Thursday, 17 December 2009

Chester-Le-Street Cricket Club, Ropery Lane, Chester-Le-Street, Co.Durham. DH3 3PF.Tel: 0191 3883684.

On entering a car park, off the main street in Chester Le Street, was The Chester Le Street Cricket Club.
I didn't realise it was there, with the emergence of the international(?) ground at the other side of the town. What a pleasant bar it turned out to be. Quite large and totally glass fronted. A great spot to relax, sup your real ale and watch the cricket. Marvelous!

4 handles on but only 2 in service. Consett Ale Works Red Dust and my choice, Captain Cook Brewery's Slipway.
Very pleasant. Pleased we called in.
Very nice.

Lloyds No.1--The Wicket Gate, Front Street, Chester-Le-Street. Co.Durham, DH3 3AX. Tel:0191 3872960.


Cask Task spotted this building, Lloyds No. 1--The Wicket Gate, on the way through Chester Le Street and decided to investigate.
Lo and behold, the interior was like a thoroughly modern and posh night club!
But no, here we have yet another Wetherspoons where you have to carefully wipe your feet before going in. It must have cost a few bob to do out, but I must admit, it was impressive.
As usual with Wetherspoons, the real ale choice in The Wicket Gate was terrific and the prices very reasonable.
Ruddles Best, Abbot Reserve, Elgoods Snickalmas, Hook Norton Brewery Twelve Days and on and on. 9 handles in total.
The place is set up for food and though a bit soulless, as Wetherspoons is, how can you complain? Enjoy your ale, sit back, and stop whingeing.
Certainly worth a look and a pint or two.

The Victoria Inn, 86 Hallgarth, Durham, DH1 3AS. Tel: 0191 3865269


In The Victoria Inn, an old pub in Durham itself, gave Cask Task its next major adventure.

The bar itself is fairly small, but as the snow was tossing it down outside, a roaring fire was ablaze inside. We took our pints and settled down beside the fire.

A knock came on the main door (see the corner door on the photo).
A customer left his seat opened the door, looked out, closed the door, took up the door mat, lifted a hatch, thereby revealing the sheer drop into the cellar below, and returned to his seat and pint.

If this had been a comedy, an incoming customer, in a rush to get out of the snow storm outside, would have opened the door and immediately strode into the cellar below.
Now, I kid you not, but I'm only lying to you about the last bit. Another older, and somewhat wiser, customer yelled a warning, leapt up, and managed to re-open and prop open the door, thus averting tomorrow's headlines in the Sunderland Echo. I had to laugh!

The little place was full and obviously popular with good real ale on hand. Our Durham Brewery Magus was drunk but a fine choice of Wylam Gold Tankard, Big Lamp Bitter and Nick Stafford Hambleton Ale Festive Folly was also there.
A lovely old pub.

Ye Old Elm Tree, 12 Crossgate, Durham, DH1 4PS. Tel: 0191 3864621.


What a smashing pub Ye Old Elm Tree is.Although the weather nearly prevented me from gettng in.
A good old fashioned snow storm, on top of the existing ice on the sloping pavement and the two entrance steps, became like tackling the north face of the Eiger to a gronk like me! It's grand to find there are still some kind souls about and an Elm Tree customer, following me in, guided me into the welcoming and warm bar. Everyone in there, including the owner, was easy to talk to and helpful for Cask Task's onward journey.
Ye Old Elm Tree's forthcoming real ale beer fest, 28th Jan 2010--1st Feb is to be given a Cathedral theme based on Durham, York, and Glastonbury,etc with plenty of beer to choose from. Sounds good to me.

A pint of Nick Stafford Hambleton Ale's Reindeer was immediately supped and enjoyed. A difficult choice from the Elm's fine selection, including Consett Ale Works White Hot, Fowlers Yard Durhams Festive Ale and Double Maxim.

The friendly lot from Ye Old Elm Tree gave us instructions for our next port of call as sadly we had to continue the good work elsewhere. What a chore this is.

Bridge Hotel, 40 North Road, Durham. DH1 4SE. Tel: 0191 3868090.


After a little parking problem The Bridge Hotel turned out to be a quite pleasant find.
First of all the Braine Brewery's Reverend James pint was tasty and The Bridge itself was a comfortable place to drink it in. Quite busy with diners, the atmosphere was good and the other two choices on the real ale front were Speckled Hen and Wells Bombardier. Safe but popular.
Worth a visit.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Low Lights Tavern, Brewhouse Bank, North Shields, Tyne and Wear, NE30 1JN. Tel: 0191 2595593.


