Pubpaper 865 – Chester Pubs and Scaring Crows

Posted: 18th July 2016 by santobugtio in Pub Paper, Writing

13781943_1146861402037596_3986821007036444907_nThe bulk of this article will be documenting my adventures in beer and spirits in Chester last weekend, but I’m going to start off with the Scarecrow Festival Sunday at my local pub, the Cock and Bottle, Southowram.  I’m involved with the Southowram Scarecrow Festival as committee member and resident graphic designer, so is a cause close to my heart.  Therefore seeing so many people turning out all afternoon, enjoying the fantastic performance by International Party Doctors, buying food from the NPSCC BBQ and making sure that their raffle was a great success.  Many thanks to the owner, local resident Michael Cawood, the pub management led by Alexis and the staff for their support and effort on the day ensuring it continues to be one of the best annual afternoons out in the village.  Being able to enjoy a few ales in the sun to good music and good food just can’t be beaten!

Now onto Chester.  To be honest we didn’t get to see a lot of Chester due to the rain, preferring to wet the throat than the head.  We started at Artichoke, based on the canal just up from the Railway Station on the City Road.  With typical interior design of exposed brick and designer chairs you get in converted mills and factories.  They had four real ales on tap, along with a wide selection of European beers.  I sampled a couple of real ales, both relatively locally brewed and tasted good showing they were kept well.  I also tried Pardal and Budvar and as expected in a good Czech beer was tasty and refreshing.  If you are a gin fan, they have a massive range here, as well as other spirits.  As a note just up the tow path is The Old Harkers Arms, a Good Beer Guide entry of 20 years right next to the City Road, offering 10 real ales and a similar number of ciders and perrys. I intended to finish off our night here over a few ales, but too much beer, rum and vodka put paid to those ideas, but we’ll be visiting their next time for sure.

12027589_1644631635826103_4350292632611410828_nNext we moved onto Liquor and Co, on the upper level on Watergate Street in Chester’s famous double storied shopping district.  The decor in this place is fantastic, patterned brass effect ceiling, with old industrial style lighting.  The 1930’s speakeasy look is completed by staff dress, braces and all.  When a pub ties all the visual elements together it really adds to a place.  We hit the spirits here, but they had a good range of craft beers on tap and bottles in the fridge.  A good choice of whisky, rum, vodka and more sit behind the bar if you want to go up for your drinks, but the table service was far more relaxing.  Between us we sampled a couple of Appleton rums (Red and Green), my wife’s current favourite Kraken, Mount Gay and a Zubrowka Buffalo Grass Vodka (I’m sure there was one more i’ve missed as well).  I can’t normally drink vodka any more since a bad experience with Polish vodka at 17 years old, but have loved this stuff since I got given some at last years Cloudspotting music festival which I return to next weekend for four days.   If you are in the city I highly recommend a visit to Liquor and Co.

51Next we went to Church Bar and Restaurant just up from the Roman park and amphitheatre.  A converted church with lofty ceilings, the upper floor around the sides of the building is for diners, while a lively bar sits below coming down the centre of the church.  Large seating bays line each side whilst the large outside terrace area would have been great if dry with plenty of seating.  We placed ourselves at the bar, the perfect place to watch a wide mix of customers constantly in and out.   The Purple Moose beer was on good form here, one brewery I always make a beeline for when in a pub, but went back onto the rum after a pint, the names of the rums slip my mind probably due to the rum consumed by the time we left to head for dinner.  The Greek restaurant was a big disappointment, but the large bottle of Keo did the job to wash dinner down.

As we always seem to, we ended up in a Samuel Smiths pub, the Boot Inn, again on Watergate Street on an upper terrace, this time for a clothing change.  A wide long venue, typical of the brewery, needing some TLC in places.  The Alpine Lager and Rum and Coke came in at under a fiver and frankly we got what we paid for.  All in all a great weekend away and would recommend the town to anyone for a city break.