Frodsham Winter Beer Festival 2015

It’s usually the traditional curtain raiser to the new ale year, but this year they moved it back a week. Bit of a shame for football fans from Liverpool as we both played our games during the week so no-one would have missed a game last week – and today… well, Liverpool and Everton play today. Grr.

The day started poorly with an early wake up due to the baying winds pulsating through the north of Liverpool. So not as much sleep as I would have liked. Still, onwards and upwards. Bus to town and the preferred start of the day on a beer trip… a full English at the Shiraz on Williamson Square.

As usual we get there too early for the start of the beer festival which opens its doors at noon, so it was in to the brilliant Helter Skelter.

With only two staff working we lucky to get in before the rest of coach and didn’t have to wait too long. Need to get out to Frodsham again sometime for the pubs – Kash is on the other side of the road too, but didn’t open until 12 as well.

We were quickly into the festival for the princely sum of £1 (with the £1 CAMRA discount). As with the previous year they had no food on, but you could bring in your own stuff from home or bought locally. With the Shiraz impact still fresh it wasn’t an issue for your truly.

There were 26 ales on from 26 different breweries – although there were quite a few beers from Cheshire they weren’t all local. Indeed there were several ales from Scotland on.

My favourite ale – which sold out while I was there – was Hop Studio (Yorkshire) ‘Fire and Ice’ I also enjoyed the Fixed Wheel ‘Blackheath Stout’ from the midlands. It was the only stout on. There was an interesting sounding wheat beer which had gone already on Friday called ‘Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!’ which it turns out wasn’t Wilfred Owen but actually Brewing 8 Miles High. Would have liked to have given it a go.

Had to pop next door to watch the Liverpool game second half (Liverpool beat Sunderland, and no beach balls, Huzzah!).

None of the beers jumped out as unmissable. But, as always, it was nice to kick off the traditional start of the beer festival year.

After Frodsham it was on to Appleton Thorn Village Hall for the always fabulous beers on offer there. It continually gains awards and for good reason. If you’re ever passing you must try and pop in – preferably with a designated driver in tow. Fab.

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Name and Shame!

I said I’d try and do a blog at least once a fortnight and I don’t think the list of favourite pubs from last year counts, so then this will be the first one of 2015 . It’s going to be a short one and I’m pretty sure I’ll be posting again before the fortnight is up.

Anyway, just thought that I’d write a quick note on my general attitude on scrawlinghome and particularly on my twitter account (@RealeLiverpool) comments.

On Friday I went out with a group of mates to several pubs in the Dale Street area of the town and sent a few tweets out about good beers I had in the Excelsior and James Monro. We then moved on to a few other Liverpool real pubs, which I didn’t tweet about. At the end of the evening I wrapped it up with a comment saying that I’d ‘enjoyed the ales in these two pubs but in other pubs less so’ – which was true.

On twitter I was then asked to ‘name and shame‘ the pubs that had the audacity to serve a less than perfect pint. There were no doubt a variety of reasons behind those requests, but I refused to do so. Despite badgering.

My purpose in both accounts is to highlight what is about and what is happening in Liverpool real ale pubs – be it ales that are on, food, music or other entertainment. And my way of doing this is to report these in a positive way.

I declined to state where I’d had average – or below average – beers because that is not positive and also because there is a fair chance that I may be unlucky at the time – after all I may be getting one of the last pints out of a barrel while the remaining X No. of ales, which I haven’t tried, are all spot on. It would be unfair to tarnish a place be it on one drink or one visit.

I will continue to tweet about new or interesting beers that are on, beers that I am having –  that I am loving, quality service, musical or other entertainment events.

So if your glass is half full then be away with you: I will not be naming and shaming pubs about individuals, the odd bad beer, or dirty toilets if you are after that follow those peeps that love to moan, complain and only see the worst in everything. I know there are plenty of people who love seeing all the negativity and bile available through social media (Trip Advisor comments anyone?) over the positive things but I won’t be joining in.

Of course all opinions will have contrary ones. I know that I will be almost right some of the time and almost wrong some of the time – and who knows so will you. I’ve always been a glass half full person and you won’t be making me change that – and I won’t be naming and shaming.

Cheers!

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Liverpool Pubs 2014

As 2015 begins I thought I’d just put up a quick note on my pubs of the year for 2014. Just mine. No votes. No ‘keg only’.

