Real Ale renaissance in Widnes!
It has been said nationally that the fight to get real ale promoted and appreciated is over and that the Campaign for Real Ale can move on and change its focus. I have always maintained that in Halton (where previously only about 20% of pubs served real ale) this is not the case. We are very much concerned with promoting and encouraging pubs to serve real ales and to get customers to try real ales and appreciate their flavour and diversity.
Within Halton, Runcorn has for some time had a better selection of pubs serving real ale, and I have heard many Widnesians praying for just one good pub! At long last their dreams may be starting to come true!
Recently I received an “e” mail from the new landlady at the Grapes in Widnes, saying that they now served two real ales and a real cider. Around 20 years ago the Grapes was the premier real ale establishment in Widnes and a regular Good Beer Guide entry. It was also a personal favourite of mine! Sadly the pub has been through darker times and became a keg only establishment that was a shadow of its former self.
With great excitement, I visited the Grapes and had an excellent pint of Adnams Ghost Ship whilst learning of plans to keep two regularly changing guest beers with one possibly being sourced from local breweries. The pub has retained its traditional character with a very friendly atmosphere and a focus on live music at weekends. Real cider has increased in popularity hugely and the landladys decision to stock a regularly changing real cider besides being commercially sensible is also a welcome addition to what has been a “cider desert”. As a former resident of the South West of England (Cider country!) it is also a tipple I very much enjoy and a welcome addition to what has previously been on offer. Highly recommended!
Around this same time, I also learned that the Bradley in Widnes has been keeping a guest beer, and that the Derby (a long term keg pub) has real ale available. This is hot off the press, but leaves the prospect of a Widnes pub crawl from the Premier (Wetherspoons) to the Grapes! Meanwhile further out on the Widnes borders, the Church View has expanded its range of cask ales considerably, and the Black Horse in Cronton has started keeping cask ale (Jennings Cumberland).
All in all, the residents of Widnes may at last be getting their prayers answered.