Published on April 4, 2018 | by Alastair Gilmour0
Setting the pace not coasting
North Tyneside is setting the pace for pubs, beer and all that goes with them
North Tyneside’s strip of coastline is the ideal choice for a day trip or evening out. Whitley Bay, Tynemouth, Cullercoats and North Shields have “welcome” woven into them, their pubs and their ancillary businesses.
Most people we met for this feature announced that the area – Whitley Bay in particular – is “on the up” and it certainly has that feel about it. There’s a lot going on with change for the better.
North Shields town centre remains vibrant. Tradition is king here and the more savvy leisure operators are turning their attention to its potential. The Fish Quay is benefitting enormously from some wise investment with awards arriving regularly for its pubs and restaurants.
Tynemouth is ever popular with select shops and is a highly recommended destination for eating and drinking or a simple thirst-inducing stroll. Front Street and Percy Park Road both have a mix of shops well worth browsing, as well as traditional pubs, cafes and bistros with enough of a difference to make the experience a memorable one. Here and over the next few pages, we take a look at what’s on offer:
ELDERBERRY HOME BREW CENTRE, WHITLEY BAY
The specialist home-brew outlet is a regional jewel for beer, wine and sprits experimenters. Founded by Kiwi Alan Gough in 1993 and on its current site on Station Road, Whitley Bay, since 1996, you could say it’s an elder (berry) statesman. Alan Gough now runs a small vineyard in France but pops back every six months to keep his hand in.
Crammed inside is a huge range of beer kits, cider kits, wine kits, distilling equipment and brewing gear plus every conceivable bit and bob that you need for full-mash brewing.
Manager Joe Clancy joined the company in 2015. He says: “The brew kits these days are much improved from the ones you got years ago. Everything you need is in the box – small bags of malt, hops and brewing sugars.
“People are getting more into it with the rise of craft brewing over the past four years and lot of people are making their own liqueurs, vodkas and gins these days. We still have the old Geordie home-brew kits which are cheap and cheerful, but it depends on what you want your beer to be like. There are some excellent ones on the market – St Peters is a good seller.”
Elderberry even offers cheese-making kits – from Mozzarella to Red Leicester – “they make great presents”. Mini distilling equipment is a hot line, as is a 30-litre conical fermenter which saves racking beer from one plastic bucket to another after fermentation.
Joe says: “Customers come from all over because we’ve got pretty much everything for brewing.”
Elderberry Home Brew Centre, 29 Station Road, Whitley Bay NE26 2RD. Tel: 0191 251 3907. www.elderberryhomebrew.com
BODA HOME, WHITLEY BAY
Boda Homes owner Jade Skeels sums up the ethos of her family business in a couple of sentences. “We love cooking, eating and drinking so we think our little shop reflects that,” she says. “We always have something to catch your eye and feed your imagination.”
For the full story, though, you simply have to visit to see the range of goods that captures the best in food and drink plus all that goes with it. Local producers and ethical products come top of Jade’s shopping list, with regional beers outselling all others on the shelves and a magnificent choice of organic wines often exclusive to the North East.
The wines aren’t simply organic, they’re biodynamic, natural and free from pesticides, herbicides and man-made toxins, produced by growers who not only care about what’s in each bottle but have huge respect for their employees.
“We go to tastings with these organic wine producers who rock up in jeans and T-shirts,” says Jade. “Some speak English, some don’t, but they love to tell you the rigmarole they go through to get their wine right. Sometimes it’s a disaster but they just laugh it off. I love that attitude.
“Things are going really well in the shop, there’s lots to do and we’re very happy. We’ve got a nice following and local people are always popping in. We’re quite easy going, it’s a superb location with a lot going on in this part of town and a lot of energy about.
“We’re forever changing stuff around because we’re very aware of what people want; the kitchenware, glassware and greetings cards all go well. We all like nice things and good food and drink, so we seek out great design and quality goods produced by people making great stuff in a thoughtful way.”
Boda Home, 74A Whitley Road, Whitley Bay NE26 2NE. Tel: 07452 244 716, www.bodahome.co.uk
DOG & RABBIT, WHITLEY BAY
If there was an advert for how to create the perfect micropub with microbrewery attached, it would be the Dog & Rabbit. It’s comfortable and friendly with great beer and knowledgeable staff – more often than not owners Tony and Julie Patton. And there’s something about a tartan carpet that says “nice pub”.
“We’re still seeing new people every day which is really encouraging,” says Tony (the pub has been open for just over 18 months). “Lots of people like to come out for a quiet drink and that’s what we’re all about.”
