Friday, 26 November 2010

Jacksons Arms, Tower Street, Hartlepool, Cleveland, TS24 7HH, 01429 862413.


Jacksons Arms has not the most attractive or inviting of exteriors but things do improve a little once inside.
A pleasant atmosphere and although 4 pumps were on show only one was in use.
Adnams Bocbier. Never heard of that one but it tasted reasonable enough.

Rat Race Ale House, Platform 2, Hartlepool Railway Station, TS24 7ED.


The Rat Race Ale House is actually in Hartlepool Railway Station.
It's tiny.
About 8ft by 8ft, but always has a good selection of ever changing real ales maintained by the ever present Pete Morgan.
Always a regular changing 4 ales, a Perry and a Cider on offer with a  reasonable amount of seating.
A most unusual setting and a must for a visit and a pint or two.

White House, Wooler Road, Hartlepool, Cleveland, TS26 0DR, Tel:01429 224392.


White House is another attractive and well appointed Ember Inns pub/restaurant in Hartlepool, popular for both food and good real ale.
The superb range of  beers included Old Speckled Hen, Black Sheep, John Smiths Cask Ale, Bass Premium Ale and the superb Copper Dragon Black Gold from the Skipton Brewery.
A comfortable and inviting place well worth a visit.

Tall Ships, Middle Warren Local Centre, Mulberry Rise, Hartlepool, TS26 OBF, Tel:01429 273515.


Tall Ships is one of two very inviting Ember Inns owned pub/restaurants Cask Task came across in Hartlepool.
Very well appointed in decor and furnishings with a good looking food menu and superb range of real ales.
Black Prince Dark Ale from St Austell, Davenports Fox's Nob, Thwaites Liberation Premium Ale and John Smiths Cask Ale. The Black Prince was superb. These all change regularly.
Definitely worth a visit for both food and drink

Monday, 22 November 2010

Pier 81, Queen Street, Amble, Northumberlaned, NE65 0DA, Tel:01665 713160.

 Pier 81 was once The Tavern, which baffled us temporarily but we were desparately searching for a pint of real ale in this absolute desert of a place and went in.
One pump, yes ONE pump, in this dump, and the only  pump of real ale in the whole  town centre!!
We sank the Hadrian & Borders Brewery's Tyneside Blonde and left.

The Trap Inn, Main Street, North Broomhill, Northumberland, NE65 9UT. Tel:01670 761672.

The Trap Inn is a little isolated, just off the main coastal route through Northumberland.
 I must have passed the pub a number of times over the years without giving it a second glance. A refurbishment around 2008 has cheered the place up no end and we thought it was worth a look in.

The man on duty behind the bar was a friendly and welcoming bloke and served up a good pint of Theakstons Old Peculiar. With a choice of 3 real ales, a restaurant and accomodation the place is certainly worth a visit.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Border Minstrel, High Gosforth Park, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE3 5EJ, Tel:0191 2362002


The Border Minstrel stands right outside the racecourse and opposite the Parklands Golf Course. A large L-shaped room for both drinkers and diners.
It generally has 3 real ales on tap although only 2 available when Cask Task arrived. Both were from the High House Farm Brewery, one of our favourites. Matfen Magic and Nels Best were the two on offer.
The music in the place , however, nearly blew my little grey cells out.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Stonebridge Inn, Nevilles Cross, Durham, Co Durham, DH1 4PJ, Tel:0191 3709422.


The Stonebridge Inn was visited by Cask Task in the early part of 2010, only to draw a blank as far as real ale was concerned. It's only stocked in the summer season we were told. 3 forlorn hand pulls were temporarely redundant.
Cask Task is made of sterner stuff, and did as asked, to find only one in action on the return visit. Spitfire was the one, so a couple of pints were had. The consolation, however, was the accompaniment of some fine sandwiches to go with the beer. One steak sandwich and two exellent lamb sandwiches were served up and despatched with vigour.
Only one real ale choice was a disappointment but the food did make up for it.

The Green Tree, Village Green, Tudhoe, Spennymoor, Co Durham, DL16 6LE. Tel:01388 815679.


