County Stat Attack Week 19 - Durham

Back into the North East of England for week 19 we have County Durham to give it it’s commonly used title. It’s historic borders were the Tyne and Tees rivers but the years have reduced the county in size considerably. It has borders with Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear and North Yorkshire these days. This was part of the Kingdom of Northumbria in the post Roman period, Durham, the county town, wasn’t founded really until 995AD when St. Cuthberts remains were brought to Dunhelm, a defensive position on the Wear, to protect them from Viking raiders. A fortified church was built leading to the founding of the city of Durham, the bishops of Durham acquiring surrounding land to form the County of Durham. The city of Durham was parliamentarian during the Civil War, supplying the Scottish Army for the attack on the Newcastle Kings Army. The county had a large coal mining industry, largely disappeared now but leaving an area looking for new industries for the working population. The county was also significant in the development of the Railways.

The North Pennines are the significant geographical feature designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, there are the two large dales of Teesdale and Weardale. Many of the fells in the county reach above 2,000ft, feeling rugged and remote. Durham itself isn’t the largest area of population in the county, these would be Darlington, Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees.

In Durham we have a total of 49 Breweries with a large proportion of 20 now closed unfortunately. There are 8 Commissioner / Client Brewers amongst these.

The oldest Brewery we have is Cameron’s Brewery of Hartlepool (Est 1865), it became the largest independent Brewer in the North East of England at one point having 750 licensed premises. Due to the downturn of the economy of the area in the 70’s and 80’s the brewery struggled, losing its independence in 1974, from that point having a chequered history of take overs and buy outs. Eventually Cameron’s was sold on to Castle Eden in 2002, with the purchasers moving into the Hartlepool brewery and undertaking largely contract brewing production.

The Brewery with the largest range in Durham is Durham Brewery (Est 1994) with 153 beers on Ratebeer.

The 2020 Ratebeer awards gave us Donzoko Brewing as best Brewery and S43 Upper Hutt as best beer for Durham.

The Top 10 Beers for Durham are –

  1. Durham Temptation
  2. S43 Such Great Heights
  3. Durham Diabolus
  4. S43 Go Go Juice
  5. Durham Finchale Abbaye
  6. Steam Machine Treacle Toffee Stout
  7. Durham Redemption
  8. Durham Imperious
  9. S43 Upper Hutt
  10. Sonnet 43 Miss Scarlet’s Revolver Toasted Coconut Mocha Porter

The Top Bars / Pubs in County Durham are –

  1. Quakerhouse, Darlington – 81
  2. Rat Race Ale House, Hartlepool – 80
  3. Victoria Inn, Durham – 79
  4. Number Twenty Two (Village Brewer), Darlington – 77
  5. Head of Steam Durham - 76
  6. Station House, Durham – 76

The Top 5 Raters of Beers from Durham are –

  1. @danlo
  2. @Grumbo
  3. @fonefan
  4. @imdownthepub
  5. @ManVsBeer

You will require just 27 beers from County Durham to get into the top 50.

The Rater who lives in County Durham with the most ratings is –
@danlo – who is definitely still rating on here.


Fond memories of County Durham from the mid 90’s. Used to stay up in Spennymore with friends; lunchtime drinking in Durham (lovely city) and then evenings in Working Men’s Clubs drinking ‘Federation’, the Northern Club’s own brewery beers. Not been back since then, we are still friends with the aforementioned people, but things have ‘moved on’ a bit.

Anyway here’s the low down on my Stats.

One place rated, which is really not fair, it’s for the HQ of B&M Bargains!

30 Beers rated, so well down my list of counties; it does however get me to = 42nd on the leader board.

6 Breweries, no Cider, Meade or Sake.

12 from Camerons
7 each from Durham and S43

Durham highest scoring brewery by far @ 3.63

Top Beers (all on 3.8)
Durham Evensong
Durham 1994
Durham Finchale Abbaye
Durham Bombay 106
Durham Chalice
Village Brewer Old Raby Ale

Looking back at my ratings I think I’ve been a little unfair to the Durham Brewery because I really enjoyed the beers I’ve had from them and without checking would have told you I’d given some of their beers very high scores, but alas I haven’t.



County Durham is a bit of a mystery county for me, even though a branch of the extended family moved up there when I was very young. We used to drink in Durham itself before being bussed into Newcastle for football, I never got to go to either Darlington or Hartlepool grounds. We stayed close to Barnard Castle back in 2012 and I spent a couple of days walking along the county edge while on the Pennine Way in 2013, staying near Middleton on Teesdale. I really would like to do the city of Durham in more depth one day.

