County Stat Attack Week 43 - Northumberland

This week we visit the ancient and historic county of Northumberland, thus completing the North Eastern part of England. It, along with Durham made up the Kingdom of Northumbria which has long been the frontier zone with Scotland. Rich in prehistoric sites occupied by the Brythonic Celts along with the Brigantes. During Roman occupation the border with Scotland was marked by Hadrians Wall, but much of modern Northumberland lies above this ancient marker. During the Middle Ages the Kingdom under King Edwin ranged from the Humber in the south to the Forth now in Scotland. It became the cradle of Christianity in the country with the island of Lindisfarne, also known as Holy Island. The ancient capital of the county was Bamburgh with its magnificent castle.

Northumberland is now largely rural once Tyne and Wear was separated from it. It is low and flat near the North Sea Coast and gets increasingly mountainous towards the North West. It is the coldest county in England but doesn’t have the rainfall of its western neighbours. It has a low population, the largest towns being Blyth, Cramlington, Ashington, Bedlington, Morpeth and Berwick, which contains the only English football team to play in the Scottish League.

On Ratebeer we have a total of just 26 Breweries, 18 of which are currently active and 8 closed. Only one of these is listed as a Client Brewery. The Brewery with the largest range of beers is Allendale Brewery (Est 2006) with 139 beers.

The oldest brewery we have listed is Hexhamshire Brewery of Hexham (Est 2002). I honestly cannot find anything older, they all tend to migrate to Newcastle and the really old breweries were all in the Tyne area.

In the 2020 Ratebeer Awards the Best Brewery was Allendale Brewery and also their Allendale Strata was awarded best beer of the year for Northumberland. No award was made for new Brewery.

The Top 10 Beers for Northumberland are –

  1. Allendale Export Stout
  2. Credence Porter R
  3. Rigg & Furrow Owl Porter
  4. Allendale Mosaic
  5. Allendale Red Rye
  6. Allendale Insane Darkness Imperial Stout
  7. Allendale Double IPA (2014)
  8. Allendale Tall Stories Red IPA
  9. Allendale Black IPA End 63
  10. Hexhamshire ESB

The Top Bars / Pubs in Northumberland are –

  1. Boathouse Inn, Wylam – 80
  2. Heart of Northumberland, Hexham – 76
  3. Barrels Ale House, Berwick Upon Tweed – 73
  4. Ship Inn, Low Newton by the Sea – 72

The Top 5 Raters of Beers from Northumberland are –

  1. @allmyvinyl
  2. @Grumbo
  3. @AshtonMcCobb
  4. @imdownthepub
  5. @cgarvieuk

You will require just 17 Northumberland ratings to get into the top 50.

The person who resides in Northumberland with the greatest number of rating is –
@Tom303 who we unfortunately haven’t seen since April 2018.

Unfortunately I cannot find anyone in the county who is still rating beers with us.


James has been putting in a lot of effort to keep that spot. Well done James


I started my Northumberland rating journey in 2013 with a trip to Newcastle, and then holidayed in Amble (home to the Brewis brewery & taproom and the sadly now closed Credence brewery) every year since. A recent trip to Corbridge for the Tynedale Beer festival with cgarvieuk and Stuu666 brought the last few rates, including a few Rigg & Furrow cans picked up at CentrAle on Newcastle station.

Top rated beers for me are:
Allendale Target Fresh Hop 4.0 - a beer I had on that first Newcastle jaunt, and one that I think of often
Allendale End 101 11 Malt Porter 3.9
Allendale Mosaic 3.9
Bear Claw Oak Soured Wickety 3.9
Bear Claw Yeti 3.9

Allendale make up most of my 221 with 42 rates, followed by relative newcomers Twice Brewed and Rigg & Furrow.

Chasing Everest and Wrytree have eluded me, but I live in hope!


Northumberland, top right on the map of England. I have an old RAF mate who lives just outside Alnwick and have visited him a couple of times, but he’s too ill to drink much, so I’ve never reviewed a place in the county as yet.

My 34 beer rates however get me to equal 18th (with @Rune and @DJMonarch, nice company!) on the leader board. The county sits in 40th place on my English County ratings.


