Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bloke from Hull scouts new brewery in Huddersfield

By The Bloke from Hull
A bright and sunny May morning saw the annual hike up to Kirkburton for the Fifth Annual Uniformed Group (scouts, guides etc. etc) beer festival.  
I had not seen the beer list before arriving but knew that there would be a fine selection of beers sourced by Martin Smith and his dedicated team. 
Some arrived directly from Cumbria and others via the Ossett brewery group. One of the major beer offerings was the lovely one off “Raw Rat”- strangely, a collaboration from the Rat and Raw breweries! Very nice too.
However, it was the beer at the end of the bar that took the eye. The pump clip bore the name “Scout’s Honour”; the ABV – 4.5%; the brewery and its location – “Thirstin Brewhouse” based at Honley. 
The beer had been brewed and donated by a friend of the group, Stewart Horn, and was an amber Yorkshire bitter brewed using Target and Bramling Cross hops with a slightly fruity finish. 
With the brewery being registered in late 2012, Scout’s Honour was the first official brew to be available from Thirstin Brewhouse and was extremely tasty. We eagerly look forward to more great brews, perhaps some with hops grown in Yorkshire.
Oh and why the name? The brewery is located on Thirstin Road in Honley. You could not make it up, could you? 
Spurn Pint

Monday, May 27, 2013

MMMMarvellous

As previewed by 'Ale Ambler' a few days ago, the Mmm Festival is taking place over the weekend at the Star at Folly Hall, and in true 'Swift One' research mode the editorial team had to take a look. And the odd sample or too.

The festival is based on a small bar, with 14 beers, in the pub, but all beers are cellar cooled and handpulled and are a mixture of milds and Mallinsons, hence then Mmm connection. As well as the M & M's on the bar.

The milds cover most styles that one would want, and some you possibly would not. Tyne Bank 'Jamaica Mild' has the background taste of rum with a hint of spices; Mithril ' Coronation' mild is well rounded and fruity, and the Julian Church ' Reverend Tollemache' has coffee, and chocolate notes, and is superb, according to my mild connisseur. Elland 'Born to be Hot' is what it says on the tin, a chilli mild, and does tend to divide opinion.

If you are more into hops then the Mallinsons part of the festival may be more to your liking. Six specials made especially plus a couple more should satisfy any hop monster. They vary in strength from 3.8% to 5.2%, and helpfully, each clip has the names of the hops used in the beers and the reason for their use, so the hop enthusiasts among us can talk eloquently of bittering hops, aroma hops and the like.  Most of the beers contain 4 different varieties but there are a couple of even specialler specials with five hops in them. 

So if you fancy spending a Monday Bank Holiday out then this could be the place for you. Not only that, it is one of the rare occasions that the Star opens on a Monday, so it's worth it just for the novelty!!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Trio of Huddersfield breweries featured in new Yorkshire beer and food book


A new book on Yorkshire beer and food pairings has a huge slice of Huddersfield in it.
Mallinsons, Magic Rock and Summer Wine Brewery are all featured in
Great Yorkshire Beer by Leigh Linley. 
Leigh will be familiar to most of you as he is the author of the popular The Good Stuff Blog. But he has put his thoughts on paper for his book.

