Photograph provided by Wylam Brewery

Photograph provided by Wylam Brewery

It was over a decade ago that Newcastle Brown stopped being made in the toon. While Scottish & Newcastle saw a downturn in the industry, a number of small local breweries saw an opportunity. The local lads, Mordue, Big Lamp, and Wylam are very much alive and kicking. They’re joined by some new faces, Tyne Bank, Errant, Ouseburn and Almasty. They form a crowd of old and young, a blend between traditional Newcastle drinking and the modern craft pallet, a delicious time to be beside the Tyne.

Wylam are producing some belting beers that belie their traditional roots. Starting from a brewery and taphouse out on the trainline towards Hexham, they’re now just outside the Jesmond area of Newcastle and settling into the stunning Palace of Arts, a remnant of the North East Exhibition of 1929. They’re not hogging it though; Craft Beer Calling was a three day festival at the end of October in which Wylam hosted breweries like Founders, Oskar Blues, Beavertown, and Mikkeller. It was great. They’re putting it on again this year.

With such an apparent thirst for good booze, you’d think that the good citizens of Newcastle must have some wonderful drinking establishments. You’d be right. From new to old, the range of pubs and bars in Newcastle has gone from strength to strength in the past five years. There’s old stalwarts like the beautifully decorated (and very narrow) Crown Posada, the scruffy-but-lovable Free Trade Inn with magnificent views down the Tyne, or Bodega with its glass-domed ceiling; all have received a shot in the arm from the rejuvenated craft beer scene.

 OVER THE TAMAR:

NEWCASTLE

BY COLIN RAMSAY

SEPTEMBEr 2017

 

There’s a jewel in the crown of the north, a real gem of a city, and it’s bars and brewpubs really sparkle. It’s under their cold iridescence that the Geordies will welcome you in and offer you a snifter. So now, lean in and listen, recently, those snifters have become very interesting indeed…

 

Now, The Town Wall is a reliable space for food and drink, while The Forth across the road has transformed into a gastropub. Those with good memory will recall The Town Wall’s previous incarnation as Coco V, replete with giant ceiling spikes, and The Forth’s characteristically smelly toilets. Think yourselves lucky the world has moved on. In other news, Lady Grey recovered from closure as The Adelphi to enjoy a renaissance as a small but perfectly formed little pub with a tasty line in grub, and the horrifically named Pleased To Meet You still has a gin list as long as it is pricy. All whilst Bacchus continues to win awards, and rightly so - with its million-and-one beer engines and a friendly staff, it’s a great place to go for a reliably great beer.

It’s hard to visit Newcastle without visiting one of the pubs in the Head of Steam chain. Now owned by Camerons Brewery, they’ve done the gracious thing and flashed some cash while leaving the spirit of the local pub-chain intact. From its flagship opposite the station, to Tilleys Bar with its kitchen and massive bottle fridges, to the renowned venues at the Cluny, and their new offering down on the Quayside - Head of Steam embodies Newcastle boozing in 2018. Brilliant selection, brilliant pubs, and a brilliant time guaranteed. Special mention to The Central over the river in Gateshead, lovingly renovated back in 2010.

The Newcastle bars carry themselves with a well-earned majesty, and the ever increasing roster of the Newcastle elite brewers continue to rule over the revering drinkers of the North East. Newcastle is eagerly hailing in the new era of craft brewing with the appropriate pomp.

Colin Ramsay, Falmouth, UK. Savvy business man, genius software developer, published writer and self-proclaimed beer hunk.