Friday 8th January 2016
The Beer Dock is an interesting development in the beer retail market. As we know, there is a huge desire for the so-called “craft” beers. I won’t go into what or what not constitutes a “craft” beer except to say it encompasses virtually any quality beer, most of which were in production long before the term was coined.
Whatever my views on keg beers (a separate issue), this has led to a resurgence in consumption of beers on draught and bottle obtained from specialist shops and independent pubs.
This is in contrast to drinking bland beers from PubCo-owned pubs or bottled and canned mediocrity from the major supermarkets.
Of course, there are exceptions but the latter have definitely upped their game in response to the demand for better quality beers, although they still sell the dross alongside, often greatly discounted, and that tells its own story.
This desire to only drink the best has manifested itself in this case. Sam McGarrigle opened the Beer Dock in Crewe on 10th June 2013 along with his father Chris.
The name is inspired by a visit by Chris to New York in 1977 to visit relatives. He visited a Beer Dock which was a no-frills outlet for bulk buying of beer and other drinks based in an old warehouse. Similar exist in the German-speaking countries of Europe.
It is a good name so no wonder it stuck in Sam’s mind. There is a similar simplistic presentation in the British manifestation which is a retail outlet formerly an estate agent’s office.
It is a very small property. On entering you immediately think off-licence (US=Bottle Shop) rather than bar, but despite that initial impression there is draught beer to be had, dispensed at the far end of the room.
Of course it is the bottles that are paramount here, with shelves and shelves of them on either side of the room.
If you are into drinking beer at home I can think of no better way of selecting them by walking down here, sampling one or more in the shop in a relaxed atmosphere and then choosing some to take away.
The bottles are arranged by country around the room with England first on the left from the door. There’s a good representation from the home country with all (I believe) being bottle-conditioned.
Obviously countries like Belgium, Germany and the Czech Republic are well represented. In addition there is a large amount of offerings from the USA at more reasonable prices than that charged in some other outlets. Please note that Cider is not ignored here either.
There are six rotating keg beer taps and that’s about all I’ll say, as they are not my bag. The sole cask was however excellent. It was Mobberley Brewhouse (Mobberley, Cheshire) Solstice (4.5%). It’s described as a winter ale; it was both dark and bitter. I was with Linda and we both thought it was superb. Despite all the other temptations, this was what we came for and we were not disappointed, it was in superb condition.
In the middle of the room were three wooden tables and benches of the German “Biergarten” style. The toilet facilities are upstairs and here I discovered another drinking area with eight similar tables and accompanying seats in a room that had been stripped back to its bare brick walls (see photo above).
The guy in charge of the shop was both helpful and amiable. He informed us that they were going to increase the number of hand pulls to three. It is a good destination now, yet would be much better with an even greater choice of cask beers.
Beer Dock, 159 Nantwich Road, Crewe CW2 6DF. Tel: 01270 747170
Open: Monday-Wednesday 10.00-20.00; Thursday-Saturday 10.00-23.00;
The pub/shop is around ten minutes walk from the railway station. Turn left and walk along Nantwich Road until you see the Beer Dock on the opposite side of the road. There is a pedestrian crossing just before. There is no direct bus from the station. They all go to the town centre and the buses that stop by the pub come from the centre.