Friday 1st April 2016
It is often a sad fact in these post-depression days that it has become very difficult for a small entrepreneur to obtain finance to start up a business. Micropubs are not exempt from this lack of vision. Julian Burgess, the man behind the Tap & Bottles was unable to obtain funds from the High Street Banks to begin his project.
Yet, luckily for him (and us!) he went to the Merseyside Special Investment Fund for the £20,000 he needed. Their spokeswomen said that they saw straight away that it was a well thought out robust plan, and he got his loan. This organisation saw that it was a good investment, the establishment institutions didn’t. Is this not the story of our times?
So, Julian won the day and his company Brew-Hoo-Ha Beer Company opened the Tap & Bottles in a former Lingerie shop, serving his first customers in August 2014. It’s located in a modernised arcade. Southport is noted for these along with streets that have decorative porches over the pavements. It’s a place that is pure Victoriana, all glass and wrought iron, a tourist attraction in itself, yet still a working town.
The Tap & Bottles occupies a corner position on Cambridge Walks, which is under cover. It is on two floors and the entrance door is on the apex.
Inside we found a cosy pub that was ultimately hard to leave. The bar counter was in front of us and there was a tall table to the right, alongside one of the windows. Alongside there was a high bench seat facing in from the window which was covered with colourful cushions, and this was where we settled.
I was with Linda, Ted, John and Peter. I had a look around the pub, on the left of the way in were shelves of beers, presumably ales as they were at room temperature. There was another set of similar shelves on the far left wall. Between were a number of round wooden tables surrounded by many chairs and stools. The walls are painted red and there are a large number of blackboards indicating the countries that these bottled beers come from. A larger board on the wall had various information such as upcoming events.
Along another wall is the bar. On the counter are four hand pumps along with some keg founts and there are more of these on the back wall of the bar area. Between the bar counter and the large window facing out to the arcade there are fridges and more shelving containing more of the huge selection of bottled beers that are sold here.
The facilities are to be found upstairs and going up you notice beer advertising posters on the walls and in the small room at the top the walls are covered with old pump clips and beer mats. It appears that this is a sort of overflow room for the downstairs area. There are a couple of German biergarten-style tables and benches.
As mentioned there were four cask beers offered and these were Southport Brewery (Southport) Dark Night (3.9%); Brass Castle (Malton, North Yorkshire) Snow Eater (4.8%); Tiny Rebel (Newport, South Wales) Cereal Killer (3.0%) and 3 Potts Brewing (Southport) Turbine (7.4%!). The Southport Dark Night is a traditional Mild and we all had it and liked it a lot.
Although this is micropub it serves a full range of wines and spirits, possibly quite necessary as it is probably on the Southport town centre circuit. I understand that real cider is available but I didn’t notice what it was, sorry.
Food is offered in the form of pork pies with mustard and a cheese plate with chutney and pickled eggs. They have a Beer Club and this has “Meet the Brewer” evenings which are very popular. It meets on Wednesday evenings as advertised.
I must say I liked this pub and its ambience very much.
Tap & Bottles, 19a Cambridge Walks, Southport, Merseyside PR8 1EN. Tel: 01704 544322
Hours: Monday-Thursday 12.00-23.00; Friday-Saturday 12.00-24.00; Sunday 12.00-22.30
Southport station is served by Northern Trains from Manchester via Bolton and Wigan (Wallgate). It also has a frequent service, every 15 minutes throughout the day, every day, to other stations in Merseyside. Going south it runs through Bootle, through Liverpool (Moorfields and Central stations) and on to Hunt’s Cross, calling at Liverpool South Parkway (Liverpool John Lennon Airport).
From the station walk along the arcade leading to pedestrianised Chapel Street.
>There, turn left and continue for around 200 yards (metres). Then turn right into Cambridge Walks. You will find the pub at the first intersection.