The Black Bull in Morpeth has reopened following a £100,000 refurbishment – and new boss John Raw is already gunning for awards.
The Wear Inns’ tavern has been completely redecorated and refreshed in three week overhaul designed to turn it into a more memorable “craft” beer bar.
“We’ve world beers where five months ago you would have found Smirnoff Ices,” said John, who previously ran The Millstone in South Gosforth, Newcastle. “And I think Morpeth was crying out for this kind of pub.
“It was definitely a challenge – but I thought the Black Bull was in a great location and had a great bit of history to the place and it was really a chance to do something new.
“I think the Black Bull, for a number of years, had just basically been a drinker’s pub, but in coming in I decided to take on a new perspective.
“Cask beers are just surging at the minute, and we found in Morpeth that although there is a cask market, there is room to improve and we thought that we can really do something new and something different and that hadn’t been tried around here.
The pub, on the Northumberland town’s Bridge Street, opened on Friday night with six cask handpulls – John originally wanted 10, but admitted he’ll look to run four during the week until the pub finds its feet – including Anarchy Brew Co’s Blonde Star from just up the road at the Whitehouse Farm Centre, Mordue Brewery’s Workie Ticket and Tyne Bank Brewery’s Pacifica pale ale.
“Obviously when I was at the Millstone you were spoilt for choice as in Newcastle we have so many great little breweries – it’s like a sweet shop for landlords, you can’t really go wrong – and when I came up here Anarchy was my first stop. I think if there’s a brewery on your doorstep, it would be rude, really rude, not to support them.”
The Black Bull Morpeth – which has already created 10 jobs and is still looking to hire another three or four staff – has also has introduced a new range of food, including sharing planks, sandwiches, burgers and, making use of Anarchy’s Blonde Star in the batter, onion rings and fish and chips.
And John says he is already looking forward to competing against friend and former South Gosforth rival Dave Carr in a “battle of the sticks,” as the Brandling Villa boss is set to open a new pub, The Tannery, in Hexham.
And he’s set his sights on capturing Camra’s South East Northumberland Pub of the Year crown by 2015.