I met one of my oldest friends for a few beers in Liverpool yesterday. John now lives in Australia, but comes to see his elderly mother once a year or so. We always meet up and chat about what we are doing now and of course our times boozing, playing football, darts and the like in Scousley 30 odd years ago. It is a lot of fun.
Less fun was the Northern train journey to Liverpool. Bad enough having to use that useless shower - I've already experienced their gross incompetence first hand while changing trains at Preston in my recent frequent trips to Scotland. Listening to the litany of cancelled trains as well as enduring their inherent inability to run a train on time has given me a healthy dislike of the company. And that's even before you suffer their wretched Class 142s, built over 40 years ago. Bloody boneshakers.
Yesterday's trip was by no means enhanced by the closure of Lime St station for upgrade. This meant a change at Liverpool South Parkway and a Merseyrail train to Moorfields, so we arranged to meet at an old haunt, the Lion, handy for the station and a fine traditional, corridored, multiroomed pub in which we originally drank Walkers, but now has many taps to choose from. At lunchtime, the pub being in Liverpool's business area, was actually fairly quiet, but a few diehards in suits gave it some atmosphere. Despite my two hour journey, I was early, so found a prime spot where I could watch the workers scurrying out for lunch and, with a pint of Peerless and the Times crossword, I was pretty much happy. John, who has become an Australian Rugby League fan in his exile arrived a little late having persuaded some sports bar or other to beam in an important game live from Sydney. His team had won and after greeting him and a mate who I knew of, but hadn't met, we settled down to drink and chat.
I hadn't really liked my first beer enough to order a second, so changed to First Chop Hop. The boys ordered the same and we got on with the serious business of supping ale and chatting. Time flew and one round, melted into another. We considered moving to a different pub, but all agreed we were just fine where we were. Pints mounted up and mostly we had the pub to ourselves, with the barman pitching in now and then to avoid boredom. Eventually around seven o'clock I decided I'd better get back to Manchester. We'd been there, putting the world right for about five and half hours. We stuck with the same round throughout and all left, pleasantly buzzed, but not at all drunk. Me for a further two hours on the train and the lads to get a bus home.
Later in Middleton, E met me off my bus from Manchester. "Thought you'd be pissed" she said. "Not me" I replied. And surprisingly, despite a certain nine pints, I wasn't.
4.1% beer drunk at a rate of around a pint every half hour was the kind of old fashioned steady drinking which is less frequent now. Not chopping or changing was refreshing in its own way and is to be recommended, even if the quantity isn't!
Both Merseyrail trains were on time. I'd also forgotten how big and deep underground Moorfields is. Liverpool South Parkway was also rather impressive and larger than I'd imagined. I come from a railway family and like these sort of things.
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. He also judges beer at both the International Beer Challenge and the World Beer Awards.
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