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Celebrating Our National Drink In Newcastle

This Wednesday – June 15th – is National Beer Day, surely one the very best of these annual events? It was started up in 2015 by Jane Peyton, and has the support of all the key industry bodies, including Britain’s Beer Alliance, Society of Independent Brewers, British Beer & Pub Association, and the Campaign for Real Ale. This year, we’re being invited to say ‘Cheers To Beer’ by raising a glass at 7pm (and tweeting with the hash tag #cheerstobeer).

 

Beer has been popular in these isles for centuries (possibly as long as 5 millenia!) and plays a really significant part in the British economy, through sales, taxation and employment.  And it’s fair to say Newcastle is remarkably well-served by pubs (figures vary but there are at least 200 across the city as a whole).

 

So to help you celebrate here are some recommendations for the best places to enjoy a proper pint in the city – a mix of vintage pubs and the newer breed of craft ale venues.

 

 

The Old George, Old George Yard

The oldest pub in Newcastle, The Old George has been serving thirsty Geordies since 1582 and while it’s now very much a modern-day venture (sports TV, an extensive menu, live music and DJs), the exterior of the pub still looks relatively unchanged. If you sit in the yard outside you can almost picture King Charles 1 having a pint while incarcerated in open prison.

 

Crown Posada, The Side

Tucked away near the bottom of The Side, The Crown Posada is Newcastle’s second oldest pub (it opened in the 1880s) and retains much of its old-time charm, part of the reason it’s always packed and lively. It closed pre-pandemic and things looked bleak, but it has new owners – the John Fitzgerald Group - who have restored many of its original features and made it even more inviting. Come for the beer but make sure to look out for some wonderful details – the wrought iron gate, the mahogany bar, stained glass windows and its legendary vintage record player on the bar. Author Ian Rankin dropped in for a drink just last week.

 

 

Newcastle Tap, Neville Street

Newcastle Tap is a relative newcomer – it opened in 2016 – but this atmospheric and very central pub (part of a small chain of specialist craft beer bars) has already made a name for itself thanks to its well-kept beers and helpful, informative staff. There are 24 lines of beer – and a few ciders – on keg and cask, along with a carefully curated selection of cans and bottles. There’s also a full wine and spirits list and some excellent hand-stretched dough pizzas.

 

Mean Eyed Cat, St Thomas’ St

One of Newcastle’s greatest recent new pubs is the Mean Eyed Cat. Housed in an old newsagents and styled like a Mexican cantina/dive bar, Mean Eyed Cat is dedicated to Mexican wrestling, country music, garage rock and great beer served properly.  With a rotating line-up of cannily selected beers and ciders on keg and cask, and in bottles and cans, from some of the UK’s best-loved craft breweries, they cater for a broad range of palates. There’s also a regular Auld Rockers Pub Quiz, weekly food pop-ups and an ever-expanding killer playlist.

 

 

The Forth, Pink Lane

Opposite both Prohibition and The Town Wall, The Forth is a hidden gem in the little oasis of Pink Lane. It has a reputation for the best Sunday roast in town – alongside lots of other great food offerings – and has style for days. There’s a roof terrace for the summer and open fires for the winter. And it takes its beer seriously – there’s a range of regional and craft beers alongside the big names, from fruity ales to sours and IPAs.

 

The Newcastle Arms, St Andrews’ Street

Nestled between St James' Park and Chinatown, this pub might be too old school to have an internet presence of its own, but websites from CAMRA to Trip Advisor rate it as highly as its many regulars do. Known to many as the Top Arms, it’s a mecca on match days and the single room is always busy and lively. Deuchars IPA and Doom Bar are always available, supported by a rotating line-up of guest beers.

 

The Bridge Tavern, Akenside Hill

Right underneath the mighty Tyne Bridge – indeed, the original, two-centuries old pub was demolished to make way for its construction – The Bridge Tavern has a well-deserved reputation as an outstanding gastropub but it’s no slouch when it comes to beer either. In fact, there’s an in-situ microbrewery – visible to customers on the ground floor – producing bespoke beers in conjunction with Wylam Brewery. Add a well-chosen range of beers, ciders and other drinks, and a brilliant location, and it's obvious why the Bridge Tavern is such a hit.

 

 

The Bacchus, High Bridge Street

Another Sir John Fitzgerald pub, The Bacchus couldn’t be more central and is highly regarded by the likes of CAMRA, who regularly name it Tyneside Pub Of The Year. This reflects the pub’s attitude to beer – the selection is chosen well and looked after correctly - and a similarly thoughtful selection of wines and spirits too.

 

 

Tilleys Bar, Westgate Road

Tilleys’ location next door to the Tyne Theatre & Opera House and opposite the former O2 Academy (soon to be the new NX Newcastle) has made it a longstanding hit with theatregoers and music fans but it’s a popular pub in its own right, with a great reputation for friendly staff, good, varied beer and a generally excellent atmosphere.

 

Obviously this small selection is just scratching the surface of Newcastle’s many excellent pubs, so you probably have your own favourites. But we can heartily recommend all of these and wherever you end up on National Beer Day, cheers!

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