I was back in Scousley yesterday. Did I ever mention I lived there for nine years? Well I did, but it was a long time ago. The purpose was to visit and have a few drinks with an old mate who emigrated to Australia quite a few years ago, but who was back for his mother's 80th Birthday. Time passes. My journey was cheap. Booked in advance with my old git's railcard it cost me only £5.40. Not bad at all.
Meeting John at Lime St station we both remarked how Liverpool had changed as we walked along Renshaw St, briefly stopping to admire Dickie Lewis on the way to the Dispensary. So many new and sparkling glass and metal buildings, while other areas that once were relatively prosperous, were now in decline. Still, we weren't together to lament, but to celebrate, so into a fairly quiet pub we popped, me drinking mild, and he, once a cask man, but corrupted by Australian mass swill, to re-educate his taste buds with a pint of Ossett Decadence, a grittily hoppy beer. He hadn't lost the knack and we happily chatted over our pints, which were so good that the order was repeated before we did a little light pub campaigning by having a couple of pints at the bar of the much threatenedRoscoe Head, an old haunt for both of us. We bantered with a couple of fellow soaks at the bar and generally enjoyed the atmosphere, the beer and listening to Scouse accents that were so thick you could have cut them with a knife. I'm sure that this wasn't quite the case when I lived there, or, more likely, I just was used to them then in these far off halcyon days..
Conversation drifted to drinking beer in Sydney. He's recently switched from Toohey's New to Resch's and discussed the growing craft scene in Oz, which he described as an excuse to rip people off and "if I never see another craft IPA, it'll be a day too soon." Kind of know where he is coming from. Seems craft beer is reassuringly expensive world wide. He seemed surprised to hear that we now have two third measures here as he struggled to translate New South Wales schooners sold in Australian dollars into UK pints in sterling to give me an idea of cost. Apparently too, UK 20 oz glasses are becoming a thing there, so it is a two way street glass wise. And yes, despite his 15 years or so there, he still gets called a Pommie Bastard. I had intended to ask if he fancied trying some of the newer and craftier places around Seel St and Bold St, but he said he'd rather explore old haunts. So we did, next calling into the Fly in the Loaf, though it was Kirklands in those days - I remember drinking Newcastle Amber in there - and then lingering for several pints in the Philharmonic as we did so many years ago. Then the beer was Warrington brewed Tetley, which I dare say then we enjoyed just as much, though the current choice was, shall we say, greatly enhanced..
Some things don't change though. John asked if we could have our last pint in the Swan in Wood St. Yes, another old haunt and one of the first multi tap pubs in Liverpool. I got my CAMRA membership form there, possibly clouded by Owd Roger which was often on draught there. A haunt of bikers then and maybe now, it was a bit of a shithole then. It looks much the same now. Well, as I said, some things don't change that much, though it seemed to me to be a bit cleaner. It was comfortably the poorest pint of the day.
So we missed out on all the new bars and pubs and all the craft, but it didn't matter one bit. I still love Liverpool and we had a cracking day out.
Our reminiscences didn't half involve recalling a lot of ale supping. After that we would both have given our eye teeth for a pint of Higgies. I only took one photo, which is from the Fly in the Loaf and the lovely Manx Pale Ale.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
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