The press release says the book looks at the new generation of county brewers who are "breaking rules and traditions, resurrecting lost dynasties, soaking up influences from food and brewing in other countries and bringing a fresh wave of ideas to our beloved Yorkshire beer."
He has been working hard profiling more than a dozen of these pioneers and their most popular beers.
But Leigh kindly took time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions.
QWhy did you choose to feature Mallinsons, Magic Rock and Summer Wine? 
A: I chose brewers based on a criteria that I set, purely because I couldn't possibly feature every brewery in Yorkshire. From the beginning, I wanted to feature breweries that are really pushing Yorkshire beer out of our region and across the UK - for example, having bottles available for people to try after reading the book was key. 
Also, I wanted to feature breweries that were under ten years old. It just happened that three of the most popular breweries in the county were in or around Huddersfield
Magic Rock, Mallinsons and Summer Wine are all hugely influential; all three have held events in places like London and Edinburgh - and Summer Wine and Magic Rock have had their beers exported in small batches to places like Australia. These are the types of breweries that the book's about. 
Huddersfield is an excellent stronghold of Beer in Yorkshire - my favourite pub in Yorkshire is The Grove, as it happens -  and I think it deserves to have such good breweries associated with it.
Q: I gather recipes and food pairings are also featured, which type?
A: For Mallinsons, I paired Battered Mussels as a bar-snack type of option for their crisp, hoppy beers. Magic Rock's Cannonball IPA was featured alongside a Crostini with Goats' Cheese, with Pineapple and Jalapeno Salsa. SummerWine's Diablo IPA was also paired with cheese - this time a Baked Feta. Smooth, salty cheeses like that are great with spiky, vibrant IPA's like the ones Summer Wine and Magic Rock brew. Try it! 
Q:Is this your first book & how long did it take to compile, please?
A: Yes, it's my first book. I've been blogging about beer and food since 2007 at The Good Stuff and various freelance projects in recent years. I pitched the proposal to Great Northern Books in Autumn 2011, and it took about eight months to complete alongside working my regular job. 
That's quite quick from a publishing point of view, as the book then spent a while being edited, designed and printed. It was hard work, although it was really rewarding to see the interviews take shape and form the stories that the brewers were telling. I think I'll take a little break before doing another one, though!
Q: Where will the book be available?
A: The book is available at Great Northern's website directly (www.gnbooks.co.uk), and also your major booksellers like Waterstone's and Amazon. 
Great Yorkshire Beer costs £10.99.
The book will be launched at The York Tap on the city's train station from 7pm on Thursday, May 30. To celebrate the occasion Leigh has created a beer with Ilkley Brewery, who are also featured in his book.
It's aptly called The Good Stuff. It's a Witbier with fresh Lemongrass and Lime.
Staff Copy

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The best pump clip ever?

Is this one of the best pump clips you've ever seen? It's certainly one of the biggest. The super-size artwork looms over the bar at The Riverside in Sheffield.
I'm told the Riverside Pale Ale clip was designed by one of the staff. It neatly captures the pub's proximity to the River Don in Kelham Island.
The grey heron on the clip can often be seen stalking prey from the pub's excellent beer garden or from nearby Lady's Bridge.
Art seems to be a key feature at The Riverside as a glance across the bridge reveals a massive Kraken mural on the brickwork below the beer garden.
There is also a Kraken Bitter, which I enjoyed a swift half of before leaving the Valley of Beer.
This pub is fairly new to me as I always seem to be drunk up by the time I reach it having started further up.
But I'm aiming to go back whenever we get a nice summer's day and spend a session here. I will report back.
Staff Copy


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Valley of Beer part one

Today sees the start of A Swift One series on the "Valley of Beer".
We've been prompted to take a fresh look at Sheffield's vast delights after Shakespeares dethroned the Kelham island Tavern after nine years as the city's top pub.
The steel city is huge and it was difficult to know where to start. But after spotting the 53 beer bus near Sheffield station there was only one destination: Kelham Island.
I decided to begin the tour where it all started for me real ale wise (2005) in The Fat Cat.
I'm sure everyone has their particular favourite Sheffield pub, the two round the corner should be high up on anyone's list, but The Fat Cat is mine.  
Why do I like it so much? Perhaps it's the beer, the food, the staff or just nostalgia for the place where I discovered real ale.
On Saturday, when I visited, it was on top form. I went for a pale beer from Kelham Island Brewery called Sheffield Snog and a dark beer from Barlow Brewery. But I couldn't get near the Barlow clip because the popular snug bar was heaving.
I did manage to see a Revolutions on the bar and three ciders but couldn't make out the rest.
I adjourned to the spacious front room with my drinks. The Sheffield Snog was - excuse the pun - an easy drinking 'neckable' beer. I got the impression it was a limited run. The pump clip, designed by Kelham's regular artist Pete McKie, was attracting attention in the bar.
The unknown Barlow had a ruby tint to it and went down rather well with my ploughman's lunch.
My visit coincided with the first anniversary of the sad passing of Fat Cat co-founder Dave Wickett, who was a trailblazer for real ale in these parts.
A quick glance at The Fat Cat's website reveals a roll call of his achievements since taking over 'The Alma' with Bruce Bentley back in 1981.
The pub is a fitting legacy to his pioneering work.
I could have easily whiled away Saturday afternoon here but the siren's song of the Tavern and the Shakey was calling to me. All in the name of research!
To be continued...
Staff Copy

