Published on September 7th, 2014 | by Alastair Gilmour


Stroll out the barrels

Berwick upon Tweed has a long involvement with the beer industry – even the town’s name is derived from the Old English for barley farm (“bere-wick”) and the surrounding area is renowned for the quality of the crop grown for brewing and distilling. The trade continues to thrive with Simpson’s Malt processing huge quantities of local barley for distribution nationwide.

The Berwick Food & Beer Festival – now in its seventh year – takes place this month (September 13-14) on The Parade at the town’s famous Georgian Barracks and organised by The Barrels Ale House and the local branch of the Slow Food movement. Breweries confirmed so far are Berwick’s own Bear Claw, Tempest Brewing Co from Kelso, Scottish Borders Brewery, Wylam, Hadrian Border, Tyne Bank and Fyne Ales, plus cider from Thistly Cross.

Bonny, bracing Berwick impresses with its range of pubs and hotel bars that would slake every thirst and suit every taste. The Barrels Alehouse sits virtually on the single-track, red sandstone Old Bridge across the Tweed. The award-winning pub feels right, it looks right and it is right. It’s one of a dwindling breed – the “proper” pub with few frills, a friendly atmosphere and comfortable surroundings featuring up to five ales at any one time. A quieter, well-upholstered lounge sits just off the main bar, while the basement bar serves as a terrific live music venue.

Up the other end of town, The Free Trade’s two-centuries-old interior with its rare partitioning and original Edwardian features will remain unaltered due to an English Heritage preservation order. And, while we’re on about style, the 1930s Brewers Arms boasts an extraordinary Art Deco frontage with curved windows.

Foxtons, in Hide Hill, is a cross between a wine bar, restaurant and real ale pub, so there’s a choice for everyone.
The Curfew is basically a lean-to, one of a growing trend in micro-pubs (but check the opening times, the clue’s in the name). Across in Tweedmouth, The Pilot is a stone-built, 19th Century, end-of-terrace gem well worth seeking out.

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Alastair Gilmour

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