Jane Stuart – Writer

Writing about real life Up North: football, ale, food and mental health – with a good dash of humour.

Liverpool v Blackpool: Pub Crawl, Yeah?

Dear reader, we lost 7-2. There’s only one thing for it: a virtual pub crawl of Liverpool.

Now I’ve done Liverpool a few times previously, so I know the pubbage to be magnificent. Here are some of my highlights.

The Philharmonic

This is the pub that everyone mentions in a conversation about Liverpool pubs. If you know, you know. If you don’t, I’m about to tell you.

It’s a nice pub in itself, a Grade II listed heritage pub. It’s a Nicholson’s pub. They do good food and good beer. One of my favourite dishes on the road last season was the Root Veg Hotpot at Chequers in Oxford – from the same chain. Therefore, if I’d visited Liverpool this weekend, I’d likely have had the same in The Phil.

But this pub is famous for one particular reason: the gents toilets. Yes, I know. But EVERYONE raves about them. Frankly, I prefer to avoid gents toilets at all costs – shared conveniences (e.g. on trains) are bad enough and I’ve almost fainted from the stenches from some gents facilities when I’ve been too close to the door. Indeed I was quite determined not to go in.

On a previous visit (I think on a beer trip from Walsall), I was walking past the entrance to the gents when a complete stranger (male) was exiting said facilities.

“Ooh there’s no-one in there now – you can go in and have a look.”

Despite my remonstrations, I found myself practically picked up and carried into the gents toilets.

I’ll confess they were pretty impressive. The gents are Grade I listed, with marble urinals. You can see them for yourselves here:

https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/whats-on/food-drink-news/gents-toilets-philharmonic-live-up-12513550

I hurried out pretty sharpish, though…

Ship & Mitre

The Ship & Mitre is a proper traditional boozer with friendly locals (they’re friendly everywhere in Liverpool) and I like it a lot.

The beer range is excellent. They brew their own beer under the Flagship name but also stock a good range of guest beers. I’ve just spotted their Flagship Culprit Imperial Plum Porter (7%), so I’ll be having a half of that, please. Oh and a half of the Flagship Unruly Raspberry Lager (5%).

If I’m eating here – and I usually do, because I love the fact you order food from a little hatch – I’ll always go for the Scouse, as you know I like to sample the local cuisine where palatable possible. If you’re there on a Wednesday you can get a free bowl of Scouse after 5pm. I love this! But of course it’s Saturday and I’ve already eaten at the Phil.

Look at their menu though, I’m intrigued by the Rice Pudding with Nutella. I’ve never tried this! I usually eat rice pudding straight from the tin with a splodge of jam. I’ll be trying it with Nutella next time, though.

NB I have been monitoring my weight for the last 29 weeks and, since the football resumed four weeks ago, I am already heavier than I have been all year. And I’ve not even really been anywhere yet!

Dead Crafty Beer Co

Situated just across the (notoriously difficult to cross) road from the Ship & Mitre, Dead Crafty is magnificent but dangerous! Oh there is so much wonderful beer to be had here!

On tap today they have…oh Fierce Moose Mousse! Any place that serves my favourite brewery’s beer is bound to be a good’un. They also have 16 other beers on tap.

Now into the fridge (this is the dangerous part). Oskar Blues Death By Coconut, Sam Smiths Organic Chocolate Stout, Seven Island Dulce De Banana, Amundsen Cherry Queen…

I need to get out of here…

Dispensary

Love this place. It’s another proper boozer. It’s much more compact than the massive Ship & Mitre. There’s usually a mild on because it’s that kind of pub. I wouldn’t be without pubs like this for the world.

I’ve got to have the mild, but I’ll have a half of the King Rat as well. Oh Titanic Plum Porter, though…

The Globe

The thing with Liverpool is that every pub you go in, you think ‘wow – this has to be the best pub in Liverpool!’ Then you go into the next pub and think ‘wow – this has to be the best pub in Liverpool!’ Honestly, the pubs are THAT good. I’ve yet to find another city that comes close (recommendations welcomed).

