On the road to meet an old mate last week – in Ormskirk, where the potatoes are made – and straight from the train said pal led me to a pub he imagined would be right up my street.
It was. And how. Indeed, my nose pressed to the glass, it was hard to imagine a better place to sit and empty a few quiet glasses that midweek winter’s night.
The Hop Inn Bier Shoppe (a self-proclaimed ‘Belgian-styled’ bottle bar in Burscough Street) is small, furnished simply and traditionally – or, put another way, comfortably – lit in a way likely to soothe shattered nerves, proffers up a range of quality foreign beers and local real ales and, in short, ticked every box bar one.
No food, and the pair of us straight from work and starving.
So off we nipped, around the corner, to a less appealing pub redeemed solely in this instance by the smell of fresh chips and sundry savouries drifting over the thoroughfare.
Naturally, this is unduly harsh. Had time not just been spent casing a pub I was itching to inhabit, Disraelis would undoubtedly have suited just fine.
The beer, for sure, offered no cause for concern.
Two pints of great Marston’s Pedigree, a classic dark amber and biscuit sweet English pale ale, was a perfect accompaniment to the pile of tasty stodge which included, chicken, cheese, bacon, other stuff and arrived midway through the second jar.
Still, couldn’t get out of that place sharp enough, and the only question remaining to be answered was whether to begin my Bier Shoppe-ing with a bottle of something surprising from the continent or a nut brown foamy drop from closer to home.
At least, that was my only question. The pub, sadly, had other questions. Lots of them.
A whole quiz’ worth, and the quizmaster had plugged in the mike and was in the business of announcing that a quizzing was imminent as we arrived, aghast, at the threshold.
One swift about-face later and we were counting our blessings – while rueing the bog standard ale in our glasses – in a convenient if dismal (but blessedly unquizzed) pub just over the way.