In recent years the Excelsior has gone from a down-on-its-luck lager-and-football boozer to an altogether more attractive proposition. Once when we were in there the most memorable thing about our visit was the vibrating cock-ring that could be purchased from a machine in the toilets.
Fast forward a few years and there’s now a good selection of real ales at this Cask Marque’d pub, including the likes of brews from Brimstage and Crosby’s Rock The Boat to dependable session ales from the likes of Salopian, Robinson’s, Tim Taylor and Brains (it promises six casks and three guests) alongside the usual lagers, ciders and bottles.
There are TVs showing non-stop Sky Sports News and plenty of Premiership / UEFA / Champion’s League but they seem subordinate to the sort of wallpaper above the pelmet, floorboards and pub paraphernalia that speaks of pubs with serious history. The history of the place is still there, seeping out of the walls.
That shouldn’t come as any surprise of course. The Excelsior takes its name from a sailing ship, where Liverpool made its name on the world stage. Nautical-themed pictures are a rare reminder of that heritage but the pub is adjacent to the old Higsons Brewery offices, a reminder of Dale Street’s history in brewing.
The Excelsior is now a cosy, tasteful if a little characterless pub that seems to rely on footy crowds, a handful of regulars and a few passing tourists. The menu is packed with Generic Pub staples such as burgers, Scouse, hot sandwiches and other inexpensive pub grub (fish and chips £8; Welsh Rarebit £4; beef burger £8).
We wish it would try a little harder because a lot of the basics are right in The Excelsior. It’s crying out for sea shanties, proper Liverpool grub and a little more in the way of Liverpool beers. Walk into the Ship and Mitre and you see a ship’s wheel. A small thing, perhaps, but they don’t go unnoticed.
Perhaps in such close proximity to the Ship it’s hard to make the same tricks work, but this in an area that pairs pubs successfully: The Railway and The Lion; Rigby’s and The Lady Of Mann. And perhaps ownership by Punch Taverns means regression to the mean.
A choice of nine handpulls, the odd hint of Liverpool’s brewing and shipping heritage. The Excelsior has a lot going for it. So how come you never go?
The Excelsior121 Dale Street,