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Beer tours founder urges Liverpool to get behind its local brewers

3 weeks ago

Beer tours founder urges Liverpool to get behind its local brewers
Credit: Brewery Bus Tours

A former bar owner and businessman has urged city food and drink venues to support Liverpool brewing companies after seeing more and more of them having to close down.

Big Bog Brewery in Speke has already gone, and family-owned and run Top Rope in Bootle is set to shut its doors at the end of June.

And Darren Gilligan, who founded Brewery Bus Tours in Liverpool, says with help and support these passion-powered producers would be able to survive.

“For a decade, Top Rope have poured their passion into crafting exceptional local brews, leaving an indelible mark on our community and it’s heartbreaking to see them close – and devastating for the people who work there: the son who’s the master brewer and his mum and dad who work with him, it’s such a small team.

“But they’re not alone in their struggle,” says Darren.

“We’ve already lost Big Bog and I know another is facing the harsh reality of closure in the next month.

“It is tough out there, so more than ever we need to rally behind our local breweries because there are some amazing ones out there.

“That’s why I started Brewery Bus Tours, to showcase these incredible beers. And that’s what everyone should be doing – showing off to people in the city, and people who come to the city, something else that Liverpool does really well.”

Darren Gilligan. Credit: Brewery Bus Tours
Darren Gilligan. Credit: Brewery Bus Tours

Darren knows his stuff when it comes to beers and bars.

He’s spent around 30 years in the industry going from glass collector to a pub owner and then beer importer, before setting up Brewery Bus Tours.

On a general tour, people set off on a four-hour journey visiting four or five of 11 local breweries that the company partners with. They learn about beer production and brewing techniques before having a tasting session led by a master brewer and, always, a food stop.

“The city has a brewing history that goes back 175 years,” adds Darren, “and we need to be supporting it and shouting about it, and all these independent brewers.

“It annoys me when I walk through the city centre and you see so many independent bars – how many is it we have, over 250?

“It would have a huge impact on the success of these small breweries if these bars just stocked one case of local beers from the city.

“It would give them a bit of a leg up against the bigger brewers, and I’m sure they’d be really popular. 

Darren Gilligan founder of Brewery Bus Tours
Darren Gilligan founder of Brewery Bus Tours

“I have had bars myself in the past in the city centre, so I know the challenges and I understand that the listing fees from the big brewers do help financially. It is a difficult business – but surely there’s room for a bit of local pride and showcasing the incredible flavours brewed right here in the city? Like I say it only needs to be one product or line in the fridge, and it would all help, it would all build up.

“Liverpool has earned its stripes as one of the top destinations to visit and part of the attraction is our vibrant local culture, and our sense of community. People like to try beers from around the country and there are loads of Liverpool breweries – so wouldn’t those visitors who flock to our city want to taste the essence of Liverpool in every sip of a locally-brewed pint?

“That’s what we do when we go holiday abroad.  We want to sample the local beers and produce of where we are – and that’s surely that’s what people want to do when they come here too!

“And that’s what Liverpool people do – we support each other. We champion our own. So let’s champion the local brewers.”

For more info on Brewery Bus Tours click here.

For the latest news in Liverpool click here.

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