The Green Tree stands at the side of Tudhoe's village green and is a picturesque little pub.
Although only selling one real ale, I've put it on Cask Task because of its cosy atmosphere and good food.

The beer, Black Sheep, I must say was in excellent condition and the best pint of the stuff I've had for some time.
Certainly, if your in the Spennymoor area it's worth a meal and a pint in The Green Tree at Tudhoe.

Friday, 15 October 2010

The Pollards Inn, 104 Etherley Lane, Bishop Auckland, Co Durham, DL14 6TU, Tel:01388 603539.


The Pollards is a little out of the town centre, but believe you me it is a busy and popular eating place.
With good food a priority,the pub was packed with friday lunchtime diners and we, from CaskTask ,couldn't resist the tasty roast beef and gravy sandwiches. They were spot on.
The manager there was an extremely friendly and informative chap and certainly did his pub proud with a fine selection of real ales to accompany his superb grub.
No less than 5 hand pulls in operation, with my Jennings Snecklifter a must. Ringwoods Hufkin, Wychwoods Bountiful, Hobgoblin  and Jennings Cumberland Ale, the regular, all on offer. Lovely stuff.
What a smashing pub.

The Stanley Jefferson, 5 Market Place, Bishop Auckland, Co Durham, DL14 7NJ, Tel:01388 452830.

                                                                         LEFT CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE

The Stanley Jefferson is right in the middle of the town. As usual with a Wetherspoons house, it was busy with friday afternoon meals constantly passing through the place and a 8 real ales on tap.
The name comes from Stanley ( another fine mess you've got me in to ) Laurel who was born here in Bishop.
One of Wetherspoons best, the pub served up Abbot Ale (2 pumps ), Old Peculiar, Spitfire, Ruddles Best ( at £1.59 a pint, I had some of that ), Ringwoods Forty Niner and so on.
A popular and comfortable pub.

The Frog and Ferret, Coulson Street, Spennymoor, Co Durham, DL16 7RS, Tel:01388 818312.


The Frog and Ferret is what I'd call a proper pub!
From the outside it looks very ordinary, but just walk inside and you want to sit down and enjoy a few pints. It just oozes inviting warm and welcoming atmosphere. With its old fireplace and central bar it immediately asks you to relax. The staff help with their friendly service too.
To add to this the real ale choice is plentyful and my Wensleydale Falconer was clean and tasty.
If you get the chance, get youself in there. What a super pub

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

The Promenade, 1 Queens Parade, Seaburn, Sunderland, SR6 8DA, Tel:0191 5292226.


The Promenade pub is right on the sea front at Seaburn.
I must admit, I walk along the actual promenade here every week, and if the tide's in and a bit unsettled, it can be spectacular. Strange, for me that is, I had never called at The Promenade to sample the ale even though there's a Cask Marque sign at the door. Must be something wrong with my specs I thought! So after a swift visit to the opticians last week, just to check you understand, I called in for a pint.
A pleasant surprise! Two hand pulls on and a friendly and comfortable interior for the coming winter months. Deuchars IPA and a nice pint of Tetleys real ale.
The Promenade has become a regular haunt. 

The White Swan Inn, Prestwick Road, Dinnington, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, NE13 7AG, Tel:01661 872869.

The White Swan Inn was closed at 3.30pm when I last called, a week or so ago, but it looked so inviting I thought it was worth another go.
Although not what I'd call a real ale pub, just the one pump of Black Sheep on sale, I thought I'd mention the Swan because of its popularity as a good eatery. The place was really busy on the thursday lunchtime Cask Task called for the customary pint.
Very obviously a good place to eat.

Poachers Cottage, Callerton, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE5 1NQ, Tel:0191 2140417.


The Poachers Cottage is a beautiful pub/restaurant on the edge of the village of Callerton.
We caught it on a sunny autumn afternoon and it looked tremendous. The interior was just as attractive. So much so that Cask Task's team of three had to have a delicious roast beef sandwich each. Super.
The Cumberland Ale and the Snecklifter real ale washed it all down.
I must say that I'll be back here again as soon as possible.

