The Joiner’s arms, High Newton by the sea. Another Annie Sloan walled pub, bare boards, exposed beams and such. Looks good, but the uniformity of the flagged floor tells you it’s not original. It’s not bad though and the pub is part of the Newcastle based, ten pub/bar and restaurant, Apartment group. They bill themselves as the only five star luxury inn in Northumberland, predominantly food trade but they have four hand pumps on the bar and the trophy of pump clips hanging from the ceiling suggests a strong local theme. First time we called it was Anarchy brew co. I had a few pints from this relatively new brewery (2012) while i was in Northumbria and I was impressed with their beers. St Mary’s ale, is a very pale straw coloured beer, crisp with very, very subtle honey and lemon notes, and a decent head. Sat in the pleasant beer garden in the sun, it went down well. Too well because I forgot to take any pics, so you’ll have to be content with a couple I took on the walk back. One’s a field of Barley mind, so it’s beer related.
We also tried an Acton brew co. The Office, a very quaffable soft chestnut brown, malty, dare I say it, mild bitter. I think the Acton brew co are the former Gundog brewery from Washington but I can’t find out much about them. They also had Hadrian and Borders Secret Kingdom which spluttered as soon as the lass pulled it and they were too busy to replace it. Story of my life this, I know it’s busy but why is it so many pubs don’t have someone on, all the time, that knows about and can change a barrel? I suppose it says much about their outlook on beer and whether the pub is beer centric or focussed elsewhere.
On our second visit we went to dine, I’d had their signature fish and chips before, and they allow dogs in which is good. The huge fish was awesome but unfortunately the chips were absolutely dire and spoiled it a bit, hopefully just a busy holiday week blip. Almost everywhere we went it seemed that supply exceeded demand, especially around key food demand time; 12.30 – 1330 and 18.30 – 19.30. Flustered front of house staff, either sixth form age girls or mature local women were friendly but not slick enough to deliver. I understand the vagaries of the local economy a bit, but if one place can achieve it why can’t everywhere? It was the same story on the beer front. The St Mary’s was not right on our second visit, they did tell us this and were trying to sort it and weren’t going to sell it until they did, which is good. The fourth wicket was still empty so it was Secret Kingdom or Consett White hot (4%) to wash down the cardboard chips. I went for White hot, very pale, almost with a tinge of orange if you hold it to the light. Three pints of it went down anyway. Fair play, what beers we did have were all on top form and I suspect on any other week it might have been a different tale, with a full choice of four real ales.