Tuesday, 3 June 2008

A Visit to The Maltings

The Maltings is in South Shields town centre and is one of three pubs wholly owned and supplied by the Jarrow Brewery. Eventually, I shall get round to writing something about the other two, which I have already visited.

The pub was once a night club and I went there a few times in a previous lifetime when I was young and wild. As with all nightclubs, however, which I find disorientating with their flashing lights, thumping music and shifting sea of faces, I have no abiding memories of the interior layout, so it was no surprise to me to find that I couldn’t relate my past experience to the present set-up when I finally entered the building.

I say “finally” because I turned up mid-afternoon to find that the pub doesn’t open until 4 p.m. Returning at the appointed hour, I found the place to be singularly empty, having just opened for business.

I was quite impressed with the mock-Victorian d├ęcor. Of course the woodwork was all veneer, but it had been very well done and might well have fooled a lot of folk at first glance. There were many replica momentos and old pictures on the walls to entertain visitors and soft background music was playing. I suspect that, at livelier times of the evening, the music might become less unobtrusive, however!

What certainly pleased me was the layout of the place. Although there was only one bar to serve all, definite areas had been screened and partitioned off, each with a different character. Some areas had traditional bar furniture, but others were like the foyer of a “class” hotel, with leather couches and armchairs to lounge in. I decided to settle in one of these very comfortable plush areas and read the newspapers which the bar provided. There had just been a beer festival and the remnants of the remaining two guest ales were being offered at knock-down prices. Having sampled all of the Jarrow Brewery’s own brews in the past (as I shall review on another occasion), I opted to try the guest ales.

The first was EASTWOOD GOLD AWARD, from a brewery in Elland, Leeds. It was a medium-dark brew, very clear and bitter with good “legs”. There was a definite taste of hops in the aftertaste: very palatable indeed. I cannot say the same for the second brew I tried. In fact I had to send it back, it was so cloudy. Actually, though the barmaid claimed “it had been like that from the beginning”, I don’t think it fair to name the brew as it MUST have been badly cellared, NOBODY makes beer as bad as that and stays in business!

So, while the pub gradually began to draw in its first customers, I sat and drank another pint of the Eastwood Gold, which was every bit as good as the first. I shall have to return to The Maltings some evening, to give it another try when there is some “atmosphere” about the place.

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