Tony is busy brewing a beer for the Newcastle Beer Festival battle of the beers competition in the neat microbrewery at the rear of the pub.
“It’s an American IPA called Underdog – it’s us against the big boys. I’ve also got a Butterscotch Stout on the go in collaboration with the Split Chimp micropub in Newcastle. It’s called Shug Monkey after the half-monkey, half-dog mythical beast. Butterscotch is normally an off-flavour in beer but we’ve crushed a whole load of Werthers Originals to get the flavour we want – it’s a bit like Angel Delight.”
Another collaboration is with Coppers in Gosforth – Max-Ed-St-Out (11.6% abv) is named after the pub dog.
“Customers are very loyal, they’re even taking Dog & Rabbit T-shirts with them on holiday and sending back photos from the likes of Easter Island and beside the Space Shuttle.
“We’ve also set up a ‘Bermuda Triangle’ round tour with Nord bottle shop and Whitley Bay Brewing Co (based at the King George pub) which everybody benefits from.”
Dog & Rabbit, 34 Park View, Whitley Bay NE26 2TH. Tel: 07944 552 716.
THE STORM CELLAR AT BLACK STORM, WHITLEY BAY
The Storm Cellar, owned by Black Storm Brewing, is a prime example of the impression that Whitley Bay is on the up. Paul Hughes, James Davie-Baguely previously ran neighbouring pubs in Oxfordshire, and have put their experience to great use in a deceivingly large former restaurant, tucked between a residential area and the bustling commercial centre of town.
James says: “Paul sold up and I took some time out, then I got a phone call out of the blue saying we should work together – so here I am. We decided to call it The Storm Cellar after putting it to a public vote.”
The local public have been involved from before the start to see if their concept would work.
Paul says: “We opened it up for a few weekends as a pop-up bar to see how it went. It was a bit of market research with beers from Mordue, Three Kings, Flash House and Hadrian Border as well as our own beer brewed at the moment by Hadrian Border to our recipes. It went really, really well – the first one was a sell-out – and convinced us that we were right.”
Paul and James have definite ideas for the style and direction of The Storm Cellar – lounge-style, home-from-home is the idea populated with large settees rather than tables and chairs. The bar counter features four handpulls – three Black Storm beers and a rotating guest, with six keg taps pouring behind.
Black Storm beers are straightforward, traditional British classics – Bitter (4.4% abv), Porter (5.2% abv), Blonde (4.0% abv) and IPA (5.5% abv). They are as finely balanced and well-tuned as you’d ever want a beer to be.
“They’re easy-going beers, ones you want to go back for,” says James.
Paul says: “The long-term goal is to have our own brewery, but it’s great at the moment to be backed up by the Hadrian Border team’s expertise. The idea is to build the audience first and we’re very happy with the way it’s all going at the moment.”
The Storm Cellar At Black Storm, 10 York Road, Whitley Bay NE26 1AB. Tel: 07725 762 102.
THE YARD HOUSE, TYNEMOUTH
When Andrew Phillips absorbed the local Post Office into his newsagents and off-license, he probably had a good right to think it was all he could do with the newsagents and convenience store in Percy Park View that he runs with business partner Peter Carr. But seeing the success others have had with a bottle shop and taphouse convinced them they had yet more to offer Tynemouth.
The Yard House was converted from an office and storage space and now offers tasting sessions and, in time, meet-the-brewer events.
“We started off with a core range to see what goes and what doesn’t and built from there,” says Andrew. “The high volume IPAs sell best of all, as do the Pale Ales. Magic Rock, Cloudwater and Wylam are great sellers and anything Almasty just flies out. We’re building on a community of interested people.”
That community extends to the school across the road where parents picking up their kids have discovered the joys of Yard House, plus Andrew has donated empty KeyKeg plastic containers for science projects and for planters. To supplement the rows of shelving sparkling with bottles and cans, five keg taps have been installed in the intimate Yard House space – beers from Brinkburn St Brewery, Cloudwater, Magic Rock, The Kernel and Beatnikz ready for filling into glasses for sampling or growlers to take away.
Andrew says: “We’re having tasting nights once a month and offering food – and there’s a lovely deli round the corner where we get things like cold cuts.”
The Yard House 27-29 Percy Park View, Tynemouth NE30 4LT. Tel: 0191 257 0532.
