Augustus John, Liverpool, September 2017 #1

You can’t beat a bit of student pub action. It’s been a while since I’ve deliberately been in one. As I’m here for a conference, and this was a designated meeting place for catching up with a few old friends, it was time to brave student life again.

The first thing to note is that it’s a lot quieter than it would normally be, with only a few postgrads and pre-sessional students knocking around. Give it a month and this place will be rammed. Tonight, conference delegates outweighed students pretty heavily.

Things seem to have moved on in the last 25 years. Whilst some fizzy filth was on show, there were several cask ales to choose from as well as some proper ciders. The days of Dry Blackthorn and Woodpecker are gone, although the nastiness of Strongbow still persists.

This was a pint of Saxon Gold from Shrewsbury’s Battlefield Brewery. A decent golden ale, reasonably kept. Available for just £2.40.

You might wonder about the cask credentials of a student pub. Unless they’ve nicked all of these pump clips (insert own thieving Scouser joke here) then they’ve shifted a few in their time. I think I’ve had at least 40 of those that are visible here:-

As well as a few good beers in casks, they also have some in cans. Neptune Brewery is based just down the road in Maghull, the “posh bit” where my friend Howard grew up. A great guy, but the least Scouse Scouser you might ever meet. The only person I’ve ever met with a Liverpool postcode that wasn’t red or blue.

Poseidon was a pale ale, brewed with Cascade and Amarillo hops and allegedly orange peel. I say allegedly because I could not detect even the tiniest trace of it. Just an average modern pale ale.

There was also food on offer. I’d already eaten, but a few late arrivals did order some, and I did get a slice, a tasty pub pizza (that’s not a derogatory term).

As student pubs go, it’s not a bad one at all.

BrewDog Liverpool, September 2017

I can be a bit of a predictable creature. If you look at some of my recent city trips (Edinburgh, York, Newcastle and now Liverpool), you’ll spot a pattern. Whenever I arrive I go to BrewDog. I don’t *just* go to BrewDog, but it will usually be one of my first stops. Why? Well, it’s because I know what I’m going to get. I always want to check out local bars and brewery taps and the like that you don’t get in any other city, but I’m always happy to start off at BrewDog. As well as their always evolving line up, the range of guest beers is always interesting.

As a review printed on their new staff t-shirts says, “unless you’re into beers and trying new ones, this place isn’t for you”. I am into beers and trying new ones.

So here’s the first of those, Sidewalk Shark, part of the “Small Batch” project. It’s a light, effervescent German-style sour wheat beer; lemon peel, herbal lime leaf, notes of orange and a fresh bready malt base. Sharp, sweet and sour, with a tiny salty note – a lovely refreshing beer.

The other thing you will find in BrewDog bars is a food offering. In Liverpool, this is a burger and hot dog offering. I had the Patriot Burger, brioche bun, 6oz beef brisket patty, smoked bacon, cheddar, pickles, onion, baby gem & bbq sauce.

It was a decent juicy burger, good flavours and nicely put together. Unfortunately it was served on a silly tin tray with a silly tin cup of chips. We want plates.

To accompany this, another couple of beers. First, the Prototype Blonde Ale. I didn’t think BrewDog did bland, but this tasted of nothing. Nothing bad about it, just a very middle of the road blonde ale. I could go to most other pubs and bars in this city to find that, so I just don’t expect it here.

Thankfully, the last one was more interesting. Another of the Small Batch series, this time the Imperial Pilsner where a quintessential pilsner malt base and German lager yeast combine with some modern German aroma hops to make an interesting lager. You can feel the strength in this one.

As ever, a pleasant trip to BrewDog. Tonight was also the monthly bottle share club. Sadly I couldn’t stay as I had friends to meet elsewhere but I was sorely tempted.