Thursday, 14 January 2021



This is the branch magazine for the Sunderland and South Tyneside CAMRA and is a substitute for a printed version which we are unable to publish and distribute. 

Now I'm not a fan of whisky ; or should I say whiskey?  I was sent an article before Xmas about whisky with an "e", namely Irish whisky...sorry whiskey. That produced in Ireland has an "e". Who knew, well not me for one.

On one lockdown afternoon , I was looking through brewery scction of the 2021 Good Beer Guide and was struck by a) the number of breweries I had not come across and b) where they all were. So after extensive research I've worked out who they are and where they are. Read about it all here 


There  is an update on the Tryanuary Campaign and what its all about and CAMRA's 50th . News about the CAMRA AGM and Winter Beer Festival ( both now online) feature, as well as the usual pub, brewery and regional news. 

On the subject if the Winter Beer Festival, a group of us always attend GBBF and also visited the last Winter Beer Festival in Birmingham last year. So we have decided to do our own  online festival in March. It will be good to have a good chat and a moan. 

One drawback I see is that , at a festival we drink halves. This time we will be drinking full bottles, mostly of string dark winter ales........ should be interesting. What I can remember of the event will be the subject of a future blog.

Past  issues can also be downloaded using the above link.







Monday, 14 December 2020


This is the branch magazine for the Sunderland and South Tyneside CAMRA and is a substitute for a printed version which we are unable to publish and distribute. 

As well as the usual pub, brewery and membership  news, their is a review of the year by our branch chairman. There is an article about a Lockdown Hero Recognition initiative and you can read about which two pubs in the branch will receive awards,once it is safe to do so. 

A recent book by Roger Protz called "Family Brewers" is reviewed, which I can highly recommend  ( the book, that is). There is also a review article called " Beer on the Box". 

For those that follow national pub news, The Roscoe Head in Liverpool, which is one of the famous five pubs in every edition of the Good Beer Guide. has been saved for disposal by the pubco owner. 

There is an update on the February CAMRA Winter Beer Festival - it will be online ! and finally, a look back through the archives at heritage pubs.    

 So here is the link : - and enjoy the read . 


Previous editions can also be found here. 




Sunday, 15 November 2020


This time of year, as editor,   I would have been putting finishing touches to the Winter edition of CAMRA Angle, the Sunderland & Sth Tyneside branch magazine. Sadly  since issue 59 was published just before the lockdown was introduced, it has not been possible to produce any physical magazines. 

So instead I have been concentrating on producing more online newsletters ( CAMRA Angle Online)  as a substitute, primarily to keep fellow branch members informed , but also for anyone read and download. There has been no shortage of news ! In fact, during the final stages of putting  this one together the news was changing on practically a daily basis.

Why ? Well the Government announced Lockdown 2. which included no takeaways allowed from pubs or breweries. A statement was issued by CAMRA which was no hold barred. This statement was added to the newsletter. 24 hours after that statement, the Government reversed their decision, which prompted a new CAMRA response and a hasty reedit of the Angle Online.  

A running story in recent months has been that of Small Brewers Relief. This was a review of the amount tax smaller breweries would pay. It was known this was coming and it was hoped that help would be given to those breweries that sit between the big boys and smaller breweries who currently benefit. But no,! What the Treasury actually did was reduce the tax threshold at the lower end, so some of the smaller breweries would end up paying more. A petition was launched and at the time of typing it had over 50000 signatories.

If you haven't already signed and wish to do so please see the link below.   

So what else is in the newsletter ? Well there is the usual pub,brewery and membership news, a review of the new 2021 Good Beer Guide,   plus some feature articles :- The Lord Nelson pub in Jarrow, visits to three pubs in North Cumbria, and a look back at our old beer festival venue. 

To read this issue and more follow this link :-

You can either click the link at the top of the page to download onto your device else stream the document online inside the pageframe.

Previous Newsletters can be found from this link:

Mentioned in the newsletter:

The link to the Small Brewers Relief petition is:

Brew2You can be accessed here or by downloading the app from the appstore:

 You can nominate a "Lockdown Hero" here:

To organise a "Save your Local" group resources can be found here:


Enjoy the read !.................


Monday, 14 September 2020


Well, it was ten years today that I joined the Campaign For Real Ale. (CAMRA). In that time we have seen the rise of the micropubs, more beer choice and then suddenly - bang a pandemic !

I was going to launch into a review of my last 10 years, but its a nice warm sunny day outside, possibly the last this year ?, so instead I think its time to review my top ten beers. Ive done this in a previous blog but since then a couple more have appeared. One criteria is , if its on in  bar , it will be first choice.

So this is the list, in no particular order, with a few notes.

