Another new batch of Beer Guide pubs in Newcastle, which only needs to add a fast hovercraft service to Bergen and a Vietnamese café or two to get in the same league as Manchester.

Last year was all about a clutch of new Uber-Craft places, including two microbrew places lumped into a confusing new “Quayside” section in the GBG.

This year’s newbie selection is almost retro; a café bar, a micro and a Spoons. At this rate we can surely expect a Sam Smiths in 2017.

The city continues to impress with the growth of street art tucked into back streets and the walls of the wonderful Grainger Art Gallery.

Literal street art

Being hyper-critical much of the centre seems unchanged since the millennium, when the city’s museums really flourished, but they’re hanging on to free entry at the moment.

New pub No.1 is the smart Tyneside Cinema Bar Café, which will test the patience of Mr Everitt with its high tables and high Twild quotient. We have a similar bar at our local Arts Picturehouse, with similarly average local microbrewed Pale Ale.On the positive side there were rooms with signs that said “Do Not Enter” that Simon will not be able to resist.

The walk along Side and up past the castle towards the station is always a joy, and a hard-to-find micropub hidden under the arches hard to beat.  The Split Chimp is that rarity, a pub in the Beer Guide open longer than expected, which might account for it being so quiet.

Not to everyone’s taste architecturally, but it worked for me. The house beer was superb (NBSS 3.5), even served in an evil handle jug. It would also be nice, just once, to go in a pub, and see beers that I know.  You know, things like Cloudwater DIPs v7 and John Smiths Cask.  I guess that’s what you get when everywhere is competing to be the City of Beer.

Image result for split chimp newcastle
Rare pub skittle alley

I wasn’t really looking forward to the Union Rooms, as it meant having a pint to use up the Spoons vouchers. Despite a welter of signs proclaiming their commitment to real ale and promises of tap-takeovers, the beer range wasn’t in the same league as some of their other houses. And given the amount of cask I saw poured, that was a good thing.

That said, my pint of Maxim Blonde was well above GBG standards (NBSS 3.5); I just didn’t find anywhere to sit to enjoy it, even with the picture of blokes dressed for a night at the Bigg Market.

The Union Rooms is a gorgeous building, albeit a little shabby round the edges.

I can’t argue with beer quality in Newcastle, and the new Head of Steam in Quayside is another asset to the party zone.  I’d just like to see a bit more of the real ale being drunk.




  1. Peculiar that The Union Rooms has just made it into the GBG, when it is one of the Wetherspoon branches that is up for sale: In fact I didn’t know whether it was still trading as a ‘Spoons. A shame really, as it is regarded by some as the premier Wetherspoons in Newcastle and is a favoured meeting point ahead of a Friday or Saturday night out on the toon. If Stonegate or a pub co. of that ilk take it on they should do well out of it.


      1. As with most ‘Spoons it does well out of the 5 – 7pm teatime rush in my experience. Used to see plenty of casual food trade throughout the afternoon, too, although we were astonished to find the place virtually deserted at 8pm last New Year’s Eve! Lots of separate rooms to manage, though from a punter’s point of view that is one of my favourite things about it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. But have you completed Newcastle? I know that the Split Chimp moved to larger premises a few months ago, so is the address in the GBG the same one as it’s current location?


  3. Few cities surprised us more than Newcastle. I had low expectations and ended up really loving the city and the pubs. We were surprised when a local called it “the Las Vegas of England.” Still wrapping my head around that one.


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