Southport is one of my favourite places, but I could be slightly biased as it is my hometown. When I was younger, having a beer in Southport usually meant a pint of Fosters or sometimes even Guinness before heading to the rock night they used to have at Fubar or the indie club now known as Alpine. But, now that I don’t live there, I enjoy the odd trip to my parents’ and heading out on the town much more than I did when I was younger. This is probably because the options have significantly improved, thanks to two openings in particular. Here’s a look at five places I like to go in Southport town centre.
1. Tap and Bottles
This craft beer bar and bottle shop opened its doors in 2014 and was definitely a welcome addition. It’s not the largest venue, but it’s got a huge selection of beer to make up for it. There’s about six beers on keg (with Weihenstephan and Dortmunder pils always available) along with a couple (I think it’s three) handpumps for cask beer. You’ll regularly find beers on draft from Liverpool’s Mad Hatter, along with the likes of Thornbridge and Hawkshead. Meanwhile, there’s a huge bottle selection featuring beers from Southport, Merseyside, the UK and overseas which are all available to drink in or take away. Overall, it’s brilliant. Tip: it’s small so if it looks busy, there are some tables upstairs although the headroom is pretty limited.
Always referred to by my parents as ‘the German beer shop’, the Inn Beer Shop is a little stroll out of the main town centre on the far end of Lord Street close to the fire station. It’s quite compact inside – there’s seating at the back and a few tables at the front so it sometimes can be a squeeze to get through to the bar. You’ll usually find a German pilsner on draft and something from the Southport Brewery on cask, but there’s also a large bottle selection. It’s dominated by German (so much fantastic Weissbier) and Belgian beers but also has an increasing selection of beers from the UK. Unlike Tap and Bottles, the UK beer selection is more focused on traditional rather than craft beer breweries, but there’s some good microbreweries featured. It’s an extra 50p to drink anything from the fridges or shelves on the premises, and it’s always a nice place to pop in to.
The Guesthouse is the place for real ale on cask in Southport. It has about ten cask beers on at any one time with boards in the entrance detailing what’s available. It’s a fairly big venue with plenty of seating, with a good, friendly atmosphere. One character to watch out for: there’s often a chap who listens in to your conversations then proceeds to tell you off for swearing – he’s done it to both me and my parents!
This is a proper, traditional pub in Southport town centre. You’ll find it on Anchor Street, which is a small road off London Street and it’ll probably be busy. It’s a Robinsons pub, so you’ll usually find Dizzy Blonde on draft along with Guinness, so not the most exciting beer options but the look and feel of the pub makes up for it. There’s an open fire in one of the rooms and it’s also got a hidden beer terrace on the roof (take the stairs opposite the door to the ladies’ toilet to find it). No pictures from me I’m afraid, but there’s some nice ones on their site.
In the intro, I mentioned an Irish pub we regularly frequented when I lived in Southport. Well, I still go there. O’Learys, located off Nevil Street, is a quaint Irish pub with excellent Guinness and a warm atmosphere. I love it because quite often I’ll see someone I know in there, but also because it’s a very inclusive venue with drinkers of all ages made to feel welcome. There’s also some lager on draft and Worthingtons if you don’t fancy Guinness. Downstairs you’ll find a mix of larger tables with benches and smaller more intimate spots, and upstairs there’s two larger tables on one side of the room and two smaller ones on the darker side of the room, with a pool table in the middle. Despite spending many years in this pub, this picture from one of my past Untappd check ins appears to be the only one I have – it was taken upstairs.
Although I’ve focused on Southport town centre, which is where I grew up, some of the other areas of the town might be worth a visit if you’re in the area. Churchtown could be one to watch in particular – it’s home to pubs such as The Hesketh Arms and The Bold Arms (although it’s been years since I went in the Bold and last time I was in the Hesketh I was driving and on the lemonade), and planning permission has just been granted for a bar and bottle shop named Stocks in the village which could be interesting. It’s all go in the ‘Port!