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The Jewel That's The Crown....

A classic pub in Newcastle has re-opened in the last few weeks after a long spell of closure due to you-know-what. And guess what, I've been along to check it out, along with visiting another favourite pub in the area, and a brewery taproom. Off we go....


The Crown Posada is, by any yardstick, a thing of beauty.

Situated in the Quayside area of Newcastle on Side as it winds its way up to Grey Street, its solid stone exterior with brass plate and solid blue doors and wrought iron gate suggest it may have been a bank in a previous life, but you'd be wrong, it has always been a pub, being re-built in 1880, and has been in the ownership of the Sir John Fitzgerald Group since 1901. The pub was originally called the Crown, with 'Posada' - which is Spanish for resting place or inn - being added to the name a few years later. It was painted on a blue stone on the outside wall, maybe to attract Spanish sailors who would disembark from their ships yards away on the River Tyne when the wharves were a hive of industry and activity, although a more fanciful story is that a Spanish sea captain bought the pub for his mistress.


You enter into a long, narrow interior comprising three distinct drinking areas; a small snug with fixed leather seating which is overlooked by two distinctive and impressive Pre-Raphaelite-style stained glass windows, a bar area with drinking corridor and a few stools, and beyond is a lounge area with fixed leather seating and dark wood tables on one side, with standing room and shelves for drinks on the other. The walls are painted in dark green on one side of the room and deep burgundy red on the other, with much wood panelling, mirrors, leaded glass panels, and sympathetic lighting throughout. Up above, there is a very attractive moulded ceiling with deeply-recessed panels, whilst below your feet parquet flooring runs throughout. Background music is provided by an old record player to add to the timeless feel of the place.

The spectacular bar at the Crown Posada, with Zoe & Arron looking on

I'd only decided to visit Newcastle days before, when it became clear that there were to be no further clampdowns in the period between Christmas and New Year. This meant I could catch up with family, and also give me the opportunity to re-visit the Crown Posada for the first time in over 2 years. Its layout had meant that it was not possible to open in the days of screens and social distancing and so, following some re-decorating and a little refurbishment, it had only re-opened about 3 and a half weeks earlier. I walked in mid-afternoon after checking in and dropping my bag off at my hotel, and found the place was pretty busy. On the bar, there were beers from Allendale, Abbeydale, Redwillow, Marble, and Hawkshead on cask on this occasion, whilst on the taps the selection included beers from local breweries Two by Two, Northern Alchemy, and Wylam; all in all, a pretty impressive list! 

I ordered a pint of Pennine Pale from Allendale. It was refreshing and most enjoyable, rating as a 3.5 on the NBSS scale. I got chatting to the friendly bar crew as I enjoyed my pint and the ambience. More people came in, with the corridor by the bar almost filling up. I finished my pint, and as a big fan of Two by Two beers, I was curious as to what was on the font further down the bar which I couldn't get near to check due to the late afternoon crowds. The guy behind the bar, Arron, told me it was an Apricot Sour, but not too apricot-y or sour. Nonetheless, I ordered a half, as I normally do with sours, but he was correct, it was slightly fruity, not too sour, and refreshing. Pretty good, I thought, and not too strong, although when I checked later it turned out it was 5.5%!


With it being so busy, I realised I would be thwarted in my attempts to get any photos on this visit, so I asked Arron what time they opened in the morning. "Eleven bells" he replied. I explained I would like to get some photos if that was ok. No problem, so I returned the following day, and sure enough, it was pretty much deserted. I wandered around the pub and happily snapped away, the first time in several visits that I had really been able to take it all in. Apparently it took 122 hours (over 5 days!) to paint the ceiling during the recent refresh, which when you can take in the detail is hardly surprising!



Back at the bar, I got a half of the Pennine Pale. I chatted to Arron and Zoe, and I explained that I wrote a bit of a blog and would like to feature the pub, whose owners the Sir John Fitzgerald Group, have themselves been taken over, by the locally-based Ladhar Group. On this evidence, with the refresh they have overseen at the Crown Posada, this looks to be a positive move for the pubs in the group, which also includes several Newcastle institutions like Bacchus and the Bodega. It was time to go, but I had thoroughly enjoyed my re-acquaintance with this classic pub. It had been great to wander around the place whilst it was quiet, but when the place is busy it really comes to life as one of the best pubs in the toon. If you are in the area, I thoroughly recommend a visit. You are unlikely to be disappointed....

