In the old days, going out for a pint used to be easy. A man walked into a bar, asked for a pint and the barman poured a glass of the one beer the pub had on tap.
It was a simple time – a time when drinking alcohol was no-nonsense, unsophisticated and unrefined.
It’s different in the modern age. Nowadays, a man walks into a bar, asks for a pint and the barman asks what kind? If the thirsty customer looks confused, the barman will probe to find out what kind of beer-drinker they are. Whether they like their beers hoppy or malty?
Or whether they are a particular fan of pale ales, real ales, golden ales or blonde ales?
The bigger flavours and better choices now available to beer-drinkers is a reflection of the craft beer revolution that has taken the world by storm – one that Liverpool in particular has embraced with open arms.
It is rare to walk into a bar in the city now and not be greeted with a vast array of taps – each one offering a choice of different and higher quality beers than what used to be available.
A survey released this year said that Britain’s pubs were closing at a rate of 29 per week with there now being 19,000 less pubs in the U.K in 2015 than there were in 1980.
If a pub is to survive now, they must provide something better and different to satisfy the taste buds of a new breed of beer connoisseurs.
The same study revealed that the average number of pints sold per day last year had dropped by almost 20 million since 1979.
Hikes in prices means people are drinking less beer and when they are drinking they are being more selective, preferring to spend money on a higher quality beer than the standard industrial brewed product.
Innovation and experimentation is a key feature of the revolution, and the bold craft beers that are changing what people expect from a beer are exactly the kind of product the public is now demanding.
Liverpool is at the forefront of this movement with local artisan microbreweries such as Red Star Ales delivering their craft beers to bars across the nation.
As well as producing the product, there are countless bars in the city centre selling high quality beers to the niche audience that is expanding into the mainstream with every day.
The Best Places for a Quality Pint:
Ship & Mitre
Liverpool’s most recognised specialty beer bar is located towards the end of Dale Street and is a must see destination for those looking for a great pint. Originally opened in 1935, the small bar is crammed with an abundance of fantastic ales that enable you to journey the world’s beers from the comforts of this characterful pub.
The bar has recently started running its own beer festivals at Hulme Hall in Port Sunlight- and the pub’s manager, Ben Garner, believes the success of these events is proof of craft beer’s growing popularity.
He said: “Beer has become cool and young people more widespread are enjoying different kinds of beer. 8 years ago, when I started here, there weren’t many pubs that did what we did. Now, everywhere you go most places will have real ales and craft beers – and everyone loves it.”
Recommended Pint: Brooklyn East India Pale Ale.
This deep golden beer brings together the best of English and American hops to create a quality transatlantic ale. At 6.9%, the New York based brewery has pulled no punches in producing a well-balanced drink bursting with flavour.
One of Liverpool’s oldest pubs is located at the opposing end of Dale Street to the Ship & Mitre and a reason why it has maintained its success over the years is due to the fantastic selection of beers it has on offer. The Victorian style interior makes it obvious that this is a pub with great heritage and it is an added bonus that it puts such an effort into delivering top quality craft beer. With an incredible amount of taps and an impressive amount of bottled beers, it’s not hard to see why it continues to be so popular- especially amongst the white collar workers looking to wind down after a tough shift at the office.
Recommended Pint: Beavertown Gamma Ray.
The London brewery’s version of the quintessential American pale ale is a treat for any lover of beer. Zesty tropical hops are evident just from the smell and the taste certainly does not disappoint as the intense citrus flavour is followed by a delightfully dry finish in this fine pint.
In Mad Men, Don Draper quipped that ‘if you don’t like what’s being said, then change the conversation’- and two men from Aberdeen did exactly that when they started the BrewDog brewery in 2007. Bored of the beer being produced by mainstream companies, they decided to brew their own product and they haven’t looked back since. Having now expanded the breweries into 26 bars nationwide, the concoctions Brewdog produce do not just simply push the boundaries of what people expect from a beer – they obliterate and redefine what those limits ever were.
Michael Lang, an employee based at BrewDog’s Liverpool bar on Colquitt Street, spoke about how the punk ethos promoted by this bar encapsulates the anarchic spirit of the craft beer revolution in its truest form.
He said: “‘One of our mottos is that we don’t compromise. We make this beer for craft beer and we don’t compromise with flavours. We do a 32% beer. We do a 41% beer. No one told us to make it, we just wanted to, so we did.”
Recommended Pint: Jackhammer I.P.A.
Intense hops in this 7.2% drink create a bitter taste sensation so great that it takes the pallet a few moments to comprehend what it has just experienced.
Grove Bar Tap and Grill
Tucked away between Seel Street and Concert Square, this trendy bar sells an exclusive range of draught and bottled beers from top breweries across the globe as well as quality product from close to home.
The slogan is “We don’t want to be the only beer you try just the best” but the wide variety of beer on sale means you could spend a considerable amount of time in this one place.
Recommended Pint: White Fox I.P.A.
Produced by the Liverpool Craft Beer Company based on Love Lane, this refreshing beer combines the hops of an American I.P.A with the malts of a traditional wheat beer to create something completely new that packs a bitter punch.
It may seem a surprising choice on the list, but the popular pub chain prides itself on its quality beers with its ‘Craftwork’ campaign- and it is doubtful you could find a bar in the city that could rival it for selection.
A criticism often levelled at craft beer is that pints are quite expensive. However, nobody can have any qualms at Wetherspoons, as it is rare a customer will ever pay over three pound for some of the best beers you could wish to taste.
Recommended Pint: Devil’s Backbone.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a higher quality beer than this one from the Lexington based brewery. This 5.2% Amber coloured ale delivers a hoppy bomb that satisfies every single one of the taste buds – the complete craft beer.
The 23 Club
Hidden away in the basement beneath the Clove Hitch on Hope Street, this small bar is ideal for any beer aficionado. Named as the third most beard friendly pub in the UK, the bar fits well with the heavily bearded hipster that is now the stereotypical image of the modern beer drinker. The underground bar has a raw, speakeasy vibe and is constantly adding new and unusual craft beers to its already vast selection of ales.
Recommended Pint: Jakehead I.P.A.
The North East brewery’s signature beer is styled in the fashion of a traditional India Pale Ale. At 6.3%, this rich beer was deservedly voted in first place in the UK’s 100 hottest beers- a must try.
The traditional pub is certainly in a state of decay and in its place is the rise of the craft beer bar. As well as raising the bar in the quality of beer, the revolution has also added to the social experience of beer-drinking as now a group of mates can all get a variety of interesting beers and discover how they’re different.