As readers of 'A Swift One' will be aware we sometimes go out and about to see what other places have to offer as regards beer and pubs and yesterday I tripped off to the city of Liverpool to have a look at a pub crawl in a part of the city I had only briefly visited before. My original intention was a short pub crawl centering on Dale Street which provided four pubs in the new Beer Guide, one an old favourite and three new to me. It did not quite turn out that way, that but more of that later.
Dale Street is an easy walk from Lime Street railway station. Turn right out of the station, cross the road and walk down the side of St George's Hall, then across the roundabout at the bottom of the road by the entrance to the Mersey tunnel and up to the right. All the pubs I went into open between 11 and 12 o'clock so you can be home in plenty of time for tea!!
My first call was an old favourite The Ship & Mitre. An old art deco building on the right hand side of the road (in fact all the pubs I visited were on this side of the road), it is a pub with plenty of choice for the beer enthusiast with over 12 ever changing guest beers on hand pulls around the circular bar which serves four different rooms. Here I found offerings from near and far and settled for a beer from the uncommon Gertie Sweet brewery, and an uncommon beer from the Leeds brewery - both reasonably priced. All their beers are available in 1/3 pints for those who want to sample more of the range. I was disappointed to find I had missed their Autumn beer festival by a week when over 70 beers were on. I suppose I would never have moved on had this been the case. What I did find was a copy of 'Merseyale', the local CAMRA group's superb magazine with a copy of the Liverpool pubs passport. This shows 80 plus pubs in full colour with an easy to use map. It suddenly opened up another few pubs in the area and expanded my crawl considerably.
The next pub on the list was The Vernon Arms, a few minutes walk down Dale Street. This was a new pub to me, having only been reopened a couple of years ago and a fine job they have made of it too. Retaining the old tiled front, the pub is on a street corner with two entrances to the fine looking Victorian bar. I am not sure if it is original but it certainly looks the part. Here I opted for a beer from Derwent brewery and another from the local Liverpool Organic out of the eight on the bar. The latter was off but was changed for a new barrel without hesitation.
The next two pubs on the list were also Beer Guide listed. I suspect they are under common ownership but cannot be sure. Both sold Okells beers from the Isle of Man. Thomas Rigby's is on the main road and The Lady of Man is set back in a shared courtyard behind. As well as the Okells's beers, each had a guest beer which I opted for, both from larger breweries. By this time the pubs were becoming more crowded with office workers, all out for a beer and some lunch (all the pubs mentioned do food by the way). Again Rigby's looks a Victorian pub with an imposing frontage, but lacking the ornate tiling of the Vernon. The Lady of Man is a smaller one- roomed pub which I suspect could get very cramped when busy.
By now I had exhausted my list of Dale Street pubs but the newly acquired map soon led me to another GBG listed pub, just off the main drag. Ye Hole In The Wall is actually on Hackin Hay, which connects Dale Street with Tithebarn Street behind. This is another small, busy pub with a tiled frontage and a myriad of small rooms off the central bar. There was a beer festival on the go here, but with only larger brewery beers showcased on my visit. A quick half and off again and up the road into Tithebarn Street.
The Railway is the first pub I came across on my way back towards Lime Street. Another imposing looking building but very busy, and after struggling to get served I gave up the ghost and tried the Lion Tavern. Easy to find, by Moorfields station, it is another striking corner pub, painted red and white. Again however, from my point of view, the beer range was a bit uninspired, so just another quick half and off again.
The James Monroe is on the opposite side of the road, and again on a corner - this one painted grey. It is in the guide so it was a bit of a shock to walk into what was, to all intents and purposes, a restaurant. Here I found three hand pulled beers and selected a beer I had not come across from Wychwood. There was only one table not set up for dining though, so after an uncomfortable few minutes I decided to call it a day.
From here, it is an easy walk back to Lime Street but I decided to take a longer route and include the Cains showcase pub, Doctor Duncan's, in my itinerary. Just down from the station and the nearby bus station, it is another large pub which has the entire range of Cains beer on offer. I settled for the 'Voyager' and spent a few minutes watching the world go by.It's literally a couple of minutes back to the station from here so is a great place to end a crawl.
All in all, I was very impressed with what a previously unexplored part of Liverpool had to offer. The pubs are mostly wonderfully preserved and although not heritage listed by CAMRA, are all historic in their own way. The beer range varied from the exceptional to the bland but that should not detract from what is a good way to spend a few hours in the city. I was just a little surprised how few local beers were on offer in the pubs I visited, with the area being home to many up and coming new breweries. Perhaps I just caught a bad day. Don't let that put you off trying it though.