A.J. Walker


A Sunday Trip to Stafford

Thought I'd go somewhere I haven't been to on my tod before. Other than a CAMRA coach trip or two (way way back) I'd only been through Stafford on the train when travelling down south really. It's only just over an hour (64 minutes to be precise) from Liverpool Lime Street to Stafford on pretty regular trains (often the Birmingham New Street train). Got a few people to guess where I was heading on Twitter and no-one got it. Said it was somewhere I hadn't been etc which ruled out a surprising number of places I've been to over the last year. It turned out to be a beautiful start to the day when I arrived at around 11:40 and the walk out from the station takes you straight out into the lovely Victoria Park, alongside the River Sow, which made it doubly nice.

It was Stafford, folks.

Victoria Park welcomes you right out of the station.

A canalised section of the River Sow through Victoria Park. Gotta love a weeping willow.

I hadn't done much research on the pubs before hand other than to use a Google Maps search (i.e. 'Stafford Real Ale Pubs') to make sure there were at least a few to keep me occupied. At first glance there certainly seemed enough to keep me out of trouble for an hour or six anyway.

Bird in Hand

Black Country Ales 'BFG'

First up I went to the Bird in Hand. A spot on old pub which was busy with locals and doing in a good trade in lush looking Sunday lunches. I had a pint of Black Country Ales 'BFG', whilst trying hard to not be tempted by the gorgeous smells of the beef and Yorkshire puds. Black County Ales were to be in several pubs on the day; Stafford is only 15 miles from Wolverhampton. I watched the end of the India innings in the cricket world cup, where England appeared to be doing quite well.

Sun Inn, a Titanic pub

Loverly outdoor areas at the Sun Inn, while the sun was out.

The market town of Stafford isn't exactly overwhelming and a walk around the pubs would not prove too long at all. Next up was the Titanic Brewery owned pub, 'The Sun Inn' at the southern side of the town. There were lots of Titanic options of course, and i went for an '
Iceberg' there and sat out in the covered area of the garden (which was large). It was a lovely day after all and it would be rude not to take advantage of it.

The Picture House


Inside of the Picture House.

After this I headed back more centrally. I almost walked past the Wetherspoons—because of my general aversion to them not because I almost missed it—but I thought it looked an interesting building (another old cinema). I went in the Picture House check it out and I did get myself a St Austell '
Average Joe'. I supped it quickly and got out. It was a nice building and I liked all the old film posters on the walls, but it never feels right being in one (a Wetherspoons, not a cinema). It wasn't very busy in there, and the food didn't look half as appealing as those dinners in the Bird.

Pubs. Use it or lose it.

The Market Vaults

It was almost Halloween, can you tell?

Next up was the Market Vaults in the centre of the town (by the market, the clue is in the name dontcha know). A nice traditional pub. Quiet with a just a few regulars in and only the one beer (a Jennings '
Cumberland') and a hand written pump clip. Listened to the cricket for a while and found England were capitulating in embarrassing fashion. This truly has been a World Cup to forget.

Shrewsbury Arms

It was only a short walk to the Shrewsbury Arms, which looked a pub not to be missed. Everton were on the telly, but despite that I really enjoyed this pub. Got talking to a large (three generations) family in there about beer and football. Was very good. Meanwhile England lost in the cricket and Everton won v West Ham (whilst Liverpool were winning 2-0 v Forest).

Ye Olde Rose & Crown, Ye Closed on Sundays


I aimed to head on up to the Greyhound and Railway for my last two pubs so was going to take in Rose & Crown, a Joules pub. The flaw in the very loose plan was that it was Sunday and the pub is closed on Sundays. A shocking state of affairs. A shame as I like a Joules. It also meant my mid walk pub choice between the Shrewsbury and the Greyhound was a trifle limited. I ended up in Hogarth's. A nice enough pint of Theakston's '
XB' while I watched a very bad Man Utd capitulation to Man City as if they were the English cricket team. Not a great pub (very much a chain vibe along the line of Primark meets Wetherspoon with a dollop of Woolworths (without the pick & mix). Still, like I say the one beer they had on was fine and seeing Man Utd suffer is never a bad thing.

The Greyhound. The clocks changed last night. Was going dark early.

Headed north, just beyond the ring road and past the surprisingly central Stafford jail to the Greyhound. The weather was going downhill quickly after the blue sky start rain was definitely coming. A nice pub, where I had a pint of Oakham '
JHB' and saw the end of the Man derby (btw Liverpool had gone on to win 3-0 in the end). From there I was to head to the Lamb, where I found no ale on and walked straight out then I had to negotiate some road works to get over to the Railway Inn. This was to be my last stop, but I ended up chatting to some locals and the landlord--and playing some Warren Zevon on the jukebox—whilst having the more than adequate Butty Bach.

I timed it well to take the short walk to the station (hey, it was the Railway Inn, it wasn't going to be far) and get the on time train back to Liverpool. Glad it was short in the rain too.

Having made it to eight pubs, some of which were better than others, it had proved a very good day. And at only an hour (+4 minutes) from Liverpool I'd definitely recommend it. The pubs were:

Bird In Hand
The Sun Inn
Picture House
Market Vaults
Shrewsbury Arms
Railway Inn

I'll probably put up a map at some point.

And the five I'd most recommend are the Bird In Hand, Sun Inn, Shrewsbury, the Railway, and the Greyhound. If I was going on a Saturday I'd add the Rose & Crown Joules pub and jib the Hogarth's (unless it was needed to watch the footy or something).

Vectors and Curves

Been a while since I've updated the maps on here. So much so that when I went to do some changes this week it turned out the software I used to mark up the had changed. Not just an update but a whole new branding with Vectornator becoming Linearity: Curve. What? Anyway, after some checks to make sure it hadn't become a cost to me in the meantime I found I could carry on with the new Curve.

It was nice to update with the addition of a pub,
The Queen of Hope Street, and the inclusion of a pub getting cask in for the first time, the Greene King, Lime Street Central. Had to also remove a couple of (keg) bars from one of the maps too. So perhaps that's 2-0 to cask. That said I don't really keep an eye on the keg bars much so there's probably (definitely) a few additions of them that I've not noted. Hell, they're supposed to be the ale pubs anyway.

Liverpool Map 1 of 4-600

Will add some more maps in the future including
The Southport Run and some local ones (eg Waterloo). Maybe even before the software changes again.

A Short Trip to Hudderfield

The other week, after going to York at the beginning of the week for a couple of days, I ended with another trip to Yorkshire, but closer to home—Huddersfield. I’d been there almost exactly a year before. It’s a nice speedy trip on the train and it was going to be less of an intense affair than York had been (there’s be no need for an overnight stay either).



I went to ten pubs a day in York, but here I only went to six in the end. This was partly because I would have more than one pint in a couple of pubs, and partly because I was engrossed in my reading (I’d just started Agatha Christie, by Lucy Worsley). There are great pubs here and I didn’t go to any new ones for me—I stuck with the tried and tested.

You can’t go wrong right from the start as within the beautiful old station building itself is the Head of Steam (on the right as you leave the station) and the King’s Head (on the opposite side).



Then it’s a ten minute walk or so to the Sportsman’s, which is always full of cracking beer options, and it was to be no different this time. Walking back towards the station I went into Williams Beer & Gin House (it had been closed when going towards the Sportsman’s). It was quiet but they had a couple of ales on. I was sent on a bit of a wrong turn by Google Maps next thanks to some roadworks and scaffolding so instead of The County next I went straight to the Rat & Ratchet. It was pretty busy in there despite the early hour. Had a lovely couple of pints before heading back across the ring road—and correctly--to The County. I decided to call it a day then and head back to Liverpool. It was an unrushed day to some great pubs with lovely beers (largely from Rat and Vocation breweries).




I’ll pop a map up at some point. But here are the pubs I went to on this relatively short visit (and very easily walkable; even with missteps via Dr Google):

Head of Steam
King’s Head
Williams Beer & Gin House
Rat & Ratchet
The County


An Excellent York Jaunt

I’m off work this week so I had to take the opportunity to get out for a few days out, didn’t I? And if you know York, you know how bloody good it is on multiple levels—but particularly with regard to ale places. So it wasn’t a surprise that I picked it for one of my trips out. I last came here for my 50th birthday bash with a few mates. This time it was just me on me tod. I had a train getting me there around midday and I had one night booked in a hotel (well a pub—not a real ale one though). So I had the best part of two days to spend on a good wander around one my favourite (none Liverpool) cities. Huzzah!



