A.J. Walker


Sequins & Glitter

It's been a mad couple of weeks in Liverpool as we hosted the Eurovision Song Contest. It has certainly been a good success for the city and Eurovision. It was good to see on so many levels: even for a none Eurovision fan like me.


The news coverage has been about how successful it has been and how much money has come into the city with all the visitors - and forecast to come as the success of the festival was screened around the world. It certainly seemed like damn fine advertising for our place. On the news yesterday they went into several places that said they had record number of visitors and takings. Of course these were in the Albert Dock. The places around Pier Head would of course pick up lots of passing traffic from the thousands in town throughout the festival.


But my experience in the rest of town, both directly and through talking to staff, is that the bulk of town was actually unusually quiet: very quiet. It appears that many people avoided coming into town - which would have been exacerbated by the two day rail strike. It's not because all the customers were at Pier Head I am sure; I don't think the Venn Diagram of ale drinkers and Eurovision fans has a massive crossover.


Anyway, whilst on the whole the city may have won from hosting the festival it hasn't all been winners. So your job over the next few weeks is to get out there as the city returns to normal and show your love of our brilliant hostelries. They'd love you for it; and you don't even have to wear sequins and glitter if you don't want.

An 8 Pub Preston Trip

On a very sunny Saturday I went for a little trip around Preston. On Sunday my phone flashed up my photos from a year ago from my last visit to Preston. Yep, not by design but there were 364 days between my visits. Spooky!

It's a short train journey from Lime Street at around 55 minutes, so is a handy option to go at short notice - if you are that way inclined.

First up was
The Station, which is probably one to miss out if you're looking for better ales and a nicer vibe. But it is handy for the station (funny that) and I ended up watching twenty minutes or so of the Man Utd v Everton match whilst supping on a Robinson's 'Unicorn' and planning my afternoon (well, replanning - it would mostly be the same as my last trip to the city). The pint would be the cheapest of the day anyway.


Next up, as half time approached in the Everton match (0-0 at the time), was The Old Vic. A nicer option than the Station with a few more beers on. I had a Salopian 'Second Life' which I hadn't seen before. I went to this pub last time and it was busy with footy fans then. This time there were a couple of sizeable groups of people and plenty of couples too. I suspect it is quite lively of an evening. There was some bloke dressed up as a golden Elvis (I think that's what he was, but who knows?).

Third up was the second (and last) of my new pubs: the
Winckley Ale House. I did visit this lovely micro pub last time, but couldn't get a beer as they are card only and I'd lost mine at the time. I still don't like places not taking cash. It's not fair on people who don't have the option (or want to not use that option). But hey ho, it is the world we live in. They had four casks on, including the Cloudwater Chubbles. I chose not to take the Chubble option, because a) it was very pricey and b) it was pretty strong, and therefore not ideal early on in a trip. So I went for a lovely drop from Rivington 'Bounced Right Back' - a 4.2% pale. It was a shame I had to sit indoors as the sun was shining on the few (busy) tables outside.

I walked past Hopwoods and headed straight to the popular
Guild Ale House next. Had two pints there: Bingley 'Juno' and Redwillow 'Sabro Simcoe.' And then headed over the road to their sister pub in the market, The Orchard, where I had another Redwillow - this time a 'Feck Less'.


Five pubs in and I was on the home straight. I decided not to stay out too long though and would miss out the long(ish) walk to the
Vinyl, so next up was the nearby Black Horse. A proper, old, multi-room pub. Had an Anarchy 'Blonde Star' here. Then it was time to head to the last two pubs of my tour of Preston ale establishments: the excellent Plug & Taps, and Plau.

Finally found a place to sit outside, at the
Plug & Taps and chatted to a couple of lads about footy, music and ale (other than cheese and curries that was most conversation groups covered). Had my second Rivington of the day, 'Beach House'.

Then my final pint, before getting back to Liverpool, was a
Mobberley 'Elysium' in a suprisingly quiet Plau.


All in all it had been a good trip on a true blue sky day. Definitely recommend giving Preston a go if you haven't done it for a while.

The pubs I visited were:

The Station
The Old Vic
Winckley Ale House
Guild Ale House
The Orchard
The Black Horse
Plug & Taps

I'll post a map up here shortly.

Map Updates

Been a while since I've updated the Liverpool ale maps, but with the return of the Vines in the last fortnight it was my excuse to update a few of them. As well as the addition of the Vines to the main map I've made some minor adjustments to the suggested crawl maps. Hope somebody finds them useful.

Liverpool Crawl Map 1-600

The Return of the Big House

On Wednesday (28th March ‘23) The Vines on Lime Street, known locally as The Big House, reopened as an ale pub after decades in the real ale wilderness. It is not before time. I always said if I ever won the lottery I’d buy the pub and turn it into an ale pub (obviously with a good landlord - not me). The plan was slightly scuppered by the lottery win never coming off; though perhaps not buying lottery tickets more than about five times a year may not have helped.


Only popped in briefly on Wednesday night to check it out and show my support to it. It’s location - on Lime Street, next to the Adelphi - and its architecture and internals, are sure to make it an attractive place to visit when travelling through Liverpool on a day or night out. It had loads of cask on (all well known national brands - as opposed to any from the north west) at the time of opening. They were all quality big beers. The decor, fixtures & fittings, and the seating etc were all spot on: there’s so much there I’m not going to describe it… just get down and check it out for yourself. You wont be disappointed. There's still stuff to sort like the gents toilets but I expect they'll sort it in good time. Hopefully the pub will grow into its position in the Liverpool ale scene. It certainly should do.


