State of the borough report - David Grey
By this time of the year American Presidents have usually performed their annual “State of the Union” address some months ago. In a quarterly publication, it is similarly worthwhile from time to time to appraise what a broad picture of an area`s real ale and pubs shows.
There are very well known destinations for “beer tourism” such as Norwich, Sheffield, Liverpool, Derby and many others but Halton is not and does not pretend to be one of these. Halton is very much an area for locals to live and drink in. With that said and done some of the best gems in an area have to be sought out by those in the know!
Halton is blessed by having several breweries located within the borough. These include Blueball brewery with its award winning “Society Tap Rooms (STR)”. This was voted Pub of the Year by Halton CAMRA and has been described as a breath of fresh air in Runcorn Old Town that excluding the much appreciated Ferry Boat (Wetherspoons) is somewhat of a real ale desert. The brewery has a strong community focus and the STR bar merits visiting regularly!
Similarly Chapter Brewing in Sutton Weaver has recently won Champion Beer of Cheshire with “#3. Dead Man's Fist”. Having visited an “open day” at the brewery I would strongly recommend that the brewers full range of stunning beers is sampled. I would also recommend keeping an eye out for future open days - first Saturday of the month July, August and September.
With regard to wider Runcorn pubs, the Norton continues to thrive, the Prospect merits a visit and the Ring O Bells in Daresbury still maintains a well deserved focus on keeping local ales. In Widnes the picture is a little more mixed. Some more marginal pubs have stopped keeping real ale. However there are some consistent real ale pubs such as the Four Topped Oak where good food also continues to be available and the Premier (Wetherspoons) notably has much improved its availability of real ale.
There are signs of a possible real ale resurgence in the area with the Black Horse in Cronton that was closed recently reopening as “the Dandelion Tavern” with a good range of craft beers and real ales.
Very much a summary but Halton is overall much improved in terms of the availability of quality real ale even though it still needs to be sought out!