Monday, 15 June 2009

The Shepherd and Shepherdess. Beamish, Stanley, Co. Durham. DH9ORS Tel:0191 3700379.


The Shepherd and Shepherdess had been known to me for about 30 years. About the time of my first visit to the Beamish Museum with my wife and very young children. I did not go in to the pub at the time but I was looking forward to my tipple this time round.
Quite a pretty pub to look at but its reputation as a real ale drinkers home was something I was to be disappointed about.
An 'L' shaped room had a good feel to it mind, but only 2 of the 5 wooden handles were in use. Wells Bombardier and Black Sheep (a pint of which I had) stood in lonely isolation. What a let down! On top of that, I sat on the sun umbrella covered seats outside only for it to rain, after a beautiful afternoon's sunshine.

My second call about 18 months later was a much more satisfying experience. All pumps working and the beer spot on. The food was good and the service 1st class from the staff. The atmosphere was friendly and welcoming. I hope it continues.

The Stables, Beamish Hall Country House Hotel. Beamish, Stanley, DH9 0BY. Tel;01207 233733

I was invited here on a red hot sunny sunday afternoon by my son, his wife and my two grandchildren!
Instead of the Beamish Hall Hotel, a 17th century listed building, it turned out to be The Stables. Don't laugh. The Stables is a huge extension of the hotel itself which, incidentally, is in some 24 acres of parkland.
The Stables houses a restaurant, bar, birds of prey section, adventure playground and, thank heavens, a micro-brewery! The marvelous selection of beers included Bobby Shaftos Silver Buckles India Pale Ale, (pitman's poet Tommy Armstrong's) Old Miner Tommy's Pale Ale, Beamish Hall Best Bitter, Beamish Burn Brown Ale, which I had, and a superb Stout or two, which polished me off .

After a visit to the Clarendon pub in Sunderland I discovered who has the micro brewery here at Beamish Hall. None other than John Taylor and Steve Potts of the Bulls Lane Brewery!

The place is very impressive and superb for a family day out.
Not for yours truly, but a good sunday lunch and a good pint of real ale to boot.
Worth a try.

The Rising Sun. Bank Top, Crawcrook, Ryton. NE40 4EE. Tel: 0191 4133316.

The Rising Sun was another pub to give me a sore head. Not the beer, I might add, but the rear entrance stairs, where the hand rail was on the wrong side for me! Of course I promptly fell down, luckily backwards, without injury. What an entrance!

It's marvelous what a pint of Deuchars IPA in exceedingly comfortable and pleasant surroundings can do for the aching cranium. A nice pub with a small library to boot!
I must point out that the other entance/exit was on the level and easily accessable.

Good pub. Good beer. Enjoyed it.

The Half Moon Inn. Grove Cottage, Ryton Old Village,Ryton, Tyne&Wear. NE40 3QJ.

The Half Moon Inn was the only pub open in Ryton Old Village on this hot, sunny, friday lunchtime, so I was a captive audience, so to speak. So what do you think I did?
Inside was tidy and welcoming with an open fire and 3 real ales on sale. I made my choice of Courage Directors and settled down.
The barman kindly explained the various opening times of the other pubs in the village and I decided, on supping off, to return on another day to try them out.
The Half Moon was friendly and enjoyable.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

The Boathouse. Station Road, Wylam, Northumberland, NE41 8HR. Tel:01661 853431

The Boathouse was recommended to me as I was having a quiet pint in Ryton Old Village on a sunny afternoon. It sounded wonderful, so I decided to investigate The sunny afternoon just got better!
Right next to Wylam rail station, The Boathouse turned out to be a real ale officionado's paradise, with 14 pumps on the go! Obviously quite a number were Wylam Brewery's own, so I decided to have a Wylam's Haugh. A beautiful porter.

Prince Bishop, Avalanche, Byker Wit, Northern Star, Tiger, Highlander, Steel this point I fell of my stool!
A CAMRA Pub of the Year on umpteen occasions and now one of mine. Super drinker's atmoshere. No music, just conversation and a loverly old fireplace to add to the ambience in the winter months.
Food can be had and there is a small beer garden.

The beer's the thing here though and another visit later in the year is on the cards!
I wish it didn't have the stairs to negotiate though.
My 2nd visit to the Boathouse was just as pleasurable as the first. A pint of High House Matfen Magic only added to the pleasure of the quiet atmosphere.
Super pub. Super beer.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

The Grey Horse, Front Street, East Boldon, NE36 OSJ. Tel: 0191 5364186.

The Grey Horse looks like, and probably was, an old country coaching inn.
The interior does its best to keep the look going with its oak beams, oak furnishings, huge fire places, false brickwork pillars and general olde world appearance. This gives it all a most welcoming and comfortable feel.

Originally two entirely separate rooms, each with its own separate entrance, The Grey Horse has become one enormous pub with the bar at its centre, but managing to retain its country atmosphere.

With Deuchers IPA, Wells Bombardier and Jennings Cumberland Ale available, I had no problem in settling down for a while. So much so, I had sausage and mash to eat as well.
Its a pity its so close to the busy road to Sunderland at the front, but there is a large car park to the rear.
Over all, a most enjoyable visit.

The Robin Hood, Primrose Hill, Jarrow, Tyne&Wear NE32 5UB. Tel:0191 4285454

The Robin Hood is probably just as well known locally for its association with The Jarrow Brewing Company since 2002. The pub itself though has been around for donkeys years but has been extended to include a restaurant and beer garden.

Brewing ceased at The Robin Hood in 2008 with better facilities now at South Shields but the pub is still going strong.

The beer selection, as you would expect, is excellent. Mainly of course from the Jarrow Brewery. Jarrow Bitter(3.8%), Rivet Catcher(4.0%), Joblings Swinging Gibbet(4.1%), Caulker(4.2%) and Weston's organic cider to blow your head off at 7.3% !!

I spent a very pleasant afternoon with the Jarrow Bitter by the stream, at the side of The Robin Hood, listening to my son's tales of ancient American cars from 1930 to 1960 (God some even older than me!!).
Contrary to rumour, 'Old Cornelius' Whalen, a Jarrow marcher and his pal, did not get punctures and leave their bikes outside on the march South. (see picture above)

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

The Potters Wheel, Sun Street, Sunniside, Tyne&Wear, NE16 5EE. Tel:0191 4883628

The Potters Wheel. As an experienced old sot starting in the sixties, I first rolled into this place in 1963 when it was a night club known as The Blue Parrot.
My employer at the time had won the local football league and chose to hire the Blue Parrot as our reward. I got a lift from a tee-totaller friend and felt at liberty to hit every boozer from Gateshead to Sunniside with my chosen tipple of the time Newcastle Broon Ale. As our strict night club would only serve half bottles I rounded the evening of with (so my t-t pal told me) a total of eleven and a half broons. He then left me as there was a couple or more buses hired to take the drunken footballers home.I got on the wrong bus of course and never got home that night!! I have never been back since.
The place is now called The Potters Wheel and a very pleasant pub its turned out to be. Although its passed through many hands and was in fact under new ownership when I called, it still had a pleasant feel to it. The beers on offer were Black Sheep, Marstons Pedigree, and Mordues Workie Ticket, the last mentioned of which I partook of a couple. Very nice!
The Potters Wheel also has a decent looking menu of grub.