  • Best Beer Quality – Dispensary – Quality ales guaranteed, which is no mean feat.
  • Best Pub Service – Fly in the Loaf – for a busy pub they lead the way in serving their wares.
  • Music Pub of the Year – The Caledonia – Jazz, folk, americana wonderfulness.
  • Community Pub of the Year – The Caledonia – they are there for us, our clubs and dogs too!
  • Best New Pub – Pen Factory – long awaited, should be a great addition!
  • Best Reopened Pub – James Monro – nicest surprise of the year!

Liverpool’s Top Ten Pubs for Ale and Service in no particular order:

  • Dispensary
  • Fly in the Loaf
  • James Monro
  • Belvedere
  • Caledonia
  • Lion
  • Rigby’s
  • Excelsior
  • Peter Kavanagh’s
  • Baltic Fleet

Now I know there are some notable omissions there…

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Happy New Year, Happy New Blog!

I’m not really one for new year resolutions, but I am setting myself a new goal for the Scrawling Home blog for 2015. Will aim for a blog at least once every fortnight, but maybe more often- let’s see. And I’ll try and post it on a regular day. For argument’s sake let me say on any given Sunday.

Just don’t call it a resolution, okay!

In the meantime everyone have a wonderful new years eve and say farewell to 2014 in style. Wishing you all a super fine year ahead.

Cheers!

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Waterloo Beer Fest – Nov 2014

I’ve worked the Waterloo Beer Festival several times, including the very first one. That seems in the dim distant past. And last week I was back to serve the punters and test the ale again.

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Didn’t get a chance to type it up as I went. Too busy serving and of course the church itself is a bit of a nightmare signal wise anyway. So here’s my bit of a review:

I was late volunteering as I had a job at the start of the month, which I no longer have – silver lining and all that. So cutting out the middle man I at least got to sample lots a fab beers at this wonderful festival. I was lucky enough to work at the first festival which was more than half empty, these days it’s a regular sell out and for good reason – it’s boss.

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The beer festival itself is held in the Old Christ Church on Waterloo Road. It is a beautiful old church constructed with stunning light coloured sandstone beautiful carved and arched. It isn’t the warmest place when it’s cold outside and on Thursday it was freezing. On the positive side the coolness means that the beer is kept in tiptop condition.

Liverpool Organic Brewery are well practiced with this festival malarkey now and they put on a great range of ales. A few less in number than in previous years but a similar volume – with larger casks from Liverpool Organic Brewery. There was a good mix of pale and darks and all in between with plenty of interesting ones too.

As well as the silly sevens (Snowball and Abominable Stone Man) there was a great surprise with the unnamed Shipwreck – an 18 month old accidental beer. It wasn’t in the programme and wasn’t marked on the hand-pull. This mysterious beer was top with strangely less of an alcohol taste than one of my favourite ‘normal’ Shipwreck’s. It was apparently about 6.7% and had a fresh not over sharp citrus flavour – the main problem with it will be it will be a one off!

My other favourite ales were all four of the Great Heck beers (including ‘Australian Pale’, ‘Simcoe’, and ‘Topaz’) and the Saltaire’s (‘Hop #256’).

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As usual the Pies were fab, but my fave as ever was the Cheese Platter from Liverpool Cheese Company – lush!

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Of course as well as the great beer, great food, and some top music, the boss thing about working at beer festivals is the other volunteers and the chinwags with the customers. Oh and there were some great characters. All in all the Waterloo Beer Festival seemed like another storming success.

The ‘Abominable Stone Man’ was surprisingly drinkable by the way!

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Liverpool Drink Festival!

Hello guys and gals. It’s been a long time since I last put a blog up hasn’t it? In fact the last one was from when I had an interview in Southam, Warwickshire. You may be interested to know I got that job! Anyway, time for another blog and I’ll be trying to do a few more regular ones in the future.

Well, it’s the weekend of the very fine Liverpool Food & Drink Festival down in that loveliest of parks – Sefton Park – in the very spoilt south of Liverpool.

But I’m not on for it I’m afraid. I like nice food don’t get me wrong – cheese and sausages rule – but festival? How many sausages can you have before you’re in fatty trouble? That said, I could eat cheese all day. The food and drink festival could be a most dangerous place.

So I’m just attending the Liverpool Drink Festival today – and maybe tomorrow – instead.