The Low Lights Tavern has the potential to be another North Shields real ale gem.
Reputed to be the oldest pub in North Shields and it certain looks it.

A real old fashioned boozer, split into two separate areas, as they used to be, the Low Lights was the original fisherman's drinking place. Loaded with character and of course its share of ghosts roaming upstairs and in the cellars below, as related to us by Sophie behind the bar.
Having just come under new ownership its ancient origins are trying to be revived. And so they should be. Rather than than trying to turn it into a wine bar (holy mackerel!!) as the last owner apparently tried to do!

Your two intrepid Cask Task hunters almost gave it a miss, because of its recent past, but of course we couldn't resist its ancient facade. We're delighted we couldn't.

Among the 4 real ales on offer were Mordues Workie Ticket, Bass and my choice Wylam Bitter.
An enjoyable and entertaining visit.
Good luck to Sophie and the new owners.

Porthole, 11 New Quay, North Shields, Tyne and Wear, NE29 6LQ. Tel: 0191 2576645.


The Porthole is next to the ferry terminal in North Shields and hasn't got the most inviting of exteriors. Once inside though, the picture does change for the better as the soft jazz music greets you.

A bit dated the interior might be, but don't let this put you off, as the place has a good atmosphere and some good real ales to choose from. The live jazz, afternoon and evening, certainly adds to the enjoyment.

Real ales of the calibre of Courage Directors, Durham Brewery White Velvet, Bass Premium Ale and Wentworth Brewery Harvest Pale Ale were the choices.

A very enjoyable and friendly visit. A good real ale pub.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Hugo's at the Coast, 29 Front Street, Tynemouth, NE30 4DZ.Tel: 0191 2578956.

Hugo's at the Coast is on Front Street Tynemouth.
What a street this is for real ale drinkers. Cask Task discovered another pub there on sunday after a meal at Il Forno at Tynemouth Metro station.

This one's from the Fitzgerald Group and is another busy treat for the drinker. A fair sized one room affair for the booze.
Black Sheep, Deuchars IPA, as regulars, plus World Top Brewery Falling Stone and Edinburgh No.3 as guests. Typical Fitz pub. Busy but seemingly well run.

Must get back again in day light to get a decent photo. And a soberish one if possible.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Magnesia Bank, 1 Camden Street, North Shields, NE30 1NH. Tel: 0191 2574831


The Magnesia Bank and North Shields in general was suggested, by one of Cask Tasks most prominent members, as worthy of a visit. It certainly was.
The Magnesia Bank had originally been a georgian bank many years ago and the interior and attached restaurant were worth a visit. A relaxing and tasty pint in front of the open fire was very pleasant indeed.
The superb selection of real ales came from the seven taps and included Durham Brewery Magus, Caledonian Double Dark(delicious) and 80 shilling, Poaches Billy Boy, Theakstons loverly Old Peculiar, Devonport The Fall and the ever popular Deuchars IPA.
This lot set us up for the enjoyable day to come.
Grand pub.

The Bell and Bucket, 37-39 Norfolk Street, North Shields, NE30 1NQ Tel:0191 2570680.


The Bell and Bucket turned out to be the end part of an old fire station. Once inside, this cosy little pub turned out to be a warm and relaxing place to have a pint.
One wall kitted out with fishing tackle from divers helmets to photos and the other with a huge assortment of porcelain owls! What's that lot all about?
Never mind. The beer was ok from High Gate and we enjoyed a Dark Mild.

Oddfellows, 7 Albion Road, North Shields, NE30 2RJ. Tel:0191 2574288


What a little belter the Oddfellows turned out to be.
A one roomed inviting boozer full of friendly faces and real ale drinkers. I think all three of Cask Task's members wished we lived next door to this little gem, so that we could take advantage of the Oddfellows Day Time Saver Scheme of buy 5 get 1 free!

Graeme, the owner, had a nice little selection of real ales from Abbott Ale, Jarrow Brewery's Jarrow Bitter and Maxim Brewery's Three Cheers for Christmas which could not be ignored and wasn't!
All round enjoyable visit.
Definitely a pub not to be missed.

Tynemouth Lodge Hotel, Tynemouth Road, North Shields, NE30 4AA. Tel:0191 2577565.

The Tynemouth Lodge Hotel goes back a long way. See the picture!
Not to be out done by the others on our North shields booze up, Cask Task stuck manfully to the job and sampled the real ale here. By god it's hard work though.
Another good little real ale pub. Both cozy and comfortable with Greene King IPA, Caledonian 80 shilling and the powerful Abbott Ale.
What a super way to round off the day.