North East pubs vie for Great British Pub Awards 2014

South Causey InnFour of the North East’s top pubs are set to go head-to-head against the best in Britain after being named as regional winners in the Great British Pub Awards 2014.

100 pubs from across the country will vie for national titles across 17 categories, including Best Cask Beer Pub, Best Community Pub, Best Food Pub and even Best Pub Loos.

And representing the North East – having seen off pubs in Scotland and Yorkshire just to get this far – will be Newcastle’s Bridge Tavern, North Shields’ Staith House, County Durham’s South Causey Inn and Hartlepool’s Golden Lion.

“We have an excellent set of regional winners who are a credit to our industry,” said Rob Willock, editor of awards organiser The Publican’s Morning Advertiser.

“To be named among the best in the business they have all demonstrated strong business performance and development, amazing passion for their pubs and the industry, exciting innovation and great retail standards.

“The licensees running these businesses have a wealth of business acumen and skills.”

Would-be Best Newcomer The Bridge Tavern, on Newcastle Quayside, opened in September 2013 after pub operator Greenan Blueaye – which also runs The Town Wall near the city’s Central Station – spent around £750,000 turning the former Newcastle Arms beneath the Tyne Bridge into one of Tyneside’s first brewpubs.

A 2hl brewkit was installed at the back of the ground floor under the watchful eye of Wylam Brewery, with head brewer is Joe Roberts – formerly of Byker’s Tyne Bank and Morpeth’s Anarchy – since turning out scores of one off brews, which many people have enjoyed while sitting out on the pub’s outside terrace, gazing up at the understide of Dorman Long and Co’s grand construction.

Without wanting to sound too much like Kevin McCloud, restorations are about more than just throwing money around, and artfully piling furniture and fittings into modern shapes. Places like the Bridge Tavern really work, and really make you want to visit.” – Richard Taylor, The Beercast

Another newcomer to the North East pub scene, North Shields’ The Staith House is up for the Best Turnaround Pub prize.

Formerly The Dolphin – a name it was rechristened in 1853 – the Fish Quay tavern was last November taken over by former MasterChef: The Professionals finalist John Calton, wife Kimberley and friend and former work colleague James Laffan.

Refurbishing and returning the 206 year old tavern to its original name, the pub specialises in “meat from the farm, and fish from the quay,” – a winning combination if reviews by local food critics such as The Journal’s Secret diner are anything to go by.

Calton is a really good chef. I like his food – it has honesty, clarity, simplicity, and only uses local, seasonal ingredients.” – The Secret Diner, The Journal

Elsewhere, the pub with reputedly the largest thatched roof in the North of England, Hartlepool’s Golden Lion is the regional winner in the Best Freehouse category, while the South Causey Inn, near Stanley in County Durham, will look to defend the Best Family Pub crown it won in 2013.

The winners of the Great British Pub Awards 2014 will be announced at a black tie event at the Park Lane Hilton, in London, on Thursday September 11.