Friday, 23 October 2009

Trimmers Arms. 34 Commercial Road, South Shields. Tyne & Wear NE33 1RW. Tel:0191 4545550.


The Trimmers Arms looked a very good proposition when we called a few weeks ago but it was closed. Cask Task was on its travels, trying to discover what, if anything, might have been missed when up popped the Trimmers Arms again. Open this time, I'm pleased to say.

Inside is huge and I must say, quite plush. The best part of it consists of the Lobster Pot Restaurant but the bar is substantial also. I would imagine a meal should be tried here to get a full appreciation of the Trimmers Arms.

Don't let me put you off trying a pint or two in here though, as the real ale choice is good any way.
Six real ale pumps of Thwaites Nutty Black (my choice incidentally and it was good), Wells Bombardier, Everards Tiger, Double Maxim and Thwaites Original were in action.

Well worth a visit.
Must take a photo from the other end some time to appreciate the size of the place.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

The Barley Mow. Durham Road, Birtley, County Durham. DH3 2AG. Tel:0191 4104504.


The Barley Mow at Birtley first came in to my life at the back end of the 1960s, when I worked at the Drum Industrial Estate which is directly opposite. It was a liquid lunch time escape from the drudgery of the job I had at the time.

I'd never heard of 'real ale' at the time so what a pleasure it was to go back to find this old pub is awash with the stuff now. 8 hand pumps of various beers!
Daleside Blonde and Old Leg Over, Black Sheep, Cathedral Golden Imp, Marston Moor Cromwells Ale, but I plumped for Wychwood's Bountiful.

The bar has been kept very basic but the lounge is well carpeted out and is comfortably decorated with plenty of solid wood. There's a fair sized eating area too.

It was nice to see the place looking good with tasty beer on hand.

The Wheat Sheaf. 26, Carlisle Street, Felling, NE10 0HQ


The Wheat Sheaf is a tiny little pub in what remains of Carlisle Street in Felling. A Street that used to house stacks of pubs. Unfortunately only three of which remain.

The first time, some months ago, that Cask Task decided on a visit, a phone call was made to discover the opening times. 'What time are you thinking of coming?' was the reply. It turns out its a one man band who actually lives on the premises!

Generally he opens at 5 o'clock so Cask Task turned up. The exterior of the place dates back to the year dot, or 1907, and so does the inside, but its clean and tidy. A very affable chap he turned out to be and a very pleasant time was spent by all the three of us (including him) in his pub.

The connection with the Big Lamp Brewery was apparent as the only ale on offer was the full range of Big Lamp real ales. No problem there then.
I just concentrated on the Big Lamp bitter.

The Old Fox 13-14 Carlisle Street, Felling, NE10 0HQ. Tel:0191 4404815


The Old Fox in Felling, where I was born, not in the pub I might point out, seems to have been there forever and probably has been. Between Felling High Street and Carlisle Street there must have been a couple of dozen pubs at one time. There's only three left in Carlisle Street now.

After a days hard slog, on behalf of Cask Task of course, The Old Fox and the other Carlisle Street real ale pub were duly visited and the beer severely tested.

On waking up the next day it was discovered that neither the photos, nor a note of the beers sampled, were to be found missing. Now I wonder how that happened?

Every cloud has a silver lining however, as another trip to Carlisle Street Felling was duly made.
The Old Fox had 5 handles, 3 of which were in use and Fuller's London Pride and Durham Brewery's White Gold again proved to be extremely tasty.
The Old Fox, as you might expect, is a traditional but nonetheless comfortable little pub with good beer.

Just as it should be.

Courtyard Cafe Bar. Arts Centre Washington, Biddick Lane, Fatfield, Washington. Tyne & Wear. NE38 8AB. Tel:0191 2193455.


The Courtyard Cafe Bar in the Arts Centre Washington is a must for a visit. Cask Task certainly highly recommends it.

