A collective of pub-owners has organised a three-day beer festival
Liverpool has that many different “quarters” that it’s hard to keep up sometimes - The Knowledge Quarter, The Cavern Quarter, The Georgian Quarter, The Cultural Quarter, The Baltic Quarter, The Pride Quarter. To add to the list, a new “Beer Quarter” will be celebrated this month with an accompanying three-day festival across various venues.
Our ambition and focus is to retain all of our pubs in this great city of ours and especially in this area.
The Beer Quarter hasn’t been dreamt up in a marketing meeting or council think tank - it’s a collaboration between local publicans in and around the Dale Street area, home to some of Liverpool’s oldest and best boozers.
Dale Street has a long history and was first mentioned in a deed of 1328 during the reign of Edward III. Simple dwellings gradually became used for other purposes and provided the structure for Liverpool’s business district layout in the early 18th century. The streets leading off it were the real building blocks of the area, lined with numerous coaching houses and inns for the many travellers coming in and out of Liverpool on business.
Fast forward a few hundred years and there are still many character-filled pubs in the area lending much to the city’s heritage. But with the recent cost of living crisis, energy bill hikes, and reduced spending power from punters, it is, of course, a tough time for hospitality.
Now a group of like-minded pub owners have got together to stage a celebration of Liverpool’s Beer Quarter. Fiona Hornsby, owner of The Denbigh Castle on Hackins Hey, said the collective is acutely aware of the dismal headlines about 70% of pubs potentially falling this winter.
Fiona said, “Our ambition and focus is to retain all of our pubs in this great city of ours and especially in this area because what would Liverpool be like without them. It’s almost unimaginable looking back over our three decades of experience in the industry.
“We thought that collaborating together and establishing a Beer Quarter would reaffirm the area’s canny ability to provide the kind of quality entertainment that is unique to the great British pub, albeit with a Scouse twist.”
Liverpool Beer Quarter Festival will take place over the weekend of the 23 - 25 September with participating pubs running a variety of special events, from live music, comedy and karaoke, to pub games, beer tastings, “meet the brewer” and special food offerings.
As well as The Denbigh Castle, participating pubs include The Ship and Mitre, The Excelsior, Dead Crafty Beer Company, The Angus Tap & Grind, The Vernon Arms, The Saddle, The Denbigh Castle, The Lion Tavern, The Cross Keys and Shenanigans.
Highlights include So Use Do Comedy, Ship & Mitre’s gaming day, and a beer and cheese tasting session at The Denbigh Castle with Tom from Lunya. But we rather fancy the idea of going on a bit of a pub crawl just to see what happens. Save our pubs - see you there?
Pub guide: some of the best boozers in the business district
The Ship & Mitre gets its name from a combination of the two pubs that were previously on the site – The Flagship and The Mitre. The main bar is in the shape of a ship whilst the impressive Art Deco function room has been incredibly well maintained. The addition of a small roof garden in 2022 is still relatively unknown. They stock in excess of 150 beers across bottles, kegs and cask – there is definitely something for everyone.
“Its great to be working with our neighbours to protect the cultural history of our area.” Joe Danson, general manager
Named after an old sailing ship that took people to the new world, the original Excelsior was situated just seven yards from its present site. In 1962, Higsons Brewery moved into their new offices on North Street and wanted the pub below to become their flagship pub – a deal was done with Walker-Cain Brewery to swap pubs. The Old Scotch House became the Excelsior and vice versa – sadly The Old Scotch House was demolished in 1969 and is now a car park.
“The Dale Street area is a part of our city where consistently good beer is served and you always get that authentic Liverpool pub experience.” Gary O’Donnell, owner of The Excelsior
Winner of the Best Independent Craft Beer Bar in the UK 2021 which is some accolade. Apparently frequented by Robert Carlisle when he's in the city and known as the Pearl Jam Bar amongst music fans. The building was previously a pharmacy in the 1950s but had been derelict for around 12 years prior to Dead Crafty opening.
“We just want to highlight our area as a beer focused one, creating a beer quarter will celebrate the best beer in the most unique historic buildings and show people that there is a great number of beer bars and pubs right under their nose.” Gareth & Vicky, DCBC
Named after the first occupants of the building, leatherworks George Angus & Co, The Angus opened in 2020. It’s a bar, a coffee shop with great beer and amazing music day and night. They offer real ale, cocktails, quiz and open mic nights with live music every weekend.
“We want to show people that Liverpool consistently brings great entertainment, amazing atmosphere, good beer and some of the best staff around – come and have a wander on one of the best pub crawls the city has to offer.” Liam, general manager at The Angus
A traditional pub with an unusual sloping floor. An independently owned family business with an excellent range of beer, a snug and plenty of antiquities and quirky items dotted around.
“Great to be working with our neighbours to highlight such great independent businesses, we hope to bring people to this area to have a great day or night out and meet some of the many local characters who frequent the area.” Mark, general manager, The Vernon Arms
Famed for its weekend karaoke nights, a warm and friendly local housed in a Grade II-listed building. Originally called the Palatine, a large fire destroyed the interior and it was refurbished and renamed in the 1980s.
"We always have a laugh, and we want to share that with everyone, lets face it we all need cheering up at the moment.” Jeanette, proprietor of The Saddle Inn
The oldest of all the pubs in the Dale Street area, located on Hackins Hey. The Denbigh changed names to Walters in the 1970s, to Jupiters in the 1990s and then back to Denbigh Castle in 2020. A traditional two-floor pub with a great range of beer.
"At such an uncertain time its great to get together with the independents around us to raise awareness of our area and try and make sure all these great pubs are still here in the future." Fiona Hornsby, owner of The Denbigh Castle
A licensed premises since 1840, originally a wine and spirits vault. Sometime in the 19th century it merged with the oyster bar next door and became The Lion Tavern and was refurbished by Robert Cain. Claiming to be the only pub in Liverpool to feature in a Beatles film - in 1968 a photographer came up to shoot photographs to be used in Yellow Submarine. In the clip from the film of Eleanor Rigby you can see The Lion's newsroom window.
"I would love to see a renaissance of the Dale Street drinking area.” Dave Hardman, licensee of The Lion
Tucked away behind Old Hall street, a firm favourite with the office crowd offering food, great drinks, quiz nights and sport. In 1965, Paul Simon appeared at the Cross Keys folk night. That's quite a claim to fame.
"Looking forward to a community pub event that’s raising awareness of classic British pubs," says proprietor Neil.
Shenanigans is Liverpool's longest-standing independent Irish pub. The venue hosts live music and other events from Thursday to Sunday and a quiz on a Monday. The menu has that proper home cooked feel you can't help but love. Come on down for the craic.
"Pubs are all about community – both inside and out – working together raises awareness for all these great pubs.” Raymond, general manager
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