Durham Brewery Review



Durham Brewery

durham brewery header

This was a neat little visit we went on with a tour voucher Mrs Durham Food and Drink had bought me for Christmas. The Durham Brewery isn’t actually in Durham, it’s on an industrial estate in Bowburn. It’s been running since 1994 and the place is well known to the real ale fraternity, but maybe not so for the casual drinker who mainly likes to trough a bit (us).

We were fortunate that we were able to get a lift there from the young ‘uns, instead of firing up the Durham Food and Drink bus, maybe paying back some of the free taxi service that’s been lovingly provided for them in the last few years? Anyhow, we were last in, with the tour and talk due to start at 7:30pm on the Friday night. It’s very dark in the car park and could maybe do with an extra light for these evening tours in winter, but we found the right door eventually.

Steve Gibbs and his wife do the talk, running through the theory of making beer and demonstrating how the raw materials affect the flavour of the finished pint, playfully interrupting each other along the way. We started sampling with the lightest beer and ended up on a dark Porter Stout (“Temptation“), all included as part of the brewery tour fee. We then went over to the storage area where the casks/hogsheads/firkins are kept, and saw the actual production facility where Steve and his brewers do 3 brews a week to keep the locals supplied with Durham Brewery beers.

The brewery tour was very informal but informative, there were lots of questions and even a bloke from another brewery (at Appleby) had come down to see how Steve and his crew do their thing.

At the end of the tour, you can buy bottles of the Durham Brewery beers, which are nicely packaged up in a little carrier to help get them home safely. We came away with 3 bottles, including their 1994 Anniversary Imperial Pale Stout, a White Stout and a bottle of the “Temptation”.

We’d thoroughly recommend Durham Brewery to anyone, even if you’ve never drunk a single pint of real ale before. It’ll make you appreciate what goes into making all the different beers available to us in the North East, and is delivered by a man who is clearly still so passionate about his brewery.

Website : http://www.durhambrewery.co.uk.

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Queen’s Head Durham Review



“The Queen’s Head is a nice friendly pub that’s recently been refurbished downstairs in the bar area. In the bar we offer FREE WiFi to all of our guests as well as FREE parking on site. We are in a perfect location of Durham, just 1 mile away from the City centre. The bar provides an excellent menu, with both a choice from our traditional menu to our chef’s specials boards. Everything on our menu is home-made. Our bedrooms are basic but kept very clean and tidy. All rooms are with shared bathroom facilities, but each resident gets fresh hand towels & bath mats.”

queens head front

The other ‘local’ is the Queen’s Head in Gilesgate, just down the road from The Shoes. It’s a typical fronted boozer, but like the Shoes it’s had a bit of money spent on it recently and the lounge looks just right for eating. We’ve been in here twice recently, once for a lazy Sunday dinner and most recently again for a minor celebration.

I always reckon that if the pub is full on a Sunday then they’re doing something right. The Queens actually serve their Sunday lunch right up until 8pm! We rolled up at about 2pm and got a table without booking, but felt a bit guilty when a local old timer arrived and looked disappointed to see us sitting in what was apparently his seat, where he’d probably had his Sunday dinner every weekend since 1976. Anyhow, he got sat down somewhere else by the waitress and we felt less like robbers. The waitress took our order almost immediately.

queens head lounge

Sunday lunch was pretty good, with pneumatic Yorkshires, bigger than barrage balloons, but crispy and dry. There’s a selection of the usual roasts, and what is amazing is that it all arrived about 3 minutes after it was ordered. Very impressive! I know that means they must pre-prepare it, but as long as it tastes ok and hasn’t gone crusty round the edges that’s fine by me. The roast was tender and juicy and the gravy was nice and thick, just how we like it. We had pud as well after all of this, Mrs DFD had Apple Crumble and Custard and I had the Rice Pud, which came absolutely dry without milk, so I pinched some custard to moisten it up. Unusual but strangely enjoyable.

Our second visit, on a Tuesday night saw us ordering from the Chef’s Special menu. There were four mouths to feed this time and we ordered

Belly pork, served on a bed of fluffy mash potato, black pudding wrapped in bacon complimented with a diane sauce topped off with crispy onions

Duck breast marinated in a hoi sin sauce on a bed of noodles mixed through with chilli, spring onions & ginger

12oz Rump steak served with tomato, portobello mushroom, onion rings, homemade chips

Chicken balentine with chorizo, jalapeños & mozzarella wrapped in parmaham in a mariner sauce accompanied with sweet potato chips.

When we arrived they asked if we were eating and drinks orders were taken at the table. Service of the meal took about 20 minutes from order to plate this time, and I have to say the presentation of the food was superb for pub grub. All the meals looked terrific. Even I liked a taste of the belly pork, and I don’t generally do belly pork very well. It was great. Testament to this were the four clean plates at the end of it, we’d removed the patterns as well, it was so nice. We decided not to have a sweet this time, although we had drinks added to the bill at the start and it all came to just over £60 in all. Great value for pub grub.


