It is, perhaps, a cliche to describe a pub as having ‘character’. A cliche that doesn’t really make sense anyway. Don’t all pubs, like people, have ‘character’?
It’s just that some characters are more endearing than others. By no means is Liverpool a city in which there is a shortage of places to find a pint, but finding the right place to quench your thirst, finding a place with the right character, can be a different matter altogether. The statistics tell a sorry tale, approximately 30 pubs close every week in the UK which means all our locals are getting further away. However, the Liverpool beer scene is alive and kicking and we’ve navigated our way through the labyrinth and have created a beverage compendium of the top twelve places for you to visit for a beer along with a recommended pint at each place.
Known as The Cali to its regulars, this boozer truly defines “The People’s Pub”. They call Catherine Street home and always have live music on with a huge concentration on Folk, Roots and Jazz to accompany an extensive range of ales. You will find even the most timid of visitor in the corner tapping their feet to the beat, the more confident person banging their hands against the table and the regular who has miraculously simulated a seemingly regular table spoon into a impromptu contribution of the performance.
Try the ‘One Step Beyond’ from the Melwood brewery. It’s a hoppy, full flavoured deep Amber ale.
Blink and you might miss it, The Baltic Fleet might be off the beaten track but good beer is worth walking for. The dockside pub has some fantastic history but isn’t left in the past as it is Liverpool’s only brewpub. In the cellar beneath the pub they brew Wapping beers, they’re fresh and elegant and there’s a certain romanticism about it being crafted just a few feet below your own. The Baltic Fleet is as traditional as it gets, it is a self-proclaimed no frills boozer where the beer does the talking. They don’t feel the need to have eclectic ornaments ordaining the walls or an intriguing centrepiece and one drunken evening there and you won’t miss that either. Rumour has it that the pub is haunted but we think this is an elaborate story cooked up by the landlord to explain missing kegs.
Try the Summer Ale, its light and hoppy and perfect all year round.
The Grapes (Little)
Located in the shady side streets of historical Georgian Quarter of Liverpool, The Grapes welcomes everyone with a drink, a smile, and a guarantee they’ll come back. The building is full of spirit and not just the ones stocked behind the bar. It is one of the oldest pubs and buildings in Liverpool as it was made in the 1700s but still remains one of the most popular. The pub is full of charm, as you’d expect from a building that has been standing and serving for so many years. It wasn’t intentional but the pub has become popular amongst the Bohemians and is full of artists, musicians and academics who come to right the worlds wrongs over a few tipples. They will succeed your grape expectations.
Try the Toxteth IPA from Mad Hatter Brewery, a classic and hoppy IPA from a local microbrewery.
Located on Back Egerton Street, Peter Kavanagh, the establishment’s namesake and landlord for 53 years, was, in his spare time, a city councillor, an inventor and a still-life painter. His eclectic and eccentric sensibilities have survived, embodied in what must be one of the most intriguing pubs Liverpool has to offer. Just like the interior, the characters are equally as intriguing and no-one is a stranger for longer than 5 minutes. Amongst the decor there’s a row of urns containing the ashes of generations who’d chosen Kavanagh’s as their final resting place, they never forget anyone. Its inhabitants consist of students, professionals and labourers alike who all find solace in a cornerstone of Liverpool’s history and good beer.
Try one of the guest beers when you’re next in, they have 4 pumps that change weekly.
Dead Crafty Beer Bar
A couple lifelong Liverpool natives, holidaying in Texas, entered a craft beer bar for the first time, a visit which left a lasting mark, a visit that created a burning desire to bring their experience to their home city of Liverpool. A new hop head quarters that will be your new favourite watering hole. They’ve built everything with their own hands and have 20 beers that change very often, providing the perfect excuse to go back.
Ask for their guest beer, it’s always good.
Grove Beer Tap and Grill
Slightly hidden on Seel Street is Grove Beer Tap and Grill, a breathtaking venue that would astound any architect. There’s often a Scandinavian crossover apparent in the interior of Liverpool’s independents and Grove is no different as dark wood mahogany and green plants hang side by side. A mini-garden lays and grows above the bar, it may sound unusual but what’s really weird is how well it fits in. We’ve still got no idea how they manage to water it. It is sleek, bright and simple done well. Whilst tasty rumours circulate of bowls of pizza fries leaving the kitchen, it is the ale offering that have punters staggering in. For those just getting into craft beer this is an awesome place to start and quite a stunning setting to do so.
Try the Brooklyn Wheat Beer, its refreshing, light and brisk.
The Black Lodge
Black Lodge is a brewery, tap house and charcuterie. Beer, cheese and meat? Shut up and take our money. Some of the brains behind Liverpool Craft Beer, The 23 Club and Camp and Furnace will be joining forces to brew, bottle and pour some of the best and most intriguing beers the city has ever seen. Black Lodge will be opening on Kitchen Street, a stretch well known in the Baltic Triangle for its raving and misbehaving and not necessarily in that order. This is a place for true beer drinkers.
Ask for the Raspberry Berliner Weisse.
