Sunday, 19 August 2018

Number Twenty 2, Darlington

I have not visit Darlington in county Durham for nearly 50 years. I did though, recently spend a day there and decided to find some nice beer. After some brief research we plumped for Number Twenty 2 on Coniscliffe Road which is just west of the town centre and about a 10 minute walk from the railway station.

First impression was that it is a long narrow bar with lots of handpumps (I counted 16 in all including the draught cider!)
With such a wide choice I played safe and went with a brewery that I knew 7 started with a pint of Pale from the Hop Studio at Elvington near York.

I find that it is always a good sign when the pint takes awhile to settle and requires a top-up

Alan also went with a pale beer, White Boar Bitter from the Village Brewer, which is the name of the brewery attached to the pub. A full range of their beers was available on the bar plus several guest ales from around the region. White Boar was originally brewed at Hambleton until the brewery in Darlington was established.
The pub decor consists of lots of dark wood & etched glass (which I like) and bare bricks (which I am not so keen on)
As well as the range of cask ales there was also a range of other beverages, enough to satisfy most palates!
The food on offer is pretty standard pub fayre. I had a burger which came with chips and leaves!

Alan opted for the mini - ploughmans witha side order of chips ( there were three types of chips available!) The food was not great value in my opinion - £9 for the burger and £7 for the ploughmans +chips.
My second drink was a pint of Old Sailor IPA from Scarborough Brewery which at 5.9% was quite a hefty beer. It also tasted very nice.

Looking back up the bar from the kitchen one could imagine that the pub was quite old. However it only got a licence to sell alcohol in 1995 and then they were not allowed to sell spirits until 2005.

The pub has won lots of awards since it opened. It has a fabulous range of beers, many being brewed on the premises. It is well worth a visit if you are in Darlington. I am also looking forward to visiting its sister pub, Blind Jacks in Knaresborough.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

The Boot Inn, Eskdale, Cumbria.

The people of Cumbria are blessed with some of the finest scenery in Britain. They also have some of the best breweries. The village of Boot in Eskdale has three cracking pubs, the best of which is the Boot Inn!
The village sits at the end of the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway and it is just 400 yards walk up to the Boot Inn. Just by coincidence my most recent visit was close to the 50th anniversary of my first  when I was a 14 year old boyscout.

The pub is a tied house belonging to Robinsons of Stockport who are now marketing themselves as a Cheshire family brewery. The pub was built in the sixteenth century and was formerley known as the Burnmoor Inn.

First impression when you walk into the bar is that there is a good choice of beers on the wickets. I was to sample most of them over my 3 day stay but I started with a pint of Hoppy Wan Kenobe which was much appreciated as it was a very hot day.
Other ales on offer included Dizzy Blonde , Cumbrian Way, Wizard, Trooper and Light Brigade. Prices

The day I ordered Dizzy Blonde was a particularly hot one. All the ales I sampled were appropriate for the unseasonally hot and dry weather. (No Old Tom on offer!)

The food on offer was excellent pub food priced for the wealthy hikers. There were two good veggie options, the falafel with pilaf (above) was £10.95. I had a voucher for a 10% discount which made it £9.85!

I tried the Cumberland sausage with cabbage and mash on my second visit.

The best veggie option, in my opinion, was the Thai green curry washed down with Hoppy Wan Kenobe
Eskdale is a lovely part of the Lake District with the high fells only 10 miles from the coast. Eskdale Mill, in Boot, just behind the pub, has a working waterwheel. There are many good pubs in the valley but it is just possible that the Boot Inn is the best of all.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

The Anchor Inn, Guisborough, North Yorks.

The market town of Guisborough lies nestled under the northern escarpment of the North Yorkshire Moors. We found a very good reason to tarry a while when we happened upon a delightful pub in Belmangate just outside the town centre. Belmangate leads directly up onto the moors and the Cleveland Way so the Anchor is well placed to serve thirsty hikers like us. However it is easy to miss as it is in a terrace of cottages with just the pub sign hinting at the delights inside.
The Anchor is a Sam Smiths tied pub which means that the normal protocols of drinking do not apply. If you want draught ale then it is Old Brewery bitter. No guest beers are served. If you want lager then it is Sam Smiths lager that you get. The upside of Sam Smiths pubs is the price. Bitter is £2 a pint, lager is £2.30. The result is that the pub is always busy.

