The Wy­lam Tap, New­cas­tle upon Tyne

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Eating & Drinking - Alas­tair Gil­mour

A spaniel is chas­ing a moorhen on the lake. It must re­alise that when it comes to doggy pad­dle ver­sus webbed feet and wings, there’s only one win­ner. In May 2016, Wy­lam Brew­ery moved its Northum­ber­land-based pro­duc­tion to Ex­hi­bi­tion Park and opened a Tap for sam­pling what’s brewed else­where in­side the sole sur­viv­ing struc­ture from the North East Coast Ex­hi­bi­tion of 1929. Wy­lam beers range from tra­di­tional cask, such as Gold Tankard (4.0% abv), a clean-cut, hop-in­flu­enced ale with a hint of cit­rus, to the more ex­per­i­men­tal craft keg. Ve­gan-friendly Club of Slaugh­ters (8.8% abv) is a stout through which drift flavours of black car­damom, co­coa, es­presso and port wine. Jake­head IPA (6.3% abv) waits in the wings with its com­plex hoppy bit­ter­sweet­ness, to which I in­vari­ably suc­cumb. Four­teen keg taps jut from the tiled wall be­hind the march of hand­pulls on the bar, 10 of them Wy­lam reared, with the re­main­der given over to “our friends and fam­ily from the brew­ing com­mu­nity”. The Tap’s menu is apt to change daily. Ap­par­ently the chef has been for­ag­ing this morn­ing, so we’ll test the mush­rooms he’s gath­ered to com­ple­ment roast cele­riac, hazelnuts and blue cheese – al­though beer-bat­tered Lind­is­farne oys­ters are a sweet temp­ta­tion af­ter a walk in the park. By­pass­ing chunky leather up­hol­stery for my win­dow seat, I pick up a se­lec­tion of pa­per­backs from one of sev­eral neat stacks. Madame Bo­vary is a bit bleak for a sunny lunchtime; War and Peace a touch long. Danc­ing Lessons for the Ad­vanced in Age – aye, go on then. A peace­ful ter­race of­fers views of Town Moor in one di­rec­tion, and the univer­sity’s stately neo-Gothic courts in the other. The pas­toral lo­ca­tion has made na­ture ex­perts of the staff: “We’ve got close to all the wildlife now,” says one. “We can tell you all the mi­gra­tion and mat­ing pat­terns.” The springer has shaken it­self off and is off on the trail of some­thing else. I take it as a sign from na­ture and or­der a malty, ruby­hued Red Kite (4.5% abv).

Palace of Arts, Ex­hi­bi­tion Park, New­cas­tle NE2 4PZ 0191 650 0651; wylam­brew­ (open Thur-Sun)

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