Monday 18 February 2019

North Merseyside Pub of the Year shortlist

The Guest House is the only traditional
pub in the competition
CAMRA Southport & West Lancs Branch has produced a shortlist for the North Merseyside Pub of the Year award.

The only traditional pub on the list is the Guest House, Union Street, Southport. As well as offering up to 11 real ales and a real cider, they also hold a popular quiz every Thursday, live music most Saturdays and informal acoustic song and music sessions on the first and third Mondays of the month. Free bar snacks are sometimes provided.

The Tap & Bottles in Cambridge Walks, Southport, presents a choice of real ales that you rarely see elsewhere, craft beers and a wide selection of bottled beers. Live music also features here with Grateful Fred's Ukelear Deterrent on the last Tuesday of the month, and an informal acoustic song session on the final Monday. Other musical events also feature.

The Grasshopper in Sandon Road, Hillside, has seven real ales and a choice of real ciders. It often holds special events, such as beer and cider festivals, quizes, and Lancashire Night. There is an acoustic song session on the second Wednesday of the month, and CoLAPS, the Coast of Lancashire Ale Preservation Society, meets here on the first Monday.

The Sparrowhawk on Southport Old Road in Formby describes itself as a “pub restaurant serving fresh food, cask ales and wine”. It is a gastropub, but one with a good choice of changing real ales and, on my last visit, a real cider. While the menu looks impressive, you are welcome if you simply want to go there for a drink.

The Beer Station in Victoria Road, Formby, close to Freshfield Station sells a range of local real ales, quality lager, wines and spirits, with pork pies and other snacks available. They have held Meet The Brewer nights and will present a gin tasting event featuring Turncoat Gin on Thursday 28 February.

Monday 4 February 2019

Debating the future of pubs

An important debate is taking place in Parliament this Thursday, 7 February, in which MPs will be discussing the issues affecting beer and pubs and their valuable contribution to our society, economy and culture. MPs must stand up for the diminishing number of places in their constituencies where ordinary people can enter free of charge, meet their friends or make new ones, celebrate special events, watch sport, play darts, listen to music, have a meal prepared on the premises, or even just enjoy their own company – not forgetting, of course, savouring a pint of British real ale.

Following on from CAMRA's well-supported lobby of Parliament last October, members all over the country have recently been e-mailing their MPs about today's debate with the following demands:
  • A preferential rate of duty on beer sold in pubs.
  • Full reform of business rates to fix the unfair amount that pubs pay.
  • Reforming the Pubs Code so that tenants get a fair deal. 
Let's hope enough MPs have got the message!


Tax freezes on alcohol that CAMRA has been vigorously calling for came into effect last week on 1 February. Duty on beer, cider and spirits was frozen in the 2018 Autumn Budget. Duty on wine was left to rise with inflation and a higher rate was imposed upon 'white ciders'. The Treasury claims that a standard pint of beer is now 14p cheaper than if taxes had risen in line with inflation.

It's a welcome measure, not only because it helps protect the great British pub and pint, but also because it has saved at least 3,000 jobs that would have been lost if duty had gone up, according to an estimate by the British Beer and Pub Association.