It went as well as it should have. I’m not sure how many real ale pubs there are within the wall, but there are lots. So there isn’t that much walking really between one place and another—and therefore not much wasted time either. Without trying, or extending myself at all, I ended up going to ten pubs on each day.

Day One:

First up, as it always is for me if I arrive by train, is The Maltings, which is a top pub just a few minutes walk from the station. There is the York Tap at the station too of course, but that is the same distance from your train on the way home and it only feels right to leave the station when you arrive in town unless you don't want to feel like you've arrived yet. It's not too far—just across the river—to get to the House of the Trembling Madness on Leland. I had only been to the other TM on Stonegate before so this was the first new pub to me on this trip. It was busier than the Maltings being lunchtime on a busy pedestrian street, but I got a nice comfy leather chair on the ground floor to sink into there. Got my phone out and plotted a route that I thought best for the afternoon before checking into my digs and next up was the Wonky Donkey/Three Legged Horse which I have a long term affinity for and is a stones throw (don't do that though) from the Minster. A few people message via Instagram and Twitter asking if I was going to pub X, Y, and Z. I was indeed going to most of them but I hadn't planned to go to one—the Snickleway Inn—so I added that to my list when advised by a buddy from Liverpool. But first up was the original House of the Trembling Madness on Stonegate. I'd forgotten how easy it was to walk past, though I got there eventually. Got talking to a couple of American tourists who were passing through. They'd just come from Liverpool. They loved our home town and it sounds like they'll be back there next year. York is of course even more full of tourists than Liverpool (yes, it really is. Madness—trembling or otherwise).

I made the relatively short walk to the Snickleway and gave Dan's regards to Linda as requested via social media. You say jump and I ask how high, don't I? Nah, not usually. Was a nice pint but I didn't have time to stop for another one (I wouldn't buy two pints in any pubs on this two day trip) as it was time to get on to Blue Bell, which was on the way my digs (which was the Watergate Inn—a non-real ale pub—on Walmgate). The Blue Bell is a cracking old traditional pub which I never miss on a trip to York.

At the hotel I had a wee lie down for 45 mins or so before moving on to my next pub, the Rook & Gaskell which lay straight down the road just beyond the city walls. It was pretty quiet in there with just some regulars in there. I then went a short hop to the Phoenix which lies back within the walls (just). Chatted to a nice couple who were on a trip too who were originally from Cornwall via Derbyshire. We talked a little geology as well as beer. Finally I went to the Red Lion another large old pub regularly visited by yours truly (and very near my digs). As it happened it wasn't my last pub because I wandered up the road for a bit of a look see for something to eat and spotted a pub called the Pavement Vaults (just around the corner from a posh donner place). Had a nice Bristol Beer Factory pint in the Vaults before heading to the donner place then back to my room. A very good day.

The Maltings
House of the Trembling Madness
(on Leland)
Three Legged Mare (
aka the Wonky Donkey)
House of the Trembling Madness
(on Stonegate)
Snickleway Inn
Blue Bell
Rook & Gaskell
Red Lion
Pavement Vaults


Day Two:

My room didn't include breakfast, but that's what I prefer anyway, you want to get out and about rather than eat in your hotel usually (unless it's a full English in a Holiday Inn circa 2000). My weather app said zero percent chance of rain for the time I was up at 9am; so it was raining. I was soon up, showered and checked out (ie gave them the key back) then I was down the road with an eye out for where to eat. There were some nice places but being tourist central they were all tourist central prices. In the end I sat out a greasy spoon under an umbrella and settled for a cheap full English tray. Down and dirty. And I was dry and stomach lined (though the sausages were on the cheap side of cheap). I was back in the centre of town at this point just off
The Shambles and it was still too early for the pubs to be open, so it was just time to wander a bit. My legs were a little tired at this wandering so I sat down for a while just by Whip-Ma-Wop-Ma-Gate (as you do). At this point I was close to the Blue Bell again, but of course I wasn't going to revisit yesterday's venues with so many hostelries available to me within the city walls.

So first up was the Three Tuns. I was the first in, but it wasn't long before plenty of tourists started to wander in there. Again it was a short walk (I'll stop saying that, it should go without saying that it's generally a short walk to everywhere if you plan right) to The Hop, the Ossett pub, which is a deceptively large place opposite the Blue Bell. I read my book a little there before heading up the Thornbridge pub, The Market Cat, which was just beside where I'd had my breakfast. I inevitably had a Jaipur there, which was stronger than most the pints I was having on this trip, but I can't say no to a Jaipur when I see one.

Just a quick zigzag and I was at the Pivni, which—like the Market Cat—was a new one for me. I had a pint of Redwillow 'Feckless' first and then it became the only place I had a second pint (hey, I said I didn't
buy a second pint in any pub, I never said I didn't have a second pint). There were two people in from a company importing a Majorcan lager ('Rosa Blanca - Majorca 1927) which they were checking in on. They kindly offered to buy a round of it for everyone downstairs which we all accepted of course. It was a nice lager to be fair and for the next twenty minutes the five of us in the bar with our free pints felt like we'd all joined a decent club. Cheers. Majorca!

After saying goodbye to Club Majorca, it was literally just across the road next to Valhalla, which is a cool place—all timber decorated with wooden shields. I went for Valhalla Pale. All the Valhalla ales were brewed by the small local Half Moon Brewery. It was a bit a walk next as I headed back over towards where my digs were, because the Brew York Beerhall was over there. It was my one mistake over the two day in planning my route as I didn't think it was open on Tuesdays so I had originally missed it from my list. I went in there and ended up with a session pale (as usual on an extended day) just across from Chris Kamara. I was waiting for the familiar laughing but he was relatively calm whilst I was there. It turned out from Brew York pics on Insta the next day that he was there with the brewery for something yet to be announced. We wait with bated breath.

It was time to head back across town as I'd make my way towards York Station and home so next up were two old pubs I'd been to before, The Golden Fleece and the Ackthorne. The less said about the former the better. A quick one in the small Falcon and then it was across to the station for my last hostelry in York: the York Tap at the station itself.

All in all it had been an excellent couple of days. The only rain (despite a zero chance of it) was for an hour or two on Tuesday morning. Other than that the only liquid I saw was in a pint glass. I went to twenty pubs over two days—some new places (at least to me) and to some old favourites, had some boss beers, served well and by good staff throughout, had a donner kebab, got given a free pint, saw the famous Kamara, chatted to some nice people (both locals and tourists), didn't get lost, and even the trains were all on time. Crackin'

Three Tuns
Market Cat
Brew York Beerhall
Golden Fleece
York Tap


i'll add a map at some point too. Twenty pubs can sound like a lot I know, but then again if you're out for ten hours or so a day then it's only a pint an hour and at that rate you can actually annoy some landlords for drinking too slowly. It's a fine balancing act these session trips, but I'm happy to continue to give it a go.

Watch this space…

The Southport Run

Firstly just to confirm The Southport Run is not a Couch to 5k, it is an ale trip to Southport using the Northern Line Train. I guess people from Southport may choose to do it in the opposite direction to my route (coming as I do from Liverpool) but I get the train to Southport and have a few there before heading back to the train. Of course please bear in mind that the railway peeps won’t necessarily let you on board a train if you’re judged to have had too many. It’s never happened to me, but I do know a couple of people who haven’t been let onto a Merseyrail train after some beers. So don’t go mad at the start lest you get stranded in Formby or somewhere.


There are plenty of stops on the Northern Line where you can get to a nearby real ale pub. And there are some not to get off at all. Depending on your mood, stamina, time available—and any plans you may have for the following day—you could aim for a couple of pubs in Southport, Waterloo, and back in LIverpool while getting off the stations for single pubs at Birkdale, Hillside, Ainsdale, Freshfield, Formby, and maybe Hightown. So you could easily be looking at ten to twelve pubs for the day.



