When I mentioned a few days ago on Facebook that I was in Newcastle, Tony from the brilliant Hop & Vine in Hull suggested popping into The Town Mouse. I suspect I would have gone here anyway as part of my tour of Good Beer Guide pubs in the city, but I wasn’t going to neglect a recommendation from Tony and made this one a priority.
On my arrival there was a friendly welcome from the staff member and she was happy to find me a table even though they were busy and I was on my own. I add that as it would have been easy for her to shove me outside where there was a small table, but instead she did also offer a table inside. Tony had mentioned that the micropub was run by a man named Jon, and when I heard the staff member use that name to someone looking managerial I decided that I’d introduce myself (which was very brave, I normally try and introduce myself to someone who is nothing to do with anything). Anyway, on this occasion it worked out and it was great to have a chance to talk to Jon about his bar, craft beer bars in Warsaw (I don’t tire of talking about the exciting beer situation in Poland) and the Hop & Vine, amongst numerous other things. I’ll see if I can convince him into a little interview for this blog 🙂
This is genuinely beautiful, a range of beer styles and a mixture of cask and keg. The cask range is more limited than usual, but will return to a wider selection when things return to normality in the world. Underneath this is a multi-page list of cans and bottles, which had sufficient choice for me to want to make a few return visits. I like it when pubs do this, as when they’ve got a gap in beer style for any reason, then customers can at least have the option of having a can or bottle or something similar to what they wanted. Although having noted that, there’s an opportunity to try a whole range of different beer options here.
The Damn Dead Blueberry from Wild Weather brewery, who I hadn’t heard of but are from Reading and they brew some other similar options in the range including raspberry, apricot, kiwi, grapefruit, peach, strawberry, gooseberry and even cucumber. I’m not sure how the cucumber ends up tasting, but I like a bit of innovation in beer. This beer was quite intriguing given that it had a sour taste initially (unsurprising as it’s a sour) but then it seemed to have something of a sweetness from the blueberry.
This is the Pastel De Nada Mexicake Stout from Elusive Brewing and, showing my ignorance again, I hadn’t heard of this brewery either (although I should have done, I had one of their beers in Brewdog Ealing a few weeks ago, but I have a bad memory for this sort of thing). Jon explained much more about them and I shall keep an eye out for their beers in future, it seems they have some collaborations with other respected breweries, not least Weird Beard as with this beer. At 8.7%, this was still smooth and there was that lovely decadent aftertaste that I crave with vanilla and chocolate flavours. There’s a warming touch from the chilli as well, although I thought this was quite subtle and I liked the subtle tastes with this beer. Definitely a beer
As an irrelevant aside, I didn’t receive any badges on Untappd for either of the beers that I had in this micropub. For anyone who uses Untappd, they’ll know that this is quite a rare occurrence not to get a badge. I mention this as I’m not sure that Jon is quite as excited and engaged about Untappd badges as I am. But I’m easily pleased and need distraction and he runs a bar, so he doesn’t need any more distractions.
Anyway, back to this bar which has been operating for a few years in a central location in Newcastle. Tony did comment on whether I noticed any similarities between this and his pub, and Jon said there were influences that he had incorporated from the Hop & Vine. The cellar element was of course the most evident in terms of the design, but there was a community feel here just as I’d like. It was clear that there were many regulars coming in and the environment was relaxed and comfortable. I liked that I was found a table willingly and that the staff were knowledgeable and helpful. But, this was one of those locations where I felt if I was new to the area than I’d be made to feel welcome not just by the staff, but also by other customers. On that basis, what I love from the Hop & Vine has carried through here. I’m pleased to report that I think this is a quite marvellous pub and absolutely right to be in the Good Beer Guide. Definitely one of the best micropubs that I’ve been in.