I quite like the Head of Steam pubs where you can pick up the Cameron’s beers and their brands but mostly for the guest beers.

My 142 beers from the county have put me into 4th spot, I’m presuming that many of these are from either Head of Steam pubs or beer festivals. Durham is 41st on my county table, amongst the strugglers with an average of just 3.09. I have tried beers from 29 different County Durham breweries placing me 3rd in that list.

The Durham Breweries giving me most ratings are –

  1. Camerons Brewery (UK) – 38
  2. Durham Brewery – 23
  3. S43 Brewery – 16

I have rated only 2 beers at 4 or over in the county, my best are –

  1. Durham Bedes Gold – 4.2
  2. Consett Ale Works White Hot – 4.1
  3. S43 Bean me Up Stouty – 3.9

I have tried just 3 of the top 10 beers for the county.

My highest rated Breweries, with the usual rules, are –

  1. Durham Brewery – 3.383
  2. Steam Machine – 3.32
  3. S43 Brewery – 3.219

I have only reviewed 3 places in the county with nothing outstanding unfortunately, my best was

  1. Teesdale Hotel, Middleton in Teesdale – 64

So not much to report really overall, a few days in Durham and perhaps taking in Darlington and Hartlepool has to be on the priority list, but not this year by the looks.


Poor old Durham, doesn’t look like too many people are biting on this fish. Can’t say as I blame them. It’s not the most exciting county for beer.

Having said that, I’ve managed 22 rates, which isn’t all that far from getting on the leaderboards. My County Durham rates seem to come from three distinct places: (1) Beer Festivals, (2) Cameron’s (and a few other Durham) rates from the year when Leicester had a Head of Steam, and (3) a wonderful festival held by the sadly now closed Broood which featured Durham and Northumberland beers. It’s one of the counties on special measures for me, so I’m often on the lookout for beers from here.

I’m also pretty happy about having tried 14 breweries from Durham, but that means that no one brewery has many rates. My most-rated outfits are Camerons (6), McColl’s (3), Donzoko and Black Storm (2 each). The best-rated beers are:

Black Storm Porter 4
Portobello / Camerons Northern Line Stout 3.5
Steam Machine Afternoon Tea 3.5
Saints Row Wellspring 3.5

Unfortunately, no place rates yet, although pre-RB (in 2011) I spent a glorious week in Durham at an OU residential school. Got away a couple evenings to sample the pubs of Durham and nearby Darlington. Must return with ticking notebook in hand. Maybe in 2021? Wouldn’t rule it out.


Weird county is Durham, kind of squeezes itself in between Tyne & Wear and North Yorkshire in my mind, but look at the map and it’s quite big! I have amassed a total of 7 rates from the county, from 3 breweries, although one of them (Autumn) is now closed, and basically part of one of the others (Black Storm) and all 4 of those beers were in the same Advent box - and none particularly special; the other 3 rates are from S43, which for some reason I’ve always thought was a North Yorkshire brewery. Have seen good things about Donzoko & McColl’s so probably should give them a go at some point - and have a Tooth & Claw (Cameron’s) beer in the fridge. As far as visits are concerned, not somewhere I’ve ventured to very often, most recently was a flying visit to a go-karting place in Durham whilst on a stag weekend in Gateshead / Newcastle - and I didn’t win, who knew driving carefully wasn’t the way?!


712 County Durham rates for me. My top rated at 4.2 is shared by Durham Diabolus Oak Aged 2017, Saints Row Here to Sin, and S43 Pretzels on my Mind.

The County Durham breweries I’ve most rated are Durham Brewery and S43 both at 68, with Steam Machine at 67.

Just afew years ago Durham Brewery dominated the top lists, but more recently have seen some great new breweries come through such as S43, Steam Machine, McColls, Donzoko and Saints Row to name just a few.

Also surprisingly there are 4 active cideries and 1 meadery in County Durham. Of the cideries Dalton Moor Farm in Seaham is the most prolific with 12 listed. The top lists for raters of cideries and ciders are:

DurhamCider Ratings


Darlington in Co. Durham is also known for being on the route of the first passenger railway which opened in 1825 and went to Stockton. In the town there’s the Head of Steam train history museum, the Darlington Locomotive Works which built Tornado, and a red brick train sculpture made from 185,000 bricks on the outskirts - here’s a pic of the brick train along with a bottle of Kemps Cider from Darlington which is matured on Oak whisky barrels for 12 months, and from Stockton J&R Armitage The First Law a sparkling apple wine made with Bramley and eating apples.