I’ll sort a map out at some point, but the pubs I’d consider are:

Southport - Tap & Bottles, Guest House, Masons Arms (there is also The Inn Shop, Peaky Blinders, and there are Wetherspoons if you are that way inclined)
Birkdale - The Barrel House
Hillside - Grasshopper
Ainsdale - The Golden Monkey
Freshfield - Beer Station, The Freshfield
Formby - The Railway
Hightown - The Hightown
Waterloo - Stamps Too (Waterpudlian), Trap & Hatch, Old Tap, Volunteer Canteen, Four Ashes (there’s also the Liver and a Wetherspoons)
Liverpool - er loads, look ‘em up


All in all a good day out. I’d recommend a Saturday if you are going to do it at the weekend so you don’t have to deal with Sunday service issues. Most of these pubs between Southport and Waterloo are very close to the stations. The Southport and Waterloo ones are a bit more spread out (but Stamps Too itself is close) if you aren’t gong to do a couple there.

For an
All Zone Saveaway ticket the trip itself is only gonna cost you six quid. That’s an absolutely belting bargain. Remember though if you have a weak bladder the Southport trains don’t have toilets on them currently (not sure when they are getting the new trains on this line) so schedule your beers, stops, and toilet breaks with that in mind.


Glasgow Pubs

Visited Glasgow a couple of weeks ago for a wee holiday (hell that’s just the way I roll) and fitted in a few museums and galleries as well as some pubs (see blog on none pub related trip here).

But there were the pubs too of course. Scotland is quite (in)famous for its relationship with alcohol. Whenever the UK government publishes anything negative about their latest thoughts on health or general trouble they always use a stock image of a pint of real ale: despite any societal problems with alcohol rarely having any relation tpo my favourite styles of beer. I suspect it’d be a different image used in Scotland; probably a can of some super strength lager juxtaposed with a bottle of Buckfast. There are some good breweries up in Scotland (I'm particularly a fan of Fyne Ales), but the ale culture is not as deep as in the rest of the UK. One suspects a fair proportion of the breweries have to export most of their products to England.

The State. Oakham Green Devil anyone?

The Three Judges (just opened. It was a lot busier later in the day).

I went around a few ale pubs and asked various locals or staff about ale hostelries around the city and they all pointed to the few I knew about. There was no vein of local knowledge about new micro pubs, which I’d expect to hear about in any medium size town in England. There were lots of shaking heads and apologies - I was in real ale pubs asking people, who’d love a few more options I’m sure.

Everywhere T gangs up on U.

I was in Scotland for four days and twice I visited Wetherspoons outlets (which sounds more appropriate than hostelries). I think I’ve only visited two ‘Spoons in England in the last four years or so: once to use the toilet, and once because I’d just missed a bus and had almost half an hour to wait for the next with no seating etc; I was forced to, I tell ya!). The fact that I went into two ‘Spoons here (one in Glasgow and another in Dumbarton) was because I was exhausted by the ale deserts and dodgy knees. Ho hum.

Some of the Glasgow pubs I got to.

Anyway, here are the ale pubs I went to in Glasgow and I’ll sort a map out at some point to help you out if you’re ever passing through.

Bon Accord
The State
Howlin Wolf Blues Bar
(keg only)
Hop Still
(excellent whisky bar with a cask line too)
Three Judges
Horse Shoe
Counting House
(Wetherspoons, sorry)
Innis & Gunn
(keg only)
Deoch & Doris
(keg only)
Aragon Bar
Curlers Rest
Inn Deep
The Laurieston

Some of these are better than others. My top five in terms of ale would probably be Three Judges, State, Bon Accord, Inn Deep, and the Laurieston.

Glasgow Subway

One thing you’ll spot up in Glasgow is a single circular subway. It’s apparetnly the third oldest in Europe and doing a pub crawl along the underground is ‘a thing.’ Two things to be aware of are that there aren’t many stops close to the subway stations which are ale pubs (
Three Judges by Kelvinhall. Curlers Rest by Hillhead, and Laurieston by Bridge Street) so you’ll end up drinking a lot of keg and Guinness if you decide to give it a go. Also be aware of how narrow and therefore small the platforms are if you are in a big group. Heaven knows how the Ibrox stop is on a match day.

Glasgow Subway Map

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.

An 8 Pub Preston Trip

On a very sunny Saturday I went for a little trip around Preston. On Sunday my phone flashed up my photos from a year ago from my last visit to Preston. Yep, not by design but there were 364 days between my visits. Spooky!

It's a short train journey from Lime Street at around 55 minutes, so is a handy option to go at short notice - if you are that way inclined.

First up was
The Station, which is probably one to miss out if you're looking for better ales and a nicer vibe. But it is handy for the station (funny that) and I ended up watching twenty minutes or so of the Man Utd v Everton match whilst supping on a Robinson's 'Unicorn' and planning my afternoon (well, replanning - it would mostly be the same as my last trip to the city). The pint would be the cheapest of the day anyway.


Next up, as half time approached in the Everton match (0-0 at the time), was The Old Vic. A nicer option than the Station with a few more beers on. I had a Salopian 'Second Life' which I hadn't seen before. I went to this pub last time and it was busy with footy fans then. This time there were a couple of sizeable groups of people and plenty of couples too. I suspect it is quite lively of an evening. There was some bloke dressed up as a golden Elvis (I think that's what he was, but who knows?).

Third up was the second (and last) of my new pubs: the
Winckley Ale House. I did visit this lovely micro pub last time, but couldn't get a beer as they are card only and I'd lost mine at the time. I still don't like places not taking cash. It's not fair on people who don't have the option (or want to not use that option). But hey ho, it is the world we live in. They had four casks on, including the Cloudwater Chubbles. I chose not to take the Chubble option, because a) it was very pricey and b) it was pretty strong, and therefore not ideal early on in a trip. So I went for a lovely drop from Rivington 'Bounced Right Back' - a 4.2% pale. It was a shame I had to sit indoors as the sun was shining on the few (busy) tables outside.

I walked past Hopwoods and headed straight to the popular
Guild Ale House next. Had two pints there: Bingley 'Juno' and Redwillow 'Sabro Simcoe.' And then headed over the road to their sister pub in the market, The Orchard, where I had another Redwillow - this time a 'Feck Less'.


Five pubs in and I was on the home straight. I decided not to stay out too long though and would miss out the long(ish) walk to the
Vinyl, so next up was the nearby Black Horse. A proper, old, multi-room pub. Had an Anarchy 'Blonde Star' here. Then it was time to head to the last two pubs of my tour of Preston ale establishments: the excellent Plug & Taps, and Plau.

Finally found a place to sit outside, at the
Plug & Taps and chatted to a couple of lads about footy, music and ale (other than cheese and curries that was most conversation groups covered). Had my second Rivington of the day, 'Beach House'.

Then my final pint, before getting back to Liverpool, was a
Mobberley 'Elysium' in a suprisingly quiet Plau.


All in all it had been a good trip on a true blue sky day. Definitely recommend giving Preston a go if you haven't done it for a while.

The pubs I visited were:

The Station
The Old Vic
Winckley Ale House
Guild Ale House
The Orchard
The Black Horse
Plug & Taps

I'll post a map up here shortly.

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

Wolverhampton & Birmingham

I went Wolverhampton on Saturday to watch Frank Turner at KK's Steel Mill (a fab gig, of course). It's not like I could commute back so I said for a night in Wolverhampton. This gave me the opportunity to visit a few good pubs in both cities.



First up I wanted to catch some of the Liverpool match, so choices of pubs were limited. I ended up on a 'Neck Oil' in the
Royal London (whilst the match v Chelsea ended up 0-0 - again). It was only around the corner then to the Posada. A lovely wee traditional pub, with Wye Valley 'HPA' on cask. From there it was a short stroll down the quite icy street in lovely sunshine, to the Lych Gate, by the lovely 15th century church (St. Peter's Collegiate Church). It's a Black Country Ales pub, and I went for a BFG. Walking back past the railway station I headed to the Great Western (not a Wetherspoons even if it sounds like one) a Holden's pub. Ended up with an XB and a Golden Glow and chatted to some nice people. Then it was time to head to my hotel before a curry and the gig. A very nice day (apart from the football).

'Neck Oil' and an all too familiar nil nil in Royal London

The Posada

The Posada

The Lych Gate Tavern

I'm in the Midlands. You can tell.

