The Ormskirk Beer Scene


Photo taken 13 August 2014

Photo taken 13 August 2014

I’ve lived in Ormskirk for 6 years now and in that short time I’ve seen the beer scene change totally from several typical town pubs – serving a few uneventful cask ales – to a scattering of craft bars and suppliers. In this blog I’ll guide you around the beer based wonders of Ormskirk – Imagine ancient Rome and you won’t go far wrong…..

Back in the day in years now passed counting the only place, which I knew of, where you could buy really good beer, was from Source Deli – @SourceDeli. Source Deli, as the accurate name suggests, is a deli which specialises in using locally sourced products to create fantastic tasting food – if you’re in Ormskirk then you need to eat here (if you can get a seat!). To match the excellent food Source Deli has good selection of brilliant beer, all of which has passed the owner’s Paul’s (@sourcedelipaul) educated lips and rigours tasting policy, which I believe, to paraphrase, is “if it’s crap I’m not selling it”. It was here where I purchased my first bottles of magic juice from breweries such as Brewdog, Marble, Liverpool Organic and Stringers. These beers were, and still are, a taste sensation especially to someone who’s height of beer exoticism, or perhaps eroticism?, at that point, was Wychwood’s Hobgoblin (I do still enjoy the raisin taste of Hobgoblin but that’s probably because it reminds me of the youth of my beer life).

Slightly outside of Ormskirk centre is a little bar called La Cantina – @LaCantinaL39. My inner geek is always disappointed it wasn’t called Mos Eisley Cantina but I suppose Disney would have filed a law suit. Personally, I find the name La Cantina cringe worthy, if you’re not French then why give your bar a French title that gives the initial impression of cheap imitation instead of the drinking gem which it is? I’ve heard La Cantina described as “a boys den” and I suppose that’s an accurate description of a bar that has ceiling so low that if it was artexed it would cause serious and regular head lacerations. On a plus note however, La Cantina now has an indoor toilet which has eliminated the need for the quick tipsy dashes in the dark when it’s raining. These quirks coupled with the owner, John’s, friendly personality and small but excellent beer selection make La Cantina well worth a visit. I’ve had many a gem on keg there, Hawkshead IPA, Windsor and Eaton’s Conquer, Salopian Darwn’s Origin, and Stringer’s Victoria to name a few.

Directly across from La Cantina you will find Holborn’s Cask Ales – @Holborncaskales – who are a beer and wine wholesalers. Holborn’s have fantastic range of beer that is constantly changing so it’s always worth popping in and seeing what goodies are on offer. If you’re going to visit the best time to go is at the end of the week, Friday, when all the deliveries have been completed and the shop will be staffed.

Back in the centre of Ormskirk there is a small and very busy inn that concentrates on, mainly, Germanic beers with a small selection of ales from the Burscough Brewery –  (as they own the Inn). The Hop Inn Bier Shoppe reminds me of the old Victorian temperance bar I used to visit with my Dad when I was growing up. Wood panels, cabinets filled with beer and dead animal heads decorate the Inn. It’s exceptionally small and also exceptionally busy on most occasions so expect a wait for the single male toilet, if you’re a lady then you’ll probably have to wait even longer (at a guess 2-4hrs) and if you’re visiting on a Friday or Saturday night then make sure you’re wearing comfy shoes as you’ll be standing. The Hop Inn Bier Shoppe is a victim of its own success as it’s often too busy to go for a relaxing pint due to the amount of people crammed into such a small space, because of this it’s now become a place I’ll have a pint in before moving on. As with La Cantina I really don’t like the name of ‘The Hop Inn Bier Shoppe’. I know what they’re trying to do but it’s just bollocks. For one a ‘bier’ is what you put a coffin on and yes can they’re trying to make a link to the Germanic spelling for beer but it’s just needless especially when you add second layer of bullshit into the name with the antiquated spelling for ‘shoppe’. For me it just cheapens the place by playing to established stereotypes. Why not just call it “The Hop Inn”?!

