I'd heard various reports that the beer range in the Baron's Bar (in the Scarisbrick Hotel on Lord Street, Southport) had diminished from nine to 2 or 3 after the takeover of the hotel by Britannia Hotels, so I decided to check this CAMRA award-winning bar for myself. I went in yesterday afternoon and found every one of the 10 handpumps in operation. The beers served were:
Flag and Turret (the house beer); Fullers ESB; Spitfire; Tetley Bitter; Black Sheep; Bishops Finger; Hobgoblin; Pedigree; and Old Hooky. The 10th handpump as usual served Weston's Old Rosie cider. For interest, the Fullers ESB, a 5.5% beer, was £2.60 a pint, rather less than the £3.70 I paid in London six months ago.
This range seems to concentrate on regional brewers rather than microbrewers, and can therefore be seen to be less imaginative; it'd be a pity if the Baron's stopped selling the local Southport beers altogether, but perhaps I'm drawing too many conclusions from one visit. The good news is that all the handpumps are operating; a few more visits will show us whether in future the range will consist only of "the usual suspects", although if we're honest, a lot of real ale drinkers would be quite satisfied with the choice available yesterday.
Local drinkers' concerns about the Baron's Bar after the takeover have been added to by Greene King's planned conversion of the Freshfield to a Hungry Horse (see post of 31 August), which will almost certainly mean the loss of the great range of beers that that pub currently offers; real ale fans have been worried we might be losing two good local real ale venues. It just shows the truth of the cliché that you can't take anything for granted.
One other piece of news is that the Scarisbrick's new management have confirmed that they will honour the booking for the Sandgrounder Beer Festival (22 - 24 September) to take place in the hotel.