Among plenty of reasons to visit Newcastle, I count some of our best live music venues, craftiest (?) pubs and proper graffiti art.
The Free Trade has two of those qualities, and a legendary free jukebox.
I hadn’t been for a decade, and to be honest it seemed a bit gentrified, but that might just be students nowadays. I don’t remember hearing folk ask “What spiced rums have you got ?” before, and it had never struck me before as a place you’d take a date for a large white wine.
The Albion in Chester may have lost its “Family Hostile” sign, but “Drink Beer, Smoke Tabs” is still the striking watchword at the Free Trade.
It was as good as ever beer wise (Jarl, NBSS 3.5), the selection of strong dark beers would have won over Mrs RM, and you just don’t get views this good in Bedminster, which is a good comparator for this bit of Newcastle;
I was in Ouseburn for the Whitney/Julia Jacklin gig at the Cluny, but you can’t walk this far out of town (a whole 15 minutes from Pitcher & Piano) and not pop in the Cumberland Arms, particularly when it’s got old folkies doing Leonard Cohen songs.
One of the cosiest pubs anywhere, and beer (Wylam Rappper) up to Ouseburn standards. Quieter than you’d think, but those steps up from the Cluny are very steep if you’re young.
The Cluny had two gigs on, and was heaving with hipsters fighting over the Wylam/Cloudwater collaboration 7.2% IPA. Actually, that was me. Even with Sorachi hops, it didn’t taste as good decanted into a plastic cup, but in glass it was the beer of the night. Cloudwater beers seem quite at home in Ouseburn.
The beer choices down the stairs at the gigs aren’t quite as exciting, but the Cluny is a wonderful little venue to get you close to the action without losing your hearing. I was grateful for that two days after Amon Amarth. Whitney sparkled, Julia Jacklin was spellbinding in a short set that sadly missed out my track of the year so far.
A decade ago we were bringing our boys hear to Seven Stories book museum and Ouseburn farm, with lunch at the Cluny completing possibly Newcastle’s most middle class family outing. The 3 pubs in the valley have been ever-present in the Beer Guide for longer than that, and rightly so.