Wirrale Odyssey 2019
Just to explain the purpose of this article first off and explain the constraints I am being put under by my dictatorial editor Kim Jung Rob! (KJR). What I did over the course of four consecutive spring weekends in 2019 was visit every real ale pub in the Wirral CAMRA area (yes I think he’s mad too – KJR) in order to see what I might find, in essence a beer census. This was a repeat of my Odyssey of 2017 (executed over 3 months) and my intent here is to compare the 2 sets of data. Now…KJR has insisted that I do this while satisfying these 3 demands:
1. No pie charts. Even though I distinctly remember eating pies… I suppose if we were Wigan CAMRA he wouldn’t have a leg to stand on!
2. No bar charts. But this is a CAMRA magazine and there were many bars!
3. I have to get a haircut identical to KJR (He is just jealous I have more hair than him! – KJR) and not be too statsy! (Like that’s a word).
I can but try my best using words and I suppose I should just get on with it then.
Pubs with Cask Ale – 119 – this is actually one more than 2017, but pretty much parity, I think the most notable closure has been the stage door tap, a few outlets have given up their real ale, but we have had a rash of micro-pubs open.
Total cask ales available – 392, of which 67 (17%) were from the Greene King stable & a further 55 (%) were Marston’s associated breweries. There were 23 fewer active hand-pumps than in 2017 although I feel I must point out that most of this appears to be due to our many Greene King pubs reducing their range (18 fewer than 2017) – with one notable exception – and also there is a lot less Sharps Doombar (15 fewer than 2017).
Unique cask ales – 178 (being served in only one Wirral pub) – 14 less than last time but I don’t think it’s significant due to the shorter time period over which the census was performed.
LocAle casks available – 72 – up 13 on the 2017 figure and 18% of total casks available) – Brimstage (26), Peerless (17) Big Bog (7), Spitting Feathers (6), also Coach House, Liverpool Brewing Company, Chapter, Cwrw Ial, Facer’s, Flagship, Hafod, Handyman, Neptune, Top Rope, Weetwood.
Most frequent beers – Sharps Doombar (25), Greene King Abbot Ale (23), Greene King IPA (22), Brimstage Trappers Hat (18), Timothy Taylor’s Landlord (17), Marston’s Wainwright (14), Eagle Bombardier (12).
Most different beers from smaller brewers (excluding the Greene King and Marston’s Empires) – Peerless (8), Big Bog and Thwaites (6 each), Titanic (5). Spitting Feathers, Castle Rock and Purple Moose (4 each).
Pubs with the most beers – Caernarvon Castle, Dee Hotel, John Masefield, Red Fox and Wheatsheaf (Raby) (9 each), Brass Balance, Hoylake Lights, Irby Mill and Three Stags (8 each), West Kirby Tap, Rose & Crown and Dee Hotel (7 each).
Pubs with the most LocAles – Jug & Bottle, Mockbegger Hall and West Kirby Tap (4 each), Bow Legged Beagle (New Brighton), Dee Hotel, Hoylake Lights, Ship (Parkgate) and Viking (3 each).
The dark side – Where did we find the milds, stouts & porters for my Spartan Queen and all of you other dark beer drinkers? It can be so difficult lost in a sea of pale hoppy beers! Well I found 21 dark beers (up 8 on 2017) of which 4 were Titanic Plum Porter (as 2017) – Brass Balance and Caernarvon Castle (2 each), Bow Legged Beagle (New Brighton), Bow Legged Beagle (Upton), Clairville, Dee Hotel, Gallaghers, Harp, Irby Mill, John Masefield, Lazy Landlord, Magazine, Mockbeggar Hall, Red Fox, Three Stags, West Kirby Tap and Wheatsheaf (Raby) (1 each).
Ciders and Perries – OK so here I have to apologise as the same thing happened in 2017, I started out checking for these but tended to forget as I became….. tired later in the day. There are other people in the branch far more qualified to report on this and I urge them to do so but to be careful not to get too statsy or risk the wrath of KJR!
· Ale pubs 119↑
· Live pumps 392↓ (Greene King decline in range)
· Unique Beers 178↓ (Shorter Census period)
· LocAle casks available 72↑
It should be pointed out that all observations were snapshots as seen on the day and time of my visit and things can change rapidly in the pub trade. Thankfully during the 2019 survey, no mythical creatures were encountered and the deadly perils were kept to a minimum, I do feel that on several occasions I may have been stood at the bar wearing a cloak of invisibility or perhaps the barman was Polyphemus? I’ll just be off for my hair cut and hope to do it all again in 2021.