I’ll never forget my first visit to The Globe – the pub where Liverpool CAMRA was formed. We’d just played Liverpool (or Everton…that’s not the important part) and called in for a post match pint. Soon, the pub was filled with fans of both Liverpool and Everton and they were treating us like part of the family. It was brilliant. We were in there for hours longer than we’d intended. This is a must-visit on the walk back to Lime Street Station.


Much as all of the above (and so many more places I haven’t even mentioned) are always worth a visit, you can’t beat the joy of discovering a new place. Hence I’ve done a little research into where I might have visited this weekend – and will indeed add to the list for next time.

Dickens & King

This popped up on a Google search for ‘Liverpool micropubs’. The first review on Google drew me in immediately:

I LOVE Stuart Little!

Ok, so tiny pubs aren’t de rigueur at the moment from a social distancing perspective but this is not a problem on a virtual pub crawl.

I don’t need to do any further research. I’m there. I’m not sure I’ve ever drunk in a friend’s garage but, on my walks during lockdown, I have spotted this activity and wanted in. This is a must visit.

Cask

This micropub first opened in 2015 and was CAMRA Pub of the Year in 2016, 2017 and 2018. I was just wondering why I’ve never been but I can see from the map that it’s a good hour’s walk north of town in Stoneycroft, which explains it. However, the beauty of a virtual pub crawl means I can pay them a visit today!

Blueberry Hill Porter for me please!

This micro is also accessible on the bus and is only a 10-minute taxi ride from the city. I must make an effort to visit in person next time.

The Ale House Micropub & Kitchen

Just a 15-minute stagger from Cask is another micropub: The Ale House. This looks ace! I particularly love that their preferred currency is dogs.

They also offer third-pint paddles, which I’m a huge fan of. These give the drinker the option to try a third of three different ales. This is particularly useful in pubs where there are a number of different beers and I can’t make up my mind which to have. Also, if there’s one I don’t like, I can down it in one gulp and get rid of it straight away!

This pub does serve food, although I’m struggling to find a menu, so I wouldn’t bank on eating here. However I can see that at their festival they serve ‘ale infused Scouse and hot pies’, which sounds good to me!

The Little Taproom on Aigburth Rd

Ooh this looks good! And SUCH a cute name! Again a little out of town – this time in South Liverpool – this looks worth going the extra mile. The Little Taproom is described as ‘a friendly little micro pub and distillery’.

Mmm can I have a taster of that lemon sherbet sour, please?

Alma de Cuba

If you’re hungry again after all that beer, I can recommend the stunning Alma de Cuba, a restaurant in a converted Catholic church.

If I was eating here today, I’d be having:

PAN-FRIED TIGER PRAWNS with smokey chipotle emulsion, grilled lime, warm focaccia; followed by

8OZ STEAK BURGER with Alma’s secret sauce, grilled cheese, iceberg, red onion and seasoned fries

That should soak up the beer nicely.

The cocktail menu? Oh I shouldn’t really… But I’ll take a look.

The one cocktail I should can never resist…

There’s also a craft beer place round here somewhere that I can’t for the life of me find online. I could probably take you there on foot though (with a little help from Untappd, which is how I found it in the first place). I’ll tell you about that one next time I’m in Liverpool.


It’s safe to say Liverpool is most definitely worthy of a weekender. There are simply so many pubs to visit, let alone the cultural things to see and do, which I’ve never got round to because, well, pubs…

I can’t possibly leave you without giving a nod to the best beer festival I’ve ever been to (sorry Fleetwood/Birmingham/Walsall).

Liverpool Beer Festival

This February festival is unique and special because it takes place in the crypt of the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. It’s a wonderful location for a beer festival and I recommend you put it on your bucket list if you haven’t been before. It’s advisable to buy tickets well in advance as this is a popular festival.

https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/gallery/30th-annual-liverpool-beer-festival-3204740

I’ve been on a couple of occasions now. The first time I was thrilled to see so many fruit beers on the menu that I drank only fruit beers for the whole session, starting and ending with the delicious Coach House Banoffee.

I had intended my most recent visit to the festival – which I think coincided with a Lancashire Hotpots gig – to be more of a flying visit. However, as is the norm in Liverpool, I got chatting with some friendly locals who forced more beer down my neck and provided great company for another hour or so.