Twin Farms, Main Road, Kenton Bank Foot, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE13 8AB, Tel:0191 2864531.


Twin Farms is a very friendly and welcoming Sir John Fitzgerald place on the edge of Newcastle. I'd had a meal in here, a few months ago, with my son and granddaughter and thought it was about time the beer got a try!
As usual with 'Fitzgeralds' there was plenty to choose from and an ever changing variety from 5 real ale pumps. Black Sheep, Skipton Brewery Copper Dragon, Moonshine from Abbeydale Brewery, Red Car Rocks and Brecon County from the Breconshire Brewery. Down I settled, in a very comfortable armchair, and supped. Marvelous.
Another good pub/restaurant.

Jingling Gate, Stamfordham Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE5 1NL. Tel:0191 2869636.


The Jingling Gate brings back 25years or more memories of big friendly gatherings and meals for special occasions. Obviously the place has changed now and moved up market but still has a pleasant atmosphere.
Always a big eating place, and that hasn't changed, with a good menu to choose from.
The real ales are on sale from 3 hand pulls. Old Speckled Hen, Green King IPA, and a new one on me, Gangly Ghoul from the Westgate Brewery, which I couldn't resist. Very pleasant it turned out to be!
A good pub and eating place.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

The Pavillion, Hotspur North, Backworth Business Park, Backworth, Tyne & Wear, NE27 0FG. Tel:0191 2680711


The Pavillion Bar and Grill is what you would call 'ultra modern'. So 'ultra modern' we almost drove past it as it looks nothing like a pub!
Extremely comfortable and welcoming once inside. Very swish.
A Sir John Fitzgerald place opened in 2008, it has a good selection of real ales. Red Car Rocks, Hadrian and Borders Tyneside Blonde, Jarrow Brewerys Swinging Gibbet and the customary Black Sheep. My Swinging Gibbet was smashing.
Good food too.
Definitely worth a visit.

The Wheatsheaf Inn, New York, Tyne & Wear, NE29 8EH. Tel:0191 2708277.


The Wheatsheaf Inn is a quite attractive old place which we had some difficulty finding. Not helped by the roadworks upheaval caused by a water leak problem. This had been going on for some time apparently, causing great financial loss and much aggravation to the pub.
We found the place comfortable and homely on our visit. The ales being Courage Best Bitter, which went down very well, Websters Bitter and Mordues IPA.
Lets hope the roadworks problem is sorted quickly.
A good pub.

Shiremoor Farm, Middle Engine Lane, North Shields, Tyne & Wear, NE29 8DZ. Tel:0191 2576302.


Shiremoor Farm is a beautiful converted farmhouse now almost impossible to recognise as such. This Sir John Fitzgerald establishment is now a huge restaurant and bar with a selection of real ales, wines and reasonably priced food.
The interior is attractively done out with beamed ceilings and comfortable furnishings.
A couple of good real ales are always available. Mordues IPA and Timothy Taylors Landlord were the two when Cask Task called. The IPA washed down a very nice roast beef sandwich.

If you are in the area it is certainly worth a visit.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Melton Constable, Beresford Road, Seaton Sluice. Whitley Bay, NE26 4DR. Tel:0191 2377741.


The Melton Constable is set just off the main road through Seaton Sluice by the sea inlet.
With a conservatory at the rear giving a pleasant outlook, the old pub has a good atmosphere to it.

A really good selection of five real ales, two from Caledonian Brewery, the Red and the Mellow Yellow. The others were Ruddles Best, Wells Bomberdier and Deuchars IPA. I thoroughly enjoyed my pint of Caledonian Red and a pleasant chat with both of the barmaids.

A good pub, serving food too.

Astley Arms, Marine Drive, Seaton Sluice, Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear, NE26 4JX. Tel:0191 2370057.


