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Thursday, 18 October 2018

Boats, Beers and Boozers 2018. No.9

Our week in Liverpool was nearly up but we had a stroll round the Pier Head area. It was in this area and Mann Island that I took my Efficient Deck Hand certificate and Lifeboatman's 'Ticket, rowing around the dock in far from ideal weather, a young apprentice among the old lags. I was more worried about failing those than sitting for my Master's 'Ticket years later.

On the Pier Head are several memorials to seamen, including the engineers lost, to a man, of the Titanic. This is dedicated to the Merchant Marina in the wars. A body that a much higher percentage of people than any other branch of the armed services, but got little credit for their sacrifice. In fact they had to produce a lapel badge for them as they were being branded as cowards as they weren't in uniform. 

This carving is on the opposite face of the plinth. It is also interesting to note that this monument was not dedicated until 1998!

Plying her trade on the river is the 'Snowdrop' that has been painted in a form of dazzle painting that was to commemorate the camouflage scheme that was used on warships in WWI to try and break up the profile and make them harder to spot. Obviously they weren't these bright colours then, just greys, black and white. 

This memorial is for the 1400 crew members who were lost whilst belonging to the Royal Naval Auvillary Services, Merchant Navy men who were under the auspices of the RN. It is interesting to note that this memorial was raised in 1952! I have never really understood why our nation holds the Merchant Navy in so little regard, especially when 97% of everything comes by sea!

Our last Liverpool pub visit was to the Lady of Mann. It is named after a former Isle of Mann ferry that sailed for the Steam Packet Co. In fact there were two of this name, the first from 1930 to 1971 and the second from 1976 to 2005. The pub is down through an archway by the side of another pub, the Thomas Rigby, who was a wine and spirits merchant, into the courtyard. I believe the building housing the 'Lady of Mann' was some of the warehousing for the wine and spirits. The pub lacks a bit of character after a refurbishment but is pleasant enough. The courtyard is shared with the other pub and is always busy on warm evenings.

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Although the pub is an Okells owned establishment I tried a beer form the Tapped Brewery. They are from Sheffield and actually brew the beer in the refurbished First Class waiting room on Sheffield Station. There is a great  boozer to go with it and if ever you have to change trains there make sure you don't catch the first one, or maybe even the second as they have loads of hand pulls and bottled beers from around the worlds. They started brewing in 2013 and have a 4bbl plant that provides over 1000 pints in one brew. You can watch and smell the beer being made two or three times a week.

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I had a pint of Mojo at 3.6% for £3-20. It had a really lovely head on it and was almost yellow in colour, and is called a crystal pale ale. It is full of mosaic and citra hops that give it a crisp fruity taste. It is a little 'thin' for me, but a lovely drop on a warm evening or almost like a palette cleanser. It is called Mojo as it is supposed to get your mojo working!

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Boats, Beers and Boozers 2018. No.8

The best advice I can give when visiting any new town or city is always to look up above the shop fronts as you walk around. There are usually loads of interesting things to see, and these days most places seem to have largely the same shops anyway!

 This mosaic mural was on Castle Street and depicts a nautical scene. On the bottom right you can also see the signature of the designer Frank Murray in 1889.

The building that the mosaics embellish is the British and Foreign Marine Insurance Co. Ltd. With the flag of St. George of England and the Liver bird of Liverpool

On the other side of the door is this Venetian themed mosaic. The mosaic was completed by at the same time as the building in 1889 by Antonio Salvati who started his workshop on the island of Murano in the Venice Lagoon in 1859, and it is still there.

On the opposite side of Castle Street is this lovely building now with Cafe Nero gracing the street level. It was built in 1892 as the Adelphi Bank. I love the decadence of having terracotta on the ground floor and bands with the stone. And niches with statues! I wish I had taken a good picture of the big bronze outer doors as they depict sets of  brothers such as Castor and Pollux and Achilles and Patroclus, as adelphi means sibling in Greek.

The lovely old brick building, that would have been quite a tall building in its day, is now dwarfed by the new developments at Mann Island. It was the pumping station that kept the Mersey Tunnel dry, and also the ventilator to allow the smoke from the steam engines using the tunnel to escape. The tunnel was built in 1882.

Just a couple of doors up from the Ship and Mitre from the last blog is the Excelsior. It is named after a Liverpool sailing ship. It also has a bit of pedigree for being next to the 1960's Headquarters of Higson's the Liverpool brewers. Inside has been modernised, but in a fairly stripped back way. It is not a pub to come for the decor, although pleasant enough. Unfortunately the TV's always on mar things for me. The reason to come to the Excelsior is the beer from the Casque Mark pub. There were six hand pulls on when we dropped by.

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I had a pint of the Dark Spartan Stout 5% at £3-20 by the Parker Brewery. It was a real treat, black and thick with a nice creamy head. There was a beautiful malty flavour with chocolate and coffee notes. A meal in its self.

