Published on December 6, 2017 | by Alastair Gilmour


A great business to be in

Pies. Beer. Two of the loveliest words in the English language, second only to beer and pies. It’s what’s on offer at The Pie Shop in North Shields, a family-run business headed by the enthusiastic Stephen Bones, who used to run a highly regarded pie shop in Benwell, Newcastle.

Stephen, also a former joiner, says the concept of serving pie “dinnas” with a selection of local beers in the West Percy Street shop is “going mental”. So mental in fact, that they have just made the decision to close on Mondays so they can catch up with things that need to be done, or else as he puts it, “you end up being a busy fool”.

Although he’s owned it for two years, The Pie Shop eventually opened properly in March with the idea that it shouldn’t just be a takeaway shop but also a place where customers can sit in and enjoy one of his four types of “dinna” accompanied by “just good old-fashioned hearty Geordie food and hospitality”.

“The combination of pies and beer don’t take much thinking about,” says Stephen. “We got the licence about two months ago and have two handpulls as well as shelves full of bottles. We’re trying to keep it as local as we can for now, working with Flash House, Three Kings and Mordue breweries from North Shields, as well as Whitley Bay Brewing and Brinkburn St from Newcastle. But we’ll expand on that.”

The four meal styles on the menu are The Oversized Dinna – one pie, two scoops of mash, peas and gravy), The Clammin’ Dinna (two pies, three mash, peas and gravy), the Not That Hungry Or If You’re a Bairn which is smaller portions, and Nee Pie, which is exactly that.

“We get a lot of little kids in with their parents so they might just want mash, peas and gravy all mixed in without the pie,” he says. “It’s now a talking point – a pie shop with nee pie.”

Rich Rogerson and Dean Marriner are The Chaps, beer bloggers and video producers at Brew Stories who admit that when they started up their project they knew next to nothing about craft beer. Both are graphic designers working for branding company Infinite Design in Newcastle, while in their “20% down-time” they blog and produce videos on YouTube featuring North East beer, breweries and events – and also have a very entertaining Facebook page.

“We’re really passionate about craft beer and now know an awful lot more than when we started,” says Rich. “We’ve been going a year and have grown Brew Stories quite a bit – it’s not like a wine snobbery thing – doing one video a week, attracting a lot of friends and building a community of craft beer drinkers.”

Ian Clough’s interest in brewing started three years ago when he was thinking about how to occupy himself when he retired. His son bought him a home-brew kit for Christmas and he was so hooked he took a course at Brewlab, the brewing training and analysis centre in Sunderland, and founded Orchard Road Brewery. “My plan at the time was to establish a brewery in about four or five years’ time,” says Ian. “However, through my research I changed my plans and brought them forward a couple of years.”

Ian has opened Orb Micropub Ale & Whisky House on Coniscliffe Road in Darlington, which has in recent years undergone a mighty change with a proliferation of cocktail bars, gin bars and a brewhouse. Sensibly, he is hoping to offer something different.

He says: “The micropub, a former hairdressers, is quite small with a capacity of around 60 that has the hallmarks of a micropub – no television, no loud music, a place to relax, talk and meet new friends with a glass of exceptional quality ale, beer, cider, or whisky.

I aim to have six handpulls, the majority from North East breweries with the odd exception, providing a good range of styles and changing regularly. I would like to get to understand what my customers prefer and keep a few returning regulars on the pumps.”

Ian is also passionate about single malt whisky and plans to develop an extensive range of styles and ages with tastings and distillery evenings.

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Alastair Gilmour

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