The Astley Arms once, a long time ago, must have been a good pub. Before and during the 2nd World War, it must have had a loyal following.
There was a major naval base just up the coast at Blyth for a dozen submarines. All but 4 of them were lost or destroyed.
A bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label Whisky was left behind the bar by one of the submarine 'Seahorse' crew, to be collected on his return. This submariner, 'Tug' Wilson, was lost at sea along with the rest of the crew of 'Seahorse' in 1940, and the unopened bottle remains in a glass case in the Astley Arms in his, and all the other lost submariner's memory.
The two real ale pumps, Green King IPA and Black Sheep, are all that remain, in a what is virtually now a family canteen, rather than a pub.

BeeHive Inn, Hartley Lane, Earsdon, Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear, NE25 0SZ. Tel:0191 2529352.


The BeeHive Inn is on a quiet country lane between Earsdon and Old Hartley.

I must admit I've passed this Grade II listed pub and never given it a try, until this late, rain soaked, thursday afternoon. It had a reasonable selection of drinkers and mainly diners, even on this awful day, and it got busier as the afternoon continued. Obviously, the pub was doing something right!
Two real ales on in this little place and both in good health. Timothy Taylors Landlord and the Northumberland Brewery BeeHive Bitter.
Reluctantly, having to leave without sampling the food there, off I trundled, promising to return at some point for a meal.
The sooner the better.

Delavel Arms, Old Hartley, Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear, NE26 4RL. Tel:0191 2370489.

The Delavel Arms is a lovely old boozer on the northern outskirts of Whitley Bay.

The lads from Cavendish Kitchens used to have their Christmas do's here, in the side room, on the right as you go in. Good nights they were too. Unfortunately, for gronks like, me there are two stairs down to the bar. Don't let that put you off as it's a good atmosphere in there.

4 real ale pumps are in working order and one of my favourites, Mordues Workie Ticket, is generally one of them.

A good real ale pub.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Tilleys, 105 Westgate Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 4AW. Tel:0191 2320692.


Tilleys, sandwiching the Tyne Theatre (formerly the Stoll picture house, where I used to 'play the wag' from school to see so called 'dirty' movies in 1960, in what seems like the middle ages now) between it and The Bodega pub, feels a bit more downmarket than its sister pub. Its not really, its just that the Bodega has a more interesting interior.

Still interesting with its 'cinema' inside!! Tilleys is a bit more down to earth, shall we say, but does have a substantial range if changing real ales. JW Lees Strawberry Fruity Ale, Blackberry Cascade(2 bananas and a half pound of apples please?), JW Lees Bitter(thats better), High House Nels Best, Wylams Summer Magic and some of yer actual real? lager. I tried a pint of this, just to say that I had.

A good pub though and worth a visit.

The Bodega, 125 Westgate Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 4AG. Tel:0191 2211552.


The Bodega is a beautiful old pub, both inside and out, with its magnificent domed ceiling and traditional look exterior. Another city drinking establishment Sir John Fitzgerald can be proud of. I can't help feeling though, that the new road, sort of cutting Westgate Road in two, doesn't enhance this part of the city, but on to the Bodega's further good points.

The superb real ale range is as good as ever. Changing constantly. When we called, Prince Bishop Ale, Sharp's Honey Spiced Gold, Milestone Black Pearl (one of my favourites), Nethergate Brewery Painted Lady, Milestones Dark Knight and Durham Brewery's The Durham Magus were all sitting there, ready to be supped.

Get in and get some swallied.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

The Crown and Anchor, The Market Place, Holy Island, TD15 2RX. Tel:01289 389215.


The Crown and Anchor is right in the middle of the pretty little village itself. But don't visit when we did, 25th August, the kids holidays, as the place was packed.
There's so much to see, Lindisfarne's tiny castle, the Priory ruins, the little church, the village itself and of course the real ale pubs! Always check the tides as its a full days visit to enjoy it to the full.
There were 3 real ales on offer, High House Farms Nels Best, and Hadrian and Borders Tyneside Blonde plus my choice of Secret Kingdom, the darker brew. There was of course a London visitor whinging about the quality of the northern beer, but a pint of my recommended Nels Best settled him down.

Lindisfarne. A grand little Island to spend a day or so on.

The Ship Inn, Marygate, Holy Island, TD15 2SJ. Tel:01289 389311.


