Monday, 16 December 2013

Plastic glasses jeopardise GBG entry

The Southport Swords dancing in the
Baron's Bar in pre-plastic days
The Baron's Bar in the Scarisbrick Hotel in Southport has long been a haven for lovers of real ale in Southport. In the 1970s, it was the only place you could get Boddington's beers in the town and in 1990 it sold Boddingtons Bitter, Ruddles County, Tetley Bitter, Theakstons Best Bitter and a guest beer - nothing special nowadays, perhaps, but exceptional at the time. Recently it has had eight handpumps in use and was voted into the 2014 CAMRA Good Beer Guide (GBG).

This long-standing real ale track record is probably coming to an end, and the hotel has only got itself to blame. A few months ago it adopted a policy of plastic glasses in its ground floor bars, which includes the Baron's Bar. Initially staff were blaming Sefton Council, but this turned out to be completely untrue. It may have arisen from a request by the police, but no one seems to know for certain; my guess is that it is a policy centrally imposed by Britannia Hotels who now own the formerly independent hotel. I'm not sure why anyone would require the Baron's bar to use plastic glasses, as many of its customers have tended to be of - shall we say? - mature years, and I have never seen any trouble there. It is a residential hotel, and if I were staying there, I'd be miffed to be expected to drink out of plastic; there's already one complaint about the plastic glasses on Trip Advisor.

I was talking to a friend yesterday who has been there more recently than I have, and he said that the range of real ales is very poor and no longer particularly well kept. I'm not surprised: most real ale drinkers I know would prefer glass. Although the Baron's Bar is cheap, the Sir Henry Segrave is nearby with beer in real glasses at usual Wetherspoons prices, if low cost is a criterion. We discussed the problem at a recent local CAMRA meeting and I proposed that our Branch officers approach the hotel about the issue and that if we don't receive a satisfactory answer, or if they won't speak to us, we delete it from the GBG. I've held off writing about this in the hope that the situation would be resolved satisfactorily, but it seems that the Baron's Bar no longer wishes to be taken seriously on the local real ale scene. Well, that's their loss.


  1. It would be a great pity if CAMRA did not support responsible drinking out of safe plastic glasses.

  2. Have decided to boycott the place since October as have a few others.

  3. Have to agree with you, Nev. And the reports I've had from people who've been recently indicate it's gone downhill in seevral areas.

  4. Plastic "glasses" have been around for a long time. I first came across them back in the mid 1970's, in the Students Union Bar at Salford University. They were called "Skiffs" back then, but that may just have been a trade name. Horrible things, which ruin the taste of perfectly good beer, and I've never heard of anyone who enjoys drinking out of the things. (Apart from Cookie, perhaps!).

    What is rather disturbing about this story, is the alleged involvement of the police who, yet again, appear to be sticking their noses into things which don't concern them, and making up the law as they go along.

  5. We had Skiffs as well in our student bar; it was the trade name. No one liked them and strenuous efforts were made to destroy them, but they were very strong. Until one 5 November when our college bonfire was just outside the bar. The bar reverted to glasses shortly afterwards.

  6. I went to Baron's with my cousin (a Southport native) back in October. I was certainly surprised by the plastic, as much as my cousin was when told she couldn't take her Bulmer's bottle away from the bar. I said it looked like an unlikely spot for drunken rowdiness, as at 37 and 38 we were comfortably the youngest people there. She said it was probably something to do with knobs in the adjacent cocktail bar resulting in a blanket glass ban.


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