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.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Tap & Spile, 99 Bondgate, Darlington, County Durham, DL3 7JY. Tel:01325 381679.

The Tap & Spile sits right next door to the Tapas Bar on Bondgate. Real handy for the dedicated boozer because here is another place to stagger into if you enjoy good ale.

Not the most attractive of interiors but a fine selection of good beers to choose from.
Wychwoods Hobgoblin, Adnams Broadside, Moorhouses Blond Witch and Saltaires Triple Chocolate (yuk!!)

The chalkboard listing the above and forthcoming ales was worth the visit. Some wit had removed some letters and words to give amusement to the reader. Cask Task will leave these changes to your ingenuity.

Old Yard Tapas Bar, 98 Bondgate, Darlington, County Durham, DL37JY. Tel:01325 467385.


The Old Yard Tapas Bar looked the most unlikely of real ale pubs. It just shows you how mistaken you can be! No less than six proper beers to choose from.

My old favourite, Theakston's Old Peculiar was top of the list, Ossett Light Ale, Consett White Hot, Wychwood Hobgoblin, Everards Tiger, Caledonian Mexican Bandit and John Smiths Cask Ale followed.

The Tapas Bar is also a substantial restaurant too. A very pleasant way to spend an hour or so in the sunshine out front.

Well worth a visit.

Quaker House, High Row, 2 Mechanics Yard, Darlington, County Durham, DL3 7QF. Tel:07783960105.


The Quaker House exterior doesn't exactly invite you in. Look at our photo. And its up a narrow alley! Nevertheless, in we went and I must say the greetings from the guv'nor and the barman were 1st class. So was the beer. Eight on tap! The place was a real drinkers paradise.
Rock music a speciality with umpteen bands billed to appear.
The Quaker House was CAMRA's Town Pub of the Year 2009-2010.

Real ales from Woodfords, Summer Wine Brewery, Rugby Brewery, Shipyard Brewery, Consett's Cast Iron and Brakspears Hooray Henry!

A highly enjoyable visit to a good real ale house.

Britannia Inn, 1 Archer Street, Darlington, County Durham, DL3 6LR.


The Britannia Inn is one of a cluster of real ale pubs in this area of Darlington and saved Cask Task a lot of limping around.
It's a lovely old place with an ancient interior. Loads of good and friendly atmoshere and plenty of Ist class beer. Just the job!
Six hand pulls available from Stonehenge Ales, Harviestouns, Marstons, O'Hanlons, John Smiths Cask(would you believe) and Strongarm Ruby Red Ale. A proper pub.
An enjoyable drink we had there.

Friday, 16 July 2010

The Bamburgh, 175 Bamburgh Avenue. South Shields, Tyne and Wear, NE34 6SS. Tel:0191 4541899.


The Bamburgh is tucked away off the main coastal road. A fair size, offering food as well as three real ales.
Green King IPA, Abbot Ale and Speckled Hen.
The place is comfortable.
That's about it.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

The Shoulder of Mutton, East Road, Longhorsley, Northumberland, NE65 8SY. Tel:01670 788236.


The Shoulder of Mutton stands at the side of the A697. An attractive looking pub with a sizeable garden at the rear.
Although four hand pumps were showing, alas only two were in action. Courage Directors from one and Everards Tiger from the other.
Still, any port, I was going to say in a storm, but on this particular gloriously sunny day, we lounged for a little while, Directors in hand, in the beer garden. Not a bad way to finish the days trek.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

The Queens Head, Townfoot, Rothbury, Nothumberland, NE65 7SR. Tel:01669 620470.


The Queens Head is a pub I've never visited, although driving up to Rothbury many times, as I do like the town. Mind you, having called once, I'll certainly call again. This is my kind of pub.

The place really feels lived in. Old, welcoming, comfortable with its ancient leather armchairs and dining room furniture. Cask Task settled in for a pint of Ruddles County. Smashing.
Also on sale were Marstons EPA (English Pale Ale) and Black Sheep.

I could have stayed there for an hour or two but the quest must continue.

The Anglers Arms, Weldon Bridge, Longframlington, Northumberland, NE65 8AX. Tel:01665 570271.


The Anglers Arms has long been one of my favourite country pubs for summer visits. This 1760's coaching inn by the river Coquet is a beauty, for both drinking and eating, with its railway pullman carriage attached at the side.

The four real ales of Old Speckled Hen, Wadsworth 6X, Fullers London Pride and Jennings Cumberland Ale were on offer. Disappointingly, the Cumberland Ale was cloudy and was returned by yours truly, but the London Pride was Ok.

I must call again for a meal.