Saturday 20th October 2012
This pub is one of three owned by a small pub chain called The Village Brewer. They have their own range of beers brewed by Nick Stafford's Hambleton Ales. Their other two pubs are Blind Jack's in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire and The Crown Inn at Manfield, North Yorkshire, about five miles from Darlington. The latter pub has been CAMRA Darlington Pub of the Year in 2005, 2007 and 2010 and even got as far as being CAMRA Yorkshire Pub of the Year in 2005. It has got to be pretty good and I must visit when I'm next in the area.
However the subject of this article is no shrinking violet either as Number Twenty 2 has been CAMRA Darlington Pub of the Year in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2002 and 2008. It has also gone forward to be CAMRA North East Pub of the Year in 1997, 1998 and 1999. All of this is presented to emphasise what a good pub it is and to show how, with good management, a pub can continue to be on top of its game for a long time.
The name comes simply from its address. It seems that it has only been a pub since the mid 1990s and from the outside it is rather unprepossessing, looking a bit like an up-market patisserie.
This all changes once you are over the threshold, as it becomes more like a conventional pub, yet not totally. At the front, near to the windows is a nice area with a traditional feel. Then there is the bar, beyond which the pub narrows before opening out into a dining area called "The Canteen". It is worth noting that food is only served at lunchtimes between Monday and Saturday.
As alluded to earlier, there are four house beers and three were available on the occasion of this visit. I was accompanied by fellow drinker Vaughan and we had two of these first. I have to say they were rather malty and not bitter enough for our tastes, but I know beers like this are very popular. However the beer selection is extremely good so we soon had something more to our particular liking.
The Village Brewers beers available were White Boar Bitter (3.8%), Bull Premium Bitter (4.2%) and Old Raby Ale (4.8%). The fourth, which was not on, is Zetland Best Bitter (4.2%). The remainder of the selection were Dark Star (Partridge Green, West Sussex) Expresso (4.2%), a beer made with coffee; Otley (Pontypridd, South Wales) O-Garden (4.8%), a wheat beer; Brains (Cardiff) Reverend James (4.5%); Thwaites (Blackburn, Lancs) Crafty Devil (4.3%) and also their Black Mild (3.5%); Brakspear's (Witney, Oxon) Oxford Gold (4.0%); Black Sheep (Masham, North Yorks) Bitter (3.8%); Hopback (Downton, Wilts) GFB (3.5%) and Burton Bridge Classic Burton Ale (4.8%).
It is just a couple of minutes walk from the town centre and its other pub attractions. I would say it is a "must visit" if you are in the area.
Number Twenty 2, 22, Coniscliffe Road, Darlington DL3 7RG
Open: Monday 12.00-21.00; Tuesday to Saturday 12.00-23.00. Sunday: Closed.
The pub is about fifteen minutes walk from Darlington Bank Top Railway Station with connections throughout the country. It is about ten minutes to the Bus Station, and many bus routes pass through the town centre.