Bank Holidays! We need more of them, St George’s Day should be one, we have the fewest in Western Europe you know etc etc. This early May Bank Holiday crept up on me seeing as I have been mostly off work for the past two months in what was a string of bank holidays one after the other. Maybe it crept up on other people too as the outside areas of Liverpool’s drinking establishments were not as jam packed as they usually are as soon as the sun puts his hat on. My beer wife Karen was up from Oxford with her actual husband and as she is a shareholder, we started at Brewdog.
Big BD have launched a loyalty scheme for members where you get a passport stamped at every venue. If you collect a stamp for, let’s say every Brewdog bar in Scotland, you get a free pint of Punk IPA. If you visit every Brewdog on this planet, you get a holiday to America, where you must have already been in order to get all the stamps. Maybe they should give you a holiday to somewhere without a Brewdog, then get you to scope out some recently closed mills or quarries which can be turned into the newest branch. Brewdog Kinshasa, coming soon!
The issue with this is that all the Brewdog bars, no matter how hard they try to be individual, are more or less the same. Same tatty board games, same uniforms, same glassware, same lightbox beer list. Their own take on Beer Ticking seems a little soulless compared to the delights of trying to visit every White Lion in the country in the knowledge that at least five might be a bit stabby. Do people do this with McDonald’s and Home Bargains too?
The outside seating at Brewdog Liverpool consists of a few tables on the street, facing a block of flats. The street itself is home to a sex shop and another bar which falls broadly into the ‘roustabouts and students’ category so less European cafe culture and more plastic chair in a council estate garden sort of vibe. Still, at least they’re making an effort. I had a Kirkstall Brewery framboise and Karen had a dark sour and a doppelbock. Have to admire that stalwart attitude to dark ale even when it’s 28 degrees.
After flirting with the idea of heading to the Baltic Triangle we decided we couldn’t be arsed and instead hit the Grapes on Knight St. I may have gasped in excitement when I saw my beloved Handyman Sour (collab with Chapter Brewing). “Try it first” suggested the jovial barkeep. I held back on my usual reply of “This ain’t my first rodeo, sonny Jim” and politely told him to pull me a pint forthwith. Meanwhile Karen went for a chocolate stout, because it’s apparently Christmas Eve. The Grapes has a roof terrace with quite the array of plant life, indeed the landlord was planting more greenery as we arrived. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to drink craft ale in the Amazon, the Grapes is the place for you.
The best beer garden in Liverpool is at the Cracke, our next destination. I’m always astounded at how few people know where the Cracke is or that it has a garden out the back. Ye Cracke is also a great example of a pub name using the thorne (a Y shaped letter which actually is pronounced Th). After some of that vaguely threatening scouse banter from the barmaid when we were slow about choosing our drinks (me, Hinkypunk, Karen literally a glass of hot treacle. Only kidding, she went mad and had a Shipyard) we retreated into the garden where only half the tables were occupied on the hottest bank holiday in recorded history. I’m happy to keep it that way, there’ll be no queuing at the door like there is at hipster’s choice the Kazimier, which was our next stop.
The Kazimier Garden is a place I like to show to people because it’s fancy, but I don’t drink there that often because sometimes you can’t get in and because the people there are not pub people and so have no pub etiquette. The place was busy and there were three of us, yet my attempt to secure a third seat for our two-seater table ended in a stand-off with three women jealously guarding a table which could have accommodated So Solid Crew.
“We’ve got people coming, sorry.”
“Ok, and you need all this space do you?”
“There are six more people coming.”
“When are they coming? Soon?”
“Yes, in twenty minutes”.
Eventually they relented and let me have one of the three spare stools they were hoarding. By the time we left they had been joined by one, ONE, solitary extra drinker. So I put an ancient curse on them. I had a 77 by Heavy Industry Brewing, and Karen had a Tiny Rebel StayPuft and a schooner of actual coal, which was on fire.
At this point we were starving and after considering some of the many high class and mid-range eateries on Hanover Street and environs decided, fuck it, and went to Spoons. By the time we emerged the sun was beginning to fade so we made one more stop, at a pub without outside seating, controversially – the Ship and Mitre.
I hesitate to relate the atrocities which took place here as I’m sure I just hit the place on a bad day, but the beer list was as pale as the Radio X playlist. At the bar I searched for something more interesting. Yes! A sour beer! And a gose!
“Sorry, we haven’t got any of those.”
“Do you have any sour beers?”
“Yes, we do! £4.20 please.”
It was a saison (Worker’s Comp by Two Roads Brewing Company) and it was out of date. It was still drinking fine, but it reminded me of when I went to the Euston Tap and asked if they had any bitter. “We have an IPA that’s quite bitter.”
Anyway, a mere blip I’m sure. Thus ended our day in the sun in Liverpool – not an exhaustive list of outdoor drinking venues but a do-able crawl, and you’ll probably be close to home by the time it inevitably starts snowing.
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At least we found dark beers. One of the pubs here which has something like 14 keg and 4 cask lines, usually has some sort of stout above 8% on, this week nothing – I guess because summer? (they had camden’s squid ink but BLAH) so I only stayed for my half of average pale then left. Losers
Even in summer you’d think they’d have a couple on – had multiple requests for dark ales for the beer fest which will be in the middle of July!
Surely that bottle is more than a month out of date,unless your so far behind with your blogs your still recounting August 2017,besides beer improves with age,or is that fine wine?? Love the blogs by the way.
It was bottled in July 2017 and had a bbe of April 2018 but it tasted OK. I’ve got a 20 year old bottle of Guinness at home, I’m sure that will be fine too