Sunday, November 16, 2014

The 'First' trip to Liverpool: Part One

The Dispensary, Renshaw Street, Liverpool
Last Saturday a group of seven intrepid ale explorers set off for Liverpool.
This was new territory for me but fortunately I was with a bunch of people from the Huddersfield First group who knew the lay of the land.
The group meets, mainly, on the first weekend of the month and takes a tour of pubs near and far.
Our first port of call was The Dispensary, on Renshaw Street, which is a real five-minute walk from Lime Street railway station.
There we were met by two native guides, John and his son Adam, who would lead us on a fantastic tour of the pubs of central Liverpool.
Funnily, the bar was dominated by West Yorkshire Breweries: The Rat, Ossett, Fernandes and Saltaire, so we didn't exactly need an introduction to those breweries.

I went for Ossett Brewery's MMM 7%, despite having moments earlier sworn off the strong stuff after a rather too enjoyable stint on the high ABVs at Wakefield Beer Festival.
But I was delighted to have caved in so early as this was a nice hoppy strong ale. The beer, which celebrates Ossett's 3,000th brew, got the thumbs up from the group, who were sat in the upper section of this cosy main road pub.
During my steady half I looked up to see the football was on several screens in the pub as Liverpool were playing Chelsea at Anfield.
This prompted me onto the inevitable subject of TVs in real ale pubs. You hardly see them in Huddersfield and Sheffield bars where I tend to drink, despite both being sports-mad cities. In Liverpool there were more screens but not in every pub.
Anyway, I'm digressing from the point of this post. After a half it was time to move on a few streets to The Roscoe Head, which is a gem of a pub.
Roscoe Head, Roscoe Street
John informed us that this was the only pub in Liverpool to have appeared in every edition of The Good Beer Guide since it was first printed in 1974. Apparently it's one of the "magnificent seven" in the whole country.

And walking in from Roscoe Street you can see why: tiled floors, snugs, woodwork, ornate plastered ceilings. It reminded me of The Bath Hotel in Sheffield with its main bar and side room where you can be part of the crowd or slope off into the snug with your newspaper.
We took up residence in the Roscoe's back room, which I was told used to be decorated with neck ties.
Now, all I could see were some very impressive trophies for cribbage - think Jules Rimet.
I chose a Chequered Flag from Prescott Ales in Cheltenham. It was a 4.1% amber ale and slightly malty, which is not my favourite style of ale. But I'm glad I tried it as it took me out of my comfort zone of pale and dark.
I could have easily whiled away some hours here but the tour was moving on to out next destination: The Philharmonic. 
I didn't realise until slightly later that were were in the midst of the Georgian Quarter pub crawl, but there were plenty of clues along the way: mainly the architecture, which turned out to be a bit of a theme on this tour.
It turned out to be a fairly full day, so I'll break this post into two parts. So join us next time for the final chapter of this Liverpool blogpost when we will be visiting the opulent Philharmonic Dining Rooms and a host of other fine pubs.

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