The first wood-conditioned beer on tap to be permanently available in Newcastle for around 50 years is being served at Blackfriars’ new Parlour Bar on Friars Street just in time for the start of Newcastle United’s new season in the Premier League.
With help from the Society for the Preservation of Beer on Wood (SPBW), Wylam Brewery and Hadrian Border Brewery, Blackfriars has taken delivery of two brand new six and half gallon oak casks, which have been filled just up the road at the Palace of Arts brewery in Exhibition Park in Newcastle and Preservation Works brewery in Newburn.
The Parlour Bar will be open to serve the beer – as well as wine, soft drinks, tea, coffee, bacon sandwiches and pies – to the hungry Toon Army ahead of every home game at St James’ Park this season.
According to the SPBW, wood casks have been the traditional method for conditioning and storing of beers, but for many decades took a back seat to metal and plastic. Today there is a big interest in wooden casks as a container for beer, with an upsurge that has led to many UK brewers sending beer to publicans in wooden barrels and, as a result, saving the ancient craft of the cooper, and the cask.
The ales, it is suggested, benefit from a week or two in wood before being dispensed directly from the cask in their natural state, without any overtly gassy CO2. They will be sold in traditional 2/3 pint schooners.
Andy Hook, owner of Blackfriars Restaurant, who opened the Parlour Bar in April 2017, said: “Serving craft beer straight from a wooden barrel is about as traditional as you can get. It harks back to when Blackfriars was first established in the 13th century, when ale would have been made on site and provided to the friars, who would have consumed up to a gallon a day. As such, it’s been an aspiration of mine to offer beer on wood for a decade now.
“Our head chef Chris Wardale and many of us here at Blackfriars are passionate NUFC fans, so we’re delighted to see NUFC back in the Premier League where we belong. Blackfriars has such a great city centre location with St James’ Park a five minute walk away, so we wanted to get the Black and White Army together in our Parlour Bar to enjoy a beer and a hearty sarnie or a pie before cheering on the team before every NUFC match. We have our fingers crossed for another successful season with Rafa the Gaffer!”
Blackfriars Parlour Bar is steeped in history, having originally served as a Parlour for the Black Friars of Newcastle, making it the oldest pub in Newcastle. The building dates back to 1239, when it was built to serve as a heated waiting room for visitors to the friary. The space, like several areas of Blackfriars, eventually fell into disrepair.
The Parlour, located next to the restaurant, has now been refurbished by traditional craftsmen, who have carefully chosen timber, furniture, lighting and fabrics in-keeping with the rich history of Blackfriars. Guests can relax in leather armchairs and drink before or after their meal by candlelight, or order tea, coffee and a range of bar snacks throughout the day whilst enjoying the historic surroundings.
Matt Boyle, director at Wylam Brewery said: “It’s a real pleasure to see Wylam ales being served off the wood. It really showcases our Heritage beers in their most pure form, directly from wooden casks, which is a very rare occurrence indeed. This exclusive addition to Blackfriars complements an already quality-focused food and drink offering. It gives customers the chance to experience something really different and authentic.”
Rob Shatlock, National Vice Chairman and Chairman of the North East Branch of SPBW said: “I was delighted to hear from Andy about his project. I’ve helped install an in-cask cooling system for the casks which are kept on display behind the bar. It makes a great spectacle for the customers and it’s great that we can get such top quality beer from the wood. This is the first bar in Newcastle to have beer from the wood on permanently, and we at the SPBW wish Andy all the best with his project.”
The Parlour Bar is open from 11am – late Monday – Saturday, and 11am – 4pm on Sundays serving coffees, teas, bar snacks, beer, wine and cocktails.
Blackfriars dates back to 1239 and is one of the oldest restaurants in the UK. The restaurant has also just been given a facelift after a huge refurbishment, whilst a bigger Cookery School and a new Tasting Room have been opened on the first floor of the building.
The restaurant received the Taste of England accolade at the North East Tourism Awards and was voted Best North East Restaurant in the Licensed Trade Awards. It also has an ornate 50-seat Banquet Hall which was built to entertain guests and nobles to Newcastle, and it was the celebrated venue used by King Edward III to receive royal Scot, Edward Balliol, in 1334.
The team at Blackfriars also opened Hinnies Restaurant in Whitley Bay in February 2016, and most recently Dobson and Parnell in December 2016, which offers refined British and European food on Newcastle’s Quayside.
Blackfriars, Friars Street, Newcastle, NE30 1XN, 0191 261 5945 www.blackfriarsrestaurant.co.uk
Twitter: @BlackfriarsRest Facebook/Instagram: Blackfriars Restaurant
Dobson and Parnell, 21 Queen Street, Newcastle, NE1 3UG, Tel: 0191 2210904 www.dobsonandparnell.co.uk
Twitter: @DobsonParnell Facebook/Instagram: DobsonandParnell
Hinnies Restaurant, East Parade, Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear, NE26 1AP, 0191 447 0500 www.hinnies.co.uk
Twitter: @HinniesRest Facebook: HinniesFamilyRestaurant Instagram: HinniesRestaurant