Published on April 2, 2019 | by Alastair Gilmour0
Tap into the future and the past
A new micropub in Heaton, Newcastle, has set out to straddle the traditional with the contemporary. The Heaton Tap offers modern craft keg beers, bottles and cans alongside ales drawn from wooden casks as was the norm for centuries.
Robin Shacklock, national chairman of the Society for the Preservation of Beers from the Wood (SPBW) and Mick Cantwell, have taken over the former Champion Bottle Shop, transforming a double garage at the rear into a lounge and cellar, while retaining the front “showroom” and serving area.
“We’re getting busier as word is getting around,” says Robin. “We’ve got six keg lines and three cask.”
The Heaton Tap is nicely tucked away in Warton Terrace, off bustling Chillingham Road, an area of shops and services of every description and an unmistakable sense of community – virtually a village in itself.
Careful thinking has made the best use of space and shape available, which is quite an art. Church pew seating runs along one wall – at this rate there will soon be more pews in micropubs than in churches. But an advantage they have is you can store cases of beer and soft drinks under them before they hit the fridge, saving precious space in a tightly-run, super-functional cellar (aka “Robin’s pride and joy”). The slight L-shape of the lounge is ideal for a poseur table to take up the slack. More of a traditional bar counter is to be installed at the front, rather than the simple serving area there is at present. And no doubt the walls will fill up smartish with breweriana. Small steps, it’s all about small steps.
A front “terrace” is ideal for late afternoons when even in early spring, the sun soon warms the area up. Chillingham Road is well served by public transport with stops every 100 metres or so. Parking is a bit of a bind, but who wants to take the car anyway?
Regular beers are Three Kings (North Shields) Bacchus and The People’s Pilsner and draught Kriek (cherry beer). Guests include Durham Etienne, Basqueland Imparable IPA and Campervan Dark Blast.
The SPBW, Britain’s oldest beer campaigning group – was founded in December 1963 to encourage the drinking of traditional draught beer drawn directly from the cask by gravity or handpump. Wooden casks impart different flavours and mouthfeels to different beers and it’s always something of an adventure to sample them.
The Heaton Tap, 41 Warton Terrace, Newcastle NE6 5LS.