Durham Food and Drink Rating
First Impression : 7, Service : 8, Food : 8, Value : 8

queens head rating eight

The Queen’s Head
2 Sherburn Road
Durham
DH1 2JR
T: 0191 3865649

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The Queen’s Head also offer accommodation, with a Single Room including breakfast for £30 and a Double/Twin with breakfast for £50

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The Shoes Durham Review


The Shoes, Durham in Gilesgate is one of those pubs where you just don’t know what it’s going to be like inside when you’re outside. It’s on Sunderland Road, on the East side of Durham, just past the fork in the road that takes you to Sherburn Road, on the way to the big Dragonville Industrial Estate. It’s sandwiched between Mahan’s fish and chip shop and Sainsburys.

the shoes durham in gilesgate's lounge with drinks and menu

The car park doubles up for both the supermarket and the pub, and there’s usually plenty of space if you need it. It looks nowt special from the outside, but don’t let that put you off at all. Only when you go in do you get the feeling of what a friendly pucker place it is. It’s newly done up, and looks clean and tidy. The Shoes is a traditional, family run bar offering a good selection of pub grub on a canny sized lunch time menu, which is served 12 noon til’ 6pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The Shoes also has three bedrooms for those who want to stop out just that little bit longer on a night, with en-suite bathrooms and TV/Wifi for the guests. It’s in a very handy spot for Durham, being less than a mile from the city centre. You can get there either by Shankses Pony (on foot), or by using one of the plentiful buses that pass every 10 minutes or so. The pub is regularly filled by it’s darts/dominoes and poker league teams, has live entertainment twice a month and a Sunday night quiz and bingo. The pub is also popular with the gee-gee fraternity during the day and shows Premier League football during the season (I believe the landlord is a Sunderland fan for his sins). They also have a beer garden at the rear for summer nights of al-fresco drinking and star gazing.

view of the shoes, durham bar area.

Since moving to Gilesgate, this is our local, and when we first went in before we bought our house, we were talking to the landlord who was genuinely interested that we were living on ‘The Duffy’. The next time we called in, some 6 weeks or so later (we were hard at work on the DIY), he remembered our faces and asked if we’d moved in yet. This really made us happy, that he was taking notice of his customers, considereing he’d only seen us just the once back then. We’ve always been made to feel really welcome since and everyone seems genuinely friendly in there.

We’ve yet to try the meals in The Shoes (although we’ve seen and smelled them as they’ve gone past), but the menu looks good and if you want traditional pub grub then you could do a lot worse, with starters pitched between £2 and £3 and the most expensive main course being less than 7 quid! Beer is well priced too, with Desperados (the drink of our choice at the mo) only £3 per bottle, which is cheaper than a lot of other places, and real ales and beer for just a little bit more. The beer seems to slip down easier as well, knowing it’s just a short stumble back to the gaff.


The Shoes
16 Sunderland Road
Gilesgate
County Durham

Tel: 0191 3844099

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The Bishop Langley Durham Review


The Bishop Langley Durham is a name that not many will recognise, unless you are a regular visitor to Durham and a seasoned pub-goer. The pub is right on the edge of Framwellgate Bridge, with a fantastic terrace overlooking Durham Castle and the Cathedral from across the river. The experienced Durham drinker will know it’s location better as the Coach and Eight, a seedy, sticky carpetted place from the 80’s/90’s where we all served our time dancing drunkenly and trying to pull. Thankfully, that version of the pub is long gone, and after a period of closure and refurbishment, the pub is now a respectable watering hole again, with a nice indoor lounge to match the spectacular outside terrace. Access is from either the landing of the stone stairs to the riverside path, or from the roof terrace itself, you takes your pick.

We’d been on a tour of Durham’s coffee/tea shops on the morning after a jaunt through Pelaw Woods, and it was early afternoon before we got there, ready for a feed. There were still plenty of people sitting out on the terrace, even in the late autumn sunshine, but we decided we’d sit in the lounge downstairs as we needed a comfort break anyway. There weren’t too many people down there though, so we found a seat pretty quickly. It’s easy to relax as there’s lots of comfy couches, including a leather corner (ooh-err!), which is where we chose to park ourselves. The Bishop Langley menu can only be described as ‘pub grub’, with maybe a hint of trying to be something a little better than that, but it satisfied our needs on the day as we couldn’t see further than sausage and mash/ham and eggs with chips. Exotic eh? You need to order your food at the bar; the orders are taken by the same people who are taking the drinks orders, so you have to wait for that, but they’re pretty good at getting everything scribbled down and passed to the kitchen.

 

“The focus of our food is traditional British with a contemporary twist. We use only the best locally sourced ingredients & cook everything fresh.
From grazing on our bar food with a real ale to a full three course meal with a fine wine, we’ve got something to satisfy everyone.”

 

The Bishop Langley always has a good selection of real beer on, but there’s also some premium lagers if you just fancy being cooler and haven’t got a beard. Prices are pretty similar to most bars in Durham, so no nasty shocks there, but the one thing that did seem to let them down a bit was the time taken to serve the food. It was about 25 minutes for our meal to arrive, which is a little bit too long for the simple stuff we’d ordered. Surely it doesn’t take that long to fry an egg and do some chips and sausages, right? Suddenly I remembered, the food is also served to the roof terrace sunbathers, which takes a bit more time to deliver, so we can forgive them the little delay, and we weren’t in any hurry really were we Mrs Speedy Gonzales?. Sometimes in the summer the food is provided from a barbecue on the terrace, which helps draw customers in because of the wonderful smell of onions, but not today unfortunately!

This wasn’t the first time we’d been into The Bishop Langley, but we hadn’t eaten in there before this. It’s a good spot to have food if you need to sit down and take the weight off your feet during a hectic shopping trip (it’s not too far from the bus station in North Road), but bear in mind you’ll need to hike it back up the steps afterward, so take it easy on the pud front or you may need to be winched out! They offer 10% reduction to Durham Uni Students on production of a Student Card.


Durham Food and Drink Rating
First Impression : 7, Service : 6, Food : 6, Value : 6

bishop langley durham rating six

The Bishop Langley
Framwellgate Bridge
North Road
Durham
T: 0191 386 4779

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