Theakstons Old Peculier

I first drank this in The Fountain Hotel in Hawes, North Yorkshire and was blown away by the complexities of the flavours. The bottled version is readily available but not a patch on the cask. The last cask of it I had was in 2016 at 11am in the Old Black Swan, Bedale, about 5 miles from the brewery in Masham.  

Jennings Sneck Lifter.

This used to be in Jennings core range but is now an "occasional". Shame is its a great beer to drink. A friend of mine had an afternoon session once and had to be assisted back into his house. Happy days 

Robinsons Old Tom

I first came across this gem at a Great British Beer Festival (GBBF)  about 15 years ago. Three of us looked warily at the description in the programme, " A full bodied dark beer, 8.5%" We saved that one till last . Mostly seen in bottles these days , had it once in  cask a couple of years ago

Marstons Owd Rodger

I used to drink this 7.4% cracker in the Cooperage in Newcastle then go to work for an evening shift. Sadly the Cooperage closed a while ago and only seen Owd Rodger once on cask in a local Marstons a couple of years ago. I get the occassional bottle from B&M's, although during the lock-down the visits increased !  

Maxim Maximus

I cant recall the first time I had this wonderful dark beer, but I do recall a friend, who doesn't do strong beers (this is 6%), ordered a pint by mistake and I had to drink it for him. Shame. Can be found as a house beer in my local Spoons where it goes down a treat !  ( left)

Broughton Old Jock

I first read about this in the book "300 Beers To Try Before You Die" by Roger Protz. As my daughter lives in Glasgow who better to provide some bottles every time she visits us ! Been having these for Xmas, Birthday  and Fathers Day for about five years now. The Sunderland Beer Festival had the beer on cask for the last two years.

Darwin Extinction

This barley wine won CAMRA Champion Beer Gold for Barley Wine and Strong Old Ale category in GBBF 2016 where I first drank this strong (8.3%) ale. Last time I enjoyed this was during lock-down in bottle form.  

Brass Castle Bad Kitty

Ive been to the Brass Castle Tap House in Malton. The Bad Kitty, a 5.5% Vanilla Porter, is available on an occasional basis at the Station House in Durham. During lock-down, I ordered a minicask from the brewery. They make great beer but are crap at packaging. The cask was stuffed in a cardboard box with no padding. It looked like it had been used as a football when I opened the box. 

George Samuel Harvey

This brewery in Spennymoor closed last year and the only beer I had drunk of theirs was called Harvey. This 5.6% porter hit the spot when I first tasted it in The Station House Durham. It made occasional appearances and I had my last ever pint in  February this year. Of so I thought. 

George  Samuel and Harvey are back ! This time in a brewery and cafe in Shildon. I feel a trip out coming on !

 Mount St Bernard Tynt Meadow
This is the first monastic beer brewed in the UK for centuries and comes in bottled conditioned form only. Available since 2017 , Ive been to the abbey in Leicestershire twice and was served by a German monk the first time.  I had decided that today I would drink a real ale version of my favourite 10 and this was available in my secret store. It was too hot today to visit a pub anyway so drank this in the garden!     

So there you go ; most are dark beers and the "weakest one" is a mere 5.1%.


Sunday, 16 August 2020


 Since my first visit to a pub after July 4th I have been to have few more and have observed all pubs have approached the new guidelines differently. Some have erected screens on the bar but most haven't. Most have either a sign in book or an app to register your presence. One in Northumberland wouldnt let us in but more on that later. I have to admit all have been a relaxing experience with great beer and food. .

First the screens. The Washington Arms had one across the entire length of the bar, with a small gap to pay. It looked like a railway ticket office counter. Drinks and food were brought to the table. 

Another, The Engine Room at Eighton Banks has two tills with a three foot gap between. The tills had screens in front of them , but not the gap, which is where you queued and ordered and paid - bizarre. The other bizarre experience was the gents toilets. There was a large sign on the door, "only one in at a time". Fair  enough but inside the middle of the three urinals was covered in a black bin bag, preventing use. So I did a solo social distance, singing to myself so no one would come in. The food at the pub was excellent as usual as was the Double Maxim, which is always kept well.

Some pubs had directional arrows, most of which were how to get to the bar or the toilets, and in some cases, no arrows to follow to get out !.  It reminds me of those Wetherspoons pubs where its a trek up several stairs and along corridors, past numerous doors  , following signs to get there, but crucially , no signs on how to get back to the bar !

All my pub outings so far had been afternoon ones and most have been fairly busy. I drink in Durham every Tuesday night and last week was my first night out since March 17th. Both pubs visited were very quiet. It may be people have got used to staying in. Its a worrying sign when pubs close before 10pm.

