With a long list of pubs to visit, open minds and empty stomachs we headed on the train over to Newark upon Trent to see what this fine town had to offer to a thirsty and marginally discerning pair of real ale drinkers. Today the hunt for food was a secondary occupation and was taking a back seat.
I am describing this trip as a beer bimble, which I think was fitting as the Urban Dictionary definition of Bimble is;
“To amble without real aim, yet in a friendly and harmless manner. It’s not required to achieve nothing, though it is a frequent side effect. Bimbling can be made a little more business like with a slight hunch of the shoulders.”
To assist on this trip we did have a list but also made good use of a map we picked up in the first pub called the Newark Pub Map and a lot of local advice. So without further ado this is where the bimble took us.
1. The Castle Barge
This was the first port of call, quite aptly so since it was a floating barge on the Wharf. There was a limited selection of real ales on offer, actually I think it was just the one and that was the Summer Gold by the Newark Brewery. Inside the barge you climb down steps at each end into quite a large bar area. It is a bit dimly lit inside but cool nonetheless. I don’t know if it was just me but instantly I was thinking it would be pretty neat to live on a boat and if I did I would have to turn part of it into a bar area just like this. Later on at the end of the trip we returned here for a pizza and a pint to finish the day off. You can read about that here
Beers Sampled: Newark Summer Gold 4.5%- Described as “Golden beer with a lime and citrus character”
This pub is just what it says that it is, a tiny one room pub just off the Main Road. Even though I am yet to describe our visits to the rest of the pubs on the list in Newark I have to declare that this was our favourite pub on the trail. Inside it feels like home, well at least it does if you have converted your front room into a pub. There is a small bar at one end with about 6 pumps offering real ale, craft beers, and a cider. One feature I particularly liked was a running total above the bar of the number of barrels drunk, and the number of different beers that had been featured in the pub. It was quite a cool moment when a barrel was changed and the barman updated the totals. The whole pub paused just for a moment and there was almost a swell of pride in the room as we each knew that in some small or possibly large way we had contributed to that advancement of that count.
It was so good in here that we decided to stay for a while and partake of several of the fine beers that they had on offer. The crowd was pretty friendly and we chatted about our planned itinerary around Newark and received the general wisdom of the bar regarding our plans. Some of that perceived wisdom was to turn out to be invaluable later in the day.
If you want to know what beers they have on offer and you cannot do that the traditional way by walking in through the door you can follow them on Twitter
Beers Sampled: Pigs on the Wings, Liberation Ale, Bears Blood
Pigs on the Wings from the local Copthorne Brewery was very good, a light very drinkable golden pale ale. The Liberation Ale described as ‘…a well balanced and morish beer with a hint of citrus on the nose” came from the Liberation Brewery from Jersey. The Bear’s Blood Ale came from The Brew Company and is described as a “Hoppy, Golden, Pale Ale”
If we had not had the route map and the advice of our companions from the Just Beer Micropub we might have missed this pub. Set in amongst a row of shops on Stodman Street it appears to be small from the outside but that is deceptive as once inside you have a number of reasonably sized bar areas, a large room upstairs, and a nice glass covered patio area inside too where we ended up sitting. I think this was called the ‘Orangerie” The walls were covered with a whole array of enamel metal advertising signs which gave it a little bit of a vintage feel. This kind of contrasted with the other rooms which were a bit duller and themed historically mostly to do with the English Civil war (won by the most polite side hence the name) Glad we sat in the Orangerie!
There was a quite decent menu and if we had been in the market for a larger more substantial meal we may well have dined here. I almost wavered and got close to ordering the BBQ Pulled Pork which was advertised on the chalk board as coming with “brioche, chunky chips, corn on the cob, coleslaw, and apple chutney for £12.95”. The Sunday Roasts at £9.95 looked pretty tempting too for a possible return visit just for some food one lazy Sunday afternoon.
Whilst there supping our pints we witnessed the entry of several large plates of food into the room including a large BBQ platter of some description. I think that if we had even attempted to eat one of those, then our exploration of Newark may well have ended at this point and we may have just had to retire to the sofa for a long afternoon nap.
Beers Sampled: Last Stand and Pheasantry Pale Ale
The Pheasantry Pale Ale comes from the Pheasantry Brewery , a micro brewery in East Markham in Nottinghamshire. This beer is described on their website as “…a pale coloured smooth tasting beer. The blend of hops added during the brewing process gives this 4% ABV ale floral and citrusy notes with a dry finish“. My verdict? ‘What they said’, at the time I said it was a bit citrusy and it was quite crisp. But you know I have quite a small beer describing vocab, that usually just contains phrases such as “I like this one” or “I am not sure about this” or “I don’t think I will have this again“. “Citrusy” and “Crisp” are really quite advanced for me. I just know what I like.
The Last Stand beer a 4.3% Blond Ale came from the Roosters Brewery in Yorkshire. It is described as “a big, heavily-hopped beer…..incredibly aromatic (grapefruit and strong tropical fruits), with a flavour that’ll really pack a punch.” Not really my sort of thing but I understand from Martin that it was ‘most acceptable”
We were particularly happy to locate the Fox and Crown pub as it is one of the Castle Rock pubs and we knew that it would be offering our beloved Harvest Pale Ale. It is a pretty large spacious pub with a number of big rooms to collapse in with your pint and a paper. We decided however to chance the showers and sat outside in the courtyard, not long after we did the heavens opened. Just for a moment,we thought about heading back inside but then a tall quietly spoken Icelandic chap rolled down a large awning across the yard and we all sheltered under there watching the rain drops bounce off the tarpaulin. This turned out to be one of those unusual pub chat moments as it turned out this guy was in Newark on a 3 year piano tuning and restoration course. I don’t know if it is good or bad that I now know quite a lot about the history and current world of piano tuning in Iceland!