***************
Meanwhile, I had visited two of my other favourite pubs in the city, the Free Trade Inn and the Cumberland Arms, when I had been in the city on a flying visit for a gig a few weeks ago. I didn't have time to visit both this evening, but I decided I would be able to visit the Free Trade. I walked along the Quayside towards Ouseburn, and the early evening turned first distinctly drizzly which soon became more persistent. I spotted the lights of The Tyne Bar on the other side of the Ouseburn Beck, and even though it is only a short climb up to the Free Trade, I decided to pop in for a quick pint. The place was pretty busy as I walked to the bar where I ordered a pint of Wylam Gold, which I hadn't had for ages, and it was a pretty decent 3.5. I have found the beer can vary a little here, so it was pleasing to find it on good form on this visit. I sat at one of the covered tables outside and waited for the rain to subside before resuming my journey.

The Tyne Bar, Ouseburn

I had only been in the Free Trade Inn about 6 weeks earlier, when I had been so delighted to be back that I kept feeling myself breaking into a big smile! That night, I had been drinking the house beer, Echelon from Almasty, which as usual was absolutely spot on. However, on this occasion, and for the first time I could remember, there was none on, so I had to "make do" with the other regular cask beer they sell, Jarl from Fyne Ales, though that is hardly a hardship! It was bang on too, at least a 4 on the NBSS scale. The pub was quieter than last time, which meant I didn't have long to wait for a seat at the window overlooking the Tyne. I'd noticed as I had walked on from the Crown Posada earlier that a number of laser lights were sporadically beaming across the Tyne from some of the tallest buildings and bridges along the river. It turned out that this was a warm-up for the following night's New Year celebrations, and as I sat enjoying my Jarl, I was treated to a spectacular light show over the river. The pub is, incidentally, pretty much as it always has been, although when I popped to the loo I noticed that the famous graffiti that used to adorn every possible surface had gone, with the room kitted out with less graffiti-friendly materials. 

Lights over the Tyne, from the Free Trade Inn

I hadn't realised until I was at the Free Trade that it was only about half a mile to the Full Circle Brewery Taproom, situated along the Walker Road at Hoult's Yard. I had enjoyed their beers on tap and in can over previous months, and the taproom had just been awarded Good Beer Guide status. I walked the 10 minutes or so it took to get there, the rain having eased somewhat. I found it easily enough, off the main road where you come to Hoult's Yard, accessed by a left turn under a railway bridge. 
 

The Full Circle Brewery & Tap is situated in a modern building, with the tap room situated upstairs with windows and an open area affording views over the shiny brewery. It was table service, with ordering done via an app, which was dealt with very speedily and efficiently. Cask was available, but it was mainly keg on offer, and I opted for a half of Rotator, a 5.4% DDH IPA with Idaho 7 and Citra hops, giving a tropical, citrussy character to the beer which I really enjoyed. Next I tried a Looper, a 6.4% IPA featuring Citra, Mosaic, and Cashmere. This was very well-balanced, again plenty of citrus coming through. The bar was quite full, with most of the tables taken. Definitely worth a checking out.

I headed back to the city centre for food, having ordered an Uber due to the rain picking up again. I got dropped off near the Split Chimp micropub, so I decided to pop in. They appeared to have new signage outside, but inside seemed pretty much as it had been last time I called in this friendly little bar. People were dotted around at tables around the room, with several people congregating around the bar. I ordered a half of Clever Chimp 2 on cask, which appeared to be a collaborative version between the usual brewers, Errant, and Three Kings of North Shields. Another pretty good beer, which I rated 3.5. I'd only planned to call in for a quick half, but I had noticed there was some Polly's beer on tap, so when I had finished my Clever Chimp, I ordered half of Weekend Radio, a 6.8% NEIPA, which was typically excellent. This North Wales brewery have become one of my favourites over the last 12 months, and I am sure I will mention them again!


And with that, I disappeared into the night in search of food....

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Comments

  1. Enjoyed this post Chris, and good photos too. Very glad to hear that the Crown Posada is open again. I'd heard rumours from friends in Newcastle that the new owners were making substantial changes to the pub. Pleased to hear that they weren't true.
    Dermot

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