Fine dining. Art. Class. Sophistication. Taste. These are words rarely associated with Blackpool; my home town. Soured by the tourism required to maintain it’s economy; Blackpool has become undesirable with it’s troublesome town centre full of loutish groups and tacky; clichéd nightclubs. 3 bottles of Corona for £5; Happy Hour cocktails 5-8 @ £1 and tasteless. My fondness for the seaside town died alongside its fading alternative scene and remaining character a number of years ago; hence moving to Manchester enveloping myself in a culture I desired and a few new hobbies and habits. One being Craft Beer.
Blackpool has a small, somewhat basic, real ale scene with regular faces such as Fuzzy Duck, Hobgoblin etc. plodding along dragging the past along with it. Craft Beer was nowhere to be seen bar a few choice bottles in Booths. Until recently…
The No. 10 Ale House opened at the end of November in St. Annes; the next town along the coast from Blackpool. Advertising itself as a Micropub and offering Real Ales, Real Ciders and Craft Beer. The former shop was stripped bare and converted by landlord George White, bringing in antique style furniture and plenty of wall art and mirrors to accentuate the light. The large exterior windows, with new frosted signage, allow the light to power through the seating area to the bar situated halfway though.
On the opening night 3 cask ales were available from Elland and Roosters Brewery offering sessionable pale ales of a high standard for all to enjoy. After a few pints, or if bottles are more your thing, bottles from Brewdog and Flying Dog are available; and for the lager drinkers Manchester’s Shindigger Brewing provide their Pils, a 4.1% crisp and citrusy hopped Pilsner. As basic as it seems I believe this is the difference maker, showing George’s commitment to bring in something a little different than other places. This could easily have been a Stella, Kronenbourg or Carling line. It would definitely have been a safer choice.
I understand Wetherspoons serve real ale and craft beers such as Brewdog but I see this project at No. 10 Ale House as something that will develop and grow. A Bottle Club is starting next year where tickets can be bought and small groups will share a selection of hand picked bottles from various UK and international breweries that will possibly have never seen the bright lights of Blackpool. Not just the breweries but the styles also. Someone may want to try and prove me wrong but I swear I’ve never seen a Gose in Blackpool. Or a Bretted Pale Ale. Or a Tequila Barrel Aged Barley Wine…
Is this the start of a revolution in Blackpool? I don’t know. But there are definitely rumblings going on under the surface. Not just with craft beer but in the artistic scene, Left Coast have fantastic events and exhibitions popping up here there and everywhere; a rise in amateur dramatics groups such as the award winning Poulton Drama; the music scene is showing sign of a resurgence to its former glory; and a few other “cooler” places have opened recently such as Bootleg Social (formally Blackpool’s only Indie club, Jenx). Individually these may only be small successes but by working together, maybe a more artistic, alternative scene can flourish again.
Viva la Revolución!