The Great Western - definitely not a 'Spoons

Pubs visited:

  • Royal London
  • The Posada
  • Lych Gate Tavern
  • Great Western
(oh, and KK's Steel Mill for the gig)


The Wellington

Didn't have any luck finding a bus back to town so ended up getting my steps in by walking up to the station. I got there before 11am which meant I couldn't head back into the Great Western for a Bathams, without hanging around. So I headed for a train to Birmingham. In theory there were quite a few close together, but there were multiple problems including non-running trains, two carriage (already full on arrival trains) and late running ones. That said I got to Birmingham in decent time. In fact most places were closed as they all seemed to be opening t midday.

I walked past a few pubs which I knew I'd be getting to later and ended up with my first pint in the ever reliable
Wellington. There were already a few people in. I had a Salopian 'Fault Line.' I then went back out around the way I'd walked earlier and went into the much anticipated Colmore. The Colmore is a Thornbridge pub. Hey, cool. Had a Jamestown first but couldn't not have a Jaipur, to could I? Lovely looking pub - loved the stone topped tables. Chatted to some people there its get a heads up on where to go. They were pretty much confirming my route anyways.

The Colmore

The Colmore is a Thornbridge pub, can you tell?

It's a Jaipur

A Jaipur and a book, what could be nicer.

Purity Ales

Cheers, Birmingham

Next was two pubs just around the corner, the Purecraft Kitchen & Bar, a Purity Ales pub, and the Sommar, a craft pub. Had an Ubu in the Purecraft and an Arbor 'Mosaic' in Sommar. Managed to read some of my new book, 'Shards of Earth' by Adrian Tchaikovsky. The book, as the day., was shaping up well.

Sommar craft ale pub

An Arbor 'Mosaic' in Sommar.

The almost hidden Post Office Vaults.

No food, but they do good beer a plenty

Down the steps by Sommar the Post Office Vaults was obviously next. Had an Oakham 'Pendulum' there. Decided not to stay too long in Birmingham as I wasn't too sure how reliable the train would be after the morning's examples (and it being a Sunday, which somehow means all timetables are theoretical, or work of art. Headed back around the roads to the Head of Steam, where I had a Siren 'Lumina.' Then it was to Bacchus., a Nicholson's pub, where I had a 'Dark island' from Orkney Brewery. The venue is a little disappointing, but I have nice memories of the place. Finally a lovely small bar in an arcade, which I'd been to before, 'The Good Intent' where I had a ' Crazy Sheep' from Craddock's Brewery. I'm glad I made my way up there as it would have been a bit of a downer to end with the Bacchus.

The Great Western (again) Arcade. Home to the Good Intent.

Last pint of my Midlands trip: a Crazy Sheep at the Good Intent. Cheers!

A short walk (the whole visit was (good job I got my steps in on the morning walk in Wolverhampton)) to the station and I got myself a handy Too Good to Go from the Pasty Shop and then caught the train, which ran on time and wasn't just two carriages long. Hallelujah! Oh and lastly, thanks to Frank Turner for a fabulous gig on Saturday night - and giving me the excuse to get down here again. It's been a while.

Pubs visited:

  • Wellington
  • The Colmore
  • Purecraft
  • Sommar
  • Post Office Vaults
  • Head of Steam
  • Bacchus
  • The Good Intent


I went to Lancaster last June and decided to go again this week. It's a good place for a few beers as there are enough different venues for a good walk and the city is small, so getting around in good time is easy. Went on Trainline the evening before and booked my tickets and was good to go the next morning.

I went into town by my (not so) trusty No.17 and time knew time was going to be tight to get the train. Decided to get the train one hour later and it'd give me the time for a proper Full English at the (always) trusty Shiraz Palace. The later train would get me in for noon anyway, which is early enough. And the breakfast was way better than a sandwich Meal Deal. It only actually takes about an hour and quarter to get from Liverpool to Lancaster (including the change at Preston), which is pretty damn fine in my book.

Got some reading in 'The Subtle Knife' Phil Pullman (the second of the HDM trilogy, my third book of the year. Didn't need to spend the time researching where to go having been there last year. I was aiming to go to several of those same pubs (especially those in close proximity to the station) in any case and then throw in a few new ones for good measure. Decisions to be made on the hoof; with the knowledge you can always stick with exactly the same route (which was excellent) in any case.


The first three pubs ended up being the same as last time. The 'Tite & Locke' which is a Lancaster Brewery pub accessible from the station itself: me Twitter buddy had been passing through the station on a journey southward earlier and said it'd be waiting for me. So first up was a
Lancaster IPA. There were several people already in there and a large group of men expanded on the adjoining table every time a train arrived.

I walked out and across the bridge towards the centre and inevitably headed into the Merchants for the next one, a Bank Top '
Palomino. At 5% or so I was wondering about it if I was to do eight pubs or so, but with too many Xmas beers on the options although numerous were limited. Unfortunately it coincided with a sudden sneezing fit. I get them rarely, but when they do they can last rather long. Suffice to say I was annoyed with it, as I dare say others were too. But what can you do? Asked about other pub options for cask and they pointed me to the places I knew, but always worth asking in case something new has popped up or a pub has changed. One of them was The Sun, which I hadn't gone to last time.

The John O'Gaunt isn't far away and is a proper old pub - so of course I headed there. There were a few people in there. There weren't too many ale options, but I was happy enough as there was
JHB from Oakham. Had a look at Google Maps and figured out my next couple of pubs, namely the nearby Sun Hotel and then the Three Mariners. Both of which looked decidedly good options - and it'd be nice to go to some new venues for me.

In the
Sun I had another Lancaster 'Snowdrop'. It's another Lancaster Brewery pub. Just a wee bit of reading of the Knife. The walk to the Three Mariners is short from there just over the main road towards the River Lune. In the Mariners I sat near the wood fire which was warm and smelt lovely. It's a Robinsons pub. I ended up drinking a Robinsons brew for the pub (aka' The Three Mariners' of course). There was a good number of people in there including a few American students from the Uni talking football - it was good to hear they were going to watch lots of lower league matches around the country.


At this point I was beginning to worry about my phone battery. My ridiculously heavy battery pack was charged up but either the cable wasn't working or the charging point was all linted up. I needed to get it sorted - and soon; the downside of having your train tickets (or any tickets for that matter) on your phone is if it dies. More stressful than you need.

I decided to head back into the town centre and find a place selling a cheap cable: and hope. Walked around the main road a little and headed into the Bobbin. An old, large pub., Had an interesting time in there watching and listening to some of the customers there (I could tell you some things I saw there: flipping 'eck!). The barman helpfully rooted out a pin for me to have a dig at the charging port but whilst some lint did reveal itself the charger still wasn't working. It was defo the cable that needed replacing. Had enough charge left to check out Google Maps again and find where the Poundland was. It'd have to be the next place before the pub. To be sure I could keep it going. And thankfully Poundland and the cable worked out pretty damn fine. I was saved.


Next up I went along to the
White Cross where I was able to discover the cable worked; thank you Poundland and cheap Chinese cable makers! Again there were a few Christmas beers on, which wasn't what anybody really needs, so I ended up with in a Salopian 'Shropshire Gold'. After here I was aiming for the Accidental Brewery which was advertised as opening at 6pm. Headed down there about ten minutes early, but there was no lights on. So I popped around the corner to The Borough, where I went for a dark beer for a change; a Swan Black from Bowness Bay Brewery. It was very quiet in there (though a few people had just left as I was getting in). Back around the corner and the Accidental Brewery was still not open and no lights on. Perhaps the January opening was a little different than the norm.

Decided to head back home, unless I passed a pub that screamed at me to get in there. So hopped on over to the station (without seeing said screaming pub) and took the next train home. When I'd left Liverpool it had been a beautiful blue sky morning, it was grey all day in Lancaster, and then on my return it was biblical rain. Could have done with waders. Ran through the deluge into Dr Duncan's and caught Man City on the telly box losing in the League Cup, which was nice. And what did I end up drinking? A pint of Lancaster. In all I'd visited eight pubs in Lancaster having got a train one hour later than I'd originally booked and got the return an hour earlier than booked too.

  • Tite & Locke
  • Merchants
  • John O'Gaunt
  • Sun Hotel
  • Three Mariners
  • The Bobbin
  • White Cross
  • The Borough
(and Dr Duncan's!)