Originally “The Dovedale Towers”, this local held a place in most people hearts in the Penny Lane area but was sadly shut for what seemed an eternity. After a few licks of paint and a bit of love, The Dovedale Towers was re-born ‘The Dovey’ and provides a sanctuary for those who like good drinks and company. Don’t let the superstructure of this pub exert your capacity of being impressed as the building is steeped in history. Rumours are that Freddy Mercury had a brief spell here during the psychedelic 60’s. Whilst paying deference to the roots of the building, the Dovey has been modernised and revamped in regards to the interior and the beer offering. You can tour a good majority of the world through their bottles but leave just enough to try an excuse for another visit.
Try the Kona Big Wave, a light golden ale with a subtle fruitiness and delicate hop aroma.
Ship & Mitre
You’ll struggle to find a much better boozer in Liverpool than Ship & Mitre. There are many nods to our nautical ancestors throughout Liverpool’s effervescent beer scene but Ship & Mitre take it one step further as the interior mimics a ship’s galley. The staff are self-professed beer boffins and will be happy to find you a pint-sized delight for your taste buds amid the hundreds of beers on offer. They also have a sister company called Ship in a Bottle, a modest space where bottles of beer tower above you but its more intriguing than intimidating. Ship & Mitre have a beer festival coming up, you can get an amazing two for one tickets here.
Try the “Pilsner Urquell”, a light lager that was the original beer that was sold on the Titanic.
Far away from the classiness that lays just one storey above at The Clove Hitch is the underground and modest American inspired burger joint where soup of the day is always beer. 23 Club is the true definition of a hidden gem as ale advocates will revel in the offering and are more than likely to visit a few times to settle on a favourite. Every beer has a story and 23 Club is like a library. They also have a bottle shop where you can buy beers to take away and have all the exclusive Mad Hatter Brew beers. The brewer behind them has been described as the Heston Blumenthal of hops. Only by us so far but we hope it catches on. 23 Club are very popular amongst the hirsute and were recently awarded the “most beard friendly” place for a drink and we can see why as beards do grow on you.
Try one of the Adhop beers, it is one of their own brews.
Hope Street’s latest independent has only been open for a few months but has made a big impression. Spearheaded by Paddy O’Byrne, the building has been many things but was originally, yes, you guessed it, a pen factory. Whilst the ink has run dry the pints haven’t and whilst you wouldn’t suspect this to be a great place at first glance for a drink, it certainly is. The venue is surprisingly big but also intimate, this will be due to the candle-light and roaring fire in the corner illuminating and warming the place. Despite being a restaurant where the menu changes near enough every day, they also have a whopping beer selection on offer.
Try the “Hop Head’, a pale ale that is light, fruity and very hoppy.
The Kazimier Gardens is one of the most popular independents in Liverpool for its community of like minded people interested in the arts and has developed an almost cult following. Besides being beloved for the live music and the surreal, it is also a fantastic venue for a drink. When it gets to summer, make sure you head to the Kaz Gardens, an unavowed space with a festival vibe that is actually a refurbished car park. It feels like you’ve stumbled into some sort of undiscovered wonderland when first entering and is perfect for a first date.
Try the “Kazum”, their own brew that is a dark porter. It isn’t as deep as your regular porter as its got damsons in the recipe to cut through the acidity.
The Belvedere, a beloved institution in a Georgian house intends to train your palettes and exercise your taste buds in the noble pursuit of a gintastic experience with their “GinNasium”. Currently you can exercise on 18 different workouts and they all go well with tonic. Main exercises include curling a glass of gin and tonic from the table to your mouth. Whilst very well known for their gin offering, they also have an amazing beer offering and is the perfect place to drink the day away.
Just off Bold Street on Newington is a green coloured building serving up lots of its namesake. Step inside and the interior is what you’d expect from an old school boozer but with modern twists throughout. The white tiled wall in the corner has the names of local bands scribed in marker, an ode to the musical prowess in Liverpool. People often associate canned beer with red necks rather than white collars but the craft beer scene is evolving and Newington Temple are keeping up with the trends and have some amazing varieties of craft in a can.
Try the Beavertown Neck Oil, a canned American craft beer that is a go-to IPA that is light and crisp.
If you fancy somewhere out of town, Pi is a little gem of a local on Rose Lane. They serve close to 100 beers from over 20 different countries and even have a “beer bible” to help you make the all important decision of what to drink. It is safe to say beer is one religion we can all believe in. They have recently extended into next door and play host to hundreds of locals each week. There’s now no need to calculate Pi to a thousand places when there’s only one place that counts.
Try the Delerium Tremmons, a fruity blonde crowd pleaser.
Unchanged for years, Ye Cracke is a popular pub located on Rice Street, just off Hope Street with tonnes of history. One of the oldest pubs in the city, they will offer you a smile, a nice drink and a promise that you’ll return. If that wasn’t good enough, head outside to the courtyard where you’ll find an array of interesting characters who will keep the conversations and drinks flowing.
Constellations is a multifaceted venue space that tries to encompass everything the Baltic represents in a few hundred square feet. The outside has an almost garden centre feel to it as you’re surrounded by such an eclectic mix of flowers and plants. The area itself is huge and a perfect place to catch some rays or stare at the stars at night. Either sight will leave your eyes sore. The decor is a haven for illuminati conspiracy theorists, triangles are everywhere to pay homage to the area.
Honourable Mentions: The Swan Inn, Roscoe Head, The Baltic Social, Ma Egerton’s, Dead Crafty Beer Co and The Pilgrim, Liverpool Pigeon Micro Pub, Moose & Moonshine (try the blueberry beer!)