Friday, May 17, 2013

Take two: Bank Holiday Bonus

In my giddiness to upload the earlier piece on The Star's MMM post, I overlooked the fact the festival is also open on Bank Holiday Monday (May 27).

I've revised the original post (below) and have included a fresh quote about 'The hop test'. (Please scroll down)
Apologies for my earlier clumsiness. It's not often you get the chance to drink in The Star on a Monday. Make the most of it!

For completeness, the festival on Albert Street opens on Friday, May 24 at 5pm and continues Saturday, Sunday & Monday at 12 noon.
Staff Copy

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Captain Gingerbead parades at Dewsbury beer fest which begins today


Flavoured beers may not be my blogging colleague's favourite  cup of tea but does he like infusions of gingerbread?
I came across Geeves Brewery's Captain Gingerbread wheat beer recently in Sheffield and loved it.
It had that subtle but distinctive taste of ginger rather than the overpowering "syrupy" flavours we've all had the misfortune to encounter.
I remember drinking a cherry flavoured beer in Slathwaite a few years back and to be polite, it was not for me.
But getting back to Geeves, their beer had lots going on it rather than just one taste.
I don't normally like ginger in  beer as a rule - notable exception Five Towns Peculiar Blue rhubarb and ginger ale - but the Geeves beer really hit the spot.
The tasting notes describe it as "A naturally hazy pale wheat beer infused with ginger. Spicy, refreshing and with a hint of citrus. This is a quirky take on a classic."
And I'm far from the only one who likes it as Captain Gingerbread won best specialty beer at Bradford CAMRA Festival 2013.
Rather than wax lyrical, I'll let the brewers, Pete and Harry Geeves, jointly describe their own beer: "Captain Gingerbread 4.3% is one of our most labour intensive brews, comprising of four different grains, three different hops and 6kg of root ginger, peeled and grated by hand and added at three different stages of the process. However, we think it's worth it!"
Now you can taste it for yourselves as Captain Gingerbread is on the beer list for Dewsbury Beer Festival, which begins today.
Staff Copy

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Alchemy really is solid gold

Image: courtesy of Abbeydale
Every now and then I find a beer which perfectly fits my mood. This week, having taken my holidays on the windy and now rain-swept moors, I sought refuge in Wortley Club on the border between Barnsley and Sheffield.
On the bar - of this CAMRA award-winning club - was Abbeydale's Alchemy. As I ordered a pint, I was informed by someone who was drinking the beer that it was in tip-top condition and a "really refreshing pint". And how right he was. The perfect beer after a trudge on the moors. Not only did I like it but two other family members also gave it the thumbs up.
The 4.2% beer from Sheffield's Abbeydale Brewery is aptly described by them as a full flavoured pale and hoppy beer with "lots of fruit, especially citrus and some spiciness from the Amarillo hops. A refreshing bitter finish. Ideal for summer drinking".
So A Swift One contacted Abbeydale to compliment them on the beer and to find out a bit more about an ale I'd not come across before.
Sales manager and brewer Dan Baxter said: "Alchemy 4.2% is what we call semi-regular, whereby it features at least every year. Usually we have our regulars in our core range and brew a special every week.
"But beers like Alchemy we try and drop in every year because we love the hops that go in it and it seems to sell well every time. Then to get nice feedback only strengthens our justification."
Staff Copy

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Do you ever look at the ceiling ?

