The Ship inn, a pretty postcard perfect pub, nestling in the corner of an open quadrangle of eighteenth century fisherman’s cottages looking onto Newton Haven. Bare floors, plain stone walls, simple wooden furniture and hop garlands. As well as top ales they have regular Iive music and a monthly folk night. The setting is exquisite. Looking South, Embleton bay, the links and beach has to be one of the finest views anywhere. Wildlife rich dunes, acres of silver, almost pink at times, sand. The brooding ruins of Dunstanburgh castle forever present on the skyline.
On a winters evening with a roaring fire I bet it’s wonderful. Unfortunately at Bank holiday Monday lunchtime it’s heaving and folk are queuing ten deep at the bar, half filling the small single room. The staff are busy and obviously stressed out, although I’ve never actually seen the woman (I think she owns it) behind the bar smile. I’ve been coming here for years and I’ll keep coming. I remember the pub in the days when it was like someone’s front room. It’s moved on a bit now and I doubt you’ll see many locals (real ones that is). There’s a lot of food going on, inside and out on the green. Mostly being consumed by chaps in expensive leisure wear, with their sunglacé wives and kids that look like Little Lord Fauntleroy. A dog appears to be de riguer, principally Labradors and Spaniels. Thankfully the food side of things doesn’t overcome the beer aspect, or spoil the pubiness.
Five hand pumps on the bar dispensing their own ales, brewed in the same building. On a working day you can see the brewery in action, if you’re lucky. I would have liked to chat with the brewer, but it wasn’t going to happen on a Bank holiday.
The beers were all spot on, named around a maritime theme, a reasonable £11.50 for seven halves. White Horses was a very pale modern style ale, a soft toffee and malt taste and then a hit of hop, followed by a nice round soft finish. Ship Hop was a darker, amber, malty bitter. Think complex bitter orange with ever so slight floral notes, again with a lovely soft finish. The useful tasting notes on the pump clip said marmalade, which is pretty accurate.
My favourite was the aptly named Crazy Horses, a modern aggressive IPA style hop hit. When I say hoppy, it’s really hoppy with tropical fruit aromas and a spicy peppery finish to it. Think Brewdog but more subtle. This is a stunning beer and with the excellent theme of using local breweries going on in the area, I don’t think I’m going to get any nearer to a west coast IPA hop monster this week (I was proved wrong here)?
Red Herring was, red. Soft, malty, with a hint of the sea shore to it. Soft mouth feel a hint of floral hop notes and again that soft smooth finish.
If you like Lager then you will be impressed with the Low Newton Brau. Initial vinous champagne notes disappear to leave a clean, crisp, refreshing taste. Lots of bubbles which maintained a nice little head. This is proper good Lager.
Save the Sea Dog until last. It’s that dark the term squid ink would be an accurate description. The first thing you get is a massive hit of mint that quickly turns to liquorice. There’s a fleeting taste of hops before the Ship brewery trade mark soft finish comes, this time it’s smoky though. This is the one you want sat by the roaring fire on a winter’s evening when there’s just a few people in.
Verdict? Sat outside with a half of everything was bit like having my own mini beer festival. All good, all different, top marks to the brewer. My advice, come back out of season, mid week, to really enjoy this place. If you stay in one of the nearby cottages you can walk to decent ale and food at The Ship and at the Joiner’s in High Newton which is where we went next.
As you walk back up to High Newton you just have to go into the corrugated Newton Mission church, recently dedicated to St Mary. It’s a beautiful, simple place of peace, calm and tranquility to enjoy, for anyone of (whatever) faith, or even no faith at all.