Was another excellent trip. I'll be back again before too long - probably with a few mates too.

A Most Short Trip Out

On Friday I was out with a few mates and we decided between us to pop over to Chester on Saturday for a couple of pints. And it nearly proved to be not much than that: much to my surprise. To be fair there was a mixture of tiredness and other stuff going on so in the end instead of the normal 6-8 pubs I'd end up doing on a day trip we just went to four. Yes, FOUR.




Still, it wasn't a bad day out. We started with The Brewery Tap the Spitting Feathers pub, and then it was across the road to the Cross Keys (a Joules pub). From there we went up to Cavern of the Curious Gnome, which was a new one to my mates, and then finally we popped in the Cellar on the way back to Liverpool. We were back in Central by about 7pm. So early. I went off to the Head of Steam, where one of my buddies came with me (after he had declared he was going to the toilet at Central Station).



And I finally ended up with a couple in Dr Duncans, where I bumped into a couple of Americans I'd met on Thursday night. They were over for the footy (Liverpool v Southampton) from Pennsylvania. That's commute. They were a great couple, who very much loved Liverpool, saw a good game, and adopted Dr Duncan's as their local while they were here. Had a couple of good chats with them covering all sorts of subjects (including Liverpool, beer and football of course: and writing (Doug is a screenwriter)). Hope to bump into them again when they are next over – or if I accidentally end up in Pennsylvania for a spell. Pubs are great aren't they? Never know who you are going to meet.

A good day. It was short in Chester, but lengthened in Liverpool.

The Southport Run

Hey, it's been a while since I've done a blog. The last one was following the Beer Quarter walk around Dale Street (the less said the better about completing the challenge for a draw that never happened. Ho hum.). Anyway another wee crawl was undertaken on Friday. It was an all dayer, which is best – as it means the beers are spread over a longer time. Cramming beers in faster is a recipe for disaster after all. Nope, it was the always spot on Shiraz breakfast for stomach lining followed by the train to Southport. After a few beers in Southport it was then the train back to Liverpool with a few hops off at choice locations.

I've done the Southport run a few times. The first time was many moons ago with me buddy Ken and a group of his mates from Bootle and its environs. That time we had to wait in Southport for a late comer – so we ended up having about 8 beers before even getting back on the train for the hop off and on part of the trip. Given the group I was with it was largely Guinness on the menu for yours truly too. Like I say it was a long time ago. Indeed most of the pubs I went into this week (seven out of ten) weren't even in existence back then.


After the Shiraz it was straight to Southport using a Saveaway ticket. Didn't do many in Southport as I wanted to ensure I got back on the train at a decent time. Went to three pubs. First the Tap & Bottles – which would always be my choice if I could only do one pub in Southport – where I had a Salopian 'Neewollah.' (halloween backwards). Then it was Mason's Arms, where I had a Robinsons 'Dizzy Blonde' and chatted with some nice people with a similar outlook on getting around and about for ales. Finally it was the Guest House for a Phoenix 'Pale Moonlight' before getting on my bike (not literally) to the next venue.


The Barrel House in Birkdale was next up. It's a very short walk from Birkdale Station and had a nice couple of beers on, including Twisted Wheel 'Footsteps on the Dance Floor'. Loved the blues music which was on at the time as much as the beer. It was a short walk back of course within the half hour to get the train to Hillside and the Grasshopper. It was again a wee walk and one pint - it was 'Quagmire' from Big Bog. I missed out the next station and headed straight to the Beer Station at Freshfield. It really couldn't be much closer to the station, which makes it ideal for the Southport Run. And the beer is alway excellent. It is such a popular bar the main risk is trying to find a seat. Neptune 'Mosaic' was on and I had to stop for two didn't I?


Didn't bother with Formby or Hightown and headed straight to Waterloo. There are so many options around South Road and on this particular occasion I chose not to go to the Volunteer (I usually would go there). This time I went to the Trap & Hatch where I had '
HDA No.1 Ernest' from Buxton Brewery, then Four Ashes, and the Old Tap (Vocation 'Heart & Soul'). It was great to have some lovely beers and meet some great people.


Finally it was back to Liverpool Central. I popped out to the Head of Steam in the hope of finding 'Midnight Rider' on – the Ossett and Neptune black IPA collab – and I was in luck. It was a nice way to end a great day out.

The trip this time was as follows:

  • Tap & Bottles
  • Mason's Arms
  • Guest House
  • Barrel House
  • Grasshopper
  • Freshfield
  • Trap & Hatch
  • Four Ashes
  • Old Tap
  • Head of Steam

Will sort out a Southport Run map at some point. I promise it is always a nice day out: even without seeing the sea (and preferably ensure any accomplices arrive in good time so you don't have eight pints in Southport before starting back to the 'Pool).

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…

Not Quite Clitheroe

Went To Conwy By Mistake

Haven't written or uploaded a blog for a while as I had problems with my FTP. Got some help from Andy at
One.Com in the end and got it sorted (for now). Thanks Andy. Andy's are good, ain't they?

Anyway, so to last week. I decided to go to Clitheroe on Wednesday. It's a bit of a hike by multiple trains (three each way) which eats into a fair bit of time (about 2 hours and 20 mins each way, if you are lucky). But as it transpires trains were not the problem; buses were. Multiple buses didn't turn up and then the one I got on got stuck on the East Lancs coming into Liverpool when cars repeatedly wouldn't let the bus out. People, you should let buses out. Nasty people some of those car drivers. I ended up getting to Lime Street about 5 minutes late (having built in loads of extra time, in theory to catch the 09:36 train).

There wasn't an option to work around it to get to Clitheroe at a decent time (next trains would work out 2 hours later, and it's not like you can just add 2 hours to the later train – it would already have been the last) and the trip was therefore off. It was still early though, so I resolved to go somewhere else that would get me there around the time I would have arrived if the buses had been friendly. I ended up deciding it would either be Lytham-St Annes or Conwy. In the end I chose the latter.

The good thing about that was there was time to get in a full English breakfast first at the Shiraz. There is no finer stomach lining. The train trip itself is a pretty quick and reliable affair (dangerous to say just as you get on the train, but okay after the trip of course). There are lots of train options. Ultimately it was Liverpool Central to Chester and then hopping on a Holyhead train. The train I got from Chester didn't stop at Conwy but stopped at Llandudno Junction just a short walk across the bridge towards the castle. It was a brilliant connecting train.

The famous Full English at the Shiraz Palace (I still miss the Williamson Square Shiraz)

The weather was good and the journey was spot on and rapid. The strangest thing was looking out the window and seeing all the streets I used to deliver to when I delivered parcels for Amazon across North Wales. Virtually every estate, indeed street, I knew from delivering or driving down. The view on the right side of the train was largely of the Irish Sea. Like I say; a good trip. They even had trolley service.

I got off at Llandudno Junction (which I'd delivered to) and the path takes you to the main road from the car park and opposite the entrance is a pub (which I've delivered to). There's a short walk to a cup-de-sac which has a supermarket entrance. There's a funeral parlour and some residential properties (which I've delivered to). Hell you get the picture – it's a well trodden path for me.

Conwy Castle from the bridge (Llandudno Junction is a short walk over the bridge; handy if your train doesn't stop at Conwy)

I crossed the bridge taking in the views in the dry and light wind. It wasn't Clitheroe, but there was a castle – and it had been a good call to go to Wales for a change (a recent change obviously).

The castle and the first three of six pubs of my day out.

First up had to be the Liverpool Arms partly for the name and partly because is it next to the harbour. Spoke a little to the dray who was making a delivery from Purple Moose Brewery. Seemed a thoroughly nice chap as, like Andys, I'm sure most of them are.

Walked straight up the High Street past the Castle Hotel and other pubs and went to the Bank of Conwy. Lovely spot. Good to see it hasn't changed from earlier visits. Then it was a short walk, albeit by a circuitous route, to The Albion. It was spot on as expected (although one of the beers they had on had a Christmas name): points off for that – it's September.

The last three pubs of my not quite Clitheroe day out.