When you are in the pub, do you ever take any notice of the ceiling ? No I thought not. Years ago all that one found on the ceiling of a pub was brown nicotine staining from years of constant tobacco abuse, so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. But if you look up, sometime you are in for a real treat.

I must admit that my interest in pub ceilings actually started across the border in Manchester when I was sitting in the Crown & Kettle. Their ceiling was painted and interesting but because of a recent fire was covered with a net to prevent bits of it falling in customers beer. However, one room did have the original and very good it was too, it was just a bit awkward to see properly without laying on the floor which I think could be frowned upon.

I have been to several other places with interesting ceilings too, but in the north east they have become the rule rather than the exception. In Newcastle, The Bodega has a wonderful glass domed ceiling in the rear bar, worth visiting the pub just to see that. Likewise in the Union Rooms, but that is three storeys up. But that has set me off walking into a pub looking at the roof before I look at the bar, and it gets me some strange looks at times.

A visit to Edinburgh reinforced my enthusiasm. Almost every pub I visited, in fact since I only visited three, it was every pub I visited, had a fascinating ceiling. I know the ones I called in were historic but although I expected the wonderful wooden bars, and superb glasswork, I did not realise the work that had gone into the ornate ceilings. I wish I had taken photos but it was not until I reached 'The Guildford' how exceptional they were. The other two being The Abbotsford and The Cafe Royal if you want to check them out.

So, if you are out and about, or even in your local, take a look upwards, you may be surprised at what you've been missing.  

Things that should not go in beer - no4

It is not like me to rant, well not recently anyway, but my bete noire has reared its head again. Regular readers will know of my dislike of brewers putting things in beer that should not be there. Yesterday I came across another example, and one that addressed another of my pet hates, unhelpful pump clips. A double whammy !

One of the successful local breweries here is Three Kings, fairly local to me as well, and I occasionally come across the brewer, Ewan, in my local but he never warned me about this. When I saw their 'Shy PA', which was a new beer to me, a swift one was obviously in order. I never actually examined the clip in great detail, but after a mouthful I wished I had. There was something about the beer that tasted familiar, but out of place.

Another mouth full did little to solve the problem, but then, after checking the clip it was all revealed, and I was kicking myself for my useless sense of taste. It had coconut in it. And the more I tasted it, the more pronounced it became. The base beer was a light IPA style, and the two do not match. Maybe coconut in a dark stout works, but not in a light beer. It was a waste of a good IPA, and possibly of good coconut too.

And if some other brewer out there has a similar idea, can they make the pump clip flash and shout at me, so that I know what to expect. Not hide it away so I get eye strain
reading the small print.

just to put the record straight, I have spoken to Ewan, the brewer, about this beer. It was not his idea but a commission from a couple of pubs in Newcastle who wanted a beer that appealed to female drinkers. The beer was a base beer with coconut essence added, and he had a half and didn't like it either. !!!  

Festival news and a confession - UPDATED

Being rooted to the spot at The Star in Hudds on Saturday, I missed a vital snippet of news.
So engrossed  was I by the conundrum of Steel City's Alestorm "with or without sparkler" that I didn't go an investigate a poster on the noticeboard, something about an MMM festival.
Mercifully the Bloke from Hull, unlike me, never takes his eye off the ball. His email informs me that MMM stands for Mini Mallinsons & Mild Festival.
The event is at The Star on Albert Street, Folly Hall, between Friday, May 24 & MONDAY, May 27.
The Star's Facebook reveals: "Come and have a fab weekend here enjoying some lovely milds and some fantastic special Mallinsons.
"You can also do 'the hop test' and learn all about the 'fantasticness' of the hops you all enjoy so much. Mallinsons Brewing Company girls will be here to talk you through them all.
"Also a little treat for you, we will be open on MONDAY so lets hope the sun shines and the beer flows."
Further down the line  is Monkey Fest 7 between Saturday, July 6 and Sunday July 7.
Personally, the Monkey Club stages my favourite outdoor festival and it is next door to Armitage Bridge Cricket Club, which is a total bonus. We'll have much more on this festival nearer the time.
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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Scrum on down to Dewsbury Beer Festival this Thursday

