Thursday, 13 August 2009

The Saltgrass, Ayres Quay, Hanover Place, Deptford, Sunderland, SR4 6BY. Tel: 0191 5657229.

The Saltgrass hove into view about 6 months or so ago when looking for a drink after visiting some friends.It was a chilly day and a warm
and welcoming open fire greeted us and a good pint of real ale. My second visit today found the place under new management!
Mark Scott, a Heart of Midlothian man originally,
although now living in Sunderland for some years, has taken it on.
Three wooden handles on show but, disappointedly, only one serving ale! Green King's Abbott Ale it had to be then! It was ok.
Plans for six real ales in total, a sprucing up (not too much I hope) of the interior, and a tidying up of the beer garden are in the pipeline. The previous people were strong on food but Mark is going to concentrate more on the beer. I hope he gets his skates on. One real ale on offer?
Based in Hanover Place, a real ale area with two or three good pubs within easy reach of each other, The Saltgrass is a gem. Loaded with 150 or so years of tradition. Just some choices of beer lacking.
Based behind B&Q and within easy reach of The Stadium of Light, Sunderland's football ground, the pub is a good starting point for the match.
A smashing pub . So come on Mark, get your finger out and get all these pumps working!

The Kings Arms, Beech Street/Hanover Place, Ayres Key, Deptford, Sunderland,SR4 6BU. Tel: 0191 5679804

The Kings Arms looks like a real pub should look. It took me back...... now thats enough of that! I'll always enjoy Cask Task visits to places like this. Full of atmosphere and traditional looks. Inside and out. It even has 3 street names! Everybody wants it! Just look at the street signs!
Dating back probably 150 years, virtually on the old industrial part of the riverside, The Kings Arms is an old beauty.
The interior even has a couple of 'cosy corners' in the bar and a beer garden at the rear. But on to the beer which has gained it 3 Camra regional beer victories.
There are 9 wooden handles. Producing Durham Brewery's White Amarillo,Village Brewery White Boar Bitter, Bumble Bee from Wentworth, Lambtons, High House Farm beer and so on and so on which, for the main part, are ever changing. My pint was spot on, incidentally.
The Kings Arms must get a good crowd in on match days because The Stadium of Light (what an awful name for a football ground, but I'm an old traditionalist and loved Roker Park) is within its sights.
Good pub. 1st class beer. What more can you want.

Friday, 7 August 2009

The Highlander, Higham Dykes, Belsay, NE20 0DN. Tel:01661 861220.


The Highlander stands alone at the side of the road, just south of the pleasant country village of Belsay which, incidentally, is bone dry. Without pubs. No pubs. In fact, pub less. It does have a shop and a cricket club though!
I found the Highlander quite relaxing and comfortable although somewhat isolated. A reasonable enough eating place with an inviting little area to sit and read your newspaper in afterwards. Good God I must be getting old.
The small bar area was deserted, but well populated on my last few few visits, which were 10 years ago and generally on a winter's evening. Still, worth a look in if you're in the area and fancy a pint of Hobgoblin, Black Sheep or Timothy Taylor's Landlord.
My Hobgoblin did go down rather well I must admit.

The Waggon Inn, Higham Dykes, Milbourne, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE20 0DH. Tel:01661 881872.

The Waggon Inn sits almost on its own just by the side of the road between Ponteland and Belsay near the village of Milbourne.
Funny, I used to keep a 1956 Buick Coupe at a farm near here and used it for many summer runs up the coast. It had a bench seat in the front and the boss always said she could have brought the ironing board and done a spot of ironing in the front on the way up to Alnmouth. It was huge. Happy days.

The Waggon Inn is a homely, friendly and attractive country pub and restaurant. So Cask Task had a meal in there and very nice it was too.
A pint of well kept Jarrow Bitter went down well although the others were also tempting. Wylam Gold Tankard and Tetleys Cask made up the three real ales. Very nice.
If you are ever up that way I'm sure you'll get a tasty meal and a good pint of real ale there.
I know I did!

The Badger, Street Houses, Ponteland, Newcastle Upon Tyne, HE20 9BT. Tel:01661 871037.

The Badger, now a super pub and restaurant, was three houses in about 1700, in the original village of Street Houses just outside of Ponteland. Now a super pub and restaurant in which I have had many a good meal not to mention quite a few gluggable vinos and various real ales over the last 6 or 7 years or more.

I love the atmosphere, the garden in the summer, and the open fires in the winter. Some happy memories there. Oh dear, pass the hankie.

The Badger has always tried really hard, and sometimes failed, as most of these type of places do, to offer a decent selection of real ales. On offer this time was Sharps Doombar(a Cornish beer), Brakspear Oxford Gold, Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted(which I had), Black Sheep and last but not least the Badgers ever present Bass.I always used to have a Bass and sent a few back in my time. Don't let me be too harsh as they are trying.

Worth a visit.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Cumberland Arms, 17 Front Street, Tynemouth, NE30 4DX. Tel:0191 2571820.

The Cumberland Arms in Tynemouth fell on to my travels for Cask Task by accident, I'm so happy to say.
Every month or so a small gang of my friends have a little jaunt out for Sunday lunch. 'Il Forno' was chosen this time. A good restaurant placed handily in the Tynemouth Metro station. Just fall off the train and 'Bingo' your in. And very nice it was too. But I digress.
Only 2 minutes walk around the corner is Front Street and the Cumberland Arms, so after the meal, in we trooped.
Some 15 years or so ago, the lads from my place of work at the time met on a number of occasions right here. What a good real ale place it was too and still is.
Rather narrow, but quite long inside and on three different levels. No good to me now of course, because of my stroke, but a good ale house it certainly is. With a bit of a nautical feel to it too. The gents is, believe it or not, labeled the 'Bhoys'. The 'Gulls', being the other variety!
Tetleys Cask, Cumberland Ale, Directors, Whitehorse Giant, Brunswick Most Wanted, and Mordue's Workie Ticket were all there, amongst the ten or so hand pumps on two levels, but I could only have one 'Most Wanted'. Too much of a climb to the toilets for me.

Don't let me put you off though 'cos this is a good real ale house. I only wish I could have stayed longer.

The Turks Head Hotel, 41 Front Sstreet, Tynemouth, NE30 4DZ. Tel:0191 2576547.

The Turks Head (By the way, not a lot of people know this, as Michael said), is a seaman's knot in the shape of a turban on a turk's head.
A crowd of us fell in here and it was packed. Another Ist class real ale pub in Front Street. Two with a nautical feel in the space of 100 yards. Marvlious, as Wrighty used to say.
Built around 1850, The Turks Head Hotel comes complete with its own sheep dog,'Wandering Willie', alas dead since 1880 and now in a glass case in the bar.
Having 8 pumps the real ale fans like those of my ilk are well looked after. 2 Wells Bombardier taps, 2 Courage Directors, a Deuchars IPA and 80/- and 2 Mordue's Workie Ticket. What a superb colletion.
A good feel to it, The Turks Head certainly is a superb real ale pub. The Directors and the Workie Ticket were spot on.
I hope it's not too long before I'm back.
Get yourself up there.