PUB REVIEWS 

A guide to some of the licensed premises that contribute enormously to Britain’s renowned pub culture. Most of them have featured in some form in publications such as The Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, written – and researched – by Alastair Gilmour

ATHLETIC ARMS, EDINBURGH

An involuntary intake of breath coincides with my arrival at the Athletic Arms. The gasp isn’t for the punchline of a joke that’s just been delivered in the far corner, but in response to the out-and-out sparkle of an immaculate and impressive pub.

The story’s denouement is “so would you mind keeping the dog”, but it’s sunlight streaming through stained glass enchanting me as it illuminates beautiful tiled flooring... [READ MORE]

THE BRIDGE TAVERN, NEWCASTLE

First-time visitors to Newcastle Quayside would be forgiven for thinking one of its pubs has two names. A swinging sign announces The Bridge Tavern, while the words Newcastle Arms project proud and prominent on the building’s sandstone fascia.

A previously neglected pub and nightspot was gutted and restyled in 2013... [READ MORE]

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DIPTON MILL INN, HEXHAM

*Written before landlord Geoff Brooker passed away in January 2015

Draw the definitive English country pub and it would look like the Dipton Mill Inn, near Hexham in Northumberland. Describe a coaching inn interior and it would be low-ceilinged and solid-beamed with five ales on the bar and a tinkling log fire – much like the Dipton Mill Inn. [READ MORE]

HEMELVAART BIER CAFÉ, AYTON, BERWICKSHIRE

I’m sitting on a canary-yellow Ikea settee, sipping a Belgian Tripel. I’m not in Brussels or Bruges nor an out-of-town furniture store, but in Ayton, Berwickshire, a solid, attractive village eight miles north of the Scotland/England border.

Hemelvaart Bier-Café is a sweetshop for beer lovers... [READ MORE]

THE HEST BANK INN, HEST BANK, LANCASTER

The Hest Bank Inn is the pub you’d want at the end of your street. It’s the sort of place where elderly locals can reel off the names of every landlord going back to their childhoods – and beyond – and who readily welcome visitors into their “family”.

From the pub’s origins in 1554 it has hosted cockfights and... [READ MORE]

THE PARCEL YARD, KINGS CROSS, LONDON

Railway station pubs are in a world of their own. Transitory by nature, they buzz with expectation and are constantly refreshed by a relentless ebb and flow of humanity.

A disused chasm, formerly the 1852-vintage Great Northern Railway parcel office above the Grade-I Kings Cross Station in London was transformed into The Parcel Yard ... [READ MORE]

THE RAT INN, ANICK, HEXHAM, NORTHUMBERLAND

Nothing prepares the unwary cyclist for the quarter-mile approach to The Rat Inn. One minute you’re freewheeling along the Tyne Valley plain, then round a bend, lordy lordy, up she goes; a lung-searing, thigh-thumping stretch disappearing between hedgerows. A sign on the hill reads “30”. Presumably it’s mph...

[READ MORE]

SHERIFFMUIR INN, DUNBLANE, STIRLINGSHIRE

The family-owned Sheriffmuir Inn is happy sitting “in the middle of nowhere”. Isolated it may be, but the late 17th century drovers’ inn is only minutes from Stirling and its conurbations. 

Some 300 years ago, stockman and beast would hoof it over the Ochil Hills to marts in Central Scotland... [READ MORE]

THE SUN INN, BEAMISH MUSEUM, COUNTY DURHAM

According to the newspaper I’m reading as a pint chaser, there is “alarming news from Salonica”. The Pope’s health is improving, and Worth’s corsets – “unsurpassed for elegance” – are 12/6 a pair. It is quite an old newspaper. 

[READ MORE]

Photo: Peter Skelton

AUGUST 2019

IT'S ABOUT EVERY AGE GROUP

More than ever we need pub owners with the vision and determination to do something that will persuade people to venture out on a wet Tuesday when Holby City might seem the better option. We have plenty of them around the North East and the better ones are doing very well, thank you very much.

Entrepreneurial publican Dave Carr is one such chap.

[Read More]

THE WHITE BEAR, MASHAM, NORTH YORKSHIRE

The steam billowing over the White Bear Hotel’s rooftop is sated with malted barley. It’s an aroma-rich appetiser promising flavourful beer to come, but there’s a catch.

We’re breathing deeply on Black Sheep ale from the brewery behind, while the pub is the “tap” for T&R Theakston... [READ MORE]

NEWS DESK

VICTORIA INN, DURHAM CITY

When a barman’s first job of the day is to fill coal into a zinc bucket, you’d be right in thinking you’re somewhere rare. The red-brick and sandstone Victoria Inn in Durham is indeed precious. 

It has no external signage save for a small a swinging board, while a couple of coach lamps and a row of pansy-profuse window boxes indicate “pub”. But step inside and drink in 1899.

[READ MORE]

THE STEAMBOAT, SOUTH SHIELDS

When I mentioned I’d had a couple in The Steamboat in South Shields, a friend said: “Oh, I love that place, it’s a great old boozer.” In most respects, the term “old boozer” is not a compliment, but a pub sitting by the River Tyne close to the Customs House arts centre and the historic Mission To Seafarers satisfies that description in both association and syntax... [READ MORE]

ABOUT

Meet and Drink writer Alastair Gilmour regularly conducts beer events throughout the UK and internationally – tours and tastings that have included a platform suspended 30 metres above the River Tyne and a real ale festival in a Moscow nightclub – and was for several years on the judging panel of the Pilsner Urquell International Master Bartender programme. [READ MORE]

CONTACT

+44 (0)7930 144 846

cheers@meet-and-drink.co.uk

@cheerspal