FESTIVAL VENUE: Dewsbury Town Hall

Dewsbury Beer Festival kicks off on Thursday...with a rugby theme.
The festival is celebrating the 40th anniversary of Dewsbury RLFC's championship win.
The three-day ale showcase, which begins on Thursday, May 16, will be opened by the skipper of that side, Mike 'Stevo' Stephenson at 7pm.
The festival will also feature a 'Steamed Pigs' theme bar dedicated to former players and officials.
Arundel Brewery, Sussex have brewed one in honour of coach Tommy Smales, while The Sportsman have created another to remember former Hull and GB international Arthur Keegan, who was born in the Dewsbury district.
A beer list is still being finalised, according to the festival website, but expect ales from new Yorkshire micro breweries Malthouse in Ossett and Hamelsworde in Hemsworth.
There will also be a spotters' bar, which hopes to have an ale from Okells in the Isle of Man and  a "couple of beers that are very rare to the area from a micro-brewery in County Durham".
And there will also be a cider bar.
For more information on Dewsbury and Heavy Woollen Beer and Cider Festival and ticket prices please visit:  www.dewsburybeerfestival.co.uk/
Many thanks to the Bloke from Hull for the picture of the festival venue, Dewsbury Town Hall.
Staff Copy

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Bard's pub breaks KIT's iron grip on coveted trophy

During a dull day at work a few weeks ago, a bombshell of an email landed. It was so astounding that I had to re-read it to make sure the calendar wasn't stuck on April 1. A Bloke from Hull informed me that a pub, which had lain dormant until only 22 months ago, had done what no other had achieved in 10 years.
 
Shakespeares Ale and Cider House had  dethroned The Kelham Island Tavern as Sheffield Camra's pub of the year. The Gibraltar Street ale house had broken its illustrious neighbour's nine-year streak. Don't get me wrong, this was a well-deserved award for a lovely pub and  a top addition to the Valley of Beer.

But in my relatively short-time drinking real ale (2005), the engraver has never put another name on a trophy, which signifies not only the best pub in the Steel City but one of the best in the land.
 
     THE WINNER: Shakespeares, Sheffield.               Picture: BFH
Sheffielders don't realise how lucky they are - three top pubs yards apart, with The Fat Cat making up the beery trinity. The pub award has inspired me to revisit all of the Kelham area. And some of the research was done on glorious Bank Holiday Monday in the new champ's and outgoing king's beer gardens.
 
But to avoid writing an essay, I'll just  keep it to a few lines here and look at the trio and others in more depth in future posts. It's enough for me to say congratulations to the knowledgeable team at Shakespeares on their win. The bard's pub is a great place to drink good beer, have a chat, read the paper, listen to a band or play darts. It's got it all.

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Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Pure North Cider Press “Shop & Café” Opens

The Bank Holiday Weekend saw the opening of the new shop and café at Pure North Cider Press at Deanhouse, near Netherthong. A lovely afternoon was enjoyed on Saturday and friends and invited guests gathered to celebrate the new venture headed by partners Rob North and Alison Pollard. Entertainment for all was provided by Maypole dancing, storytelling, live music and hunger was kept at bay by a hog roast.

 
 
The cafe serves homemade and locally sourced hot meals and snacks made using Pure North ciders, along with sandwiches, salads, drinks, homemade cakes, ice creams and boozy sorbets and cider lollies in a friendly and contemporary setting. A relaxing atmosphere can be enjoyed with family and friends on the new outdoor deck or visitors can cozy up by the wood burner. The rural location on the outskirts of Holmfirth makes it the ideal spot for walkers.  The Cider Press is dog friendly too. Free WiFi is available and there is plentiful free parking.