Ah Durham ! Funnily enough two of the last three beers I rated have been Durham ones – bringing me up to a grand total of 4 ! Highest rated is S43 Beam Me Up Stouty (3.6) – almost certainly drunk at the same time @Imdownthepub drank his. Even my pre-RB records only have a total of 23 Durham beers from 10 breweries (Camerons 8). And I have a horrible feeling that I’ve never drunk anywhere in the county. Roll on next week …


Lower mid table for me with just 98 beers ticked off. I have 15 beers from Camerons, 11 from Durham and have sampled 25 breweries in total putting me high up the list so pretty happy with that.

I’ve been to Darlington for a night or two and rattled round most of the pubs. A couple of solid places. Maddest was the bar for Post Office workers by the station. Been in twice, once had some sort of drag night karaoke (not the reason I went in!) and the second time had a huge dog behind the bar. Only a couple of well kept cask beers but interesting place. No 27 and Quakerhouse all good plus a couple of more modern craft venues.
Been out for beers in both Durham (on way to Spennymoor for a 3-2 win) and Hartlepool to despatch them from the FA Cup following the mighty AFC Telford. Popped around most of the rateable venues in Hartlepool. Pub on the station was handy and good. Seem to recall the craft beer bar was closed. DId visit the Camerons brewery tap and filled my boots. Durham has a couple of decent venues, solid micropub at the bottom of the very large hill to the station. There’s also a nice micropub on the northbound platform too. Very civilized these Durham folk.

Don’t see much from Durham any more as they were early starters in the craft beer world, solid on cask too.

WIll have to get 2 more in to get 100. Seems like a doable task especially as S43 seem to be around a lot.


I was looking at the brewery listing for Brew London and thinking I must try some of the Black Storm beers. This is why:


I have been to Durham twice:

Once for one of the greatest FA Cup matches of all time:

And more recently for work. The former did involve a visit to some pub pre-match.


Sadly the Old Vic near the postal centre & down from the station closed down awhile ago, it used to have a good selection of ciders on which is a rare thing around Darlington. The owner got a puppy at one point that turned into that rather large dog behind the bar which then made me wary to go in, but which @Grumbo seemed happy to see on the time he visited for a Darlington pub crawl!

The best place that offers a proper range of ciders in County Durham is the Station House in Durham, which also has a second pub it opened called Fram Ferment located in Framlington just outside the centre of Durham.

In Darlington the ORB is a good micropub which should be higher in the places lists, it’s just up the street from the Number Twenty2, and should survive lockdown due to a loyal set of regulars. It’s worth mentioning the number of Brewpubs in Darlington as well - there’s the Number Twenty2, Half Moon (Crafty Pint) and Quakerhouse which all have their own breweries onsite. Also ORB brews at Saints Row and offers their own beers at the micropub, and Saints Row brewery itself offers beers at the Brewery (they have setup for a beer garden area out front) which is located just outside the centre (it’s at the previous Schoolhouse brewery unit). There’s also a new Craft beer shop called Crafty Merlin’s which has opened in the town during lockdown.


So… the only English county with “County” in front of its name. This is not because it’s an Irish county that’s popped over for a visit; instead it’s because for centuries it was a quasi-independent “County Palatine” ruled by the Bishops of Durham, over which the monarch had very little legal authority. The “County” bit of the name stuck after it ceased to be a Palatine (although by contrast this did not happen with the other long-lived Palatines of Lancaster & Chester).

Anyway, back to the beer. It’s sadly 4th from bottom in my county ratings, with a meagre 13 rates. My top rated brews are:

Camerons Brown Dog 3.8
Camerons Monkey Stout 3.5
McColl’s Session Sorachi 3.5

I’ve tried 7 different breweries so far, with 6 beers from Camerons, 2 from Durham, & 1 from the remain breweries.

Although I’ve driven through the county a few times en route to places further north, I’ve never actually visited the county in its own right (other than to visit the highest points - see below), and therefore not managed to rate any places. This is definitely am area I’ve always wanted to explore more (especially Durham, but maybe I should also go to Barnard Castle for an eye test sometime…!).

The location of the highest point in the county has changed over the years as the county boundary has been moved - but it’s always been close to or on the Cumbrian border. Originally it was at Burnhope Seat; a horrible boggy morass of a hill. Thankfully, due to the boundary changes, it’s now at Mickle Fell.

Mickle Fell was one of the more interesting county high points I visited, largely because it’s a restricted military area that’s only open to the public on a (very) few days a year, and you have to obtain a military permit to visit (the permit specifies exactly which route you’re allowed to use). It’s an impressive walk to the hill past Cauldron Snout (the longest waterfall in England) and a military checkpoint, and the views from the top are great. Definitely one of the better county high points this!


