Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Gallaghers’ Pub And Barbers

Visited on 24 May 2012

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This “long by narrow” pub, on Chester Street in Birkenhead, overlooking the Mersey and with a view of the Liverpool waterfront, was once called The Dispensary. And when Frank and Sue Gallagher first saw it, it was closed up and in danger of becoming yet another statistic in the litany of Great British pub closures. This evening, though, the business is receiving another well deserved award.

For the second year running, Gallaghers is being awarded the CAMRA Wirral Pub Of The Year gong. Think about that: there are still a lot of pubs in this area, and a lot of good ones. Very few get an award like this two years on the bounce. Want to see why? Let’s look inside, where all will be revealed.

It’s not an easy shape to manage, but the space is used inventively: to your right as you walk in is a seating area, then opposite the bar you can sit or stand. And beyond the bar is the barbers chair in its own partitioned off area (no, it doesn’t open in the evenings). But what sets this pub apart are the beer, and the service.

A range of cask beers is always on offer, usually showcasing local brewers Brimstage (of Trapper’s Hat fame) and Peerless, plus others. There is also Hawkshead Lakeland Lager, which is brewed to the kind of strength (5%) that you would expect from a decent Pilsner, rather than the usual fizz.

And then there is the friendly service from both staff and owners, which helps to make a visit here special. The appearance of one cask of free bitter helped matters on the evening of the award, too. And a buffet was laid on. Is it hard to find or difficult to get to from somewhere like Crewe? Well, no and no: there are frequent trains to Liverpool’s Lime Street terminus, then Merseyrail on to Birkenhead Hamilton Square. As can be seen from the map, it’s a short walk from there.

Anyone wanting to see what makes a pub stand out from the ordinary should pay Gallaghers a visit. That’s how high the bar is set by the best – but it’s not impossible for anyone equally determined to do just as well. A cracking evening out.

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