Johnsons on Tour - Again
Cycling Route 1: Almouth to Middlesborough and beer tasting We dumped the van in Durham at a friend (present Covid rates allowed no indoor visits or socialising). Next stop Premier Inn, most of whom allow bikes into the rooms. A quick turnaround to get to The Station under the viaduct, an excellent Micro pub. The mission here was to chat to the landlord Chris about NE2 tasting panel, as I have stepped up to be the tasting panel chair. Stu and I have decided that beer tasting will be a major focus in our new retirement. Next day we caught the train to Alnmouth with our pre-booked bike tickets firmly attached to the bikes loaded with kit for the next 5 days.
All went smoothly and we were soon cycling down the coast. Route-finding was easy as Route 1 is well signposted. The nights stop was 19 miles further on at a Premier Inn outside Ashington with its pre-requisite pub sited next door. It was a beautiful stopover in the shadow of Woodhorn Colliery Museum (worth a visit).
Day 2. The rain forecasted waited until we set off and varied between drizzle and downpours. Fortunately, a short day's ride to Seaton Sluice. Perfect spot with an Inn, B&B (no real ale) The Waterford Arms. Two real-ale pubs and an excellent fish and chip shop. Tasting cards were completed on Anarchy Citrus Sour 4.1% abv in the Melton Constable before moving on to the Kings Arms where the best offering was Timothy Taylors.
Winds forecasted for the next day were northerly and pushed us along-even uphill! The rain held off so we had a great cycle down the coast through Whitley Bay, Teesmouth, catching the South Shields ferry. We popped into The Steamboat pub and did cards on Consett Porter and Double Maxim, a cracking pint. We ended the day at a Premier Inn in Sunderland. The plan was to visit The Ship Isis and the Ivy House, both great hostelries. Cards completed on Cullerthwaits Fastnet 4.1% abv, Two by Two Session IPA 4% abv, Nelson Sauvignon 5.3% abv and Maxim Maximus 6% abv.
Route 1 was literally outside the door of the hotel . We knew there would be fewer stops available so we arrived for the pubs at Seaton. We decided not to cycle down the hill to the more promising pun and opted for the Seaton Lane Inn. Perfectly adequate for our requirements but only Black Sheep s we forwent the pleasure of beer.
The Sip at High Hesleden was our nights stop in the chalets at the back of the pub. Tea was booked for 7pm so we settled in to taste Consett Red next to a roaring fire. This is older than us!
The 5th day (Sunday) of cycling we had to get to Middlesborough where we caught the train to Darlington for a nights drinking. This ended up a damp squid as the micropub shut early, The Quaker House and No.22 were closed leaving only The Hole in the Wall as an option for beer. A tasting card was completed on Sonnet-The Mark.
On reflection, we loved the bike ride, highly recommending it to others. We completed 18 tasting cards which will go towards description in the Good Beer Guide. Any beers considered exceptional will be considered for Champion Beer of Britain (CBoB) if other tasters fill in cards reflecting the same high scores as us.