The Ship is the first pub you'll come across after being shepherded into the tourist car park.
The island was packed, as Cask Task wrongly decided that 25th August was a good time to visit.
I had been to Lindisfarne twice before many years ago and I would highly recommend a visit, but do remember to check the tides before hand. There's so much to see and a full day is required.
The small castle, the Priory ruins, the tiny old church, the little village itself and of course, the real ale pubs! The kids holidays is not a good time.
The Ship is a quaint old place, and at a quieter time, would be a comfortable pub to spend a little time over. With a couple of good real ales to choose from, High House Farm Auld Hemp and Hadrian and Borders Holy Island Blessed Bitter, even the short stay for us was good.

Monday, 30 August 2010

The Lord Crewe Hotel, Front Street Bamburgh, Northumberland, NE69 7BL. Tel:01668 214243.

The Lord Crewe Hotel originates back in the 1600's and its front faces the magnificent Bamburgh Castle. What a setting.
Cask Task explored and found the rear of the place to be tastefully extended in similar stone. As the sun was out, we relaxed out the back in the secluded patio area with a tasty pint of real ale, before continuing on to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne.

Dyke Neuk, Meldon, Nr Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 3SL. Tel:01670 772662.


The Dyke Neuk is in a small village a few miles outside of Morpeth.
Have a look for it and pay a visit. I highly recommend it.
In picturesque countryside, the pub has a good atmosphere and a comfortable and welcoming interior.
A couple of good real ales, from Wylam Brewery and Hadrian and Borders, ensure you'll enjoy your drink. I spent a very enjoyable two and a half hours there and a delicious roast beef sandwich certainly helped.
A smashing pub.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

The Rohan Kanhai, 1/4 Woodhorn Road, Ashington, Northumberland, NE63 9AS. Tel:01670 857692


The Rohan Kanhai. Named after the popular and famous international West Indian cricketer. A superb batsman, who played for Ashington for a short time. This is yet another busy Wetherspoons eating and drinking establishment.
Although I lived for 10 years just a few miles up the road from here, I'd never been in. It was typical Wetherspoons. Characterless, but cheap and cheerful. Ten real ale pumps, all in working order,and all at ridiculously low prices, eg. Courage Directors, which I had, at £1.79 a pint and a reasonable menu of food to boot.
Atmosphere a bit like a works canteen mind you, but it is good to see a pub buzzing.

Friday, 20 August 2010

The Old Mill at Knitsley, Knitsley Mill House, Knitsley, Consett, Co. Durham, DH8 9EL. Tel:01207 581642.


The Old Mill at Knitsley is in the most beautiful of country settings next to a trout stream.

The interior is very inviting, extremely attractive and comfortable with a couple of real ales on tap. My pint of Hobgoblin went down a treat, as we sat outside in the sunshine and watched the trout and the ducks meander by. Marvelous.
It is well set up, with an area under canvas, to accomodate large parties and weddings.
I think a meal must be tried to appreciate the place properly. Another time perhaps.

 That other time is here! 20/10/2010.
Cask Task enjoyed a venison casserole and a couple of pints of Pedigree, with a beautiful woman, near the open, wood burning fire. What a treat.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Hope & Anchor, 44 Northumberland Street, Alnmouth, Northumberland, NE66 3RX. Tel:01665 830363.


The Hope & Anchor is an old favourite of mine. I used to be a frequent visitor to Alnmouth when I was a child and also in much more recent times. A lovely village and a beautiful beach to walk. But watch out for flying golf balls!

This pub has some happy memories for me and I must say it hasn't changed. The welcome feeling hasn't altered and the sup is still good.With Northumberland Premium, Wylam Gold Tankard and Farne Island beers to choose from, you can't go wrong. The food's still OK too.

I recommend it highly.

Sun Inn, 29 Northumberland Street, Alnmouth, Northumberland, NE66 2RJ, Tel:01665 830983.


The Sun Inn is a lovely little pub on the main street of Alnmouth. Although once a frequent visitor to the village, I'd never been in this particular pub before.
I don't know why, because its a tidy and comfortable little place with a good atmosphere. Only two real ale hand pulls on offer, but these were both popular favourites. Mordues Workie Ticket and Black Sheep. The Workie Ticket went down a treat.
Good for food too.
Neat pub.