It was another short walk (hell, the whole afternoon was – it's not a massive town centre) next to the Erskine Arms. A quite posh looking pub within a hotel. Had another nice pint there (a Purple Moose) before moving back downhill down the High Street. This time I went into the rather posh looking Castle Hotel. Had a really good chat with a young couple who'd travelled up from Cardiff. The man did some creative writing and the woman was a singer-songwriter – I mean how could you not have a nice chat?!

Lastly venue was the Blue Bell (and yes, I'd delivered Amazon stuff there a lot before) which was a nice almost end to the walk. The George & Dragon next door was closed so I headed back up the High Street, where I put my head in the Old Mail Coach, but it was Doom Bar only so there was a sharp exit and I headed back to the Bank, which after all was next to Conwy station,

The brilliant statues and embossed (something or other) at St Thomas church. The walls are the defensive town walls.

Lovely local pint in the Erskine Arms

Conwy Station – home time

You can never get away from Liverpool totally. After going to the Liverpool Arms at lunch time I bumped into two of the Liverpool Head of Steam staff at Chester station. It can sometimes seem a very small world. Went to Dr Duncans for one when I got back as I feel a day's beer trip should take in seven pubs and I'd only done six in Conwy (and none in Clitheroe),

All in all a very good day – and Clitheroe is there for another day (indeed so is Lytham). If the buses and trains permit.

So the pubs, in order, were:

Liverpool Arms
Bank of Conwy
The Albion
Erskine Arms
Castle Hotel
Blue Bell
(and the Bank once more)

A Huddersfield Jaunt

A Huddersfield Jaunt

On Friday I went for my second (and final) wee day trip of the week; following Sheffield on Tuesday it was a closer White Rose town this time: Huddersfield. I've been a couple of times before on CAMRA coach trips and the like, but it's been many years. The train from Liverpool is a direct one (if you get the Newcastle bound train) and is only an hour and twenty or so, so you don't even need to get up early to get there at an okay time.


Getting off the train the first question is simply right or left? There are two pubs at either end of the station backing onto the platform. I chose right on this occasion: to the Head of Steam. It's a great one, with loads of cask on. So many options. I checked out the mapping on my iPhone whist I was sat there and worked out an approximate route. Second up was the other pub on the Huddersfield station, which was the King's Head. Not as many beers on, but plenty enough nonetheless and right bargains with reduced prices on their Saltaire beers – I went for the '
DDH Citra'.


It was a short walk down the slope from the station and left again to head towards the Sportsman. I headed into a newish place called Wiliams Beer & Gin Bar. Nice tidy place. Ended up with an Oaks Brewing 'East Coast Pale' from back our way at Ellesmere Port. Never had a beer from them before. It was nice enough and I ended up seeing the same beer the following day in Liverpool. Spooky! Just the one though as I intended to get eight pubs in. So I then headed under the railway bridge and across the busy junction to get to the Sportsman. I've delivered beer there a few times, but it was my first time drinking there. Had a Bristol Beer Factory 'Showdown.' Can never go wrong with BBF. Had a nice chat with the barman, who gave me some gen on the places to give a try (and those not to bother with: local knowledge always priceless) and then with a few people who came in for their pre-match pints (it was the rugby league
Huddersfield vs Wakefield that evening). Would have liked to stay for another – there were lots of nice options at the bar, but time was a-ticking.

Next up was another walk north over the busy main roads through and past the retail park. It was this way to the outermost venue: the Magic Rock Brewery Tap. It was worth the walk. The size of the outdoor drinking area was massive. Expect it is bustling on a sunny summer's weekend. There were about four casks on (I say about as I didn't note them down (I'm no ticker)), I went for a '
High Wire.'


From Magic Rock it was the longest walk of the day heading back down and past the Sportsman, Williams and the railway station. Next up was The County. It had been recommended at the Sportsman. Nice place. And a good chat once more in there. Ended up with another Rat '
Ratmsophere.' This was my sixth place so there were only two to go – and they were only ever going to be the Rat & Ratchet and The Grove. So next up was the R&R where I found Neptune 'Abyss' was on. I'd only delivered in the the week before. After drinking Rat in several pubs on the trip and not yet having a stout, I had to go for that. It was lush. Shame I didnt have time for another before the short walk up the road to The Grove. A good selection of beers there and Thornbridge 'Jaipur' was on, Now that's a way to end a session. Jaipur it is. Cheers!

One of the great things about Huddersfield is how close all these pubs are to each other. It's a small centre and even with the stroll out to the brewery tap you probably won't even be hitting your 10,000 steps. Recommended. Hope to do it again soon with a few people.

So the pubs, in order, were:

Head of Steam
King's Head
Magic Rock Brewery Tap
The County
Rat & Ratchet
The Grove

Sheffield Reprised

A Sheffield Reprise

In July '21 I went to Sheffield on my own for a pub jaunt. Unfortunately it was during the couple of months that the NHS App was pinging anyone who had a phone. And so it was that whilst sat in the Kelham Island Tavern, just my third place of the day, I received the dreaded 'Ping!' That was the end of my crawl.

So here it is, just over 13 months later and I'm back again to visit the beery excellence that Sheffield has to offer.

IMG_5683 2

First up was a pint in the Sheffield Tap at the station – of course. Had a lighter session beer rather a Jaipur; an Anarchy 'Citra Star.' Can't start a session on Jaipur unless you're half expecting it to end early. Then my only misstep when I walked over to the Harlequin without checking it was open – it's closed on Tuesday's (and even it was a Monday or Wednesday it would have been open until 3pm. Lesson learnt: that's what smartphones are for and don't assume! Then it was a short walk up to the Shakespeare instead. Have delivered a few beers there over the last year. Another session there: Abbeydale 'Deception.' it's only a short walk across the main road to Kelham Island for pubs 3 and 4: the Kelham Island Tavern and the Fat Cat.


Then I headed to a new place for me, the Salt craft bar. Had a nice collab from Salt and Chapter Brewing: a 'Raistrick.' Before heading to the familiar Wellington, which was fabulous for the cheese & onion bap as well as the beer. Headed towards the Bar Stewards next, but it wouldn't open for half an hour so I had to revisit the Shakespeare opposite whilst I waited. Had a Pentrich 'Release the Castaway' and a nice chat with the barman, who directed me to the Crow Inn for my eighth pub. It was my first time there too, but I had high hopes when I heard it was a sister pub to the Rutland Arms (which I was beginning to fear I'd not get to given the distance). I wasn't disappointed. A good chat once more with the barman, whilst drinking a 'Threeway Joust' from Turning Point brewery. He suggested that given my direction of travel (to the station) and time constraints, that the Head of Steam and the Sam Smith's pub, the Brown Bear, were my best options.

The cluster of pubs around the Kelham Island side of town spoils you, and when you head to the town centre the options are fewer and more spread out.


Made it to my train on time and without any to do. Ten pubs done (and one twice) and a good day all round. If you ain't been to Sheffield then get yourself down there. So many good pubs and great local (and not so local) beers. You know it makes sense.

So the pubs, in order, were:

Sheffield Tap
Kelham Island Tavern
Fat Cat
Salt craft bar
Bar Stewards
Crow Inn
Head of Steam
Brown Cow

A Day Out in Lancaster

With the unique (dare I say unprecedented?) double Bank Holiday of Thursday and Friday this week I decided to go on a day trip to make the most of it. For no particular reason I came up with the imaginary £20 and 2 hours each way limit for transport. This actually gave a few options but meant that other than Manchester, which I'd been to twice recently there was nowhere particularly good eastwards. For some (money grabbing) reason everywhere along the M62 corridor east of Manchester was dearer than £20 return. That left me with a few options north and west (and Wales), including; Conway, Lytham St Annes and Lancaster. I went for the latter, with more pub options when I got there. I'd been a couple of times before on CAMRA coach trips (back when they used to happen). It's a small city centre with loads of options and so it was that I made my last minute plan to go.

Asked Dr. Google and found a few choice places and knew I'd just wander into a few more. Seven or eight pubs was on the cards. And so it proved.



First up was the
Lancaster Brewery tap house at the railway station itself called the 'Tite & Locke.' They had three of four hand pulls on – and I went for a 'Lancaster Red' to commence the trip, sitting outside at the front of the station (there was another drinking area in a cordoned off area on the platform itself – if you wanted to watch trains coming and going. Or if it was raining.).