Quite what the future holds for CAMRA beer festivals (or CAMRA, for that matter) I’m really not sure. I’m not a member of CAMRA myself any more following the result of their 2018 vote, when it was decided they would not expand their scope beyond ‘real ale’. The beer scene has changed dramatically in recent years and I believe CAMRA needs to change to embrace these changes. Craft beer is doing wonderful things, attracting young drinkers to beer. And if beer tastes good, I honestly don’t care how it’s brewed. Why should that matter? Sure I love a pint of mild – along with a good curry, it’s the one thing I crave on returning home from an overseas holiday – but I also love keg and craft beers.

I’ve enjoyed dozens of CAMRA beer festivals over the years, but here, too, the environment is changing. Pubs and breweries host their own festivals now. Many pubs have so much beer choice that it’s almost like being at a festival every visit. Plus you know I like the variety and change of scene offered by a pub crawl. And there are so many great pubs these days, often within a short distance of each other. Many CAMRA beer festivals that I’ve known and loved over the years simply haven’t been staged in recent years owing to lack of volunteers. That’s sad but I can’t see the situation changing for the better unless CAMRA broadens its scope and includes other types of beer (and cider and perry, oh my!) – and, crucially, the people who drink it. Will COVID kill off CAMRA festivals completely? Do we even need them any more?

Right, now we’re all suitably lubricated, I’ll briefly touch on the match.

Liverpool v Blackpool

The first half was great. We were 2-0 up at one point and it was all very exciting. CJ Hamilton (fast becoming my new favourite) dispossessed a Liverpool player on the halfway line, taking the Premier League champions completely by surprise, running half the length of the pitch to put Blackpool ahead. That man again was troubling Liverpool on the edge of the box and their keeper ran out and clattered his legs from underneath him. Jerry Yates fired home the resulting penalty. I wasn’t so sure the challenge was in the area, but I too busy laughing and clapping to complain.

We weren’t fooling ourselves that Blackpool were world beaters, although someone did ask if we qualified for the Champions League if we won this match. Liverpool clearly weren’t quite themselves. Their passing was sloppy and they didn’t seem quite awake. As fellow Blackpool blogger Mitch Cook’s Left Foot said of Everton a couple of weeks earlier, they “look[ed] like they’ve drunk a couple of bottles of Night Nurse each”. They’d already pulled one back by half time. But it was going well. We were looking strong and would surely be confident going into the new season next week.

And then the second half happened.

Blackpool made loads of subs, giving the rest of the squad some game time as well as the opportunity to play at Anfield. Key players Hamilton and keeper Chris Maxwell – who had been outstanding – were subbed at half time. And it was game over. Liverpool won 7-2 and there really was no need for them to do that. Especially now we had a young lad in goal (Jack Sims, 21). Sure, he can say he’s played at Anfield. But I’m not sure he’ll want to remember that.

Anyway, here’s the link to our watchalong. You’ll see I’m not at all happy with Liverpool after their seventh goal…

So now the season proper starts. Despite it sort of starting last week with the EFL Cup game. And despite the next game being an EFL Trophy game that I’m not really sure we’re bothered about either.

It seems like we are on the road to getting back into stadiums. Meanwhile, I’m making the best of it by watching Blackpool on TV and taking in local non league matches. This week we even watched Squires Gate on TV in the FA Cup, which was actually brilliant. Not only did they win 5-0 (blimey we’ve seen a lot of goals this week) but it was great to watch a match with fans. I also loved the pitch blackness of the sky, where the empty seats of the huge stands would have been in an ‘elite’ match. This is real football.

Dear reader, I’ll leave you with some exciting news. Lee and I have recently taken on a new role with FC Brickstand, our favourite brick football team, hosting their BuildersFanTV channel.

If you haven’t signed up already, you, too, can get involved with FC Brickstand.

For just £5 a year, a figure will represent you at all home games:

  • Choose where to stand or sit
  • Suggest the hair and facial features to personalise your figure.
  • Receive a picture of your figure in place
  • Become a permanent fixture at a unique football club

Go on, dear reader, you know you want to…

Join the club!

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