Beer Sampled: Harvest Pale described by Castle Rock Brewery as “…brewed with a gently-kilned malt, and an aromatic blend of American hops added during the brewing process gives this 3.8% pale beer exceptional poise. Its distinct hop flavour leads to a crisp finish.”
We were not sure whether to visit the White Hart as we were under the impression that it was more of a restaurant than a pub. It is both but has a large dining area. I won’t say too much about the food as I am returning here to eat, so I will tell you more about that then. As you walk in you will probably be greeted with one of two standard catchphrases from the rather nice friendly lady running the show, which are “Be careful of the step” and “Are you Dining or Just Drinking“. Seriously though you need to watch that step as if you were anything like us, you will probably have been distracted by the multitudes of chalkboards offering and advertising a pretty decent range and selection of tasty morsels.
I was really very happy to find that they were serving another one of my favorite tipples which is the Sunchaser from Everards Brewery. I don’t often see this beer outside of an Everards establishment so I usually take the chance to drink one when I do. I persuaded Martin that it was in his best interests to have one as well, and he seemed to be quite content in the real ale world once he started to drink his pint. Although I did say that I was going to write about the food here in a future post I should just talk about the big basket of freshly made cakes, tarts, and biscuits that they have on the corner of the bar. I had a Lemon Curd Jam Tart for just 30p (was very nice) and that was not the only bargain the Sunchaser was just £1.80 a pint!
Beers Sampled: Everards’ Sunchaser described as “..a thirst-quenching beer made in the style of a continental lager. Hence you will find subtle fruit flavours and a little sweetness within.”
6. The Castle Pub
Although this pub does have quite a lot of real ale and was very friendly it did have a bit of a strange vibe inside. There was a mix of real ale drinkers supping there beers, and groups of youngish people downing their pints of lager, cider, and bacardi breezers. The most off putting part was the old man setting up his keyboard for that evenings entertainment. I swear he was giving us the evils. We just drank our beers quietly and moved on
Beers Sampled: Liberation Ale (see above for description at the Just Beer Micropub
7. The White Swan
This was much more of a local pub than some of the others that we visited. Friendly but you got the feeling that there was not that much passing trade. If you came here, you didn’t go anywhere else, and if you went anywhere else you didn’t come here. We sat out in the garden after all we didn’t want to sit in some regulars seat. More seriously it was a big cool space outside and a good spot from whee to admire the old building which had apparently been here on the corner of North Gate and Queen’s Road since 1794. Inside there were lots of small rooms and it was easy to get lost on the way to the bathroom. Luckily those ‘local residents’ were friendly enough to help out with directions
Beers Sampled: Newark Summer Gold 4.5%- Described as “Golden beer with a lime and citrus character”
8. The Malt Shovel
Over the road was the much more welcoming Malt Shovel of course by now we had visited 7 other pubs in Newark and so my notes and descriptions may have been suffering from the imbibition of those many quality ales we had encountered prior to entering through its doorway. They were also friendly in here and most interested in our annotated maps and notes which were passed around the bar like some sort of treasure map. There were mostly general agreements on the places we had chosen to visit and also on those that we had chosen not to visit (or in some cases walked out of). For some reason they were not too impressed that we had just been in The White Swan.
I liked this pub and would have been happy to have had one of their cheap (probably) 1/2lb Cheeseburgers for just £2.95 if I had the space in my stomach and the will to do so.
Beer Sampled: Maid Marion
We both had the Maid Marion Ale from the local Springhead Brewery in Retford they described the beer as “A pale golden beer with a fruity orange aroma and a dry peppery finish… Its refreshing flavour is from a combination of fresh oranges, coriander and exotic Grains of Paradise. These were a common ingredient in 18th century beers and used as a substitute for pepper which at the time was heavily taxed.” I just thought that it was quite nice and very drinkable.
Overall a very good days wander or bimble around Newark upon Trent sampling beers at a number of their pubs. As a mild disclaimer I suppose I should note that “other pubs and beers were available“. For the record we also visited, but did not partake of refreshments at a number of other pubs including; The Royal Oak, The Crown & Mitre, The Old Post Office, Sir John Ardenne, and The Queens Head. According to the regulars at the Old Malt Shovel we probably did the right thing. There is nothing wrong with these pubs, they just didn’t serve any beer that we fancied drinking on this day.
The Newark Pup Map with the pubs we visited on it.
The original map can be located and downloaded at the Newark Pub Map website
These are brilliant for navigating your way around the Town!
1. The Castle Barge – The Wharf, Newark, NG24 1EU
2. Just Beer Micropub – Swan and Salmon yard, 32A Castle Gate, Newark NG24 1BG
3. The Prince Rupert – 46 Stodman St, Newark, NG24 1AW
4. The Fox & Crown – 4-6 Appleton Gate, Newark, NG24 1AW
5. White Hart Resturant – Wine Bar. 50 North Gate, Newark, NG24 1HF
6. The Castle – 5-7 Castle Gate, Newark, NG24 IEU
7. The White Swan – 50 North Gate, Newark, NG24 1HF
8. Malt Shovel – 25 North Gate, Newark, NG24 1HD