Ratings from Durham County England - 2
Ratings from County Durham Brewing, Ontario - 15



I’ve managed to visit County Durham twice, a very fleeting visit to the city & the cathedral enroute to Newcastle in 2001 on my football ground hoping road trip, and in 2013 a overnight stay a Beamish Hall & stables micro brewery enroute to Scotland. It was a worthy stop over, a evening of sampling some of their beers with the hall next door to stay the night in. Unfortunately the brew kit was removed a couple of years ago, with there beers now brewed at Big Lamp.
The Beamish Open Air Museum seemed a worthy day to explore, but it was 2C, so I went to visit the Grey Horse in Consett, home of the Consett Ale Works. Very good beer brewed metres from the kit, with a few bottles to take away for my home collection. With these, the Stables cask’s & 3 bottles I’ve had from Durham at home I’m upto a grand total of 9. Likely to stay like that with the county been the wrong side of a already long trip to Scotland from Jersey


Looks like Durham has been a bit of a test for us, certainly not as much input this week. It will be interesting to see what week 20 brings.

Although not much input in the thread, quite afew ratebeerians have been through County Durham and visited Darlington - have given pub tours to @Grumbo, @saxo, @Rasmus40 and met @fonefan and @Travlr when they passed through.

From a beer perspective it’s definitely under-rated by others!

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I like County Durham and very much appreciate the help of @danlo in helping getting me to number 2 in the county ratings table. I’ve recently been mourning the loss of my Black Lab Ben and not been in the frame of mind to be adding input to these threads the past few weeks. I’m expecting by week 20 to be back to bau.

Sorry to hear of your loss. I really enjoy your input but fair enough you’ve had to take a step back for a bit.

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So sorry to hear about the loss of your dog, I know how that feels, you get so close to them. I didn’t even want our current dog but over the years they become part of you and it feels odd if he is not there right beside me. Take your time, no rush.

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Bit late to the county party this week, but here are my thoughts.

Durham is a county that I am not particularly familiar with, I’m not even sure if I have ever been to the city that lends it’s name to the county. However I have stopped there on a least one occasion through work, (the swimming pool work again). I also recall going to watch Darlington FC it was a night match and was during the Brian Little era so this would have placed my visit sometime between 89-91, I suspect that it would have been closer to 1989 at a guess, I cannot remember who they were playing but think it was 0-0, I should ask my dad who I went to the game with as he has a great memory for that sort of thing and will know, . I recall that we were staying and working at Bishop Auckland, other than that I cannot remember much more.

I notice that I am in 29th place in the Top 50 with 38 ratings. Durham brewery with 31 rates absolutely dominate this county, and I was amazed to find that I am the third highest rater of their beers. My first rating was in March 2006 and most recent June 2019, so I have been quite steady over the years with Durham brewery and no doubt would have likely added to that total were in not for moving here to Germany in 2019.

Breweries with most ratings, in fact that list below represents all of my Durham ratings and for once there are no closed breweries

Durham 31
S43 2
Steam Machine 2
Camerons 1
Castle Eden 1
Yard of Ale 1

My top five beers are unsurprisingly all Durham in fact I think that my top 7-8 were all Durham.

Durham Bedes Chalice 4.1
Durham Benedictus 4.0
Durham Diabolus 4.0
Durham St Cuthbert 3.9
Durham Apollo 3.9

No place ratings for Durham and in fact other than Tyne and Wear, that whole northern region including Cumbria, Northumberland, Durham and Teeside remains greyed out on my region map.


I believe I’ve only ever visited Durham once, and that was to Durham University about 1999 when I was looking around at courses. Ended up going to Manchester in the end.

I also must give thanks to Danlo for boosting my ratings in this neck of the woods through regular trades. And also the beer magazine he’s included has highlighted quite a few micropubs and bars that is making a visit tempting, but just way too far for a weekend trip unfortunately. One day!

Top 5 beers:

My Rating Avg Entered Updated
S43 Get Snozzed 4.1 3.53 4/15/2019
S43 Beyond the Pines 3.9 3.31 11/8/2019
S43 Pinkies Out 3.9 3.47 2/10/2020
McColl’s North South 3.9 3.14 3/26/2020
Kemps Cider 2017 Vintage 3.9 3.25 4/10/2020

Worst beer is S43 Mr Sipling, a battenburg cake beer which tasted like chemical toilet cleaner.