Hexhamshire ESB 4 3.44 8/3/2020
Northumberland Fuggles Gold 3.6 2.96 10/8/2012 11/22/2012
Northumberland George’s Dragon 3.6 2.87 4/24/2014
Allendale Tar Bar’l 3.6 3.42 2/16/2015
North Blyth Pale 3.6 3.06 12/8/2015
Allendale Double IPA (2014) 3.6 3.43 1/15/2016
Holy Island Hotspur 3.6 3.02 7/26/2020

The average score is a lowly 3.09, you can blame three VIP Village beers from Alnwick Brewery for that.

11 breweries sampled, my most rated being the only one closed.

North Blyth (previously Northumberland) 11
Allendale 7
Alnwick 5

We used to get various Northumberland breweries cask ales at a pub in Oakengates (The Crown) on a regular basis, hence my huge score of 34 different ones. They seem to have dried up though. I must ask John (the owner) why that is, otherwise I will be falling down the pecking order on the RateBeer leader board.

My favourite bit of the county is Bamburgh and not just because it sounds like Bamberg, but because of it’s Castle and the Grace Darling Museum.



My two visits to Northumberland in recent years seem to yield mostly Co Durham ale. So a paltry 3 and no Allendale sampled. Only a solitary Rigg and Furrow gets above a passing grade. Nonetheless, it’s a wonderful place to visit especially along the coast. So another trip demanded and this time with the beer antennae extended.


I can’t really claim to have visited Northumberland very much. When I did the Pennine Way in 2013, this of course crosses the county South to North but it was a bit of a strenuous slog really, apart from a day off by Hadrian’s Wall. The other stop was at Rochester where there is very little, I just remember miles of forested plantation. We have stayed at Berwick upon Tweed and done the coastal path, very nice, loved Bamburgh, Lindisfarne and the Farne Islands. That’s about it really. Berwick was okay for pubs but nothing really special.

I am equal 4th on Ratebeer, with Craig, having had 112 beers, it would be a lot more but the breweries keep moving to Tyne & Wear as soon as I get a decent amount. Northumberland is 3rd bottom of my Counties in terms of beer numbers and has a rather low average of 3.15 per beer. I am 2nd in the number of Breweries list with 19 Breweries, more than I thought.

The Breweries I have most beers from are –

  1. Allendale Brewery – 24
  2. North Blyth Brewery – 15
  3. Alnwick Brewery (Harry Hotspur Holdings) – 11

I have only ever given a mark of 4 or over to 1 beer, my best are –

  1. High House Farm Matfen Magic – 4.1
  2. High House Farm Nel’s Best – 3.9
  3. Ship Inn Ship Hop Ale – 3.9
  4. High House Farm Auld Hemp – 3.9
  5. Ship Inn Sandcastles at Dawn – 3.8

The Northumberland Breweries with my highest averages are –

  1. Ship Inn Brewery – 3.6
  2. Rigg & Furrow Farmhouse – 3.333
  3. Cheviot Brewery – 3.3

I have reviewed just 9 places in Northumberland with just 2 worth noting –

  1. Olde Ship Inn, Seahouses – 72
  2. Barrels Ale House, Berwick upon Tweed – 70

A re visit is planned at some point to do the county a little better, I may even attempt the Hadrian’s Wall traverse of the country but up till now the county hasn’t really thrilled unfortunately.


If I’d never tried any Allendale beers, I’d have zero Northumberland rates - but I have, so I’ve got 3, which is pretty average for me for the more provincial counties. It’s fair to say it’s miles away from me now, but even when it was closer (I’ve moved, not it) it still wasn’t somewhere I remember ever being a destination - although I probably went to Lindisfarne before I was five (talk to my mum, and we went bloody everywhere in the country before I was five!). None of the breweries except the aforementioned Allendale, and Alnwick, are familiar to me if I’m honest, and the only trip I’ve made up there recently was an extremely enjoyable (cricket less) cricket tour to Alnwick - we spotted Harry Potter geeks in the castle grounds, played stupid bowls, crazy golf, and visited many pubs, some of which were very nice (a couple were not). Will I see more Northumberland beers in the near future? Doubtful, but you never know …


I had a beer from a brewery called Bear Claw and it was really good, to the tune of I was going to make a trip up there. Seems they’ve disappeared off social media now though. Anyone know if they moved on?

Bear Claw are certainly still going, their Facebook page was updated at the weekend and the website looks current - some interesting looking beers, will have to source some for research purposes :grinning:

1 Like

Ah, cheers for that! Good to hear. Missus bought me the only one I tried from Beer Zoo online. It piqued my interest greatly but then we got locked down and I forgot about it tbh.