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The Parker Brewery is, as the name implies, run by the Parker Family from a micro brewery not too far away in Bank next to Southport. It was started up in 2014, and by the end of the year had expanded and moved premises to a 5 bbl plant. The beers are all named after tribes etc. I will definitely look out for them as if the others are a good as this then they will be worth the wait. They can be found in around 12 pubs in the Liverpool, Ormskirk, Southport, Formby area, including the Hopvine at Burscough and the Ship and Mitre down the road here.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Boats, Beers and Boozers 2018. No.7

One of the reasons we had come to Liverpool was to go and see the Terracotta Army exhibition. Helen had booked tickets well in advance as they were a bit scarce. We did hear that they did hold a few back for everyday for people who turn up first thing

We had a little time to wait until our timed entry so we called into the Central Library next door. What a magnificent space the central atrium is. It did make me think of the new Central Library in Birmingham.

It must have been fantastic to dig and come across a sight like this. Mind you, by all accounts, there is a large part of the site that is still to be excavated so maybe many more folk will get to see something like this again. They must have looked so much more impressive when they were still colourful.

 This wonderful four horse chariot was discovered in 1980 and is one of two that were buried. It is bronze with sliver and gold embellishments. It was highly decorated and coloured. It is the type of chariot that the first Emperor would have toured round his unified kingdom. It was buried with him so that he could continue his journey in the after life. It is also said that his body was brought back to the capital in a similar, with an open cart of salted fish behind to hide the smell of his decomposing body!!
Not far away, on Dale Street, near the entrance to the Queensway Tunnel, is the Ship and Mitre. It was built in the 1930's on the site of a previous coaching house. In fact the name comes from previous names of the pub, the Flagship and the Mitre. Downstairs is all wood and seems like you are in an old wooden vessel. Upstairs the function room retains a real Art Deco feel. There are 12 hand pulls at least usually on, plus loads of ciders and hundreds of bottled beers.
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The pub brews their own beer using Stamps Brewery equipment in Crosby. They supply the pub and one or two other outlets. They changed the name from Ship and Mitre to Flagship in 2016.
I tried a pint of the Lupa that has citrus peel and Styrian Wolf hops. It was a bit too sweet for me but would make a great introducing beer for newcomers I think.

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I had a pint of the Flagship Lupa 3.8% at £3-00. Citrus peel is mixed with Styrian Wolf hops to bring a sweeter beer but it was a little too sweet for me, but would be a great beer for an non beer drinker to try.

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A pint of Silhouette was much more to my taste. 4.5% makes it much more of a mouthful and £-20. It is a dry Irish Stout that was presented with a great head and full of roasted malt flavours and was like a meal in a glass.

There is plenty of pub grub available and is plentiful and quick. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable and any pub goer would find something to like in here. It is one not to miss off your list of pubs to visit in Liverpool.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Boats, Beers and Boozers 2018. No.6

We had seen that there were tours of the Old Dock and we booked ourselves one. They bare free but you have to book in advance and they depart from the Maritime Museum. The Dock was re-discovered when the shopping centre Liverpool 1 was being built across from the C&RT Moorings in Salthouse Dock.The guides do a great job of talking up the importance of the new fangled thing called a dock. It was the first enclosed dock that allowed cargo operations to continue easily through out the day as the ship stays largely at the same level. The fact that they also enclosed the muddy pool that gave Liverpool its name is added drama.

This is the inland end of the dock. Unfortunately the lock gates are under the main dual carriage way so are unlikely to ever be excavated. You can see that the sides were built of brick on top of the natural sandstone. In feature projects stone would be used rather than the brick. The pipe sticking out of a bricked up wall is a drain for the passage way that once led up to the castle. The castle was demolished about the same time as the dock was built and some it's stone was used for the coping stones that you can see just one of on top of the brick wall middle rear. That was the height of the quay side.

You can see some square cut outs of the bed rock and this is where the upright fender posts were fixed to protect the brick work and the ship's side.

The part that has been preserved is just a small part of the whole dock but it certainly is well worth seeing and hearing the story too.

The last pub visited was the Railway and next store is the Lion and as you can see from the pub sign it is named after a steam engine that ran between Liverpool and Manchester. It has been a pub for 180 years, the oldest continuously serving beer in Liverpool. It has recently had a renovation that hasn't changed it a bit. Partly I'm sure as it is Grade II Listed and is on CAMRA's Historic Interiors list.

It is a two room pub with a passageway hatch that is made glorious by the wood and etched glass. The bar had 8 beers on which was a bit of a temptation. They don't do food other than pork pies. The bar back is fantastic as is the glass and tile work

There is a real mix in the pub and everybody seems to be up for a chat. We had a great night at a quiz here, although we didn't win, obviously.

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I had a pint of Langton Spin. A golden beer of 4.4% brewed by Peerless Brewing Co. that is based in Birkenhead since they started up in 2009. It was £3-10. The beer was brewed for the 250th Anniversary of the Liverpool Pilots in 2016 and is named after a difficult manoeuvre undertaken off Langton Lock to get a full size ship turned in the river to enter head first. It is is great mix of initial bitterness with a nice citrus finish. I was going to have another but decided to try something new.

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This time I tried a pint from another local brewery, Little Crosby just north of the docks, that had started brewing in 2015. Funnily enough the Bootle Bull also has marine origins as it is named after the very loud fog horn that was on the lighthouse that was demolished when Gladstone Dock was built in 1927. This 3.8% beer is a good session drink with a good colour with a nice subtle mix of malty and hops, and a decent prize of £2-80 too. Both the beers were beautifully kept and this is one of the pubs that we always  return to as there is a warm welcome and a good choice of beer.