Had a gander at the phone and made sure I knew where I was heading. Couldn't be more simple: out the station then left when you hit the road to cross the bridge back over the railway line then down the hill… and in all of a hundred metres or so you'd be in town. After not even leaving the station and getting my first pint in I was prepared for a longer walk to get the second. But it was the first pub I hit that I went for: the
Merchants 1688. Ended up with a hoppy choice from a brewery I hadn't had before: a 'Duo DDH' from Gan Yam Brewery. It was pretty busy out the front, where there was plenty of seating and it was nice day. There was a very big group on a mage crawl of their own (they'd been sat outside the Tite & Locke too). Heard them say they were going to The Pub next, so made a mental more to go elsewhere – as getting served behind them could have been painful.



Third up was another stone's throw away and a nice old pub: the
Olde John O'Gaunt. Ended up with the Oakham classic 'JHB.' Got asked if I was a CAMRA member for a discount. I thought I'd rid myself of the look, but apparently the look sticks. When I pointed that out she said I didn't look like I was, so I guess she just thought I was off the age. Ho hum.


Had to pop into a shop next to get some cards to send (not postcards, it wasn't a holiday). I crossed the road after that to go into the
Brown Cow. It was a Thwaites pub. Choice was maybe a bit limited, including an 'IPA' that was 4% - my nemesis. It's just a pale as far as I'm concerned when the abv is so low. Anyway, I did go for it as the choices were pretty limited and in any case a session beer was wise when I was after all on a session. Had a nice chat with the Canadian barmaid. There were no other customers in at the time, but she said it did get very busy at night (partly at least due to Karaoke – I'd evidently timed my visit perfectly).


I then proceeded to walk in and out of two pubs without partaking (same ole beers) in the Pendle Witch and the Toll House. Next up was then the
Water Witch where I sat by the canal watching barges go by, whilst supping on a Durham Brewery 'Saison D'Oligana.' Five pubs in and I hardly broken a sweat – if I was a step counter then 10k steps was going to be a push.



Pub 6 was the White Cross, further back up the canal from the Water Witch, which would allow me to swing back into town over the bridge to make a good circuit. It was nice to sit outside by the canal once more and watch the steady foot traffic go by along the tow path. Wrote out my cards to send all the way back home whilst drinking a Wye Valley 'HPA'. For a change I had stamps: miracles do happen.



I only had two pubs to go (on the basis I find nine pubs sound a bit much, even though I could easily have programmed them in). And I really enjoyed the next one, which was a little first floor brewery tap for the
Accidental Brewery. The owner was working there and was a nice guy to chat to. He even follows me on Twitter apparently. The brewery is not from Lancaster but from Morecambe. There's a few more people in and around Lancaster than Morecambe so he rightly reasons it has more chance of a going concern in the city. Good luck to them. It was keg only but I survived it.


Eighth and last up was on the way towards the station and another old one: The Borough. Had a Bowland 'Mosaic Pale' – another 4%: just what's needed on a long day out. Session over… well until a final pint in Dr Duncan's on my return to Liverpool. All in all I most enjoyable day.

A Good Couple of Strolls – Part 2

A Two Day Wander Around Liverpool & Manchester

After Friday's stroll around Liverpool it was time to travel a little eastwards; to Manchester. I caught an early afternoon train to Manchester Victoria. Starting from Victoria it was a no-brainer to start the trip of with a pint in the famous and fabulous
Marble Arch. I started with a decent session strength ale from the Marble Brewery, 'Persephone.' I'd have liked to have stayed for another but like Friday I'd intended to have a decent length walk taking in quite a few pubs. So I headed the short walk back along Oldham Road and went to The Angel. Had a nice chin wag with a few people in there including a City fan in a Grealish shirt. Once I'd finished my Saltaire 'South Island' and after much talk about this epic football season (and a mutual like of all things Frank Turner) it was time to move on.

First up, a 'Persephone' in the Marble Arch

Next up was the lovely
Crown & Kettle. It's on a busy corner and may not exactly be a desirable garden location but the outdoor seating area is a decent size and set back from the roads so that the traffic doesn't impact on you. My pint here, the third, was the lovely 'Sonoma' from Track. After a chat to a couple there it was time to move on to the next place. And on this occasion I went to the Castle Hotel. The choice of beer wasn't as broad as in the previous places but I ended up with a nice 'Raspberry Pale' from Titanic which I hadn't had for a while.

Marble, Angel, Crown & Kettle, Castle

Like all the other pubs the fifth pub was not far away either. It was time to go to the
Port Street Beer House. There was seating area out the front and in a back yard. I headed to the yard with a pint of Thornbridge 'Wild Swan' - I was taking in some pretty top breweries as well as pub. A light rain began whilst I was sat out there: I was definitely getting the whole Manchester experience.

Next up was going to be the
Beatnikz just a few hundred metres away. It was a shame to see that the brewery had announced their closure in the last few weeks, but good to see the venue was remaining open. However when I walked down there I spotted the Northern Monk Refectory, which hadn't actually been on my radar originally. I headed on in there first although with no pump clips on the four hand pulls I initially thought they had no cask on. Seems strange not to label them from both a customer's point of view and the guys & gals pouring the beer out unlabelled. I don't confess to understanding the logic in that. Anyhoo I bought a pint out of one the unmarked hand pulls – and I assume/quietly confidently that I was poured the right one: a Little Faith Hazy Pale. It's a big ole place and I guess it'd be a popular venue.

Port Street, Northern Monk, Beatnitz, Piccadilly

The Beatnitz then became my penultimate destination. A single colourful room with high stools and big tables. I went for 'Zero-Zero' from one of my favourite breweries, Arbor. Then it was time to walk onwards towards Piccadilly for my train, but not before heading on into the Piccadilly Tap for my final destination. A bit dark and dingy after the lightness of some of the other places, but plenty of lovely ale to choose from – and a seat at the large bar. The last beer was a bit stronger than most of the others at 6% but the 'Hopfordian' was from another good local brewery; Thirst Class.

It was then time to head on into the train station and discover which of the Liverpool trains were to run and which were to get cancelled. It had been a short train journey into Manchester, it was to prove to be a more difficult return. Thanks Northern. Well, thanks for one half of the journey.

It was definitely a very good pub walk. The longest walk was that from Victoria to the Marble Arch, then it was just a question of a little zigzagging towards Piccadilly. I'd happily do exactly the same crawl next time. Though of course I'd need to check out some other places, wouldn't I?

Good Couple of Strolls – Part 1

A Two Day Wander Around Liverpool & Manchester

Well I'd resolved myself to return to Manchester for a wander around the area between Victoria and Piccadilly stations, after visiting a few pubs in the more central area in late March. Originally intended to go out there on Friday, but the day started slower for me than I'd want and I'd have ended up with a later start in Manchester than ideal so I changed my Friday plans to a few pubs in Liverpool instead – with the intention of an early-ish finish so that I'd get up there on Saturday instead. So how did I do?…

Friday was a nice walk around many of my favourite Liverpool pubs. And yes, I know I do need to add a few Liverpool pub crawl maps to the existing maps page. Hopefully should get those sorted within the next week. But you can be pretty sure these pubs all have a good chance of being on said crawls. Wasn't planned but let's face it I can walk around Liverpool city centre with my eyes closed. Admittedly I'd probably walk into a wall early doors and then find myself in A&E so keeping my eyes open was deemed preferable on this occasion.

I started at the beautiful, and much improved,
Doctor Duncan's as this is right by the Queen's Square bus station – so it's always a great place to start or end with (or both if you do a circular walk). I'd decided to have just one as I was going to get around to a few pubs (probably) and next up was the short walk to the Sanctuary. It had just got its bright rebranding on over the windows and they've thankfully removed the old branding off so that people can see in and out of the place. The old branding was nice looking but didn't do the pub any favours with passersby unsure of what the place was like. It was the end of the first full week of its reopening (after a brief opening on the Easter weekend). Had a nice chat with a few people in there and enjoyed some good tuneage (and even mastered some Spotify things between us - every day is an education). I'd decided to go to the Bridewell so of course had to break up the walk with a halfway stop in the Head of Steam (for a Neptune/Thornbridge 'Coronado Breeze). Didn't quite crash a leaving party for Siobhan that was just starting when I was leaving. It's a shame to see her go, but it's always nice to see how close the team who work at the HoS are.


