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Saturday, 31 August 2019

The Captain Alexander, Liverpool

The Captain Alexander
My friend Ann and I decided to try the new Wetherspoons pub on James Street in Liverpool, the Captain Alexander, named after Alexander Allan, founder of the Allan shipping line which used to have offices in the city. It is across the road from James Street station in the ground floor of a former office block. It has one large room panelled with light wood and was very busy when we were there.

The clientele was mixed and included office workers on their lunch break, some families and an unexpectedly quiet hen party, although to be fair it was still early in the day. It's clearly popular even though it has been open for less than three months. The pub has an outdoor terrace on the first floor, which was filled with drinkers enjoying the sunshine. The pub is accessible and, unlike some Wetherspoons, has toilets on the ground floor.

There was a good range of real ales, including some I wasn't familiar with (yes, there are a few) and included: Greene King Abbott; Big Bog Swampy Bitter; Purple Moose Dark Side of the Moose; Yazoo Hop Perfect IPA; St Peters Plum Porter; Big Bog Blonde Bach; Twilighter Fresh Yorkshire IPA; and Lancaster Black. Ruddles Best Bitter is usually on but had run out. The beers I tried were on good form and Ann enjoyed her Shiraz.

The outdoor terrace
The keg range includes BrewDog Punk IPA and Shipyard American IPA. It has a good choice of bottled beers, all the wines and spirits that you'd expect and a gin menu called “The Little Book of Gin” which lists more than fifty gins from the UK and around the world. The usual Wetherspoons food was on offer and we both enjoyed our meals: a mixed grill for Ann and a skinny chicken burger for me.

The Captain Alexander is less than half a mile from Moorfields railway station, and is close to the shops, the Mersey ferries, the Pier Head and the Three Graces. It's a worthy addition to a city centre that is already well-endowed with great pubs.

This is one of a series of articles that I write for the CAMRA column in our local papers, the Southport Visiter and Ormskirk Advertiser. Older articles on local pubs are here.

Monday, 12 August 2019

Song and music sessions to 2nd September

All events are free, unless otherwise stated. At singarounds and music sessions, you can perform, sing along or just listen to suit yourself.

► Wednesday 14th: singaround at the Grasshopper, Sandon Road, Hillside, Southport from 8.15 pm.
► Sunday 18th: summer singaround at the Bothy Folk Club, Park Golf Club, Park Road West, Southport from 8.00 pm.
► Sunday 25th: Bothy Folk Club summer singaround - for 1 week only - in the Guest House, Union Street, Southport from 8.00 pm.
► Monday 26th: song session in the Tap & Bottles, Cambridge Walks, Southport from 8.15 pm.
► Monday 2nd September: song session in the Guest House, Union Street, Southport from 8.15pm.

Friday, 9 August 2019

The Wayfarer, Parbold brewpub

CAMRA has published a list of the top ten brewpubs across the country, and the nearest to us is the Wayfarer on Alder Lane, Parbold, Lancs WN8 7NL. Problem Child has been brewing on-site at the pub since 2013 and produces a wide range of fine beers. The Wayfarer is also known for its food, and it will be the subject of a full post in future. After a 20-minute railway journey from Southport, the pub is less than ten minutes' walk from Parbold Station. The opening hours are restricted so best check before travelling. Website.

Ben Wilkinson, CAMRA’s National Director said: "Brewpubs provide a fantastic experience not just for the beer connoisseur, but for anyone interested in learning more about how their favourite drink is produced. They act as the showroom to our nation’s breweries and provide a highly sustainable option with the beer travelling a grand total of zero miles from where it’s produced. In addition, like all pubs, they play a pivotal role in bringing communities together."

The full list of brewpubs is here.

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

The Dormouse in the Room

I have read the smoking ban described as "the elephant in the room" in discussions about the decline in pub-going and beer drinking. The point being made is that many people who mourn the decline in pub-going and beer drinking are missing an obvious point, i.e. that the smoking ban is destroying pubs.

I think the survey summarised below refutes that argument quite conclusively. Smoking has been banished from our pubs permanently, and a good thing too. I put up with smoky atmospheres in pubs for more than 35 years, and I think it's quite probable that other people's smoke has exacerbated my sinus problems, which over the years became significantly worse than when I started going to the pub in the early 1970s.

I find it quite extraordinary that a minority of smokers abandoned their social lives in order to avoid the arduous journey of a few seconds' walk to outside the door in order to have a fag. Was the right to smoke inside a pub more important than meeting their friends? If so, they were not particularly loyal friends.

The pub world is changing, as it always has: pubs in the 1950s were quite different from those in the 1970s, and they were different from those in the 1990s, and so on. I do know some lifelong smokers who say they prefer smoke-free pubs and have no problem with going outside to have a smoke.

Bearing in mind that no one under 30 has ever had a drink in a smoke-filled pub or bar, and they are the drinkers of the future, I'd say that this is a lost cause for those who are so committed to their addiction that they believe it's okay to pollute the lungs of non-smoking beer lovers.

I'm pleased to say that, although I know quite a few smokers, none of them is that selfish.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Ainsdale Food & Drink Festival

Advance notice of a local festival in two months' time.

Ainsdale Cricket Club has informed Southport & West Lancs CAMRA that they will be holding their first food and drink festival at the Cricket Club from 11th to 13th October. While they will have gin and rum bars, street food, bands and DJs, the main emphasis will be on the beer and they intend to have around 40 different beers and ciders on offer. They want to showcase some local breweries as well as some more obscure ones.

On Friday night, 6.00 pm to 11.00 pm, some of the brewers will personally showcase their products. On Saturday they will be open 2.00 pm to 11.00 pm, and 2.00 pm to 8.00 pm on Sunday.

The organisers tell me that they are hoping to make it an annual event. I'll provide more details when I learn them closer to the time.