Red Lion Inn, 22 Northumberland Street, Alnmouth, Northumberland, NE66 2RJ Tel:01665 830584


The Red Lion. What grand little pub, right in the middle of the main street and loaded with atmosphere, good beer and good food. Through the arch and carry on for a few yards and there's a lovely beer and food garden looking on to the river Aln.

A 1st class choice of real ales from Wylam, Black Sheep, Allendale Golden Plover and Roosters Farm House.

What a smashing pub.

A must visit if you're going to Alnmouth.

Cook & Barker Inn, Newton on the Moor, Nr Alnwick, Northumberland, NE65 9JY. Tel:01665 575234.


The Cook and Barker, set high above the A1, in the little village of Newton on the Moor, is a gem. Although I visited the place a number of times about about 25 years ago, for meals and single night stopovers, the place has still got a terrific reputation.

I called on a tuesday lunchtime and the place was full of diners. Such is its following that Cask Task could not even get a seat for a pint! Its always had two or three real ales on offer and still has.

I'll have to call again, but book a table in advance next time.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Widdrington Inn, Widdrington Village, Northumberland, NE61 5DY, Tel:01670 760260.


The Widdrington Inn sits right on the side of the A1068 coastal route at the very edge of the tiny village of Widdrington.
When I first went in to this place some fifteen years ago it was a bit of a dump but in the last ten years or so its been transformed into a worthwhile drinking and eating establishment.
Going strongly for food unfortunately has resulted in just a couple of hand pulls on offer.Never mind though. Any port in a storm, Cask Task ventured in.
The real ales were Abbott Ale and Hogshead Bitter (a pint of Hogshead was supped). It was an early August midweek lunchtime visit and the pub was very busy. An ok pint was all we had.
Not a bad pub though.

The Sun Hotel, 6 Castle Terrace, Warkworth, Northumberland, NE65 0UP.Tel:01665 711259.


The Sun Inn.
Having had a little run up the loverly coastal route, I was caught in the most horrendous of downpours, so I decided to stop and wait for it to clear. My daughter had stayed for a couple of nights some years ago and recommended the Sun Inn at Warkworth, so I pulled in. I'm so pleased I did.
What a comfortable and cosy bar. Coopers Bar its called and it served a delicious pint of Courage Directors. Northumberland Brewerys Fog On The Tyne and a pint of Theakstons were also on tap. The rain came down for 2 hours and had to force down another Directors. The things I've got to do for Cask Task!

The lounge, conservatory and restaurant were most tempting, but the downpour stopped and I had to make for home. What a pity. I really felt like making a night of it.
This old coaching inn with its views of the Coquet river to the rear and the Castle at the front is worth a stop.

The Hermitage, 23 Castle Street, Warkwoth, Northumberland, NE65 0UL. Tel:01665 711258.


The Hermitage is yet another favourite of mine in the beautiful village of Warkworth. The old river crossing, 100 yards down the road, is still standing and the riverside itself is worth a stroll along, if you want to build up a thirst.

I always called in to the Hermitage Inn, knowing its a Jennings house and the Snecklifter would be available. Thank heavens the place has not changed and is still its comfortable and welcoming old self, with all the usual Jennings real ales to choose from. Jennings Bitter, Cumberland Ale, Lakeland Stunner and of course the Snecklifter.
They still serve decent food there too.
A good pub.

Black Bull, Bridge Street, Warkworth, Northumberland, NE65 0XB. Tel:01665 711367.


The Black Bull. Yet another old favourite of mine, which always had a wonderful fire glowing in the dark winter evenings. Originally candlemaking in the 1700's, the building became a pub in about 1830, I think, and only recently had inside loos installed.
Its latest owner, a cheerful chap with a keen sense of humour, has an official notice above the three urinals stipulating strict water recycling instructions on where to put your waste. The urinals are marked 'lager', 'real ale' and 'bottled beers'. I think they were to be recycled through the Masons Arms!
A welcoming little boozer with a couple of hand pulls on. Maxims and Wylams Bitter.
Very nice.