Finally, The Ship Inn, Low Newton Northumberland ( above) . As the pub is small, they have taken the novel approach of outside eating and drinking only.  You order and pay at one hatch and collect at another. If you need the loo, go round the back to the public ones. Read more about my trip in the next edition of CAMRA Angle Online next month ! 

Below is the link to previous issues 

At no time over the last few weeks have I felt uncomfortable or threatened , if that's the right word, by other people being there.  So I'm already looking forward to my next pub visit., which will be part of the Government drive against obesity by partaking in the Eat Out To Help Out initiative. 




Friday, 17 July 2020


March 17th 2020 - The Station House & The Bridge Hotel - Durham.
Last pubs visited before lock-down

July 14th 2020 - The Stables, West Herrington Sunderland. First pub visited after lock-down.

During the week Mrs Ken and I went for a walk in Herrington Country Park as it was a nice day. I thought it was time to for a pint on a pub so I casually suggested a route that would lead to The Stables

This pub, as the name suggests used  to be stables. It is long and stone built with stone floors and low lit lighting. From the road it doesnt look like a pub as there is no pub sign. Its on an outside wall facing the cobbled car park.

I was expecting a load of signs and instructions  with the dos and dont's, but there wasn't  much. A sign in the car park said "queue here", but no queue. A sign at the entrance saying "please use hand sanitiser", but no hand sanitiser - it was empty. Good start.  

I wear reactor light glasses and every time I go into this place, my eyes take a while to react to the gloom, so I literally nearly walked into the bar.

" You're not allowed at the bar" came the voice of the manageress from the darkness.

" Cant see the bar, what beer have you got ?"

There was White Rat and Landlord but the former was off so Landlord it was. Table service I was told , which I could get used to. It didnt take long for the drinks to arrive ( Mrs Ken had a coffee)  Half way through the beer I realised they hadn't taken any contact details. Hmm.

Anyhow, the lack of signs about the rules got me thinking.........

By coincidence, earlier that day I was reminded of the fact that it was nine years ago to the day a group of us were on a pub  crawl in Berwick. The best pub we visited was The Barrels Ale House, famous locally for having a old dentist chair at the bar. Around the walls were plastered old signs and notices, including this "Rules of the Inn" dated 1786.

So I can imagine in 200 years time a poster dated 2020 is unearthed with pub rules relating to Covid 19.What would the drinkers make of it all ?

" Look, they weren't allowed to stand ! How did they go to the loo then?"
" No shouting so no music!"
" Contactless only no cash. What's cash ?"

Perhaps they would ask the robot barperson ? "Computer says no".

So back to the Landlord. During lock-down Ive been drinking plenty of beers, mostly Maxim bottle beers and minicasks all of which I have enjoyed. However this was my first pub pint in about 4 months. I listened to a podcast the other week featuring beer writer Roger Protz on which he was asked " whats your favourite beer?"

" Well if its pored right and kept right - Timothy Taylors Landlord." he said.

He would have liked this then! Spot on.


Friday, 3 July 2020


So what happened last month ? Well it was Fathers Day and although my daughter lives and works in Glasgow she managed to have shipped down a box of Isle of Skye Brewery beers. Ive had some before such as Skye Red and Skye Black but the rest are very good. I have always preferred strong dark beers but the first on I opened, Young Pretender was a mere 3.8% but on a summers day it was quite refreshing. Last night I had the strong one the 7% , Cuillin Beast. Cracking beer.

On the subject of cracking beers, Maxim launched a new beer, Maxim Pils. Now I don't normally go for Pilsner type ales but I thought, something new, something different. Spot on, well  worth the investment. I was looking forward to sitting in the garden sipping some, but as I was about, it started pissing down (and it is as I type this ) so not had the al fresco pleasure yet.

As I type this, its pub opening eve. Ive done some research of some pubs websites and Facebook pages and to be honest, its not worth the hassle. Its not so much the health aspect but the rules. Table service, no standing at the bar, limits to how many go to the loo, having your temperature taken. No thanks. 

One of the rules if having to leave your contact details. The first thing I thought of was there will be a lot of M.Mouses out there !
One of my daughters ex school mates was called Lisa Simpson. She may well still be called that. I used to work with a guy called Neil Armstrong. Imaging either of those two being confronted by a bouncer . 

"Name ?"

 " Neil Armstrong"   

" Yeah right pal, now bugger off back to the moon"

As well as being a CAMRA volunteer I also volunteer for the National Trust, and the following is true. This guy works at Washington Old Hall and he signs in as Bart Simpson. Its not his real name but hes been doing ot for years and no one has noticed !!


I do a Zoom quiz with 7 of my mates every Tuesday and none of us are interested in going to a pub anytime soon. Should be interesting to see how many do tomorrow. Me,  Ive got plenty of beer in.