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When I say drink of course I mean ale. And when I say festival I probably mean crawl. But hey if a load of food stalls can be a festival then a load of pubs can be too.

I will report as I go – on here or via Twitter (on RealeLiverpool) as long as the phone battery and vocabulary allows…

Pub 1
The Caledonia

Had a pint of Butcombe Bitter. Had aimed to move on after that to the Bel, but it was so nice I had another. While coming up with a new franchise idea with a couple of regulars and Miss Havisham. It’s an idea with wings and it’s the first pub!

Then on to pub two. Headed towards the Belvedere, but saw the Blackburne…

Pub Two
The Blackburne Arms

Four beers on cask – Organic ‘Cascade’, Burscough ‘Mere Blonde’, Wells ‘Bombadier’ and Salopian ‘Cascade’.

Went for a Mere Blonde in a nice old styles dimpled glass.

The fish looked and smelled amazing.

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Accidentally Warwickshire – Southam and Rugby

I’ve had two jobs lasting twenty years. In that time I’ve had two job interviews. In short, I’ve interviewed people a lot more times than I’ve been interviewed.

In the space of 6 days though I’ve had two more. One in Chorley and one in Warwickshire. The latter one entailed a fair trip down to the town of Southam, between Leamington Spa and Rugby, and according to the AA Route Planner would take about 2hrs 40mins by car. Train and bus would take two hours thirty, and leave me time to read what I’d put in my CV or sleep on the way or the way back. It also gave me the chance for a few beers in a nice hostelry or two. So a train to Rugby and bus to Southam it was then.

Trip was uneventful-ish – apart from the Virgin ticket inspector telling me my ticket as an Off Peak ticket wasn’t valid and I’d either have to upgrade my ticket (£150) or get off (he eventually ‘let me’ stay on until Stafford – my ticket was valid and Virgin Trains tweeted as much!).

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Squirrel, Rugby

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The Bowling Green, Southam

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The Olde Mint, Southam

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Merchants Inn, Rugby

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The Olde Mint, Southam

 

Interview proved to be for a different job than I thought – or else I’d submitted my CV for the wrong job – but went okay (two possible openings for what I didn’t get interviewed for?). Will have to wait a week I guess until I see…

And so into Southam first – for there was almost two hours until the bus back to Rugby. It’s a nice old village actually – too expensive to buy a house nice. It made for a couple of nice pubs though.

I made it to three – The Black Dog where I had a pint of Banks’s ‘Sunbeam’, the Olde Mint for a Robinson’s ‘Trooper’ and the Old Bowling Green for a ‘Directors’.

The Black Dog was the friendliest and had a good chat with a mix of people there – not many local – there were footy fans of Villa, Newcastle, West Ham and Liverpool there. Pint was the nicest of the three.

The Olde Mint only had one customer, who was on recovery drinks following a whole weekend on the Stella, and a chatty enthusiastic barman from Long Itchington. The pub only has two hand pulls now, it used to have four, and only one was on.

The Old Bowling Green by the bus stop was the largest of the pubs and probably the hub of the village but seemed the least friendly and had all national beers on (to be fair it was Monday though).

Then it was time to bugger off into Rugby.

Managed to get to just three pubs in Rugby before getting the train home at 8 (was delayed by 45 mins – I could have got another pub in!). Went to the Merchants, where I had a Mad Goose from Purity Ales (best beer of the day) and a fabulous pork and black pudding scotch egg with english mustard. Boss!

Went on to the Squirrel where I was one of only two customers. Had an okay pint of Ringwood ‘Boondoggle’ before heading up to the old pub of the year The Seven Stars, which was half way up to the station.

I do like the knocked through houses that make up the Stars. Has a real nice homely (or multi-homely) feel to it – also helped by having Kelham Island ‘Pale Rider’ on. Lovely stuff.

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Seven Stars, Rugby

Went around the corner to a ‘Free House’ called the Wheel Tappers I’d seen on the way, only to find that meant it had smooth flow on, so had to rush back to Seven Stars for another. So the final pint of the day was a Blakemere ‘Hit & Run’.

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Pork and Black Pudding Scotch Egg from the Merchant Inn, Rugby

 

So a good day of pubs, with some good beers (and just a couple of average ones) a cracking Scotch egg. Oh and an interview, a delayed train and an idiot train conductor.

Roll on the next interview. Make it York or Huddersfield ideally.

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