Warkworth House Hotel, No16 Restaurant & Bar, 16 Bridge Street, Warkworth, Northumberland, NE65 0XB. Tel:0165 711276,


Warkworth House has been a favourite of mine for a number of years though I must say it was for its food rather than its beer.
There have been a number of changes to the bar, now known as No.16. A fairly good number of enhancements, but the beer choice remains totally inadequate. Two pumps on show but only one
in service. The inevitable Black Sheep of course.
Still a good place to eat though.

Masons Arms, 3 Dial Place, Warkworth, Northumberland, NE65 0UR. Tel:01665 711398


The Masons Arms in Warkworth seems to have gone through quite a series of management couples in the last few years. Somethings not right about the place, obviously. A pity because the pub is in a beautiful village. Good luck to the latest couple and I hope they have more success.

The Masons has been a real ale house for as long as I can remember and that, I'm pleased to say, has not changed. With 4 active pumps on the go there is a decent choice from Theakstons XB, Adnams Bitter, Wells Bombardier and Deuchars IPA.

Food is also served.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The Blagdon Arms, Village Square, Cramlington, Northumberland, NE23 1DN. Tel:01670 731162


The Blagdon Arms is in the beautiful little oasis that is the village.
With its beer garden at the rear, Cask Task found the pub a friendly and welcoming place, with 3 real ale taps. When Cask Task called these were Wells Bombardier, York Brewerys Tettnang (my choice for the day), and the Shepherd Neame Spitfire.
Serving up some food too, the place was quite busy. A pleasant pub.

The Plough, Middle Farm Buildings, Cramlington, Northumberland,


The Plough, in what's termed as Cramlington old village, is an attractive part of a still growing, characterless, modern town. In this inviting little oasis sits the Fitzgerald's pub.

I hadn't been for about 12 years, but the chain's attention to its real ales was still apparent in the Plough. I had always found this a large busy place, but I think the lack of a food option, which I'm sure it used to have, seems to have left it a little lacking in lunch time custom.
Still an interesting place though, being built on a farm site, with part of the lounge being the old circular 'ging gan' for grinding the corn.
The bar is still kept as a separate area to the lounge.

Six good beers on offer being North Yorkshire Brewery Organic Flying Herbert, Old Speckled Hen, Nethergate Brewery Painted Lady, Abbott Ale, Ruddles County and the inevertable Black Sheep.

Brockwell Seam, Nothumbrian Road, Cramlington, Northumberland, NE23 1XZ. Tel:01670 732071.


The Brockwell Seam at Cramlington is another one of those, not unattractive, but soulless new pubs that have crept up on us over the last 20 or so years, and long may they continue to do so. As far as I'm concerned, anything that keeps the pub business going is a bonus.

I've walked in to umpteen of these and they do keep the real ale business growing. In the large, mainly characterless, sprawling town of Cramlington, its a pleasure to see a Brockwell Seam pub amongst the housing estates.
With a couple of real ales on offer, Waggle Dance and Wells Bombardier, we stopped for a while.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

The County, 13 The Green, Aycliffe Village, County Durham. DL5 6LY. Tel:01325 312273.


The County is a pub/hotel/restaurant set in the village green of the picturesqe village of Aycliffe.
On the other side of the main road and entirely separate from Newton Aycliffe, the village is a beauty! The village green itself is a gem and The County an attractive part of it.
The County interior has a spotlessly clean look without losing that warm, inviting and comfortable feel. The restaurant looks very attractive and Cask Task must give it a try.

On the real ale front, the place has its own personalised County Best Bitter (supplied by the Yard Of Ale Brewery At Ferryhill), Black Sheep Bitter and another guest ale, Jennings Bitter on this occasion.

Must get back as soon as possible.

Surtees Arms, Chilton Lane, Ferryhill, County Durham, DL17 0DH. Tel:01740 655724.


The Surtees Arms was 60yards further up the road. My car's sat/nav turned me into a side street! Funny. When I looked in the mirror, I looked exactly the same. Not like a side street!
Stupid boy.
The pub occupies a corner site with the Yard Of Ale Brewery at the rear. It opens at 4pm.

