15 Oct Exploring Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle Cultural Quarter
2017 has been the year I finally got round to seeing some of the parts of England I’ve had on my bucket list for years – Leeds, York, Bronte Country, and Manchester. A spontaneous city break last weekend marked an unexpected extra city to tick off the list – Liverpool.
I kind of just implicitly knew I’d like Liverpool. I mean, it’s obviously got to be a cool city. It’s the land of the Beatles after all. And Echo and the Bunnymen. And freakin’ Atomic Kitten.
I was going to write a pretty generalised post about my first ever trip to Scouse land. However, it was a pretty packed weekend, hitting up lots of cool bars, restaurants, cafes, and museums. I even caught a gig in the student’s union and had a catch up with an old friend who’s moved over. So, instead of making you feel as tired as I did when I got home last Sunday night, I thought I’d write a more specific post about an interesting little pocket of Liverpool – The Baltic Triangle.
The Baltic Triangle is about a a ten minute walk (if even) from the Albert Dock area which we were staying in. Described as an up and coming “cultural quarter” it felt as though we were walking away from the madness of the city centre and into a very quiet patch of the city located between the docks and Chinatown.
The busy bars, restaurants and shops we left behind were now replaced with a very industrial feel. Many derelict units and warehouses that once sold the likes of floorboards, doors and general hardwares, flanked these silent streets. The contrast between this and the modern city vibes we’d just left was extremely jarring. There was plenty of eye-catching streetart though.
However, as it started to rain I began to wonder whether we should turn back in the direction of the city buzz behind us when I spotted a sign that piqued my interest.
The Black Lodge Brewery
My Twin Peaks senses tingling, we found The Black Lodge tucked away down a quiet little side street. It’s not exactly your average bar; you’re confronted by two large brewing tanks/equipment and a strange scent which I’ll take a wild guess and say is attributed to the hops being brewed right beside you. Laying bare the beer making process of course coheres nicely with the very pared back, industrial aesthetic of the Baltic Triangle overall – it also lends a wholesome feel to a chilled out Saturday afternoon bar atmosphere.
Although I’m a gin gal through and through, I’m partial to a beer from time to time, especially interesting craft/IPA beers. That said, there’s some beers I just do not like and dark beer is one of them. Trying a murky, dark coloured beer called Hobgoblin in York was the deciding factor in this.
However, I had to make an exception in the Black Lodge because they had a dark beer called SERIAL KILLER BOB and I’m just too much of a sucker for Twin Peaks references. Oh man is it a dark beer though, Serial Killer Bob approaches Guinness levels of darkness. And being a staunch non-Guinness drinker I was starting to wonder if I made a grave error in throwing all caution to the wind for the sake of a Twin Peaks themed drink.
At a wincing 8.7% (possibly the strongest beer I’ve ever had) Serial Killer Bob was quite the undertaking on a Saturday afternoon. I actually liked it though, it was quite bitter at first but had an underlying smoothness once you became accustomed. Being brewed up on-site, it tasted very fresh which no doubt imbued this beverage with a lot of quality. The fact that the backwards version of Waterfall by The Stone Roses was playing as we drank our Killer Bob beers enhanced the Twin Peaks theme going on – don’t know whether this was intentional or not though.
It might sound like a very artsy/hipster joint and sure, there is a definite element of this going on, but it was a very digestible form. For instance, I didn’t feel as though I wasn’t cool enough to be there – which is always good. It felt as though we’d gone off the beaten path and found a secret bar.
Feeling quite merry after a stop in at The Black Lodge, we continued up the drizzly Jamaica Street, which seemed to be the Baltic area’s main street. Excited by a sign indicating there was a “Botanical Gin Garden” nearby we went in search of this elusive gin emporium. We never found it unfortunately but we did find Constellations – another interesting little bar.
Industrial warehouse vibes meet florals, botanicals and lots of colour in Constellations. The quiet streets of the Baltic area don’t concur with the busy converted warehouse bars you have to put real effort into finding. From the outside, all the units blend into one vision of derelict, industrial gloom – a sad nod towards the challenges of keeping a business afloat in today’s society. However, when you look hard enough, you’ll be surprised to find eclectic little bars/cafes/eateries that really fit the term “hidden gems”, brightening up this burgeoning area of culture and arts.
I decided to stick to sampling Liverpool’s selection of local beers, this time opting for Love Lane Pale Ale, a considerably lighter option in comparison with the Killer Bob beers we’d just had.
Red Brick Vintage Market
On Sunday morning we returned to the Baltic Triangle in search of a market we’d heard about. If there’s one thing I love doing on a holiday or city break it’s perusing market stalls and finding really unique little souvenirs. I, of course, ended up buying a loose leaf tea I’m very excited about getting stuck into (tangerine and coconut flavour!)
After a bit of searching and sign following, we finally found the Red Brick Vintage market inside an impressive looking old red brick brewery building – Cain’s Brewery I believe. To get into the market you walk through a cute courtyard area that has been decorated with colourful artwork and vintage displays – including an old bathtub (see top image!)
The market itself reminded me of the Brick Lane market in London – rooms upon rooms that just seem to keep going, brimming with shabby chic displays, “upcycled” items and interesting little trinkets. Yet where Brick Lane was mainly clothes, Red Brick Vintage sold, well, a bit of everything, to be honest. Clothes, furniture, lighting, antiques/bric-a-brac, candles, crafts, toys, records… it was fabulous. I could have spent hours perusing each room. One thing I really liked was how chilled out it was. You could just take your time looking at everything and no one was approaching you trying to push you into buying anything you didn’t want to buy – one off-putting element about markets generally.
Across from Red Brick Vintage there’s the Baltic Market which is mainly food/drinks stalls and a seating area but there’s a few crafts and jewellery stalls too. The food smelt amazing but since we weren’t long after breakfast we couldn’t partake in anything, sadly. It’s definitely worth a shout for lunch after a morning of perusing the vintage market, though.
The Baltic Triangle was a highlight of a fantastic weekend in Liverpool. I’m pretty sure we only saw a tiny part of what this creative, cultural area has to offer, though. If you get the chance to go I’d really recommend it!