The landlord is also very friendly and welcoming which must contribute to the popularity of the Anchor. The rooms are tiny with traditional seating round the walls and shelves packed with books. As with any good local pub we were soon engaged in conversation by the regulars including a retired steeplejack who claimed to be 81 but who looked as fit as a fiddle.

Anyone who is visiting Guisborough should seek out the Anchor Inn where they will find a warm welcome and cheap, well kept beer. The perfect combination.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Jubilee Refreshment Rooms, Sowerby Bridge.

 Calderdale is home to some mighty fine pubs and drinking establishments. It also has some great walks so it comes as no surprise that we managed to combine the two on a fine Wednesday in March. We started at the railway station in Todmorden and sauntered 10 miles down the Rochdale Canal to Sowerby Bridge which abounds with delightful watering holes. On this occasion we decided to try The Jubilee Refreshment Rooms on Sowerby Bridge Station as we would be heading north on the train after a session.

From the centre of town we followed signs down a narrow cobbled path to the station, crossing the tracks via a dark subway and into the light to find the JRR opposite the westbound platform.

My first impression , of a cafe, was reinforced by the "Whistle stop window" board by the door. I was re-assured by the six handpumps on the bar when we got inside

First up was a pint of Pale Eagle from Todmorden Brewery. This was just what I needed ! A pale well balanced beer reminiscent of Lancashire bitters of yore. Bullseye with the first pint. That would take some beating!

My second was a pint of Ribble Head. A perplexing pint as it came from the Don Valley Brewery and was billed as a "Pilsner-type ale". Despite the label it was a pale bitter which slipped down a treat. Another winner with my second pint.

My third sample was billed as a dark mild called Dark Masquerade from the Half Moon Brewery in Ellerton, East Yorkshire. It was indeed dark and had plenty of flavour from the black malt which also gave it the colouring. One quirky aspect of the JRR is the toilets which have a keycode which you have to obtain from the barman. If you time it right you can nip through when someone  who remembers the code goes to the loo.

As well as having a nice selection of beers the JRR also has a good view of the platforms so that reminded me that we had a train to catch. I had enjoyed our visit to the Jubilee Refreshment Rooms and I am sure that we will return when we are exploring the Calder Valley

This establishment is well worth a visit. It is warm and friendly . It also sells good interesting local beers. If you are in Sowerby Bridge seek it out.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

The Tanners Arms, Alnwick

Alnwick is a lovely market town in the heart of Northumbria. It is steeped in history and has a couple of good pubs as well. We were staying next door to one of these, The Tanner's Arms, just 100 metres from the gate to the town.
The pub is on the corner of Hotspur Hill on the end of a short terrace of apartments. During the week it is not open until 5pm but, be assured, the wait is worth it.
Inside there is just one room , part divided by a stone fireplace with a woodburning stove in it.

There is a small bar with six wicket pumps on it. This is the area where the locals congregate.

The beers on offer were all from the region. My first pint was Foxy Blonde from the Born in the Borders Brewery in Jedburgh and very nice it was too. This was followed by a pint of Game Bird, a very tasty bitter from the same brewery.

There was also a porter available from the Tempest Brew Company in Galashiels but I was enjoying the bitter too much to be tempted.

Whilst supping my second pint I was able to observe the "tree" in the middle of the room although it was probably only a branch & did not appear to be growing. "Quirky" springs to mind.

Another feature of the pub was the amazing jukebox. Unusual these days. It featured songs from great bands going right back to the days of my youth.

Despite being only one room the pub had at least four well behaved dogs in whilst we were there. At 5pm on a Sunday evening the pub was filling up with people looking for good beer in a convivial atmosphere. Time for another pint! 
My third was a pint of Pennine Pale from the Allendale Brewery in Hexham. This turned out to be another beautifully balanced bitter which slipped down easily.

There are probably lots more lovely pubs like the Tanner's Arms in Northumbria but I am happy to have found this one and look forward to our next trip oop north where the scenery is matched by the quality of the local beers and pubs.