Wednesday, 10 June 2015

A trip to Chester

The Bothy Folk Club celebrated its 50th birthday in April, and the planning committee for the celebrations decided that our final meeting would be a social event in Chester. And so it came about that we caught the train last weekend to enjoy an evening in this historic city visiting four pubs. (* = in the 2015 Good Beer Guide)

The Pied Bull
The first pub for the early birds was the Pied Bull* on Northgate Street. This pub is home to the only microbrewery in the city. An attractive stone-clad exterior leads into a wood-panelled interior where on handpump there were a real cider (Black Rat) and five real ales (Adnams Broaside, Pied Bull Sensibull, Pied Bull Bull's Hit, Pothole Porter and Trinity 3 Exit 33). The three beers I had were all fine, and the staff were very helpful and friendly. They're also brewing their own craft beer of which they gave me a sample, which I found quite heavily hopped. Not my bag, but not too bad at all. The pub serves food, provides accommodation and puts on occasional beer festivals.

The Old Harkers Arms
We had to leave this great pub to meet those who had set out later, so we went to the Old Harkers Arms* on Russell Street. This pub has been converted from an old warehouse right next to the Shropshire Union Canal. Bare boards, iron columns and a ceiling made from old packing boxes are relics of its warehouse days. It served nine beers: London Pride, Weetwood Cheshire Cat, Bragdy Conwy IPA, Bragdy Conwy Gold, Big Shed Sentinal Amber Ale, Spitting Feathers Old Wavertonian, Conwy Surfin' IPA and Bruning & Price Original, plus some real ciders. Surfin' IPA prompted a spontaneous Beach Boys impersonation, although I don't think Brian Wilson need worry too much. We all enjoyed the various beers we had. This venue was filling up while we were there; it is very popular for food. It also has outside seating by the canal.

The Forest House
Our next pub was the Forest House, a Wetherspoons pub on Love Street where we went for a meal. This is in a Georgian house dating from 1759, and it is a particularly attractive building, both inside and out. It is multi-roomed and they have preserved much of the original layout and features. There were four real ales on: Brogdy Conwy Minera Mountian, Ruddles Best, Abbott and Weetwood Cheshire Cat. Everyone had fish and chips, except me: I had a Chicken Tikka Masala as I can't stand fish. Beers and food were fine.

Our final port of call was The Cellar* on City Road. Despite its name, this bar is at street level; basic furniture and bare brick walls create a venue mostly for standing. It was popular and was filling up while we were there. The beers on were: Left Handed Giant Brewing Co USPA, Thornbridge Ruin, Wild Beer Co Rod Nam Sang, Deva Gladius, Squawk Brewing Co Porter and Buxton Brewery Buxton IPA. It does snacks, and often has live music; in fact a band was setting up while we there. Again, the beer was well-kept.

Team photo about half way through
We left just before 10.00pm, most of us to catch our trains back to Southport. Two of the group live more locally and acted as our guides: they assured us there were many more great pubs in this city, so perhaps there will be more trips and further posts here. It was a very enjoyable trip.

This is an expanded version of an article that I wrote for the CAMRA column in our local paper, the Southport Visiter. Previous reviews are here.

1 comment:

  1. There's also a microbrewery in the Kash Bar. And an unused one in the Canalside, just underneath the Cellar Bar. Although arguably they're both outside of the city walls.

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