The Ship Inn Forecast (A micro-brewery in Newton-by-the-Sea)

I’ll start by apologising for the pun. Sorry.

Assuming you’ve forgiven me and are still reading, I’ll tell you a little bit about one of the nicest pubs I’ve ever visited.

It’s called (as you’ve probably guessed) The Ship Inn, and it’s in Newton-by-the-Sea, which, you may or may not know, is on the North East coast, north of Alnmouth and Amble and south of Berwick. It’s a stunning, and much under-appreciated area. Miles upon miles of coast, unspoilt, bordering on rolling sand dunes and masses of countryside, lovely old buildings and them lovely Geordie folks. It’s also, so I’m told, in the least rainy and sunniest county in England. Awesome.

My girlfriend and I love the North East coast. We go there a fair bit, despite the almost 3 hour drive, and love walking along those amazing beaches.

You’re probably not here to read about all that though, you’re here for the beer, right, and the North East coast has a proper gem hidden amongst the dunes and beaches. The aforementioned Ship Inn.

It’s part of a small U-shaped terrace of houses from pre-1700, now owned by the National Trust, with a lovely grassy square in the middle. The pub has functioned as an alehouse since the 1700s.

The Ship Inn is run by one Christine Forsyth and her daughter Hannah. Christine decided she wanted a change in her life, fell in love with Newton-by-the-Sea (well you would, wouldn’t you?) took a risk, bought a pub, did it up and gave it the TLC it needed.

She then decided to make her pub a home from both great food and quality, micro-brewed ales brewed in the building itself.

She’s done good.

The food is reasonably priced look here, and great, with loads of lovely, locally produced grub – I had locally caught crab salad and it was stunning. The beer though, is even more impressive.

They got the equipment second hand, found a brewer in the shape of Michael Heggarty and started brewery 6 or 7 regular beers. In two visits (one for a restorative half during a walk, and one for dinner) I tried a  few. The Ship Hop Ale is a light golden beer with a nice, fresh hop character, the Dolly Day Dream is a lovely ruby ale rich in flavour and, best of all, is the Sea Coal, a dark wheat stout with smoky notes sat alongside rich chocolate and slightly tart raspberry flavours. I mainly drank that.

Really, you shouldn’t need the motivation to visit this stunning pub and try their great beers to come to the North East coast. Take the pub away and I’d still happily go there once a month for the scenery alone.  But come up (or down) walk, soak up the rugged beauty of the place then, when the night draws in, head to this glorious pub, which makes the coastline even more perfect than it already is.

If I can retire near here one day, I’ll be a very happy man.

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German Attack: Paulaner, Erdinger & Franziskaner

Christmas really loaded me up with beers. Firstly, I bought loads of good stuff in for the season, which I didn’t actually finish all of, and then loads of lovely friends and family bought me plenty of booze too. Hoorah!

Here, we find a post covering three German beers which came in a box of assorted British ales and German beers of all types. Unfortunately much of the British stuff was drunk with a friend one evening, and, as I’ve said, I don’t like many notes when I’m socialising. It’s rude, and I like catchy up with my chums. So they may never get the Reet Good treatment. Pity them, dear reader.

What I have tried and noted down though are three of the Germans. I’ll do it in chronological order. And, sorry to keep making snide jokes about the current neo-prohibitionist trends, but anyone who’s worried about my drinking can rest assured that I drank these on three separate nights (not even consecutive ones) and I even shared one of them. I could be the poster boy for the new movement if they’d like (just don’t tell them that I spend Monday night judging a cocktail competition before trailing round a couple of Leeds’ best cocktail bars sampling their wares, ok?).

So yes, Germany. Famously home of the pilsner and also home of the Reinheitsgebout (aka German beer purity law) which specified that the only three ingedients allowed in beer were water, barley and hops (this was before people were smart enough to understand what yeast was and that it was, y’know, quite important to making beer. I love it that people used to call years godisgoode before they really understood what happened). So all these beers are going to be samey, crisp, refreshing and nowt else, right?

Paulaner Original Munchen Hell

Paulaner

Nope. My drinking did, however, start with a very traditional lager. The Paulaner Original Munchen Hell. Hell was the name given to pale lagers in Germany, original means first. So therefore this is a traditional German lager.

It’s bloody good, too. While it’s true that it lacks the intense flavours of most other beer styles, this is a properly light, refreshing, eminently drinkable lager. It’s straw coloured, the nose gives you citrus and honey and nice sweet things like this and to drink it’s just cool, crisp, refreshing with a little lingering hop bitterness. I’ll be having more of this in the summer, no doubt.

Erdinger Dunkel

Erdinger Dunkel

Moving on a few days later and it was a cold night and I decided to break out the Erdinger Dunkel. They used to have this on tap at North Bar permanently. Maybe they still do now, and before I really knew much about beer, this was always my drink of choice. I remember it being rich and malty and just the right bitterness.

Out of this bottle, though, something was not quite right. On the nose, it smelt disarmingly like my functionable, but otherwise utterly unexceptionable first batch of homebrew. Tasting it, it was better than my homebrew, but not much better. Now, I’m not trying to big up my homebrew here, this bottle was properly disappointing. It had a slight damp cardboardy taste and smell to it, other than that, there wasn’t much there. Had something gone wrong somewhere down the line, or is this a beer for drinking on tap only? I’d be interested in someone could enlighten me. Or, maybe, my homebrew’s just awesome. Or my taste for beer has changed so much that something I once loved not tastes limp. Who knows?

Franzikaner Weissbier Kristall Klar

Franzikaner Weissbier Kristall Klar

I seem to have accidentally saved the best for last. I’ve always enjoyed Franzikaner when I’ve bought it at a very reasonably price from Morrison’s. It was reliable, flavourful and refreshing. I’d never seen Franskinaer’s Weissbier Kristall Klar sister though. I was excited to try it.

So what is Kristall Klar? Well it seems to be the yeast-less, filtered, clear version of the original Franzikaner. It smells amazing, sweet and wheaty with hints of banana, clove, passion fruit and pineapple – loads of tropical fruit infact.

Drinking it, it proves just as sweet, perhaps even lacking in bite, if you’re going to be critical. It’s not a connoseuirs beer, I’ll give you that, but it’s refreshing and just very tasty and light. Almost dessert-ish, but crisp, not sticky, and nice long lager finish. It’s not complex, but just nice. Very nice. And that’s why I like it.