Across from The Source a new Weatherspoons has opened called The Court Leet – @court_leet_jdw.  At the moment it’s sill new and shiny and has a beer selection that you can find in any Weatherspoons – nothing truly exciting except for the cans of Six Point’s Bengali Tiger but enough variety to keep you interested for a night. The “highlight” of the Leet Bar is a Willy Wonka-esq glass elevator which leads to a roof terrace that overlooks Ormskirk’s main car park. It’s a sight to behold, stood on the roof-terrace gazing out over the car park like Jon Snow stood onto of the wall waiting for the onslaught of the wildings to begin.

Finally, Ormkirk will soon be getting a new bar that specialises in cocktails and craft beer. The premises for Salt Liquor Ormskirk is currently being re-furbished and open within the next few months, you can follow their progress on twitter @saltliquorormy.

As you can see for a small market town we’re really lucky to have so many excellent places in Ormskirk that sell really good beer. If you do visit Ormskirk for a craft wanker night out you might be lucky enough to meet some of Ormskirk’s very own Titans of beer; The Baron (@Baron_Orm), Chris (@Christopher_R), The Bone (@VillaBONE) and Paul (@SourcedeliPaul).

Taming the Beast

*Some of the below may not have actually happened*

Over the last few weekends I’ve been receiving direct messages on twitter which, surprisingly, haven’t been directing me to a link to see what ‘someone has said about me’. Instead these DMs have been asking ‘what am doing’ and do I want to ‘come around for a few hours?’. Fortunately, these DMs have been come from my twitter and real-life buddy @Baron_Orm (or The Baron as he insists everyone, including his own family, call him).

Now why did The Baron want a private liaison with the hero of this blog whilst his wife was pre-occupied? Now I know what you’re thinking but it wasn’t for a kiss or cuddle (and who could blame him if he felt that way as I’m a handsome chap), instead he wanted me to make the Baron’s beans fuzz! Now the bean fuzz isn’t an initiation process into the Cult of the Baron or a special baked beans recipe handed down from one Baron to the next since 1998. No, it’s something much more special than that. The Baron’s Bean Fuzz is a unique, hand built, boutique, one off, professionally finished, glorious sounding fuzz pedal – finished in a bake bean orange colour scheme, hence the name*. I can’t tell you how impressed I was with The Baron’s fuzz pedal, it looks amazing and the sound quality is excellent, all in all it’s an first-rate product – if The Baron has the time to invest in building these peddles then my crystal ball(s) tells me that he’ll be successful!

*Rumour has it that The Baron wanted to house the pedal in a baked bean tin but after crushing 7 tins with his stiletto clad feet he decided he needed more sturdy housing.

 heinzAs a proviso of being summoned to The Baron’s dungeon (his Y-front only dress code music room) he insisted that I bring my guitar. Now my guitar far surpasses my playing ability and I’m convinced that it was carved from Brian May’s hip bone; so I now live in hope that some of his ability will pass along to me, akin to the quickening in Highlander. As far as I can tell The Baron believes the same which meant he wanted to couple his fuzz pedal with my axe of epicness.  I still can’t understand why The Baron insisted on playing my axe naked but he did put on a good show – the lighting and pyrotechnics were especially spectacular but he did overdo it with the smoke machine.

The Baron in his Y - Fronts

The Baron in his Y – Fronts

It was during one of The Baron’s more exuberant hip thrusts that I started to think about how much more enjoyable learning and playing an instrument is with someone else – even if they are naked and thrusting. The Baron is a far superior guitarist than I am but every time we’ve managed to get together, to talk guitar, I’ve always come away having learnt something. Twitter, YouTube and the forums are great learning aids but nothing beats sitting down with a friend and helping each other through something. It’s a little disheartening that we both have busy lives and young families so we can’t dedicate a regular amount of time to the guitar – we also need to practice somewhere that won’t disturb our families. I don’t tend to regret decisions made in the past but I really do wish that I started playing when I was a child / teenager. So if you are a child / teenager stop depositing the contents of your testicles into sports socks, and start to learn an instrument and then build your own guitar peddles like The Baron. Who knows one day you could be as cool as us!

One cool cat

One cool cat