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Newcastle's Free Trade pub refurbishment means more of what you love

The big brewery t-bars have been cleared away - to be replaced with even more awesomeness

For fans of one of Newcastle’s best pubs, things just got even better.

The much-loved Free Trade Inn, perched overlooking the Tyne with its fabulous views and great beer to match, has just undergone a refurb, and is now running two big events to test out its new look.

If you’re reading the words “Free Trade” and “refurb” with a look of open-mouthed fear – plagued by visions of mock-distressed woodwork, glass tables, piped music in the toilets and Farrow and Ball pastel colours on the walls – then don’t worry.

“We’ve been calling it a refurb, though fans of the pub’s ‘lived in’ look shouldn’t worry,” says Mick Potts, landlord of the Free Trade, “What’s actually happened is we’ve replaced all of the equipment in the cellar & all of the keg fonts on the bar.” So it’s more of a ‘wet’ refurb, if that doesn’t sound too odd, with the focus being on altering the beer-offering rather than interior decorating; the famous graffiti-covered walls in the gents is safe. The old t-bars have been replaced with 10 individual keg fonts.

Mick says: “With the new work comes the end of our ties to ‘big brewing’, meaning we are now free to fill the bar as we please. We hope to build on the success independent breweries such as Allendale and Hawkshead have already had in the bar with their respective lagers being permanent fixtures for the past two years.” There will be a few more permanent independent products added to the lineup, and the remaining four or five lines will be used for rotating guest beers.

As well as completely revamping the keg dispense side of things, there is also now an extra ‘suspended’ cask rack – which will undoubtedly be put to good use in the summer not only for the Free Trade’s events and festivals but also to provide more space for cask beer to be settled for the necessary length of time.

The first real test of the new set up has already begun, with the second London Brewery Weekend which started on Thursday, showcasing some of the great new stuff coming out of the capital. There are more than 30 cask and keg beers to serve over the weekend with 20 available at any one time. Highlights include rarely seen breweries such as Alpha State and Anspach & Hobday, along with some of the most highly regarded breweries in the country such as Redchurch, Beavertown, Camden and even a bar dedicated solely to the world renowned Kernel Brewery.

“For those not into beer we’ve also got a dedicated London Gin bar featuring a selection of gins covering several different styles and a range of serving suggestions to bring the best out of each,” says Mick. Food for the weekend will be provided by Longhorns BBQ, and London Roasters will be on hand to provide the natural synergy between beer and coffee.

The London festival is quickly followed on Wednesday by the Newcastle leg of the Cloudwater Brew Co launch tour – a new brewery based in Manchester.

“The excitement and anticipation which has built around their imminent beers is incredible and we’re extremely lucky to be part of their tour which also stops at the Hanging Bat, Port Street Beer House, & Brewdog Shepherds Bush.”

The Cloudwater team will be at the Free Trade from 7pm on Wednesday to chat about their launch, with their first offerings on the bar – seven beers ranging from pale ale to imperial stout, with food on hand from Scream for Pizza and their ex-French army ambulance pizza van.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
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