CAMRA Kernow Goes to Liverpool - Yeah, Yeah, Yeah

Monday 6 June 2016

Eight members of CAMRA Kernow sallied north to the CAMRA National AGM and Members' Weekend at the beginning of April. Rod and Maddie Davies, Jan and Gerry Wills, Lin and Pete Dopson, Rosemary and me. We met up with Chris Riley, who recently moved from Cornwall back to his home town of Liverpool, but is still a member of Cornwall Tasting Panel.

I won't bore you with the business of the AGM and Conference, but focus on the social side of the weekend. For a start, Rosemary and I arrived at the historic Lime Street Station looking for a dinner and found the Wetherspoon pub in the station, the North Western, ideal with predictable cheap prices. On to our abode, the palatial Adelphi Hotel [01].

Due to our train arrival time and the need to get dinner, book in the hotel, get to the AGM venue, the Liverpool Guild of Students, we were too late to go for one of the coach trips to breweries in the area. So Rosemary and I picked a guided walking tour of Locale pubs. After a false start due to a timing mix-up, we missed the first pub, the Augustus John in Peach Street [02].

We walked past Paddy's Wigwam [03], not a pub but big enough for a Wetherspoon's, to our first pub, the oddly-named Pen Factory in Hope Street [04], which was previously, yes, a pen factory. The Brimstage Oyster Catcher Stout was excellent (I like dark beers!).

On to Mackenzie's [05] in Rodney Street for a very excellent pint of Kitty Wilkinson from Liverpool Organic. This was a vanilla chocolate beer - a veritable liquid Easter egg. We didn't see Father Mackenzie himself either writing sermons or darning his socks.

Then the Grapes [06] in Roscoe Street, not to be confused with the other Grapes in Mathew Street. I had Rock the Boat Bootle Bull (where do they get these names - a load of bull?), a malty 3.8% at only £3.20 in the city centre. The Bridewell in Liverpool 1 [07] has to be seen to be believed.

Up north, a bridewell is a prison or police lock-up. The cells where we drank are furnished somewhat better than when it was a bridewell but that is the only concession [08]. My beer was Neptune Riptide, an unfined beer with toffee and caramel flavours, so slightly hazy but OK apart from the sparkler. That was it for Friday night apart from a quick final pint of mild in the Members' Bar. Lovely smoky flavour - Hophurst Campfire.

Saturday morning saw us striding up the long slope to the Guild again for the first tranche of AGM business. Sorry, no photos in the hall. We bumped into friends old and new, including for Steve meeting Richard Sanders, who was one of the other 11 members to undertake the 8-day expedition that was the Round England Beer Tasting Trip 1975. Beery holiday is a gross understatement!

In the evening, Chris Riley gave us a private conducted tour of his chosen Liverpool city centre pubs, and was also able to act as Scouse-English translator for us. His first choice was the Doctor Duncan [09] in St Johns Lane. For some unknown reason, our party turned round and came out without a drink. Shame, because it had Jennings beers, one of my favourite breweries.

So, on to the Ship & Mitre in Dale Street [10], somewhat obscured by the Scaffold(ing) [11]. No Aintree Iron here but Facer's Mountain Mild was an excellent start to a hard day's night.

Next down Dale Street was the Latham Lounge in the Vernon Arms [12] where I had a pint of regular beer Boggart Hole Clough Rum Porter (bluddy 'ell) which was very good but I couldn't drink a second because I couldn't pronounce the name again.

We then went to the Lion Tavern in Moorfields, which is a stunning national heritage pub [13, 14].

The beer was good but I was so overwhelmed by the pub that I forgot to record what it was (umm...). The official group photo was in here [15]. I remember passing the Thomas Rigby further down Dale Street [16] but can't remember whether we went in or if so what I had. I wondered if Thomas was related to Eleanor, a lonely person.

Next was the White Star in Iceberg Street, no, Rainford Gardens, a cracking heritage pub with a good range of beers. I chose the Moorhouse's White Witch but I would have preferred a Pendle Witches Brew. I could have had Titanic and got that sinking feeling but can't resist Moorhouse's beers. Excellent beer again and we bumped into the South Herts Branch contingent so a long exchange of news and memories ensued for Steve. Lastly, we ended up at the Bridewell again where I had Rock the Boat Mussel Wrack. I didn't attempt to utter the name but reverted to pointing at the pump. Much safer at that stage.

I am not quite sure how we got round, but on the way Chris pointed out the mouth of the Queensway Tunnel [17] where the motorbike chase was filmed in Harry Potter (look for the tyre marks on the roof). We also saw the Cavern Club, which involved negotiating the 'interesting' quarter of Mathew Street. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more.

Sunday saw the rest of the business and Rosemary and I joined an interesting workshop session on champion beer competitions. After a second visit to the North Western, we made the long train journey home. I can't see Bournemouth matching Liverpool for pubs somehow. Postscript: What a tragedy - I recently found out that seven days after our second visit the Bridewell closed! A stark reminder that pubs continue to close in Britain left, right and centre. By chance we were some of the last people to experience this unique pub.

Steve Barber