I was made most welcome by the governor, busy at his books when I limped in, and he very kindly filled out my notes for me.
CAMRA Durham pub of the year, the Surtees is an old place, with the look of a proper drinking establishment. Offering four real ales.
Top of the bill is his own One Foot In The Yard at 4.5%, Best By Yards Best Bitter at 4.3%, both of which are alternated with the brewery's First Yard, Yard Hopper, Winters Yard, Yards Ahead, Y'Ard Ass, Yard Bird, and a good Black as Owt Stout.
A Cornish Orchards Scrumpy and the guest Hadrians Gladiator were the other two.

The Surtees is open all day on Saturday and Sunday when food is served.
A most enjoyable pint was had, and a bit of convivial conversation too.

The William Stead, 8 Crown Street, Darlington, County Durham, DL1 1LU. Tel:01325 465487


The William Stead is within walking distance of at least half a dozen other real ale haunts, in the brilliant shopping centre that Darlington has become.
A large two storey pub/restaurant with a special lift to the toilets on the Ist floor for gronks like me. I had to use this facility as the staff failed to pick the lock on the disabled toilet on the ground floor. Some bloke must have absconded with the key! B.....d.
Look at the photo. Its big enough for a Marks & Spencers branch!!
The Ruddles best was £1.39 a pint! I had to suffer a pint at that price. Grainstore Brewery Ten-Fifty (brewed in Rutland for its sins), Daleside Blonde and Old Lubrication, and Abbott Ale were the rest. Although I'm warming to some of Wetherspoons wonderful pubs, this one left me cold.
Must press on.

Tanners Hall, 63-64 Skinnergate, Darlington, County Durham, DL3 7LL.Tel:01325 369939.


The Tanners Hall, yet another Wetherspoons pub. This one gets its name from the leather trade once big in Skinnergate in the 16 and 1700's.
Busy of course, with both diners and drinkers, the pub interior is interesting and reasonably comfortable with well priced both beer and food.
The usual multitude of real ale choices from the ridiculously cheap Ruddles, the beautiful Mordues Workie Ticket, Northumberland Brewers Premium, Wentworth Gold, Daleside Monkey Wrench, Big Lamp Premium and on and on.... The Workie Ticket, incidentally, was spot on.
Fancy breakfast? You can have one here for about thirty bob. Its not worth turning the gas on at home, never mind having to wash up afterwards!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Derwent Walk Inn, Ebchester Hill, Ebchester, Consett, County Durham, DH8 0SX. Tel:01207 560347.


The Derwent Walk Inn is set on the side of a hill giving superb views of the surrounding countryside for miles around. Especially from the added conservatory seen here on the left.

A Jennings house, it supplies a good selection of their real ales. The powerful and densely dark Sneck Lifter (I couldn't resist a pint of this), Cocker Hoop, Cumberland Ale and Bitter, all on sale here.

Once ensconced in the conservatory, with a pint in my hand, I couldn't resist the food menu and enjoyed, with friends, a good home cooked meal. The staff were friendly and reasonably responsive to our needs and the visit was a success.

A pub well worth the sojourn.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Number 22 Alehouse and Canteen, 22 Coniscliffe Road, Darlington, County Durham, DL3 7RG. Tel:01325 354590.


Number 22 Alehouse and Canteen. Certainly a name to conjure with and not a great looker from the outside, but what a grand modern and comfortable interior. A superb real ale pub.

Although not wide, the pub is cavernous inside. Maybe a bit too high. But let's not nitpick. It's friendly and comfortable and by god does it offer some choice of beer.
I counted twelve, yes 12, real ales. It is home to the Village Brewer Brewery, three of whose ales are there. The list is endless. Brakspear, Ringwood, Skipton, Ossett.......I had the Village Brewery Old Raby Ale but, after a long day sampling on your behalf, I got so pissed (you've guessed it) I forgot to take the photo.
Another visit may have to be made. What a shame!
Made a second visit and got the photo.