festival was screened around the world. It certainly seemed like damn fine advertising for our place. On the news yesterday they went into several places that said they had record number of visitors and takings. Of course these were in the Albert Dock. The places around Pier Head would of course pick up lots of passing traffic from the thousands in town throughout the festival.


But my experience in the rest of town, both directly and through talking to staff, is that the bulk of town was actually unusually quiet: very quiet. It appears that many people avoided coming into town - which would have been exacerbated by the two day rail strike. It's not because all the customers were at Pier Head I am sure; I don't think the Venn Diagram of ale drinkers and Eurovision fans has a massive crossover.


Anyway, whilst on the whole the city may have won from hosting the festival it hasn't all been winners. So your job over the next few weeks is to get out there as the city returns to normal and show your love of our brilliant hostelries. They'd love you for it; and you don't even have to wear sequins and glitter if you don't want.

Map Updates

Been a while since I've updated the Liverpool ale maps, but with the return of the Vines in the last fortnight it was my excuse to update a few of them. As well as the addition of the Vines to the main map I've made some minor adjustments to the suggested crawl maps. Hope somebody finds them useful.

Liverpool Crawl Map 1-600

The Beer Quarter

A group of pubs situated in and around the Dale Street area of town have recently grouped together as Liverpool Beer Quarter, which you may have seen on Twitter (and I dare say Facebook) with their cheerful looking logo. We are living through interesting and difficult times and forming a collective to market these pubs perhaps more widely can not be a negative. It will be interesting to see where it goes in the future, but this weekend they have had their first 'festival.'The pubs have done various things within the weekend including Meet the Brewer events and discounts beer.

I caught some music in the Angus and the Cross Keys on Saturday, but my main objective this weekend was to visit the ten pubs to fill a card (which has gone into a draw for some prizes). Needless to say I visited the ten (over two days).

Of the pubs in the Quarter there are two or three I don't go to often – in particular Shenanigans (which doesn't do cask ale), the Cross Keys (a bit out on limb in office-central) and the Saddle (which doesn't really do cask ale (Doom Bar)). I do like Shenanigans though. Vibrant, an attractive building and some good music too – you can always get a good Guinness there or you maybe lucky with a keg or bottle.


First up was the Ship & Mitre where I took the opportunity to get some loaded fries with cheesy garlic bread. Hey, it's tasty, good stomach lining and wards away vampires. Next was the short hop to the Excelsior. I was given the Beer Quarter card there and my first stamp. I'd missed the card (and hence stamp) in the Ship. Not the end of the world as it was an excuse to revisit there – and it is most accessible. I wasn't aware of the card before I received it, but once I had then it was Challenge Accepted!

Pub 2 (the Excelsior) or Pub 1 according to the new card.

Shropshire Gold in the Excelsior.

Two down, eight to go.

The Lion Tavern

Next up was the Vernon a little further up Dale Street. I bumped into a Twitter buddy there (Bill) who was doing a walk around the same pubs in the opposite direction to me. Then it was on to a regular haunt of mine – the Angus, where there was a singer on strumming his stuff whilst hiding behind some plants. Following the Angus it was the first veer off Dale Street to get to the beautiful and ever popular Lion on Moorfields before heading out to the most isolated of the pubs –the Cross Keys. Again there was a good musician on there.

The Angus (there's a musician there somewhere).

The four ales on in the Angus.

Having a moral panic in the Denbigh Castle.

The last two stops of this group of pubs was the excellent Denbigh Castle (the sister but to the Bridewell) and then finally the Saddle.

Anyone seen the Cross Keys? It's somewhere around here.

It was good to see that there seemed to be a good coordinated social media management of the weekend with the hashtag #beerquarterliverpool (not sure why it wasn't Liverpool Beer Quarter like on the logo). I guess you should keep an eye on the hashtag to see how things progress with the Dale Street collective.

Back at the Ship. I've done the ten.

A nice building – and helped by a bright blue sky.

On Saturday I popped into the two/three pubs I hadn't done on Friday and got my card fully filled up with a schooner of Double Barrelled 'Parka' in a most packed Dead Crafty and a keg beer in an equally busy Shenanigans. Lastly it was the Ship again to get the missing stamp before walking across town to the Arts Club to catch the wonderful 'The Heavy North.'

It was a nice walk around the ten pubs. Good luck to all of them in these difficult times. Hope the collective creates a little bit of magic for them. Why not go and have a walk around them too?
I went to the ten pubs of the Beer Quarter in the order as follows:

  • Ship & Mitre
  • Excelsior
  • Vernon
  • Angus
  • Lion
  • Cross Keys
  • Denbigh Castle
  • Saddle
  • Dead Crafty
  • Shenanigans
    • and Ship & Mitre again…

A Welcome in Slater Street

It's nice to find myself having to add a pub to the maps I'd created rather than delete them. Slater Street is not high up on the obvious place crying out for an ale place. The street itself can be a bit fun and it is a stones (or glass) throw away from the notorious Concert Square. So it was with interest to see that there was a pub opening there. It's at the right end - away from Bold Street - sited between the Spanish Caravan and The Merchant (I'll always think of it as Mello Mello).


