New micro brewery launches at restored historic Northumberland pub

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A new micro brewery has been launched at one of Northumberland’s oldest pubs, inspired by the region’s rich Viking history.

The Delaval Arms at Old Hartley, near Whitley Bay, can trace its roots to the 1700s and has recently reopened following a makeover by new owners, the Bartlett family.

The pub, which is aiming to attract local people as well as tourists from across the UK, is also serving its own beer, after becoming the base for the King Ælle Brew Co, named after Ælle, King of Northumbria during the middle of the ninth century.

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According to Norse sagas Ælle captured the legendary Viking leader Ragnar Lodbrok and put him to death in a pit of snakes – history which has been played out on the small screen through the hit series Vikings.

In revenge, the Vikings, led by Ragnar’s sons, invaded Northumbria in 866 and killed King Ælle.

Now drinkers at the pub, which overlooks the coast on which the Vikings landed, can sample craft beers inspired by the former king’s turbulent reign.

Beers include Ragnar’s Revenge, an Anglo-American pale ale, Rocky Island IPA, Amber Aelle, Charlie’s Garden and Hartley Sloop, an Indian Session Ale.

The Delaval Arms in Old Hartley, near Whitley Bay (Image: Delaval Arms)

The King Ælle Brew Co was formed during lockdown under brewer in residence Chris Lee, who previously honed his skills at North East breweries Wylam and Almasty, using the pub’s temporary closure to perfect the range.

The brews are served on the pub’s terrace and in its on-site tap room and pub, named Captain Dawson’s Cabin after one of the pub’s former landlords.

Mr Lee said: “When you’re in this pub you get a real sense of history all around, and because we are pretty much on the edge of the cliffs it doesn’t take much imagination to picture Viking hordes screaming onto the beach below.

“However, like us, our Scandinavian neighbours appreciate a good ale and I like to think they’d approve of our range, which encompasses contemporary, hop forward beers along with subtle traditional ales from locally sourced malts.

“We’re also hoping to develop seasonal one-off styles and, by using modern and traditional brewing techniques and incorporating fruits, herbs and purées alongside the newest hops, we are confident there should be an ale to suit every palate.”

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Coreena FordChronicle and Journal business writer