P133 Last updated 12th April 2018
Pub Of The Season
Albert's Ale Microbar
117 Albert Road, BlackpoolBlackpool Fylde & Wyre Branch Pub of the Season - Spring 2018
Another winner from a pack of four at our January Branch meeting was this year's Spring Pub Of The Season (POTS), Albert's Ale MicroBar on Albert Road in Blackpool.
At first sight, it might seem an unusual choice - it's only open four days a week - but it was a recognition, amongst other things, of what has been achieved in a fairly short space of time, and we like our POTS choices to acknowledge special achievement.
George Forrest and Jennie Ransome arrived in Blackpool from the Royal Oak in Eccles just over two years ago, ostensibly to be nearer the sea and the sun (what !) but more mundanely to take over the Albert Hotel as a B & B. They were joined in this enterprise by fellow Mancunian, Phil Booton, who, like Jennie, had been a long-time CAMRA activist in the Manchester area. All three decided to extend the business by starting a real ale bar in the hotel. This opened in February 2016, becoming (we believe) the first such hotel bar in the town and (so far) its only micro pub.
The bar started out in the breakfast room of the hotel - which presented some interesting change-of-use challenges on bar-open days - before moving downstairs to the basement, which already had a purpose-built bar with its own retro-style decor (to which George and Jennie have added a few touches of their own !).
The move enabled an upgrade from a couple of beers on gravity to a proper bar top with two handpumps, locally sourced real cider and an impressive range of bottled beer (25 varieties from Belgium alone). Since then, Albert's has acquired a loyal and growing fanbase and a reputation for providing high-quality real ale. In November last year, they even managed to lay on a beer festival with 11 beers.
Rob Wheatley gave them their POTS award on 8th March, saying: "Albert's has gone above and beyond the call of duty in turning the venue from a mere hotel bar into a pub that non-residents will actively seek out as a destination of choice, knowing that they will be getting good beer and a great atmosphere."
In accepting it, George replied: "I owe a debt of thanks to CAMRA for their support and encouragement, locally and nationally. Many people from other branches have seen the bar advertised on Whatpub and have made a point of sampling our ale." The bar has also proved popular with hotel guests. "Our real ale-loving residents are pleasantly surprised to see handpumps in the hotel bar. I've even managed to convert a few keg-drinking guests to real ale."
The micropub phenomenon started a few years ago in Kent before gradually spreading north and, following the No.10 Ale House in St Annes and the Craft House Beer Cafe in Lytham, Albert's has helped the trend gain a firm foothold on the Fylde Coast. The old-fashioned "drink and a chat" atmosphere is proving to be a hit with drinkers looking for a break from pool tables and intrusive music. That said, Albert's has hosted some very successful food-and-music evenings recently.
CAMRA members can obtain a 20% discount (but don't forget your card). Also note the opening hours: closed Mon-Wed; 15.00-21.00 Thurs; 15.00-22.00 Fri; 13.00-22.00 Sat; and 13.00-20.00 Sun.
Albert's is only a few minutes walk from the Brew Room on Church Street, then it's downhill all the way to the P & T, but, all together, this is yet another sign of Blackpool's recovery on the real ale scene. Go see and sample for yourself!