1 Like

It’s a while since I checked my stats but it’s quite likely that my most rated brewery from the county is Northumberland like BlackHaddock. Much as in Shropshire, you could find Northumberland beers easily enough in Cheshire and Greater Manchester too, they would often brew a series of beers, two of which I remember well were the “Legends of the Tyne” and “Legends of the Wear” featuring football players from Newcastle and Sunderland. I’m sure there were/are as many local heroes in the red and white as the black and white but I’m sure I had twice as many of the former than the latter!
Haddock, Is the John from the Crown at Oakengates you refer to John Ellis? If so then that’s a sterling service he’s put in as he was landlord there in the early and mid 2000s when I was just starting out ticking beers, always very enthusiastic and the festivals with the cellar runs were most enjoyable :slight_smile:
On the subjects of ticking and Northumberland, I really must try to get to the Ship at Low Newton if they’re still brewing!


Have 43 rates from Northumberland. My highest rated at 3.9 are
Grounding Angels Lazy Rider V2 and Rigg & Furrow Parliament

Darlington isn’t too far from Northumberland (about 1.5 hrs drive), and I’ve rated 13 Northumberland Breweries which puts me in 9th position in the top 10. The most I’ve rated is Allendale Brewery with 11 ratings.

There are 2 cideries listed for Northumberland, and also 2 meaderies - the most rated being Lindisfarne Meadery with 10 entries - which isn’t too difficult as the other meadery and the 2 cideries only have 1 rater!

The top 5 raters for Northumberland cideries and ciders are:

NorthumberlandCider Ratings

\ 30x30 danlo 2


\ 30x30 danlo 2

Yeap, I’m the only cider/cidery rater for the county (although I think @Grumbo may have a Willowtree cider in his cellar) - which also contributes to me being the only person to have rated a cider in each English county!



Yes @DJMonarch , John Ellis is still the man. I may well have served you once or twice, as I used to help out at his festivals pulling pints and handing out the cellar run vouchers (minute pieces of paper) back in the day!


Like many Ratebeerians, my stats aren’t all that impressive for Northumberland. At 18 rates, it’s the joint second-lowest county with Worcestershire, although that gets me to 43 on the leaderboard. The number would be lower still if the now-closed Leicester pub Broood hadn’t put on a special festival weekend a few years back with beers from Northumberland & County Durham. Of course, they’d be better if not for a couple of breweries moving out to Tyne & Wear (Wylam comes to mind).

I haven’t recorded any beers that knocked my socks off, although there are a handful at a respectable 3.6:

Surprisingly I’ve had beers from 8 breweries (7 still active), although that means that there aren’t many beers per brewery. I’ve had 5 from Allendale and 4 from Rigg & Furrow but the rest are 1s and 2s.

I’ve only got three places, and those were all in one day in 2015 in a quick across-the-border jaunt to Haltwistle. There was a decent pub, a club and a shop which sold a decent range of bottled beers from Northumberland. While I am sure there’s better in the county to be had, it was nice to get a few rates in the county itself.


Great to hear that John is still at the Crown :slight_smile: I’m sure our paths will have crossed at pubs and festivals across the midlands and north west. Ah yes indeed the bingo ticket-esque paper vouchers and the rather long festival bar in the back or side room with a fine array of beer engines, great times!

1 Like

31 Hand-pulls and Cellar runs, crazy days. The old tickers with their sample bottles and shopping trollies. John still tries to hold two festivals a year, but it’s not nearly as busy, he doesn’t put on so many at a time now either. I always attend as it’s only a 20 minute bus ride away!


Working that festival bar would certainly have kept you busy! Ahhh bottling and shopping trollies tartan or otherwise… I never indulged in those practices but may well have done if I had been an established ticker at that point. I definitely have to thank Mick and co for the passion and dedication they’ve shown as that really inspired me and made me curious to dig deeper into the world of beer :slight_smile: It would be lovely to get to one of John’s festivals for old times’ sake, the Market Street spin being ideal for the train so I will give you a shout here if I’m travelling down from Cheshire.

Please do mate: Oakengates is like a Beer Festival every day: Three Good Beer Guide pubs all within ten yards of each other, usually over 20 cask ales between the three, plus keg, bottles and cans to beef up the selection.

Yes, Mick The Tick and his mates, they started all this chasing beer malarkey in the UK.


1 Like

I need to get to Oakengates again as well…

An Oakengates return visit sounds like a plan! When do John’s festivals normally happen mate? :slight_smile: