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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Handymans Supermarket on Smithdown is a place full of myth and legend. The whole city mourned once it’s doors closed not so long ago but rather than lay vacant, it’s evolving into a hops headquarters. It has its own nano brewery inside, a menu of some of the wildest beers we’ve ever tried and the interior still pays homage to the previous building. The original plan was to just pop up for a few events on Smithdown but their doors are now open to the masses. Go see what all the fuss is about.
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.
Try the Brooklyn Wheat Beer, its refreshing, light and brisk.
Every beer has a story and Craft Taproom is like a library. A self professed dive bar that just recently opened on Smithdown Road, Craft Taproom has been extremely popular with the locals. Well, good beer at good prices with live music – what’s not to love? We particularly like the Lovecraft inspired decor. The whole place is covered in tentacles and book pages.
Oh c’mon, we had to get this in here. We may be slightly biased but we believe Baltic Market, based in Cains Brewery is a cracking place for a pint. We’ve got some great local beers (brewed literally down the road) on draft and also Kona Big Wave, which has proved very popular. All that drinking will make you no doubt make you hungry and you’re in the right place as we’ve 8 amazing street food traders and a cheese and charcuterie stall.
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 have joined forces to brew, bottle and pour some of the best and most intriguing beers the city has ever seen.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Try the “Hop Head’, a pale ale that is light, fruity and very hoppy.
The Swan Inn
In the heart of the string of bars in Liverpool is a pub. But it’s not just any pub. The Swan inn is a place for metal heads but has universal appeal. Different ages and all walks of life come together for their love of music from the jukebox and beer. A legendary Liverpool institution you must add to your beery bucket list.
Roscoe Head is the very definition of a hidden gem and the only pub in North West to feature in every edition of the Good Beer Guide, since first published in 1974. Given the attritional rate of pub closures, that’s no mean feat and deserves a visit if you ask us. Every now and then a pub becomes so much more than just four walls to drink beer in and Roscoe Head is one of those fine establishments that have become an institution since opening.
Lady of Mann
The Lady of Mann adjoins Thomas Rigby’s with which it shares a courtyard for open air drinking. Named after the eponymous Manx ferry this is an open plan pub where exposed beams and woodwork lend an almost rustic feel. Owned by the Isle of Man brewery O’Kells three hand pumps dispense Okells Bitter and 2 guests. We’ve found it’s also the kind of place where the line between strangers and friends is lost on a hot summers day.
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.
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.
Salt Dog Slim’s
Born out of many European getaays and visits to New York, the mixologists a Salt Dog Slims have created an experience which winks at German camaraderie whilst draping itself in an American flag and parades around in Scouse nipple tassels. The beers come by the stein and after a few of them, you might not want to ever leave.
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.
A unique underground (physically, not socially) bar where all walks of life congregate. The kind of place you might call a ‘dive’ but not mean anything negative by it. Our own personal favourite thing about The Pilgrim is the courtyard, it seems to build an atmosphere unique to the Pilgrim only and this outdoor setting makes it a great summer pub.
Truth be told this list could have gone on and on and on. We’re so very lucky to have these places on our doorstep. Honourable Mentions: Frederiks, The Baltic Social, Sanctuary, The Jacaranda, The Lodge, Que Pasa, Ma Egerton’s, LEAF, Liverpool Pigeon Micro Pub, Buyers Club, Moose & Moonshine (try the blueberry beer!)
Fancy saving money at over 100 independent businesses? We are doing a special price for the Independent Liverpool card for just one week. For just £12 for one (usually £15) or £17 for two (usually £20) you can eat, drink and shop at some of the city’s best independents and save some money a long the way for a whole year. Save money, shop local – what’s not to like? Grab yours here.