THE SALUTATION, TYNEMOUTH
First things first. The gents’ toilets in The Salutation are a credit to the pub and to the licensed trade in general. They’re well designed, spotlessly maintained and – dare we say – user-friendly. But there’s an awful lot more to The Salutation that little boys’ rooms; it’s a large pub but somehow doesn’t seem it.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s three pubs knocked into one, such is the clever division of traditional public bar, lounge and dining area with its mix and match finishes of brick, timber, tile and upholstery in a £370,000 investment by owners Stonegate Pub Co. Lots of decorative plus points lean towards the quirky with dashes of neon, suitcases and blank picture frames add up to an overall ambience.
There’s no doubt The Salutation is a food-led establishment with burgers and pizzas high on the menu, plus an extensive cocktails list and the pub, on Front Street, caters for sports fans with a selection of live events from around the globe.
Competition among pubs is fierce along the North East coast and Tynemouth and The Salutation has set out its beer stall on a craft keg range which includes Wylam Jakehead IPA, Hadrian Border Grainger Ale, Tyne Bank Northern Porter and Sonnet 43 Impressionment. The cask handpulls impress equally with Allendale Wolf, Anarchy Blonde Star, Draught Bass, Wylam Collingwood and Sonnet 43 Aurora Pale Ale an intriguing line-up. Rather pleasingly, a large mix of age groups is attracted by the choice. (A quick glance at our notebook reveals: “Allendale Wolf in perfect nick. Super, friendly staff. Sit and watch Tynemouth go by”.)
The pub’s large front area is cleverly sectioned into separate, airy, open-plan sections for dining and drinking, with a room to the rear serving more of a traditional restaurant role. The L-shaped bar counter, faced in sections of distressed timber, is a fair old size – as it undoubtedly needs to be in this busy location.
The Salutation, Front Street, Tynemouth, NE30 4BT. Tel: 0191 296 3950, www.stonegatepubs.com
ODDFELLOWS, NORTH SHIELDS
There’s at least one constant in North Shields – Oddfelloes (aka Oddies) has changed very little over the years, if at all. Landlady Lynda Blair has been in charge since last September and says: When I took over I promised I wouldn’t change anything.”
She’s been true to her word; Oddies is the same cracking little pub it has been for years; virtually square in shape, a traditional bar with some great beers and sparkling fittings. Judging by the photos on the wall and the television screen rolling over black-and-white images of bygone North Shields, it’s a community pub that’s very proud of its roots – and its successes with a row of top pub awards.
There’s free soup every day and free dog biscuits for furry companions. Regular events include two poker evenings (one acting as a school for beginners), fun quiz, and live acoustic music.
A beer festival is scheduled for May which takes up the enclosed rear yard and is perfect for such an occasion.
Lynda says: “It’s always a nice crowd, never any bother and lovely, lovely customers. Our best seller is the house beer Hale Ale (3.8% abv) from Three Kings. We go through a cask a day.
“I’m very proud of my pub and very proud of my customers, but I couldn’t do it without my lovely staff. Ninety-nine per cent of customers have been coming here for years and we’re starting to attract younger ones as well who like a nice night out.”
Oddfellows, 7 Albion Row, North Shields, NE30 2RJ. Tel: 0191 435 8450.
THE PIE SHOP, NORTH SHIELDS
A visitor from Outer Space would be left in no doubt that they have landed in the heart of North East culture. Couthy and canny, jam-packed with character, and as Geordie as owt, The Pie Shop is a real find and a place that makes you smile long before your “dinna” arrives.
Décor-wise, full use has been made of marine ply which lends a no-nonsense feel – owner Stephen Bones is a former joiner. It’s a lovely, friendly little place and there’s no mistaking where football allegiances lie – note the historic Newcastle United photos. Large solid tables allow plenty of elbow room – a must when tackling something like The Clammin’ Dinna (two pies, three mash, peas and gravy).
Even better, there are beers in a corner, beers in a chiller and beers on a shelf. Pies and beer, eh?
“The combination of pies and beer didn’t take much thinking about,” says Stephen.
The concept of The Pie Shop is that it shouldn’t just be a takeaway but also a place where customers can sit in and enjoy “good old-fashioned hearty Geordie food and hospitality”.
Stephen says: “And we’re trying to keep as local as we can, 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.”
Other meal styles on the menu are The Oversized Dinna (one pie, two scoops of mash, peas and gravy), the Not That Hungry Or If You’re a Bairn (smaller portions all round), and Nee Pie which is exactly that – just want mash, peas and gravy all mixed in without the pie,” says Stephen. “It’s now a talking point – a pie shop with nee pie.”
The Pie Shop, West Percy Street, North Shields NE29 0DJ. Tel: 07597 134 259, www.geordiepieandmash.co.uk