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   Of Persons, Pubs and Pitches that Punch Above Their Weight     white logo           

Story and Photography by David McBride

The history of Europe seems forever married to that of the continent’s great cities. From Athens and Rome to London and Berlin, centuries worth of European civilization and culture grew from the grand metropolis. But it is hard not to admit that one comparatively small city has an influence over the world far exceeding its physical size or population, Liverpool.





Shipa at the Albert Dock near the baltic Fleet pub in Liverpool, England as seen in American Public House Review
Ships at the Albert Dock


The Baltic Fleet pub inliverpool, England as seen in American Public House Review
The Baltic Fleet pub in Liverpool. United Kingdom




Anfield ground in Liverpool, U.K. as seen in American Public House Review
The Anfield Ground in Liverpool



Nowhere near Great Britain's largest city, and not even in Europe’s top fifty in terms of population, this port town on the River Mersey has, particularly over the last two centuries, been part of the collective western conscious more often than cities twice its size or even larger. From decades as the world’s most active shipping port, to a few short and heady years when it influenced music in ways only a few cities have ever done throughout the course of human history, Liverpool has always punched above its weight. And within the annals of the world’s most popular sport, Liverpool’s storied football club has also defied the odds and achieved greatness normally reserved for clubs and cities much larger.


Ship near the Baltic Fleet pub in Liverpool, UK as seen in American Public House Review
Liverpool is an iconic port city


Over this past New Year’s holiday, I had a chance to live the dream of many American soccer fans; to go and see the sport, which for the rest of this article I will properly refer to as “football”, played in it’s country of origin by some of its grandest clubs. We began our journey in Liverpool, the home of England’s most successful team on the European stage.
 
Liverpool FC has won Europe’s top club competition an astounding five times, placing it third on the list below Real Madrid and AC Milan and above Bayern Munich and Barcelona. If you have ever been to any of those cities, or seen the monstrous stadiums they play in, when you come to Liverpool and sit in the somewhat quaint Anfield ground, you will fully appreciate the magnitude of this achievement.

The original purpose behind our journey was to bring my cousin, a lifelong fan of Liverpool, to see his team play in person. Since he first kicked a ball, he told us when he graduated college he wanted his gift to be a trip to Anfield. He had finally made it, and when we passed through the turnstiles and made our way into the view of that gorgeous pitch, a sense of achievement overcame all of us. The boy had worked for years towards this, and here we were. It is no wonder when Liverpool’s legendary Steven Gerrard entered the game and scored a fantastic goal to seal a 3-1 victory for the home side, I swear I saw a tear well-up in his eye.

The next day the two of us sat at The Baltic Fleet, a cozy nautical-themed pub across the street from Albert Dock. It was New Year’s Eve and it was hard not to be a tad bit pensive, but I suppose that can happen anytime you move an item from bucket-list to memory.

So we sat for a few minutes, talking football, rather unaware of our surroundings. You see, I did very, very little pub related research before I arrived in the United Kingdom. Most of my pre-journey preparations were centered around getting to and from stadiums, not always the easiest task when you barely understand the street lights. All I really knew was such a pub existed and that it was only a few steps from our hotel along the Mersey. Trips like this are a whirlwind, and the two of us only had an hour or two before we needed to get the the Cavern Club for a holiday event.

Looking around, The Baltic Fleet is understated and comforting. It’s nautical theme hits just the chord for its surroundings without trying too hard. But the real surprise comes when the glasses hit the table. The ales are brewed on premises, from what I understand. They are called Wapping Beers and they make a selection of terrific ales on hand-pumps. If you are looking for a taste we on this side of the Atlantic would call “English”, Wapping hits the mark. Served at just the proper temperature, the drink is perfect for coming out of a cold and wet Merseyside evening, and soon we found ourselves wishing we had just a little more time to spend here.

Menu board at The Balti Fleet in leverpool as seen in American Public House Review


Like everything else in this feisty city, The Baltic Fleet and Wapping’s ales exceeds expectations. Driving by, the pub looks nice and inviting. But it is much more than that. The spirit of Liverpool haunts its walls, a spirit of a town that sneaks up on you and leaves its mark.

Let me close by offering a bit of a personal disclosure on this subject. I am by no means a fan of Liverpool’s football team. In fact, quite the opposite. But I am now a dyed-in-the-wool fan of this wonderful city and the spirit represented by its team. I may never pull on one of those famous red shirts, nor sing a chorus of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” before a match. But I now know every time I watch a game played in Anfield from my living room, it will bring back warm memories of a terrific city.



Photograph by James Bur    
The bar at The Baltic Fleet pub in Liverpool as seen in American Public House Review
The bar at The Baltic Fleet



Photograph by James Bur      
Taps at The baltic Fleet in Liverpool as seen in American Public House Review
What is it about taps that is so beautiful?



Pints at The Baltic Fleet in Liverpool as seen in American Public House Review
Perhaps it's the pull toward communion with our fellows








Sign at The baltic Fleet in liverpool as seen in American Public House Review
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33A Wapping

Liverpool,

Merseyside L1 8DQ

0151 709 3116


www.wappingbeers.co.uk

Directions








trophy case of Liverpool FC as seen in American Public House Review
Liverpool FC trophy case.

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