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The Woodman Inn, Durham

I first visited the Woodman in 2007 when it was excellent. I read on BITE of its decline but I can confidently report that on my next trip to Durham, during the weekend of the 9-12 August this year, it was a very nice place to be in; in fact it was our favourite pub of the nine we sampled.

Of the two ales that were on offer, the Jennings Cumberland was in excellent nick; where as the Butcombe Bitter suffered from being dragged through a swan-neck (in my humble opinion). A couple of days later the Butcombe was replaced by Greene King IPA but the Cumberland was so good that we didn't even try the IPA.

This is a good "all-rounders" pub, not just a real-ale pub, and its true that if you want a quiet local this might not be for you with the TV screens, jukebox and pool table. But you can safely take non-real ale drinking friends and family there safe in the knowledge that there will be something on offer that they will enjoy.

The £3.10 we paid for the Cumberland was also the cheapest pint we found in Durham, although our search was not exhaustive.

Give it a go, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

16 Aug 2013 11:46

The Victoria Hotel, Durham

I was in the Victoria over the weekend of The Ashes (9-12 Aug). The beer selection was all from north-east breweries and both the Big Lamp Bitter and the Wylam Gold Tankard were in tip-top condition. The staff were very friendly, the locals also welcoming. It's a small but clean and smart pub that is well worth the walk up the hill to get to.

We left to sample other pubs in Durham and each one we went to increased the realisation that we made a big mistake when we walked out off The Victoria.

16 Aug 2013 11:36

The Bree Louise, Euston

The Bree Louise used to be my favourite London pub. The selection of beers was extensive, all exceptionally well kept and served by a wide number of cheery and enthusiastic staff. It wasn't the most glamorous of pubs but it was warm and cosy, plus you could always reserve a table if you were bringing a few people with you.

I was in there last night (15th August) and for the third time in a row over about 6 months I have the same complaints: beer quality and staff interaction.

The pub appears to have had a bit of a refurb as it isn't as dingy as it has been, and it didn't smell as horrible as it has done in the past 12 months. The beer selection is still exceptional and one continuing and welcome problem is how to choose which beer to drink.

But the staff are mostly surly and I often feel I'm intruding when I approach the bar. There were two clear exceptions last night but that still left three visits to the bar when I felt I should apologise for interrupting their chat.

The quality of the beer is falling rather too steadily. The cask beer is always flat and that shouldn't be the case unless its been poorly kept (eg over-venting or warm temperature). On the contrary, the handpumps are often over-gassy causing countless top-ups before getting anywhere near the full glass (possibly insufficient venting?).

Last night, one beer was most definitely off with a cloudy appearance, vinegary smell and sour taste, yet I was told by two members of staff that it was perfectly drinkable. It wasn't.

I like the 50p off for CAMRA members but I would happily pay 50p MORE for a pint that was in tip-top condition as I prefer value for money to cheap prices.

I've given the Bree Louise two more chances when I didn't want to go back there but I'm not going to return again. It simply isn't worth risking an unenjoyable drinking experience anymore.

16 Aug 2013 11:23

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PenfoldThePint has been registered on this site since 16th August 2013