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Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Formby pubs

Formby, a few miles south of Southport, consists of a village surrounded by large dormitory estates. It has often been described as a real ale desert in the past. Fred and I decided to check a few Formby pubs to deliver the local CAMRA mag, Ale & Hearty and see whether we could get any more adverts.

Our first stop was the Grapes on the corner of Ryeground Lane and Green Lane. It is a large, comfortable pub that is clearly food-based. The beers they had on were Bombadier and Pedigree, with a Landlord clip turned around on a third hand pump. Usual suspects perhaps, but if you have a limited range, beers like that sell.

Next was the Freshfield on Massams Lane and near Freshfield Station. Nine cask beers and a cask cider (Westons Scrumpy) were on: York Guzzler, Titanic Iceberg, Purbeck Thermal Cheer, Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted, Red Squirrel Mild, Lancaster Bomber, Greene King IPA, Old Speckled Hen and Ruddles County. My Iceberg was lovely and Fred enjoyed his half of Guzzler. The Freshfield features regularly in my What's On column for its music nights: open mike nights twice a month, and a monthly roots and acoustic night, a monthly jazz night and a comedy night.

The Railway by Formby Station was third. Nine pumps were in operation selling Fullers Bengal Lancer, Brains Rev James, Landlord, Cains Bitter and Black Sheep. The Bengal Lancer at 5% was deceptive, but very enjoyable. There were good offers on food, and this pub is proud to boast of its cask beers in large letters, as the sign shows.

The Cross House in Three Tuns Lane had a surprise: as well as Greene King IPA and Old Speckled Hen, there was BrewDog Rip Tide, a stout. You don't see BrewDog in this area very often, so this was a pleasant surprise, and a very well-balanced and flavoursome drink it was too.

The verdict on the Formby pubs we visited was favourable overall, and the Railway and the Feshfield are very close to railway stations; it's certainly no real ale desert. I'm reliably told that Formby Conservative Club, also on Three Tuns Lane, is very good for beer too, but for obvious reasons, I haven't checked it personally!

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