Traditional British ale houses are a dying breed in England these days. So it was with some joy when I discovered the Alum Ale House in South Shields near Newcastle in the North East of England.
With pubs closing at a rate of 50 per week in recent years and those surviving being turned into branded restaurants the Alum Ale house is a rare treat.
Ideally located a two minute walk from the ferry pier on the south side of the River Tyne, it offered a refreshing pint after a day exploring the bric-a-brac store and the crazy butcher of Fish Quay on the North Shore.
The choice is overwhelmingThe choice of traditional ales on offer can be a touch daunting. A line of tempting pumps adorn the old wooden bar each with comical names such a Hobgoblin and MeDuck.
Conveniently on the wall, hangs a board listing the ales on draft that day each with their alcohol percentage and colour.
I opt for the dark 5.6% Sneck Lifter whilst Angie goes for the lighter Boondoggle. I'm not a big ale drinker but the location calls for it. The pint proves a little too heavy and I struggle to finish of the dregs of the pint, secretly wishing I'd gone for the Boondoggle which was more to my taste.
The Alum is nearly full on Good Friday early evening but the only noise is the chatter of locals rolling of their daily news in their enjoyable Geordie accents.
Returning to the Alum Ale HouseI'm back the following day and the ale house is empty bar one guy sat at the bar talking away to the young barmaid.
Going for the lighter blonde Cockerhoop, my drinking buddie struggles to decide until the guy at the bar chips in suggesting he tries the Fortyniner.
As we sit by the window we gaze at the surrounding photographs detailing how the surrounding area has developed whilst the ale house has remained virtually untouched.
I enjoy the pint of Cockerhoop more than the one the day before as it feels lighter and leaves a taste for more.
The changing face of the River TyneAs we leave the Alum, it's easy to spot the nearby developments, the ferry pier and BT building that have been built around the ale house.
Despite these changes and the fact that establishments like this are dying out across Britain I somehow get the feeling that the Alum ale house will still be standing serving the locals in another 100 years.
Have you tried real ale? What traditional ale houses have you been to?