A Jolly Outing In Chester

Chester has always been one of the top spots for a day’s drinking. Plenty of pubs-from old to modern-and lots of the real stuff. Sorry, keggies, although it’s growing in availability, it’s still not the best place for that craft stuff. My last visit was in February last year as organiser of a CAMRA crawl. Last Saturday’s adventure was a bipartisan Jolly Boys Outing. Route agreed it was upwards (or downwards) until the bitter end.

A new one to me. This bar on City Road has been picking up some good reports with up to four cask beers on. But sadly not on our visit. Two Red Willow beers were showing on the bar, but getting hold of them proved somewhat elusive. Or illusory, even. Splutter, splutter, but no joy. The barmaid was very apologetic but they weren’t ready. I realise this will be more of a late night haunt, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that, if somewhere opens at lunchtime, that they will have beer available.

Old Harkers
Luckily, after that false start, it was only across the road to the next stop. Harkers is an old friend, long-established now on the good pub crawl of Chester. This Brunning & Price canal side pub is very much atypical of their upmarket offerings and offers a decent selection on the drinks front. Spitting Feathers was the starting tipple here.

Marlborough Arms
This was very disappointing as last time it had been good but this time was a waste of space. The first drink offered was hot. And I mean hot, not warm. Like it had been poured from the hot water tank. Never mind, let’s try another. Yuk. Pure hot vinegar. The advance party voted with their feet and radioed our change of plans to those in the rear.

This pub, just off the Roman wall, is famous/infamous for its eccentric landlord who has ran it as his own personal fiefdom for nearly forty years. A sign outside: dogs yes, children no etc, gives a clue as to why it is nicknamed the ‘no fun pub’. But it does host some interesting WW1 memorabilia and who can’t but love a pub that advertises the guest lager as “I can’t believe it’s not piss.” The advance party did well by supping all the Harvest Pale (in good nick, to be fair) leaving only Tribute for the rest
 Cross Keys
This Joules pub is a belter. It was good last time and didn’t disappoint again with a mix of Joules beers (Pale Ale and Blonde) and guests such as Thornbridge Kipling. A comfy, proper pubby atmosphere really makes this place worth a visit.

Bear & Billet
Back to al fresco at this Okells pub. Their MPA was so good that we had no hesitation in immediately getting another.

Spitting Feather Brewery Tap
A fantastic Georgian building this, but they were a little awry with their beer selection. Too many strong beers. On a scorcher of a day, you really don’t want to see 6%+ beers on the bar. That 6.3% was ok but really, get a grip.

This is another new one. On Newgate this, as the name implies, is a conversion of a church. Done on a grand scale with an impressive al fresco area, this is all about the building. Reasonable, if rather dull, local-as in Welsh, beer available.

This is a new, very impressive Brunning & Price pub that overlooks the racecourse at Roodee. Named in honour of Thomas Harrison, the main behind Chester Castle amongst others, this Georgian building is filled with light and mixes the old with the new seamlessly. The beer choice was a little pedestrian, though, with local beers dominating once again.
Pied Bull
Reputed to be the oldest licensed premises in Chester, this pub is on Northgate St and is now home to a brewery in the cellar. This is a good pub to relax in but unfortunately there was only one of their own beers on when we called in. So we had to settle for one of the guest beers. Which were well kept and not of the dull variety.
This bar, conveniently located near the train station on the site of a former Italian restaurant, is the tap for Blueball brewery which is based in Runcorn. Their philosophy is that it doesn’t matter if it’s cask, keg or bottle, as long as it tastes good and there is a good selection of all three here. A nice finisher.

A quick dash enabled us-well some of us-to make the designated train back to Manchester. A very good day out but with some mixed results beer wise. Too many bog standard local beers taking room up on the bar and if I see another beer labelled as “Golden” when it’s brown, I’ll scream.


Curmudgeon said…
Dare I suggest the Locale scheme has something to do with the proliferation of bog-standard local beers? ;-)

Also two excellent Sam Smith's pubs in Chester city centre, although obviously they will have nothing of interest to the ticker.
Tyson said…
You may well say that about Locale but I couldn't possibly comment:) Yes, there are some nice Sam Smiths pubs in Chester and in fact there was a little diversion to the Falcon on the day.
Ethan said…
For bog-standard, read Welsh rubbish.
kippaxchester said…
Just looking through the list and can't see too many locales on the list apart from spitting feathers. in fact red willow is nearer manc then chester!ok maybe runcorn could count but not exactly right on the doorstep....
kippaxchester said…
Curmudgeoun, Spitting Feathers is the only local beer, Kash beers from Runcorn at a push maybe.

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