“Eddie! Eddie! Don’t ignore me Eddie!” But Eddie is ignoring the lady, presumably his wife, apart form a kind of guttural bark that could have several different meanings. This is our introduction to The Old Bank Alehouse, a reinvigorated pub on Aigburth Vale situated on one of the busiest crossings in South Liverpool.
Around a decade ago the underpass that connected Lark Lane with St Michaels was demolished and a nice pedestrian crossing installed. This was better for everyone, as it was safer, actually more convenient for pedestrians and rather more pleasant than the concrete scar with its flickering yellow lights.
Further down the road, past the Fulwood Arms at Aigburth Vale, there’s still a grotty, sinister concrete underpass that connects the Jericho Lane side to the Ashfield Road side. Pass a couple of closed public conveniences that look like something out of Silent Hill (and Eddie and partner) and you will find something worth the journey: The Old Bank Alehouse.
Not so long ago a Barclays Bank, then Sullivan’s Bar – a kind of 80s or 90s wine bar that seemed out of place – then The Old Bank Bar, the pub has reopened as an independent ‘Alehouse’ and serves a range of bottled beers with six handpumps. That means several different beers, with an emphasis on locals during our visit.
We spotted a couple of Liverpool Craft – the excellent American Red and the very drinkable Viking session bitter. We went for the Liverpool Organic Pale Ale and William Roscoe; both are hoppy and quite bitter, lovely for a summer’s evening and cheap at £2.70 a pint
I admire Liverpool Organic’s willingness to try different beers, even when I don’t enjoy them; I found the Kitty Wilkinson chocolate and organic stout fairly unpleasant. I’m fond of the way the brewer names many of its ales after Liverpudlians of note too, as the name suggests. Josephine Butler (a building named after her was recently destroyed by a developer in very odd circumstances); Roscoe (historian, librarian, botanist, has two Liverpool pubs named after him); Noel Chavasse (a park named after whom is now referred to as Liverpool One more often than Chavasse Park); Wilkinson (a wash-house saint) and Joseph Williamson, either an eccentric benefactor or the sort of chap Alan Moore would centre a graphic novel around.
Anyway, I enjoy their beers, as well as the naming conventions behind them – and it’s great to see Liverpool beers from the cask in independent Liverpool pubs. If you’re not a particular fan of ales or bitters there are loads of bottles too. We noticed Erdinger, Budvar, Estrella and Lindeboom and would suggest there’ll be plenty more as the weeks and months go by.
There’s only one area inside the pub; it’s fairly large with the bar dominating and a raised area. There are flatscreen TVs if you’re after somewhere to watch the footy and there seems to be live music too.
At least there was when we there; we were in the beer garden, an interesting space ringed by a zig-zagging iron fire escape, when two lads come out from the bar. “He looks like Wagner,” says one of the musical act. Perhaps it was Wagner; he was gone by the time we went back in. It was fairly quiet – people seemed to come and go all night, the only regular features a gang of lads whose conversation was peppered with ‘soft arses’. We had a quick chinwag with the landlord, who knows his beer and is happy to chat.
We like the Old Bank Alehouse. It’s not complicated but there’s a real feeling that it’s about beer. Beer, as we’ve discussed before, is important. And so are our pubs. This one doesn’t even have a brewery behind it. By all rights it shouldn’t work, especially in the financial climate.
But a price policy that means real ales cost £2.50 and guest ales are at £2.70 is great news for Liverpool beer drinkers and also good for the area. With The Fulwood Arms and Victoria and ale-free zone and Pi a good mile’s schlep up to Mossley Hill, there aren’t many other places to go for a decent pint in Aigburth.
It’s well worth the journey through the Clockwork Orange underpass; a welcoming light at the end of the tunnel.
The Old Bank Alehouse
301 Aigburth Road
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Top image by garstonian, Flickr