But thanks to the joy of Merseyrail it’s only 45 minutes (and less than a fiver return) to Liverpool city centre and we decided to take full advantage of the rail link with two trips to explore the city’s pubs.
Our first trip was on the 28th. This was the day after my birthday but as a result of terrible Guinness in a dive of a pub in Southport I didn’t stay out particularly late and was ready for some good beer.
After a trip to the shops our first spot was The Philharmonic Dining Rooms on Hope Street, where we met up with my parents. It’s somewhere I’d never been before but I know it’s popular because of its lovely decor (and the fancy men’s toilets).
The interior is very ornate and worth seeing, although the beer options weren’t particularly exciting. It’s also huge with plenty of seating and a dining area upstairs. But being female, I didn’t get to visit the famed toilets (although Ross did and took a picture to show me). It was a half of Otter Ale by Otter Brewery for me before we moved on.
Stop two was the Clove Hitch, also on Hope Street. We had wanted to visit the 23 Club in the basement but it’s closed on Sundays. However the main bar has a good number of keg beers (about 15) as well as some bottles. After a few samples all round (very helpful bar staff) I opted for Liverpool Craft Beer Co’s excellent White Fox IPA.
We mainly went here because my dad wanted to watch the football but Ross was overjoyed to find Phoenix’s Christmas Kiss on cask, so we both went for that even though I hated it.
The Pilgrim is somewhere I went to once a few years ago for a gig and it is an OK little pub with a good outdoor seating area if you have smokers with you. And it shows Everton games too, if that’s your thing.
This was a very cute traditional pub with a few options on cask. I can’t remember what I had and I think the mobile signal was poor as I didn’t check anything in on Untappd but it was a cosy place with clientele of all ages so definitely somewhere I could have stayed for a few more.
But at this point we had to go fetch my dad from The Pilgrim where he’d stayed to watch the match then headed off to get food before going back to Southport.
Two days later we were back. On our first visit we’d decided to just try new places but for round two we decided to do a mixture of old favourites and some new spots.
After a wander down to the Pier Head to be tourists for a bit, we popped into Ye Hole in Ye Wall.
We last visited here earlier this year when it had its fire roaring away despite it being rather warm. This time the fire was much more welcome and we had a half each before popping into Thomas Rigby’s, which is within the same building.
Last time, Rigby’s was our final stop off and was fairly busy so it was nice to pop in when it was a bit quieter and get more of a feel for the place.
On our previous visit, I’d mentioned the number of Okell’s beers available. We recently found out it is actually owned by the Manx brewery so we both went for St Nick, a winter beer. It was unfortunately a bit tasteless and not something I’d go for again.
We were weighing up staying for a second (there is Weissbier which is always tempting) but decided to make a move.
The Lion Tavern was the next location for us.
Located close to Moorfields station, it is another traditional style pub with a decent choice of ales and CAMRA discount.
The pub has a small room at the front as well as two larger ones at the back. It’s a similar layout to the Briton’s Protection in Manchester and was mainly populated by older drinkers at this point in the day. It’s another welcoming pub, and it was nice to see its traditional decor.
We then popped across the road to The James Munro.
This looks like it has recently been done up and has more craft/’modern’ beer offered compared to our previous stop offs throughout the day.
The only downside was that it was practically deserted which was a shame because it’s a nicely decorated bar with some interesting beer options and somewhere I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.
Next up was an old favourite – the Ship and Mitre. Always worth visiting with a great selection of UK and international beers (especially ideal for wheat beer fans like me). On the recommendation of the chap at the bar I went for the Konig Ludwig Weissbier, which I loved, while it was Black Cannon Stout from Burscough Brewing Company for Ross.
We also decided to grab some food in the Ship as I’ve never eaten there before. Despite them being out of scouse (boo!!) I went for sausages and chips and Ross had the chilli nachos. You do get a lot of food for your money!
After another half (the ever popular Jaipur by Thornbridge for me and Love Lane Pale by Liverpool Craft Beer Co for Ross) we wandered up to the other side of town to visit Brewdog.
The Liverpool outlet, which opened in November, is located off Bold Street and has a same industrial style design as its Manchester site.
But I definitely prefer the Manchester bar, and I couldn’t really put my finger on why I didn’t really enjoy it. The atmosphere wasn’t as appealing as some of the other pubs we’d visited that day and I think in Liverpool there are better places to get decent beer so I doubt I’d make the effort to return here. But maybe this is just because it has only recently opened.
Our final stop was somewhere I hadn’t been for a good few years – The Swan Inn.
As it’s just a few minutes away from The Krazyhouse, the last time I came in here was for a pre-clubbing drink and it was still the same as I remembered it (no pictures I’m afraid).
It’s well known for its metal jukebox but I wasn’t aware of its real ale until we spotted an ad in the Liverpool CAMRA magazine, Merseyale, so decided to pop in and check it out. It was about 6pm and fairly busy but there were still some tables available.
It’s not the best looking or most cosy pub and the vast majority of visitors are there for the music rather than the beer.
Ross was chuffed to see Phoenix Brewery again – this time the old classic Wobbly Bob, complete with a very old style pump clip. I had The Great Escape by Maxim Brewery, which was OK.
It isn’t somewhere I would prioritise a trip to when compared with other pubs in the city, but still a worthwhile pre-Krazyhouse option if you’re heading off there.
With this, it was time to wander back to Central and catch the train. One of the benefits of Liverpool is that most of the city centre is easy to explore on foot so it’s a good option for a beery day out (or in our case, two days!) and I think we definitely made the most of our time there.