Monday, 15 February 2016

The Old Harkers Arms, Chester, Cheshire

Chester is an ancient city full of history and character. We went for a recent weekend break and discovered that it is also full of cracking pubs. This left us with quite a dilemma as we wanted to sample as many hostelries as we could whilst remembering what inns we had visited and what beers we had drunk. So much to drink, so little time. Whilst much of the weekend disappeared in an alcoholic blur our visit to the Old Harkers Arms on the Sunday afternoon was particularly memorable.

As well as being an historic place Chester also has an industrial past, much of it close to the Shropshire Union Canal which passes through the city on it's way to Ellesmere Port.

At its  closest point to the railway station an enterprising company, Brunning & Price, have converted the ground floor of an old industrial building into a pub, the Old Harkers Arms. Indeed when you walk in you are greeted by an old punch clock on one of the columns holding the building up.
Behind this column is the L-shaped bar with a fine array of handpumps. My first selection was a pint of 80-\- bitter from Conwy brewery. I can only describe this as a mighty fine pint of beer with a lovely smooth  malty flavour. In contrast Maggie started with a drop of blonde beer called Cheshire Cat. Both these beers were in fine form and set the tone for our all too brief session.

I should add at this point that plenty of people around us were ordering food and that it looked very nice and indeed tempting. However we felt that with so many beers to explore the food might interfere with the job in hand so we concentrated on liquid refreshment. My second pint, which was again memorable for its wonderful smooth flavour, was as I recall Slaters premium bitter from Stafford. Maggie also changed and tried a glass of Eastgate bitter.

We were sat  on bench seating next to a bookcase at the west end of the pub which was not really in keeping with the industrial setting but nevertheless had some interesting tomes in it. From here we could relax and watch the comings and goings of the happy drinkers. The atmosphere was certainly very relaxed compared with other establishments we had visited and the staff behind the bar were friendly and helpful which, for me, always adds to the experience. 

After imbibing such a majestic bitter as the Slaters I decided to follow it with a glass of stout Drystone stout from the excellent Hawkshead brewery was the order of the day and it was so very tasty!

I could have stayed in the Harkers all day. It is nice to see new pubs doing well and it would appear that the Old Harkers Arms has already built up a good reputation in a city full of good pubs. We enjoyed our stay in Chester and will return in the future. When we do we will certainly be calling in at the Old Harkers Arms. Try it for yourself!

As promised we reurned to our favourite Chester pub in February 2018 for lunch one Sunday. I had a very nice pint of Cheshire Cat which reminded me just how well the beer is kept.

Fish and chips was my choice for lunch and it proved to be a very good choice.

The cheese pie was also a very tasty main course showing that good food and good beer can go hand in hand. The Old Harkers Arms is still well worth a visit and I am sure that we will be back again next year.