I've been in there a couple of times now and must say I've been impressed by how they've fitted it out. Looks like it's been there for years rather than a week. There's two floors and a decent outside area. It has five hand pulls on; including some local ones rather just generic nationals and obvious choices - have seen pales from Chapter and Carnival there so far.

701ABB62-3580-46BB-A47F-FEFE13EF3E94 2


Being situated on Slater Street it is not going to be simply an 'old man's pub' and there lies its opportunity and risks. Hat's off to them and good luck with the place.Will watch with interest.




Liverpool ale maps

All Too Early Closing

Last Sunday was a very sad day for me and many others who frequented, or worked, at the Keystone: it closed for good. There had been a few rumours over the preceding month but it was only formerly announced on Tuesday and then closed just five days later. It was very much one of my go-to pubs in Liverpool so will create a big hole for my visits into town. I've read books there, listed to music, written stories, and of course played some music too. My Thursdays in particular will be much the poorer with the demise of the pub and John Witherspoon's open mic.

There is hope that the open mic will move to another local pub. I hope it can.

The Keystone garden.

The venue has gone through several iterations over the years, probably most notably the Clove Hitch, but opened last year as the Keystone when the pubs were only allowed to serve in outdoor settings. Its garden at the back made the place one of the few ale places available during this time. I found it early doors in those initial daft cold months of those stupid rules and fell for the place immediately.

A pint in the conservatory. Very good place to write.

I used the indoors for writing a few times. It was a good environment for it and the music didn't tend to be too loud.

A burger and a pint before going to the Arts Club for the Magic Numbers gig.

The Tempo roasts were mega.

They went through a few in house food providers like Boffo Burger and more recently Tempo kitchen. Those burgers were lovely, and the Sunday lunches by Tempo were awesome.


There was always a great mix of people in the pub. Locals, regulars, and some students (thankfully not too many of them of course). There were plenty of events that used the Keystone. In addition to the open mic there were regular quizzes, open mic comedy, film nights and Meet the Brewer events. All the people involved in this will miss the Key all the more.

Which Scrivener project to open? When the weather was okay you could write outdoors too.

It was such a shame to see if go from my perspective but of course it was worse for the staff. It was good to hear that Charley, Ryan, Ben, Jess and all were able to get at least some work in other places within the week of being told of the closure. And I can only wish them all the best for the future. The beer, the music, the events and the food all made the place but the staff truly made it a great place to go.

Went to the Keystone on the last afternoon to help drink the place dry. You have to pitch in at times like this.

Farewell to the Keystone and good luck to all who sailed in her. Now, what am I doing on Thursday?

Updating the Ale Maps

Have created another page where I'll put the maps up as a when they are ready and/or progress. Aiming to put some overall maps with most pubs that sell real ale, but I dare say I'll make some omissions (both by accident and on purpose). I am doing these largely so people who visit the city can easily find a decent resource and not have to mess about with Smartphones too much (and bearing in mind not everyone has a Smartphone - or at least decent battery life).

I'm going to add some local popular places that do keg only beer. Don't hate me a) for including them or b) missing out other keg only venues. On the map these will be obvious (Green circle instead of Red).

On my first iterations I hadn't put on any Wetherspoon pubs. This was totally my semi conscious decision as I put the maps together. I may have been to over 100 pubs this year, but I've managed to avoid all Wetherspoons in doing so. However the basic maps will be there for people to find places when they visit Liverpool and if they are asked to meet someone in the Lime Kiln or the North Western I guess it would be churlish of me to not put them on the map. So I have added them. I continue to avoid them for a few reasons but like so many other things it is not me to judge others who choose a different path.

Still learning to use the graphics package. Which means I've messed up with the layering a little on them, so may mean a bit of repetition/messing about with them to get them sorted together. But currently thinking if I make the base map less opaque it'll be easier to read.

Anyway the maps are progressing. Watch this space - or more to the point the Maps page.

Beginning Some Pub Maps

Looking at putting together a few maps showing some recommended ale pubs (ok, just my choices) in Liverpool if you fancy a wee crawl or two.

Early days messing about with maps from
OpenStreetMap and then using Vectornator to mark up. Having a few problems at the moment with Vectornator but hopefully I'll sort it soon. Will aim to sort a series of probably three maps covering Liverpool and some text to go with them when I can.