Published on September 5, 2017 | by Alastair Gilmour


Wood-aged ale is parlour made

A selection of beer conditioned in wood is now permanently on tap in one of Newcastle’s oldest buildings. Blackfriars Parlour Bar has taken delivery of two brand-new, six-and-a-half gallon oak casks, filled with Wylam and Hadrian Border beers.

Wooden casks were the traditional method for conditioning and storing beer, but inevitably took a back seat to metal and plastic, but a revival has been gaining pace for several years, led by the Society for the Preservation of Beer on Wood (SPBW).

Today there is a big interest in wooden casks dispensers of beer, with an upsurge that has led to many UK brewers using oak barrels for premium products and, as a result, helping preserve the ancient craft of the cooper, or barrel-maker. The ales, suggest the SPBW, benefit from a week or two in wood before being dispensed directly from the cask in their natural state.

Andy Hook, owner of Blackfriars Restaurant and Banqueting Hall, who opened the Parlour Bar in April this year, said: “Serving craft beer straight from a wooden barrel is about as traditional as you can get. It harks back to when Blackfriars was first established in the 13th century, when ale would have been made on site and provided to the Black Friars of Newcastle who would have consumed up to a gallon a day. It’s been an aspiration of mine to offer beer from the wood.”

Matt Boyle, director at Wylam Brewery, said: “It’s a real pleasure to see Wylam ales being served like this. It really showcases our Heritage beers in their most pure form, directly from wooden casks, which is a very rare occurrence indeed.”

The Parlour Bar will be open for every Newcastle United match at St James’ Park this season. Blackfriars has also opened a Tasting Room, hosting up to 36 guests, located in what was originally the Crafts Guilds meeting area which features antique 19th century seating used by the guilds of the city.

The room will offer a number of events chosen from a range of options for private events, corporate groups, and parties. These include wine, whisky and cheese matching.

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Alastair Gilmour

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