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British Guild of Beer Writers' Best Regional Writer; medicine/pubs.

Byline: Mike Chappie at the bar...

YOURS truly needed cheering up this week. The monsoon rains had soaked through the shoes causing a severe case of trenchfoot and further aggravating a pickled onion-sized bunion on the right foot.

So, caught between the weather on the outside and hopping around the windowless neon prison of Castle Grey skull on the inside, the craving to escape somewhere more welcoming - with good company and a pint thrown in - reached breaking point.

Salvation came in the form of Lady Penelope.

Synchronised to the second, she screeched up outside Greyskull in FAB 1 just as the Pub Column abseiled down from the fifth storey to leap in the back seat. We sped off as GreyskuU's security let fly with a hail of bullets and screams of "Die, English pig dog!!!" and headed through the tunnel to our destination - the Rose and Crown, in Lower Bebington.

A few weeks back, we'd subscribed to the marvellous Magazine in Wallasey where the landlady Linda Hughes said the clientele harboured a cradle to the grave, rites of passage, affinity to their local.

Cathy Price, her counterpart at the Rose, said that this former coaching house, which dates from 1732, also enjoyed the same family continuity idyll, especially embracing the Dad and Lad syndrome. This involves The Dad taking The Lad to the local for his first pint. The Lad will grow up to reciprocate the compliment and then take his own Lad down with The Grandad, formerly The Dad, to complete the wondrous circle.

The same principle used to apply to watching football before it got hijacked by the corporates, but don't get me started on that one.

Football, as it happens, has a large part to play in the cosy mezzanine bar dubbed the Games Room, not only because of its darts board but the prints on its walls devoted to Liverpool, Everton and Tranmere Rovers. Naturally when she took over late last year Cathy being a Blue, put up a framed portrait of Dixie Dean in the alehouse which is owned by Blackburn-based Thwaites, one of the few remaining big family-owned UK breweries.

Ah yes, back to family and regulars. Lady P and Yours Truly were sitting in the lounge at a table where two Rose stalwarts used to play dominoes together.

Sadly both have had their last orders in this world, but Mike's old walking stick and Jack's old clock have been mounted on the wall with other local memorabilia.

"It's a tradition here - when people pass on they're missed, but this is to show that they are not forgotten," explained Cathy of a pub which also retains the British tradition of alehouse as makeshift community centre, with her 11 bar staff encouraged to always chat and listen to customers.

"We're not a fast turnover pub where you just get served then turfed out," Cathy insisted.

One of the friendly staff a smiling Jan Fleet, served up perfect pints of rich brown Thwaites Lancaster Bomber both to us and amiable regular of 30 years Roy Owen, who agreed that he was indeed one of the pub's "lifers" that Cathy had been talking about.

Besides the Thwaites, the next most popular beer is a gorgeous pilsner German lager called Warsteiner made with spring water, summer barley and malted hops.

Served in a customised fluted glass, this was perfectly matched by a side order of Kingstone Press, a sweet, dry cider from the Aston Manor brewery in Herefordshire.

Consequently it was no Rose-tinted spectacle that this lovely pub and its beer had done the trick and all thoughts of trenchfoot, bunions and Greyskull had become just distant memories.

Until tomorrow.


The Rose and Crown pub, in Bebington
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 14, 2007
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