A.J. Walker


Real Ale

A Shrewsbury Stroll

I didn’t think it was that long ago that I went to Shrewsbury but it was last May and on a damn hot day. A largely greyer colder day this time, but it was dry and there were moments of blue sky. On the train the land all the way from Liverpool to Shrewsbury was wet to the point of flooding in much of Cheshire and Shropshire. It’s been a very wet couple of months after all. Last time I went I visited twelve pubs, which is more than my usual visit crawl. I think eight is about my usual.

There was no planning this time—as usual lately. To be fair when I got up I’d considered going to several other towns, but again with the speed of getting there (I generally aim for 1.5 hours or so each way) it was attractive. As it happened it was almost ballsed up by a Stagecoach driver at the very start, She’d taken over on the bus just past my first stop and got confused about which way to go. She ended up driving back towards Fazakerley Hospital where the bus had just come from. After some shouting from many of the passengers she realised the error or her ways (literally) but had to continue up to the hospital to turn. Suffice to say this accidental diversion meant I missed my train and had to go for a later one… Still I was lucky with the trains I ended up taking and it didn't much impact on my day out.

A Macclesfield Trip

On Monday I took a trip out to Macclesfield for the first time under my own steam (well using the railway to be fair). The last time I was in Macclesfield for beers it was on one of the Liverpool CAMRA coach trips—not exactly sure when, but those trips stopped eons ago (if I look up some old photos I dare say I wont have a beard and indeed the photos will be sepia toned).

On the way. Piccadilly for the Doncaster train

It’s not a bad distance from Liverpool and easily accessible by train with relatively regular departures from Lime Street requiring a change at Piccadilly. The whole journey takes less than 90 minutes.

Didn’t do too much research (none) into where to go at all before making the trip. I knew there were plenty of ale pubs in a short distance from the station. I could make my plans once in the town and then just go with the flow. Started in the Waters Green Tavern, which is a stones throw from the station. They had three of their hand pulls on (out of many more) because it was a Monday after all. They had Sarah Hughes’s mild on but I wasn’t going to start the day of with a 6% ale. Ended up going for an Ossett
Most instead. Checked a few webpages and maps out and picked an approximate route to go on. As it happened that was almost straight along the road parallel with the rail line (Sunderland Street).

Waters Green Tavern

George & Dragon (Robinsons)

Second up I headed over the road to the Old Millstone which you can’t miss as you head out of the pub (or indeed the station). It had been a recommended pub on one webpage, but it proved only to have two (currently) unused pulls, so it was a walk in and an about turn. Crossing back over the road I’d just left I head back onto Sunderland Street where there were to be several options on the day. I headed into the first open pub I got to (the Queens was shut) which was a Robinson’s pub, the George & Dragon. There were just two taps on which were both Robinson’s of course. I ended up with a
Dizzy Blonde. It had a nice feel about the place and a mix of old regulars and a couple of passers by like me.

The Jolly Sailor

Third was straight down the road—after passing the Treacle Tap, which didn’t open to later (3pm)—and a nice old pub called the Jolly Sailor. It was all national brands (Tim Taylors, Wainwright, Black Sheep etc). Ended up with a Boltmaker and had a good chin wag with a local and the (I assume) landlord. You could see the next pub through the window, which was The Fountain. This is now a Bollington Brewery pub. They had six hand pulls and ten keg lines. I had (shock horror) a keg
Fictions-Flat White. A very drinkable coffee pale (must be the rage these days).

The Fountain (a Bollington Bar)

A keg up

Redwillow (next to the Fountain). Unfortunately closed on Mondays.

I had been looking forward to going to the Redwillow bar next door. But unfortunately I discovered it is closed on Mondays. Unlucky! (maybe a wee Google search earlier would have avoided my disappointment. Then again I'd have just been disappointed earlier on instead. Anyway just up the hill a little (opposite a Wetherspoons) is Alfreds, a Hydes pub. Ended up with an
Original there—one of their two hand pulls. It’s a bright roomy place and there were a few people in there. I decided to head back to the Treacle Tap. Had a nice chinwag with the couple working there. It is a Buxton Brewery pub (Buxton is about 12 miles east of Macclesfield). Had a pint of Deepdale, a gluten free session IPA.

A Hydes pint in Alfreds

I decided to go to just one more pub, the Castle. This is a nice old two room pub just back by the station—slightly up hill from Waters Green Tavern and the Millstone. If I’d had more inclination to have a couple more I would have headed further round to R&G’s Beer Vault or maybe back to Waters Green for a Sarah Hughes. I thought better of it this time. I’ll be back some other time (and next time not on a Monday so I can go to Redwillow).