The shop stocks the locally acclaimed Pure North Ciders, Juices & Vinegars direct from the press. Gift packs are available together with bespoke bottled British ales and lager and chemical free wines, locally produced chutneys and pickles, oils, honey, cheese sand fresh bread. You can even take away the ground coffee and beans that are served along with homegrown seasonal salads, vegetables and delicious homemade cakes!

The opening hours for the shop and café are: Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 4pm;   Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 6pm. Both are also open on Bank Holiday Mondays.
Why not take a tour and visit the orchard overlooking the Valley and see the cider press before sampling up to five of the fine award-winning ciders? Enjoy a hot pork roll or veggie option and a pint of our cider for just £10 per head. To book contact Rob or Alison on:

T: 01484 689072 / 07977 985509 / 07720 398706

Address:

The Cider Press

Deanhouse
Netherthong
Holmfirth

West Yorkshire

HD9 3TD


Website: http://www.purenorthciderpress.com

E-mail: info@purenorthciderpress.com

BFH

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Oddfellows 8th Beer Festival

My local in North Shields is the 'Oddfellows',  it is a Good Beer Guide regular and, conveniently for me, it holds twice yearly beer festivals. It is holding its 8th this weekend. The pub is basically one room with a bar serving three beers on handpull and  up to another six on gravity. Unusually it also serves free soup, which is a bit unusual. However, it holds its beer festival in the rear of the pub in the beer garden, or outside smoking area would probably a better description.

The festival bar holds 20 beers, on a mixture of gravity and handpulls. Entry is free, and beers are bought by ticket costing £1.60 each per half. And for the cider fans amongst us there are 5 totally different ones on offer. I spent an afternoon there, purely in the interest of research, yesterday.

The beer range covered most styles and most strengths, from 3.8% at the weakest to 5.5% at the strongest, and included many breweries unusual in the area. The sensible thing to do seemed to be to work weak to strong. A good plan until scrutiny of the programme revealed the weakest beer to be Empire 'Moonraker Mild', that sounded a tad familiar, so plan B came into play. I started with Scarborough 'Chinook', 4.1% and hoppy, but not as hoppy as I expected either from the brewery or the hop, but it was a good start. Front Row 'Sin Bin' followed and was excellent, as was Hackney 'Golden Ale', both very well balanced and light coloured.
 
Binghams was another brewery that was fairly unusual for me, and their 'Brickworks Bitter' divided opinion. The locals loved it, I was less sure, it was a little too malty for my taste. Privateer 'Dainty Blonde' was well received by everyone though, as was Wilson Potter 'Cascale', both a tribute to the good beers that are coming out of Manchester these days.

Time to sample the dark side, and there were quite a few to sample. I enjoyed Derventio 'Old Chester Stout' and Windsor & Eton 'Treetops Stout' but was a little unsure about Portobello 'Market Porter'. Strangely enough the stronger beers also disappointed in the main, non having a wow factor and one being exceptionally bland.

Unusually for me, I even ventured into the weird and wonderful world of ciders. Many had said good things about a new producer in the area called Tyne Cider and their cider made with Japanese  apples. Apparently the apples have green skin and green flesh and that is reflected in the colour of the cider, but it is pretty good, if you can overlook the colour.

It was an enjoyable way to while away an afternoon, and should you wish to check it out, it is continuing all weekend from 1200 noon.



Friday, May 03, 2013

A day out in Durham

One of the country's most beautiful cities is Durham, with its cathedral and its castle which dominate the sky line for miles about. I had not visited there for years and it seemed a good time to put that right, and sample a few of the local pubs while I was at it.

I had spoken to a few of the locals and they said that Durham was not a city for tickers, but one full of pubs steeped in history. That sounded ok, so I hopped on a train and headed south.