Anyway, now I’m going to have to do something else with my expected lottery win. Perhaps it’s time for the Irish Centre to be reborn…

Public Houses 61 Revisted

In January last year I tasked myself with getting to as many local pubs as I could in some kind of reaction to the empty pubs I was faced with on New Year’s Day. I had no aim other than to throw myself around town a bit from hostelry to hostelry. It was nothing more than a pastime. It’s only a year ago but it seems a lifetime in some respects. The ever changing rules, guidance and laws are so hard to remember now. But mainly it was the fears. I ultimately got to 48 different pubs last year, which was pretty a robust dabble.


This year seems a decade later. That may explain why Liverpool are playing so differently this year too: something must!
So here we are in 2023 and hospitality is on the rack again, this time largely from the “cost of living crisis.” It was good to see Dry January was taking a bit of a back seat this year, but maybe it wasn’t and it was just lost in the deluge of other news. And so it was that I intended to get out again this January again with the same lack of definitive goals. Just an aim to not just go to the same eight pubs or so. To spread my wings and fly away with whatever ale I found on a given day.


It was quite a different month from last January. It was easy to get around a bit for a start (albeit if planned around rail strikes). And I even had a gig or two to get out and see. I won’t save the final number to the end (hell it was in the blog title) but I ultimately went to 61 different places selling ale in January. That was again without trying too hard either; I could have easily made more if I'd wanted to. But I was happy with the efforts I made. It was good to do and no stretch goal. Obviously getting to travel to Lancaster, Manchester, Wolverhampton, and Birmingham helped boost the numbers. Let’s face it I’m alway gonna go to a minimum of four venues on a wee visit to a town, ain’t I?


So 61 pubs (or venues), it’s a nice number even if it ain’t a round one. Anything Dylan related is pretty damn fine to me. But, other than reporting the number as a kind of answer, what else can or should I say? Anything I damn want I guess - it’s my site after all. I’ve put the final numbers against the pubs below, but I suppose a few words are worth penning too.


Anyone who is into ale and pubs knows it and there’s no point in preaching to the converted. And who’d ever read this blog who’s not into pubs anyway? I guess not damn many. No need to overthink it or write too much then. Hell a paragraph. 61 pubs, some quite different, some similar, all boil down to a few words about our pubs:

We need them. The clue is in the name pubs; Public Houses. They are places to meet. Places to relax, to get away from; home, from work, the norm, the daily issues. Where people can chat to their mates, meet new people, have banter with the bar staff. Where they can chat about the latest news, the sport, or the weather if they want, to listen to music (live or otherwise), play some games, read a book, get some scran: and taste their favourite beers or something new. Public Houses when they’re gone from a community what happens to the people who used them? Hopefully they find somewhere else, but in some areas they may not. They don’t even need to sell real ale of course. But for its followers like me it is a damn fine bonus. With the cost of living crisis many pubs are bound to see some downturn. The businesses will suffer and those that are confined to barracks by financial necessity will suffer at home too. People need people. They need social interaction. And for many the one place they get that is at a pub. I have good memories from this month of pubs and I really hope if I do it again next year that all the 61 will still be there. That’s where you can help: get out there and support your locals if you can. The whole ‘use it or lose thing’ is the vibe. Raise a glass of whatever your weapon of choice is to the pub, to the staff, to the brewers, to the hops, malt, yeast & water. And raise a glass to your buddies of yesterday, of today, and of tomorrow. Cheers!


The pubs and bars of January 2023:

1 Dr Duncan’s 01.01
2 Ship & Mitre
3 Excelsior
4 Vernon
5 Rigbys
6 Railway
7 Head of Steam
8 Sanctuary 02.01
9 Lime Street Central
10 Denbigh Castle 05.01
11 Bridewell 06.01
12 Dispensary
13 Fly in the Loaf
14 Belvedere
15 Grapes
16 Roscoe Head
17 Caernarfon Castle 08.01
18 White Star
19 William Gladstone
20 Lady of Mann
21 Hole in the Wall
22 Lion Tavern
23 Pen Factory 10.01
24 Philharmonic Pub
25 Blackburne
26 Ye Cracke

27 Tite & Locke 11.01
28 Merchants
29 John O’Gaunt
30 Sun Hotel
31 Three Mariners
32 The Bobbin
33 White Cross
34 The Borough

35 Red Lion 14.01
36 Globe 15.01

37 White Lion
38 West Kirby Tap
39 Black Toad

40 Leaf 19.01

41 Gas Lamp 20.01
42 Ape & Apple
43 City Arms
44 Briton’s Protection
45 Wharf

46 Crewe Hero (station) 21.01

47 Royal London
48 Posada
49 Lych Gate Tavern
50 Great Western

51 Wellington Arms (22.01)
52 The Colmore
53 Purecraft Bar & Kitchen
54 Sommar
55 Post Office Vaults
56 Head of Steam Birmingham
57 Bacchus
58 Good Intent

59 Peter Kavangh's (29.01)
60 Hobo Kiosk
61 Baltic Fleet