Only having one drink in a place does make the time go pretty fast but enables another few pubs. Who'd have thunk it?

Bridewell was really busy. Of course with its makeup of all the cells it can fill up quite quickly (and empty out just as quick I guess). Ended up perched at the end of a bench under cover outside next to a big group of oh-so-young students. Went for a nice pint of Five Points XPA there. Then it was up to the Grapes. Hey, it's already sounding like a top crawl isn't it? And lo! they had Coronado Breeze on too. May have been taking it easy with the relatively low pintage but it could be made all the more dangerous with this second 5.7% of the day. Bumped into a couple of good mates there and had to stop for another then (only a half).


Then it was time for the short walk further back along Roscoe Street to the famous Roscoe Head. Had a lovely pint of Oakham 'White Dwarf' (thankfully in the sweet spot for a session ale at 4.3%). it was around 8pm at this time and I was conscious of hopefully getting to Manchester on Saturday so I only had time for one more pub. I'd kinda been guilted into going to the Coach House after the barmaid had collared me about going when I was in the Angus earlier in the week. It's only a wee hop, skip and a jump from the Roscoe so I did my duty by a stop there for a pint of Liverpool Brewing 'Liverpool Pale'. That's a lot of Liverpools in one sentence and that had been a lot of Liverpool in one crawl. If I hadn't had Manchester in mind I would have walked up the hill a bit to the Belvedere, but I'll save that one for next time.

If you know the pubs then you'll know that is a pretty decent set of hostelries. If you don't then take a look at the
maps (or your handheld super genius with Apple/Google Maps) and get yourself down to a few them. You could do worse. And not a Wetherspoons in sight.

Part 2 of the city strolls of Liverpool and Manchester will be the Other Place. And I'll sort that tomorrow. For now I am psyching myself up for the last match of the Premier League season.

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.

The Guild of Real Ale

Yet again I am late with my weekly beer blog. You could almost not set your watch by it. Anyway its been less than a fortnight so that's an improvement I guess.

I got to one hundred venues a week ago or so with my visits to
Shenanigans (Guinness) and Carnival Brewery. Chatted to some lovely people in both places. After that the week panned out with the usual places including Dr Duncans for the Benfica v Liverpool match, and another open mic in the Keystone.

On Friday I spent the evening with my mates in
Doctor Duncans drinking a few Neptune and some Salopian. It was a good evening of chat and ales.

I decided during the evening that (if I woke up early enough) I'd make a visit to Preston. It was the place I went on my last CAMRA coach trip before the lockdowns hit, and I'd been pleasantly surprised.

I did indeed wake up in good time. Unfortunately because Saturday was the day a) Everton v Man Utd and b) the Grand National at Aintree, I had not a cat in hells chance of getting a full English in the Shiraz. Shame. But it will make my next successful visit there all the more great.

Firefly Class, Serenity

A Pre-Drinks Breakfast in Head of Steam

I grabbed a wee breakfast in the Head of Steam instead and therefore had a pint (of Galene) instead of a coffee. Then I (un)fortunately had time to take in a Thornbridge 'Ruin' before heading to Lime Street. Did a bit of surfing to make sure I knew where the headline pubs were. It's a small city in any case, so even if there was some wandering around I'd never impact too much on the day.

Strange Goings On Abound in Liverpool

Whilst I was getting a beer in the Head of Steam a group of blokes came in all rattling with bells. It was a Morris Dance troupe from Yorkshire or Derbyshire I think. The things you see when you haven't got a gun. It turned out that it wasn't a one off. As I went to Lime Street Station I came upon another three groups doing their thing. Not sure what the occasion was.

In my plan for the day I'd written '7 hours, 7 pubs; read book; pick Grand National winner" - spoiler alert: I managed (or even exceeded) only one of those planned items. To save you scanning the whole page: it was the pubs in Preston. I actually went to eight. Unfortunately. In hind sight I really wish I'd missed pub 2B out. The full walk took in:

1. Old Vic
Winkley Street Alehouse (shame I didn't get in for a beer)
2B. Hopwoods
(shame I did get in for a beer)
3. Guild Ale House
4. The Orchard
5. Black Horse
6. Plug & Taps
7. Plau
8. Vinyl

The Old Vic

The direct train to Preston from Liverpool was only 52 minutes which was very handy really. First pub up in Preston was the
Old Vic just up the street from the station. It was pretty busy with standing room only. Being so close to the station it was a magnet for football fans up for the Preston match, so it was full of Londoners up for the QPR game. Had a nice pint of Black Edge 'Blonde Ultra Pale.'

Winkley Street Ale House

Walked down Fishergate and then right down Winkley Street to the Alehouse. Looked a cool place and I'd definitely go there if… if took cash. Unfortunately my cash csrd is damaged and won't work as contactless (or indeed if inserted into a card reader). The bar is one of the few I've been to which is card only. Legal tender is illegal in some places. A shame. Maybe next time though.


Back on to Friargate and I came upon a nice looking place called Hopwoods. Had four casks on. Asked for a Loweswater Gold. There hadn't been prices on the wall and the beer isn't strong, nor the place any great shakes, so I was a little (lot) shocked to be asked for £5.50, Shame it wasn't card only. Ho hum.

The Guild Ale House

Next up it was one of my fave Preston pubs (hey only my third visit, but it is): The Guild Ale House. It's a must visit pub with plenty of cask options (seven hand pulls). I went for a Brewsmith and a Wild Childe, but there were other equally good options.

The Orchard

Across the road in the market is The Orchard, a small unit which is a sister pub to the Guild. A couple of casks on. I had 'Swan Blonde' from Bowness Bay.

Black Horse

It's a short walk from the Orchard to the much more traditional Black Horse. Nice big place with plenty of rooms.

Plug & Taps

And then it is a similar distance to the next pub, which is the fabulous Plug & Taps. The city centre is very small really and ideal for a nice crawl of 6-8 pubs or so. There's not going to be any worry about sore feet - or much valuable time wasted walking between one pub and another. Had a lovely Track Brewery 'Sonama.'

Plug & Taps


A few people I chatted to on the crawl recommended Plau (pronounced Plough so if you here them saying it, it's this place). Nice bar with four casks on.


Last up was
Vinyl Tap (and yes you can probably crank it up to 11). A bit more of a walk, but only in comparison with so many being so so close together. Ended the day with an all so traditional Oakham 'Citra.' All in all a damn good day out. I'd recommend everywhere I went - apart from Hopwoods (and of course make sure you've got contactless options if you're heading to Winkley Street Alehouse.

I'll do a proper map at some point. In the meantime here is a very rough sketch. Maybe next week I'll have something better (I'm just playing with a new bit of software).

Very Rough Sketch Map - Forgive Me

The Vinyl Tap was venue
108 for the year… still counting, if not ticking.

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.


A Birthday Walk in Chester

A Chester Circuit

This weekend I was supposed to be out for a few drinks in Chester for my mate's birthday, but he managed to catch Covid on Wednesday which put paid to that. But I thought I'd go anyway in the guise of scoping it out for next week. It was a nice sunny day and I got around a nice wee circuit.


Sunshine at The Architect beside Chester Racecourse

As usual the loop from the railway station starts with the Cellar (Harker's was too busy), and ended in the Deva Tap. In between the City Tavern, the Architect (there was no room in Beer Heroes), Bear & Billet, Cross Keys, Kings Head, and the Cavern of the Curious Gnome.

Bear & Billet

Cross Keys

Kings Head

Everywhere was lively and the beers were good. It appeared at one point that Chester had been taken over by Mobberley Brewhouse with their ales in quite a few of these hostelries. Out of the eight pubs I ended up with Mobberley Summit and Chinook over three successive pubs. Other than that I had a relatively pale day with: Lakes Brew 'Pale', Joules 'Slumbering Monk', Cross Bay 'Blonde', Neptune 'Triton', and Onset 'White Rat'.

Cavern of the Curious Gnome

Deva Tap

All in all it was a nice birthday do for my mate, even if he doesn't realise it. Still we're going to go to Chester again next week in a rescheduled celebration – so I'll get to do it again.

Cheers, people.

PS Deva Tap was pub No.
75 for the year.