Treacle Tap (a Buxton Brewery bar)

The Treacle Tap

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Last, but not least, The Castle

In summary a nice few pubs a short trip rom Liverpool. Definitely worth checking out.

The pubs I visited this time, in order, were:

Waters Green Tavern
George & Dragon
Jolly Sailor
Treacle Tap

A Trip to Salford & Manchester

On Saturday I was over in some Manchester postcodes for Salford Beer Festival and some farewell pints for a colleague. It was a good trip in both regards.

It was my first time over at the Salford Beer Festival. Last year I went to the Wirral Beer Festival which clashed with it as it did once again. And so I began this year and last with some stomach lining kindly provided at the Shiraz, which I had along with my mates who were all going to the Wirral Fest. After that I wouldn't be needing much later—and maybe no dinner either.

The Shiraz Breakfast Prescription Hug

Three of the Neptunians on the trip took the rather nice, very fast, and pretty damn full, Newcastle train. The previous train had been cancelled so this was inevitably to be packed all the way.

The Sleek Train To An Afternoon Ale

A speedy Uber picked us up at Manchester Victoria and whizzed us of efficiently to
Hemsley House for the festival and we were quickly in the groove. I spent most of my time in the second smaller room which housed the cask ales, the larger room of the Masonic Hall was the keg room. It was a busy session with all the seating taken. Thankfully I'd had my knee injected (and emptied of fluid) the day before and standing all the session actually didn't prove to be an issue. I'd taken charge of a pint glass rather than one of the smart schooners of course. But I didn't have a single pint whilst I was there (or two thirds; at least not a requested one). I always find myself drinking quite slowly at festivals and it was proved to be the case again. The only one keg I had was the Neptune 'Secret Beach' which was brewed for the festival and is a lovely Californian Pale (i'd had the cask version the night before in the Neptune Beerhouse). I had the keg whilst in the large oom to view the raffle draw—and sing along with the Wurzels and everyone there (apart from a rather perplexed Liam) 'I Am A Cider Drinker' ooh arrh, ooh arrh ay!

The Cask Room of the Salford Beer Fest

In front of the bar at Salford Beer Festival

I didn't win the raffle.
Ooh arrh, oh arrh No!

At the end of the session it was time to get out of Salford (isn't it always the case?) and go over to our third city of the day, Manchester (I'm counting Liverpool of course). It was another Uber which arrived quickly. But then the traffic of Manchester intervened and we spent a lot of time not moving anywhere at all. I guess it permitted us to gain a thirst. We were only to go to two pubs in the evening though. First up was the excellent Gas Lamp, on Bridge Street, where we met up with Chess for her farewell pints.

We sat in the white tiled back room for a couple of beers and a good chinwag, whilst battling through the noise (it was packed and I think the tiles make the room an effective amplifier). After a few pints it was time to move on. Outside a passerby was stopped to take a shot of us when we left and to be fair I think he did a fine job with the available entourage. The next pub was never in doubt—you can't go to Manchester without a visit to the City Arms. After standing up all afternoon at the fest it was good to be able to get seating at both pubs. Perhaps it was a shame though that there were no further Wurzelling.

A plethora of Neptunians

Then it was time to go home (in my case via Dr Duncans; it is next to the bus stop of course). Two things I learned on the day were: that Uber is really rather good and I should download the app (even if Manchester traffic isn't), and that Salford Beer Festival is a mighty fine institution. All in all an excellent day trip.


It’s not Easter but it has been a week for resurrections. Firstly the Sanctuary on Lime Street, which I’ve got a few fond memories off, has finally been killed off. It has been owned by Liverpool Brewing Co since its latest reemergence on the scene, but it didn’t put the beer to the forefront; keeping its name and much of the appearance. But in the last few weeks it has gone through a refit and rebranding. And the Sanctuary is no more. Welcome to the Liverpool Brewing Company Brewery Tap. It had a reopening event last Thursday, which I popped into - and bumped into a few familiar faces. Had an enjoyable night. Good luck to everyone involved.


And just the day after the little Coach House on Maryland Street reemerged from its overlong hibernation. It has been taken on by the team behind Cask on Queens Drive, who evidently have a fondness for micro pubs. Again, like the Sanctuary, I have fond memories through the various iterations of the Coach House (previously Hard Times & Misery, then Dickens & King). For now the plans - like the LB Brewery Tap) is to open daily. Give it a go over the summer, people. It’s barely a stone’s throw from the Fly in Loaf so there is no excuse not to pop your head in. I popped in for a couple on Friday and bumped into more familiar faces (not the same as the ones from the day before) and had nice beer and a boss time.



With the Vines recently reborn and these two I wonder what could be next?