Liverpool and beer have history.
A history that goes beyond post-work bevs, bank holiday benders, and pints in the pub. Some of our finest buildings were funded by 19th century brewers, the Cains Brewery has long been a city landmark, and Carlsberg did indeed do Champions League finals when they sponsored the Reds for their historic night in Istanbul.
But when Cains finally closed its doors in 2013 it looked like the city’s hoppy ending wasn’t to be. Camra continued to fly the flag in the wilderness years with some cracking real ale festivals but the reign of the weak as piss pint appeared eternal. However, hope was on the horizon in the form of the craft beer explosion and over the past few years its inspired the city to rediscover its love for brewing.
Now quality tipples are bubbling away under our pubs, behind railway arches and in shiny new Baltic breweries. But if you’re new to the scouse pint, where to start? Here’s our top of the hops:
Black Lodge Brewery
How could you fail to love a brewery inspired by Twin Peaks? Black Lodge hit the Baltic in 2015 and hasn’t looked back. This experimental team produce an ever-changing array of small-batch seasonal beers and are big on collaborations – brewing with the likes of Brewdog and Atom Brewery in the past. Call into their new Baltic taproom to sample their outstanding beers, ales and IPA’s.
Love Lane Brewery
The Love Lane Brewery has come a long way since brewing its first beer in a converted railway arch on Love Lane. As well as making a brilliant pale ale, lager and limited-edition Love Lane brews, it’s now custodian of the city’s historic Higson’s brand and creating excellent ales under the famous banner. In 2017 they turned an old rubber factory in the Baltic into a massive brewery, bar and you can even take a tour to see the brewing magic happen.
Red Star Brewery
Possibly named after the squirrels, more likely the football team, Red Star is a Formby based microbrewery that’s shined bright since started brewing cask-conditioned ales in 2015. Already proud owners of multiple industry awards these guys produce a smashing oatmeal stout, wheat beer and their famous Formby IPA.
Ad Hop are a small craft outfit known for experimental brews and interesting collaborations. The roots of this brewery are in the back room of the Baltic Fleet and despite moving to a bigger premises and starting to spread their wares outside of the city, they are still committed to experimentation and one-off brews. Look out for Merseyful, an Ad Hop bitter that’s a firm festival favourite and head to The Grapes on Roscoe Street to try their new delicious ginger rye pale ale.
Top Rope Brewery
Neil and Ben met at a Brewdog homebrew club, bonded over wrestling and the rest (via camping out in Ben’s kitchen and then persuading his parents to let them build a brewery in their garden…) is history. They are now brewing out of a massive brewhouse in North Wales but their roots remain firmly in Liverpool, and firmly in making full-flavoured modern beers.
Neptune have risen from hobby homebrewing to beer god status in just a few years. Whether you go for cask, keg or can their offerings are always hit – and every brew is vegan friendly. And you’ll soon be able to sample their pale ales, stouts, IPAs and wheat beers at their Maghull brewery tap – head down on May 26 and 27 for the grand opening.
Behind the unassuming facade of Smithdown Road’s Handymans Supermarket you’ll find a micro-brewery and a massive space to enjoy their offerings. The Handymans has quickly become a firm Smithdown road favourite and its’s in no small part due to their own cask and bottled beers. Pop in and try their pale ale, bitter and IPA, perhaps the pick of the bunch is their rich smooth porter.
Glen Affric is a family run brewery with Chinese and US craft beer influences, a Scottish name, and a home just outside the mouth of the Birkenhead Tunnel. So far, so eclectic. And this diversity can be seen in the many brews they offer, ranging from the citrusy Highland Suntan, to Bourbon Barrel Aged cask ale and an experimental Coconut & Vanilla Porter. Their huge taproom is a great place to sample them and they’ll even provide some (0%) dog treats made using the spent malts.
Peerless by name, pretty damn close to it by nature. These guys have been creating award-winning drops at their microbrewery for a decade and specialise in modern cast conditioned ales. Jump on one of the brewery’s monthly tours to see the magic happen, and taste some of it too. You can expect award-winning stouts, modern IPAs and cask pilsners.
Chapter Brewing make fictional beer. But don’t panic you’re not going to get an empty glass, just a reading suggestion linked to your pint. It’s always something that inspired the beer, the style or the design. It’s a nice insight into the thought-process behind these ace beers and with names like Forgotten Decibels and Dead Man’s Fist they are guaranteed to be packed with character.
Opened in The Baltic Triangle, Gibberish is a craft beer spot that is brewing its creations on site, for a seriously fresh taste. The mad scientist behind it is Gaz Matthews, not a stranger to brewing as he also started Mad Hatter Brewing Co. The Eton Mess sour beer and peanut butter and raspberry jelly stout both have us returning for more.
Carnival Brewing Company
Brimstage were the first Wirral brewery. They started up in 2006 since the closure of the old Birkenhead brewery back in the 1960’s. They’re a small independent family owned business but despite small in size they’ve made the national finals of the Champion Beer of Britain competition for 2019 – so they’ll be flying the flag for Merseyside down in London on the 6th August.
The Baltic resurgence shows no signs of slowing and last year the council gave a green light to a £7million investment in Cain’s Brewery Village that could see a brewing operation return. So keep your eyes peeled, the city’s beermoth could be back with us…
Well then, there it is! With some brilliant breweries, beloved pubs and regular beer festivals all year, it’s no secret Liverpool loves a pint. Next time you’re out and about and you see one of the local breweries above on offer, go for it and keep the Liverpool’s brew scene alive and kicking.