Although I’m fairly well travelled across the North West, the North East is mostly unfamiliar territory to me so for a Christmas present, Ross arranged a weekend for us to explore Newcastle and Northumberland – especially because I kept banging on about wanting to visit Lindisfarne. With Newcastle home to some great breweries, most notably Wylam, there’s plenty of places to check out so here’s a look at the places we visited.
Champion Bottles and Taps
Before heading to our accommodation, our first port of call was Champion to stock up on supplies. Located in quite a residential area, this small shop sells a decent range of UK and world bottles. It’s not large (it does feel a bit like someone’s front room!) but it’s well stocked, and it also has taps for growler fills.
41A Warton Terrace, Heaton – championbottlesandtaps.co.uk
The Free Trade Inn
During our few days in Newcastle, there was one pub we returned to time and time again – the Free Trade Inn. It has just so much going for it, and it’s the sort of place I’d love to have as my local. The beer selection is excellent – cask and keg options are on offer with breweries from across the UK represented.
During the weekend we visited, the Free Trade Inn was also one of 10 places across the UK to have Cloudwater’s Birthday DIPA on keg so we managed to go through a few glasses of that too.
It also has a pub cat named Craig David regular street food traders visiting and is lucky enough to have a fantastic beer garden providing views across the Tyne and its numerous bridges.
The atmosphere is good and everyone I met there was very friendly – and wanted to talk about the various beer options on offer and keen to share other places to visit in the city.
If you’ve only got the time to visit one place in Newcastle, The Free Trade Inn should be it.
12 St Lawrence Road, Ouseburn – facebook.com/TheFreeTradeInn
The Cumberland Arms
Just a short walk away from the Free Trade Inn is the lovely Cumberland Arms (known as The Cumby) and this was our accommodation for the weekend.
The pub is the only building left on a small lane which gives it a real rural feel – the urban farm nearby with cows, pigs and more also adds to the countryside vibe.
Two large rooms make up the pub, and there’s also a decent-sized terrace area out front with plenty of seating. It’s a real community pub too and hosts plenty of events – on one evening during our time there a folk song event was taking place in one of the rooms which was enjoyable.
The Cumberland Arms is also the location of brewery Northern Alchemy, which is based in a shipping container to the side of the pub, and as a result, there’s also plenty of Northern Alchemy beers on draught.
The rooms were also lovely; spacious, bright and with original features including a fireplace. The rooms also feature a small table and chairs as breakfast is served in your room. This was particularly appealing after a night out on the Toon as I didn’t fancy getting up and dressed too early!
A great place to visit combining a historic pub with modern accommodation, great beers and an excellent atmosphere.
James Place Street, Ouseburn – thecumberlandarms.co.uk
The Bridge Tavern
A nice little pub located, unsurprisingly, under a bridge. It was fairly busy when we visited (Saturday evening) and had a vibrant atmosphere.
It’s a brewpub and the beer is made in association with Wylam, and we were recommended by a fellow punter to try one of the Tavernale beers which are the ones brewed in house.
If we weren’t heading straight to Wylam we would’ve stayed for a few more.
7 Akenside Hill – thebridgetavern.com
One of the main reasons we visited Newcastle, Wylam did not disappoint. Set within the gorgeous Palace of the Arts within Exhibition Park, it is a bit of a distance away from everywhere else we visited so this was a place to spend an entire evening.
Walking up to the brewery, it looks very enchanting from the exterior and so welcoming with its bright lights.
Inside it’s a huge space with the main bar area and a second room used for events (there seemed to be a formal dinner taking place on the evening we were there).
There were 14 keg beers available (11 from Wylam, three guest), seven on cask and a cider, so there were plenty to choose from.
A fun little aspect is the photobooth near the toilets which not only gives you a print out of your four black and white images but also emails you a digi version and an animated gif.
It’s not a cheap venue but with such a wide variety on offer it was a fantastic evening working our way through the beer menu. I think I enjoyed Wylam a little bit too much, based on my hangover the next day!
Palace of Arts Exhibition Park, Claremont Road – wylambrewery.co.uk
A historic and cosy pub in the centre of Newcastle, Crown Posada feels very traditional. It’s not a large venue; it’s quite thin with only a few tables but the decor is gloriously Victorian with its wooden decor and traditional light fittings.
At this point I was still recovering from the previous night so it was just a lemonade for me, but Ross had a half of Island Hopping by Swannay Brewery.
31 Side – sjf.co.uk/our-pubs/crown-posada/
Located close to the river, Redhouse sells pie and mash alongside a couple of craft beers in a traditional style building. Again, I just had a soft drink because I wasn’t feeling up to drinking yet.
It’s quite a dark venue despite the large windows, but the staff were friendly and the pies were excellent.
It’s also connected to another place (Hop & Cleaver) through a hallway so it’s two venues in one. One to visit if you want food, but maybe not worth it if you only want beer.
32 Sandhill – theredhousencl.co.uk
Bottle Shop Bar and Kitchen
This was a spot we visited for dinner as it was somewhere we could eat and have a decent beer as well.
The beer menu was pretty good – Wild Beer, Ilkley, Buxton, Mad Hatter, Almasty and Tynebank were some of the breweries available on draught.
However, the food wasn’t great. It was substantial but it felt a bit bland and uninspiring which did let it down.
OK for a few, but I’d prioritise visiting other venues in the city.
Waterloo Square – bottleshopbar.co.uk
The Box Social
A great little spot close to Newcastle Central Station, Box Social is a cosy place with nine keg beers (plus a cider) and a couple more on cask.
It’s not large as it only has a few tables on the ground floor and a few more seats upstairs.
It was a friendly place for a few beers – the staff are lovely – and somewhere we definitely enjoyed visiting.
(One low point was the bloke who didn’t shut the door while he went to the toilet…)
Arch 11, Forth Street – Facebook
The Town Wall
This had been recommended to us by a chap we met at the Free Trade Inn. A spacious venue within the centre of the city, it’s a bustling place and the type of pub that you could go if you were out with friends who didn’t like beer but you still wanted a decent pint.
Wylam provides the house beer, but sadly this was off when we visited.
Pink Lane – thetownwall.com
The Split Chimp
We were on our way to Box Social when we walked past this place and decided to give it a go.
However, from the off I wasn’t too keen because of this sign behind the bar:
It did have some decent beer available and I had a half of Wild Beer’s Millionaire on cask.
Upstairs, it had a skittle ball alley and a dart board, but it had an odd atmosphere that didn’t feel authentic and it was somewhere I didn’t feel comfortable.
Arch 7, Westgate Road – splitchimp.pub
This was our final port of call in Newcastle during our drive up to Lindisfarne. From the front it looks like any run of the mill local shop selling milk and bread, but if you carry on through to the back you find a hidden gem.
As well as the bottle range, there’s also a couple of beers on draught.
We visited in the morning, so it wasn’t the time to drink on site so we picked up a good selection of bottles to take with us.
17A Princes Road, Gosforth – facebook.com/Coppers-At-Gosforth
Overall, Newcastle was a perfect place for a beer lover’s weekend away and the city’s nightlife is indeed as excellent as I’ve heard, with everyone we met in the city being extremely welcoming and accommodating and keen to share with you the best places to visit.
Plus, they also have a Greggs near Central Station which only closes for about two hours during the weekend. Manchester needs this!