When I arrived at the station there it all came flooding back, a bit obvious really, but as I have said, Durham is built on hills, and that will involve a lot of walking up and down. Undeterred, and armed with the 'Good Beer Guide' (as an aside I have it as an app on my phone, and what a good bit of kit it is, a lot lighter that the hardcopy and in my opinion more user friendly if you are doing a city tour), it was just a case of where to start. If you know Durham it is a pretty obvious answer, you set off downhill.

The first pub I found, was unfortunately closed but there would be time to revisit later, and bypassing Wetherspoons I headed up towards the Market Place, and ' The Market Tavern'. Dominated by its statue the Market Place is a busy, cobbled market place,a bit obvious that bit !; the pub being on the left hand side. Single roomed, with about 5 beers on offer it is feels a bit like an ale house, but is non the worse for that. There does seem to be an emphasis on food though.

Since I was at the top end of the city, it seemed sensible to take a look for some of the other pubs in the area to save lots of walking up and down hills, and with a bit of map reading and a lot of good fortune I found Saddler St, which runs off the Market Place at the opposite corner to the Market Tavern. I knew that there was one of Durham's 'must visit' pubs on their. 'The Shakespeare' was not hard to find, sited on the right hand side. It is Camra heritage pub, and looks the part. Bare boards, small windows, uneven floors, and wooden seating surrounding a central bar. Apparently a home of a 19th century theatre group, hence the name, it was not disappointing. It was a step back in time. Four beers from bigger breweries are on offer,but that was not the point; it is just a great oasis of calm. For some reason, I was the only customer, but I was not complaining.

Another historical pub was only a few streets away, according to the guide, and so I set off down the hill towards Old Elvet, and the' Dun Cow.' On the way towards the prison, which is a good reference point, and away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, it is situated on the left hand side, about 15 minutes walk from the Shakespeare. This one was 16th Century , and has connections with the original history of the city and the monks that settled there, but I will not bore you with the whole story, just a look at the pictures on the pub wall  depicts what happened. Another gem of a pub, more geared to food, but there is decent beer on offer. It is separated into two rooms, a small snug at the front, and a larger saloon at the rear, both accessed off a passageway from the street. 
I checked my guide again and discovered I was fairly close to some of the other listed pubs, so a wander back to the railway station would probably cover most of them. I was not impressed by the 'Court Inn', near the prison and the crown court. This was geared for food, especially at lunchtime,  although some interesting beers were available. A bit more my style was the 'Half Moon', a Beer Guide regular. Here the emphasis was on beer, but again mostly big brewery stuff, but in good nick, and served by a knowledgeable barman. 

I called in a couple of more pubs that did not quite hit the spot before coming across Durham's 'Head Of Steam' up a small alley off North Road. It is a pub obviously geared to the younger drinker looking at the drinks available, but the bar did have 3 local real ales on offer. The couple I tried were both acceptable. The pub itself is open plan, served from a central bar, on a split level with an outside drinking area. To say it is so close to the central shopping area, it was fairly quiet when I visited and a pleasant place to while away a few minutes whilst researching my next moves.

My next stop, although just to stick my head through the door, was Durham 'Spoons. 'The Water House' was the old water board premises and across from the bus station, and was heaving when I called. It looked a good conversion but just too busy to bother stopping. Fortunately, just up the road, under the viaduct, which is easy enough to find and closer to the railway station was the 'Bridge Hotel'. Originally built in the Victorian era as a hostel for navvys building the railway, it featured three beers from the Caledonian brewery. And was another quiet pub when I called. A very handy place to sit and watch the passing transport scene, and work up the enthusiasm for the climb back to the station.

I found the city's pub a bit like the curate's egg, good in parts. If you like history, Durham and its pubs are well worth a visit, especially those near the Market Place. But if your interest is geared more to different beers and local suppliers, then I was somewhat disappointed by the range available. And being a tourist city, it is not cheap either.