Wednesday 29 February 2012

The Abbotsford bites the dust.

I showed this photo of The Abbotsford in a previous article on closed pubs in Wirral. There had been rumours that it was to be turned into a supermarket. Well if you look below you'll see that it has now gone forever the victim of one of those mysterious fires that break out without warning in empty buildings. The local council stepped in to order demolition on safety grounds.

Built in the mid 60's to a standard design favoured by the latter years of Birkenhead Brewery/Threlfalls who were already firmly under the Whitbread umbrella it was viewed as a prestige addition to the tied estate. Local industry was still thriving at the time with many thirsty workers emerging each evening from Cammell Laird and other large employers in the area.

Although it never sold cask beer as the ground floor cellar was filled with large tanks dispensing tasteless liquids and leaving no room to store casks, it was important to me. My Father was a pub manager for Whitbread in the nearby Star Hotel who applied to run the new pub but was deemed too inexperienced at the time. The Manager's job became vacant in 1973 and this time he got the job. So this was became my home for ten years. After my Dad had taken early retirement ten years later trade deteriorated as heavy industry was lost, unemployment grew and slum clearance reduced the local population.

Visiting the pub ten years ago it was going downhill fast. The original design of a large bar, lounge, best lounge open at weekends and outdoor sales was knocked into one vast soulless room driving away the more refined customers leaving behind a number of unsavoury characters. The most recent manager had been waiting for a new housing development to breathe life into the area but eventually gave up to concentrate his efforts into the nearby Derby Arms. So another 'community local' is no more.

Monday 27 February 2012

If this is the future....

.....it's time to go teetotal. A 2.8% 'smooth' beer. I don't care if it is only £1.95 a pint.

Spotted in Mills Hill on Saturday I think I made the right decision to give it a miss. The Dobber in the Marble Arch later was a much better choice.

Friday 17 February 2012

Liverpool Beer Festival 2012

I know why it is so difficult to get tickets for this festival. Liverpool & District CAMRA want to keep all great beers on sale to themselves. Seven from Hawkshead, four from Marble, five from Thornbridge plus offerings from Amber, Castle Rock, Dark Star, Ilkley, Purple Moose, Osset, Rat, Saltaire and rare draught Golden Pride from Fullers.

Plenty of excellent local ales too. Sponsors Liverpool Organic provide twenty (!), with Brimstage, George Wright, Southport and Wapping amongst the highlights.

I don't have a ticket for tonight or Saturday but The Dispensary are putting on their own festival so I may well pop over the river for a few after Rovers' match tomorrow.

Sunday 5 February 2012

Snowy Staveley.

I took a trip to Staveley Beer Hall yesterday courtesy of a cheap advance ticket from Virgin Trains. Inevitably, Virgin ensured that we missed our connection at Oxenholme so we decided that the extra expense of a taxi was a better option than losing two hours drinking time. The compensation form is on its way.

Arriving in Staveley was like walking through the back of the wardrobe into Narnia. Wirral was cold and damp, as it still was when I got home, but south Lakeland was carpeted in snow which did not relent all day with the eerie quietness that the snow brings.

The Beer Hall was as welcoming as usual with a god smattering of customers considering the weather. We went through the card, including the new Dry Stone Stout and lingering at the wonderful NZPA. Just as well it ran out because it is dangerously drinkable for 6%. The Mushroom soup and a large cheese board sustained us through the day.

We interrupted our visit to make the short trudge down to the Eagle & Child. Sitting in front of he real fire watching the snow come down is a great pleasure but the Coniston Bluebird was second rate compared with the Hawkshead range. This beer is a poor shadow of its former self in my opinion.

So it was back to the Beer Hall for more Windermere Pale Ale and Cumbrian Five Hop. The bottle shop has shifted its emphasis away from Belgium slightly and now stocks some excellent English beers. I noticed Magic Rock, Summer Wine, Thornbridge, Dark Star and even Kernel represented. But NZPA is now available in bottle so that was my choice. Another excellent day at this superb brewery.

Wednesday 1 February 2012

Low Alcohol Beers

I was propping up the bar the other week during my jaunt down south. A punter ordered a pint of Wychwood January' Sale. I wasn't aware of this beer but a quick perusal of the pump clip told that it was only 2.8% and I realised it was one of the new wave of beers brewed to take advantage of the lower duty band.

I was interested to see how much it cost and was astounded when the barman asked for £3.10. It doesn't look like the duty saving is going to be passed on to the customer.