Although a bit difficult to find, through a covered passageway into a square and then not too obvious a frontage, it is worth the hunt. The beer is tremendous, and I must say well kept, with a choice of 8 real ales.
Buffy's Norwich Terrier, Wylam Northern Kite, Big Lamp Bitter, Mordue's Autumn Tyne, Capt. Cook Brewery's Slipway, Salopian Brewery's Hop Twister, Maxim's Lambtons and Timothy Taylor's Landlord.
There must be something there suits you, surely?
Good food is served there too. I did enjoy my vegetable panini almost as much as the beer. I hadn't had a pint of Big Lamp stuff for years and now admit it has improved and the bitter at the Courtyard Cafe Bar went down nicely thank you. The two real ale drinkers that we spoke to enjoyed the Courtyard's hospitality and beer as well!
Must call again.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

The Clarendon. High Street East, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear.

The Clarendon in Sunderland was pointed out to Cask Task as a real ale pub that must be seen! So off we went to have a look.

There it is above. Not a place to give great enthusiasm for the serious drinker! Built in the 1600's the pub was always a drinking house but was first officially licenced in 1727. Getting on a bit then eh! But Cask Task is not to be daunted and entered.
It's like stepping into the late 1800s or early 1900s. Magical.
Walk into the pub and facing you is a cast iron oven and fireplace from somewhere in the last century and the bar area feels the same. Walk on through to the rear window and the view directly below is onto the river Wear. Very impsessive.
A pint of the local brew was called for.
A glass of Sol, a very pale beer, went down very nicely thank you. But where it came from was a mystery soon to be solved, when a Mr. Steve Potts appeared from the depths below the Clarendon where there is a brewery.
That tiny alleyway just to the left of the pub states the name as the Bull Lane Brewery. And it brews Jason's Jinja, Ryhope Tug, Clary Brown ( a super dark ale,my favourite), Sauce of the Niall and of course the Sol. What a selection.
Steve was just on his way to put the finishing touches to the Bull Lane Brewery's particiation in the Sunderland Octoberfest on the 8-10th October 2009 at the Bonded Warehouse in Sunderland.
Good Luck and I hope it went well.

Harbour View. Roker, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear, SR6 ONU.


The Harbour View at Roker. After what seemed like an hour of real ale hunting on a rain soaked day, this modern looking pub hove into view. Keen to get out of the rain Cask Task entered. What a pleasant surprise it turned out to be.

A curved fronted bar housed a real ale drinker's delight of 6 pumps, consisting of Timothy Taylors Landlord and Deuchers IPA as regulars and 4 guest ales. I had never come across Clary Brown (not one of my loose women I must point out), so I gave it a try. It was superb. From a local brewery called Bull Lane Brewing Co..

The Harbour View's others were Wold Top Brewery's Wold Gold, Consett Ale Works' Blast, and Endeavour from the Capt. Cook Brewery. All excellent local north east real ales.

The manager was a pleasant chap and the atmosphere warm and friendly. A good place to enjoy good beer. I could have put my feet up and stayed for the rest of the day. But, as you well know by now, I'm a hard worker for the Cask Task cause and had to move on.

A Ist class real ale pub.

If you want food the Benedict Bar upstairs is there to accomodate.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

The Black Bull. Middle Street, Corbridge. NE45 5AT. Tel:01434 632261


The Black Bull in Corbridge has long been a favourite of mine not only for its beer but also its comfortable and welcoming interior. Low heavily beamed ceilings, small windows and log fires in the winter give it a good atmosphere and friendly feel. The food's not bad either.

Ruddles County seems to have been on for ages, Black Sheep Bitter, Old Speckled Hen and Greene King IPA make up the tasty fousome. I couldn't resist my old favourite, Ruddles County, which was spot on.
I hope its not too long before I'm back for more!

The Golden Lion. Hill Street, Corbridge, NE45 5AA. Tel:01434 632216


The Golden Lion came to my attention some 30 or more years ago when the Roundheads and the Cavaliers had a mock battle somewhere near Corbridge. If I remember correctly the battle continued in earnest in the pubs afterwards. I'm pleased to say I wasn't involved as a few pints of blood were spilt.
The famous picturesque town of Corbridge is still as pretty now as it was then and well worth a visit. I've spent many days calling there in recent times although not in the Golden Lion. I was looking forward to renewing my acquaintance with the pub today.
A read of the small piece of history on the sign outside tells you some of the places' background.
The interior is welcoming and comfortable but its token two taps of real ale is just that. A token gesture. My pint of Deuchar's IPA was murky and cloudy.
I left. A disappointed man.