Monday 31 December 2018

Corn flakes, treason and dogs

Three unexpected stories from the world of beer that I've come across recently.
Seven Bro7hers Brewery in Salford has teamed up with cereal giant Kelloggs to produce a beer out of unused corn flakes. The flakes will be completely safe for human consumption, being those that are too big, too small, broken or overcooked. The first beer to use the flakes will be called Throw Away IPA with a strength of 5%. The limited edition beer will use the flakes to replace some of the wheat grain in the mix. Alison Watson from the brewery said: "Kellogg's recognises that it has an important role to play in reducing food waste, and that includes finding uses for edible food that doesn't make it into the cereal box. We plan to create three beers, including a hoppy IPA which will be launched this month."

I had to check the date wasn't 1st April for the next one. Scottish brewery BrewDog is introducing Subwoofer IPA, which they say is the first beer produced just for dogs. The idea was developed by the Brewdog team in Liverpool, who reported that the prototype was popular with local dog lovers. Subwoofer is made with wort from the brewery, the same malted barley and hot water that are used in their human IPAs. There were three rounds of tasting trials with 25 dogs before the team was satisfied with the product. The beer is hop-free and not carbonated; it is also alcohol-free, which is just as well, seeing that most dogs are under 18.

Newby Wyke of Grantham is brewing a beer in response the government's draft Brexit declaration: cheekily called 'Treason', it is a 4.2% ale. They've produced this beer before in relation to government ministers from all three major parties; they must like taking pot shots at any senior politicians who poke their heads above the parapet.

Brewer Robert March said: "One landlady said to me politicians and beer do not mix, but I replied they raise the beer taxes, so we can take the mickey. With what is going on with Brexit, I thought we should bring it back."

Thursday 27 December 2018

Southport Traditional Pub Promenade

Sometimes our traditional pubs in Southport's residential areas are unfairly overlooked, and yet they can offer you a great night out. I recommend this tour of three such pubs, close to each other and not far from bus routes. I found the real ales in all three pubs were well-kept.

The Zetland in Zetland Street is well-known for having one of the finest bowling greens in the North West (booking advised). It is a multi-roomed pub which offers three real ales: Jennings Cumberland is on permanently, and the two guest ales on my visit were Banks's Sunbeam and the popular Wainwright. Although it had been a while since I had called in, I'm glad to report that it's still a friendly local. The Zetland has several regular events: there is a quiz with cash prizes on Saturdays and bingo on Sundays. They have live music about once a month.

The Mount Pleasant on Manchester Road is also a multi-roomed pub with a glass conservatory; it has an extensive food menu with various offers and choices for kids. There are usually three real ales: Sharp's Doom Bar is always available, and when I was there the guests were Timothy Taylor's Landlord and Robinson's Trooper. Films are shown on Thursday afternoons, a quiz is held on Fridays and there are live bands on Saturdays. Darts teams play there and big live sports events are shown.

The Imperial on Albert Road is also well-regarded for its food, which include special offers, but it also serves four real ales. When I called in, there were three regular beers, all from Holt's brewery: Two Hoots, IPA and Bitter, along with a seasonal guest, Mistletoe from the Bootleg Brewing Co, a beer I hadn't come across before, but found to be a full-flavoured, strong (5%) pale ale. Other features of this pub are TV sport, a quiz on Sunday nights, and sometimes live music. I noticed a sign advertising poker night on Wednesdays.

If after all this you still fancy another pint, it's a quick walk, or even quicker bus ride, into the town centre.

Tuesday 18 December 2018

Edda gig for Folk in the Park

Should be an interesting night. Edda has become a good venue 
for local small scale concerts - four bands for a fiver!

Monday 10 December 2018

Is there life after Christmas?

After months of the seasonal hype that begins just after you have returned from your summer holidays, it's about now that people start wondering: is there life after Christmas? Well, here in the North West, these might provide something of an answer.

First is the CAMRA Manchester Beer & Cider Festival (MBCF) which runs from Thursday 24 to Saturday 26 January 2019 in Manchester Central, Windmill Street, Manchester, the fourth year at this venue. MBCF is the North’s biggest pub crawl but safely protected from the weather. With
around 750 different drinks, there’s bound to be something to suit everyone. MBCF aims to encourage people to try new beers, and this year it will feature some specially commissioned beers, collaborations and ales that are rarely, if ever, seen in this region. 15,558 eager beer lovers attended in 2018. The nearest railway station is Deansgate. Buy tickets here.

Next is the St George's Hall Winter Ales Festival from Thursday 31 to Saturday 2 February 2019 in one of Liverpool's most iconic buildings. Expect up to 200 different real ales and ciders alongside an indoor gin garden with a selection of boutique gins, spirits, wine and prosecco. There will also be entertainment for all sessions except Friday daytime, and hot and cold food to soak up the alcohol, provided by local food providers. Though it's not a CAMRA festival, they offer discount for CAMRA members with valid membership cards on the Thursday evening and Friday daytime sessions. St George's Hall is on Liverpool's famous Lime Street. Tickets available here

CAMRA Liverpool & Districts Branch are once again holding their annual beer festival from Thursday 21 to Saturday 23 February 2019 in the impressive surroundings of the crypt of the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral on Brownlow Hill. More than 200 ales and ciders will be on offer. The Brasswürst Bavarian Band will provide entertainment on Friday and Saturday evening, and food stalls are there should you get peckish. The CAMRA Liverpool Beer Festival is the longest-running festival in Merseyside. Get your tickets here.

Sunday 2 December 2018

Public Meeting To Save The Blundell Arms

The Blundell Arms on its final day of opening
The campaign to save the Blundell Arms in Birkdale, Southport, held a successful public meeting at Birkdale Conservative Club on Friday 30 November. An attentive audience listened to speakers discussing various aspects of the campaign, including the possibilities of success and the obstacles that still remain to be overcome. There were speeches from two of Southport's parliamentary candidates: Labour's Liz Savage and the LibDems' John Wright, both pledging support for the campaign. Three of us from CAMRA attended, and Mike Perkins addressed the meeting on behalf of the local branch. After the speeches, the meeting was opened to questions from the floor, some of which were quite searching.

While there is no doubt that in its final years the Blundell fell on bad times, the campaign is clear that they don't intend to return to that sorry period of the pub's existence. Instead they wish to recreate it as a community centre as well as a pub with plans that include a dementia café, a children's play area, food and a venue for functions.

My own memories of this pub come from attending the Bothy Folk Club there on most Sundays for 25 years until 2003 when the club moved. Until the final years, it had been a perfectly decent street corner local, sadly the kind of pub that is disappearing from our communities. I attended quite a few functions there myself, such as weddings, wakes and birthdays, including one of my own.

At the meeting, Jason McCormack stated that a video of the meeting is to be posted on the group's Facebook page: "The Blundell Arms Community Pub" - have a look for it. He also mentioned an on-line petition; I'll give details here when I get them.