Published on February 5, 2016 | by Alastair Gilmour0
Pub Review: The Office, Morpeth
One of the new breed of micropubs that have sprung up over the past five years, all with tiny premises and great beer. The Office’s capacity is 32, so we’re talking “large kitchen”. It opens weekdays at 5pm, so here’s a scenario: “Hello pet, I’m in The Office but I won’t be long… you too darling… you too.” Dialling tone. “Yes!”
The Office is the former Old Toll House, a Grade II-listed building that Paul and Andrea Johnson had to “jump through hoops” to convert from its former use as a sweetie shop (which lay vacant for 18 months). Before that, it had been many things, icluding a fire station. It opened in November 2014 following two months of planning applications and appeals (plus a wee bit of local controversy). Never mind, it’s here and it’s thriving. “We got massive support from local ale lovers,” says Andrea. It has also become part of Morpeth’s discerning drinkers’ circuit.
Paul and Andrea are also looking to create a similar microbub in Felton, Northumberland. The Fox’s Den is earmarked for the cellar of the Running Fox artisan bakers.
Church pew seating came from St Aiden’s Church at Stobhill – apparently, a member of its bellringers’ society said: “I’ve got just the thing for you”. The counter was salvaged from The Windmill pub in Blyth, which had closed down but had not escaped the notice of a regular.
Local artist’s works – for sale – decorate the walls and the plan is to attract much more. Originals oil paintings by Ivan Webley are rather fetching. The pub is developing organically and customers donate bits and pieces to decorate the place, such as a Royal Navy cap and good luck charms from all over the world.
Five ales, two local craft keg beers, a cider fridge and four national keg beers – with another handpull planned. Paul Johnson runs Acton Ales, so bring on Golden Cocker (4.1% abv); Clockwork Orange Stout (4.7% abv); Seahouses Gold & Light (4.2% abv), and Bamburgh (4.0% abv), with Full Mash Wheat Beer (4.2% abv) a visitor. Wylam Jakehead IPA (6.3% abv) and Tyne Bank North Porter (4.3% abv) head the craft keg representatives.
Sitting at the bar is a “people-watchers’” paradise with streams of bypassers and traffic constantly on the move outside.
Owners: Andrea and Paul Johnson
Where is it? The Office, Castle Square, Morpeth, Northumberland N61 1YB.
Tel: 07707 703 182. Web: www.facebook.com/The-Office-Morpeth-760120064053942/
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 5pm-10.30pm, Saturday and Sunday: 12noon-10.30pm