This weekend I popped over to Southport for the day, and have spotted my spiritual home for when I visit again for the weekend in June. There are several things I look for in a good pub, wide selection of beer, a nice view and a good atmosphere are just some of them.  This you can get in many pubs, but how many offer you 50 metres of shelves lined with 250 of the best beers from all around the world to try, along with a draught selection of some fine European brews at the bar.  This with a view down one of the best preserved Victorian streets in the country complete with a tree lined garden down its centre for the entire 1 mile length.  Not many, but the Inn Beer Shop at the north end of Lord Street does all that in a narrow 7 foot wide shop cum bar, and the equally wide outside pavement area.   A review of the place will be posted on my return.

As I write this, I’m currently in the Union Cross Hotel in Halifax, listening to Bat out of Hell fade out, while enjoying a nice cold pint of beer, my tipple today being Becks Vier, not the most interesting beer in the world to drink, but damn refreshing on a warm Saturday afternoon.  Sometimes even I find real ale that little bit too much and need a less demanding drink.  I’ll admit that I’ve got a soft spot for Becks, in full strength, 4% Vier and 0% blue varieties.  It is a decent tasting lager, and is as pure a beer as you are going to get commercially in its class. The aftertaste does fade quickly I admit however, as you expect of its ilk.  The drink also avoids the dishwater like experience that is Carling and Fosters, and the headache inducing Stella.  The Blue also makes a decent attempt at being a beer belying it’s 0% ABV when out on a night out and driving.  The brewery sticks to the modern German purity laws for its beer still and isn’t owned by a multinational giant, so for a worldwide mainstream brand that is a bonus for me.

I’ve mentioned ciders in the past and with the sun comes their peak season.  Stella are trying their hand at a “Cidre” (its not a cider they point out but a see-dra).  I’ve not had a chance to try it yet, and probably won’t given there are much better varieties out there, but a well respected beer blogger Pete Brown was given some to sample, and his conclusion was that it was “not unpleasant, but odd”.  I worry when the word odd appears in a review and thus there still is not a Stella product I would pay money out for. He compared Cidre, Bulmers and Magners against Aspalls cider in the same review and found Bulmers was bland and Magners was the best of the commercial ciders as it tasted like you were drinking an actual cider.  The more sophisticated Aspalls was head and shoulders above the others.  I broadly agree with him on this, I love Aspalls in all its varieties, and can quite happy drink Magners on a warm day as well, although I usually skip the tonne of ice.  My personal choice on tap is Stowford Press however when I can get it.

Finally this week, it has been reported that beer will not be served at the royal wedding as it has been deemed as inappropriate by an “insider”.  I never expected it to be served at such an event, which is the preserve of wine and champagne at this level of society, but what it does show is that beer is still a drink with a perceived class issue with certain social levels.  I don’t care either way for the royals, but it was reported that the it was not appropriate to drink beer in the presence of the queen, as were spirits also.  What utter tosh, I’m sure after 60 years on the throne she can cope with someone supping a beer, or having a whisky, both major tax earners for the UK.  What I read into this situation is that some toff in the royal circles made this choice on social preference and needed a reason to justify it, nothing more.

This weeks column is dedicated to Postie Paul, who gives me feedback on this column each time I chat to him at my local, so to him and all of you, happy supping.