Wednesday 10th August 2016
Middlesbrough is not a place one would immediately associate with the micropub revolution. However, if one analysed the state of the town’s hostelries just three years ago and compared that with thirty years earlier, you would have noticed a massive drop in the number of traditional pubs, and it has since got worse. Yes, I know this has happened everywhere but here the decline is truly catastrophic.
To illustrate this point I noticed the following when travelling around the town and its suburbs. I saw just two traditional pubs, one in the centre and another on a road out of town. In addition there was the ubiquitous presence of a Wetherspoons, but that was all. In contrast nearly every town centre street had many large nightclubs and even more modern theme bars in between the clubs.
The real ale drinkers of Middlesbrough must have felt very disenfranchised by all this. I believe that this is the reason that the new-wave pubs of the town have done so well because they fill a void that is missed by the large pub-owning companies.
Sherlocks is located just thirty metres from the doors of two other pubs of the same genre. The name is a play on words because it is located in Baker Street, not at 221B but at number 7.
Like all the other small commercial premises in this street it seems to have been a narrow terraced house at one time. It was founded by Shaun Crake, who has several pubs, and new partner Robert Robinson.
The pub opened its doors for the first time at 18.00 on the 12th June 2014 and was immediately popular.
I walked in the front door around 11.30 and after settling down with my pint I looked around and discovered the Middlesbrough town centre version of a micropub is considerably different from the model elsewhere. For a start I was having a beer before midday as all three of the Baker Street pubs open at 11.00.
Other deviations from the classic mould was that they offer a full range of spirits along with wine which is more normal.
Another difference were the two television screens. As with all of these things the owners know why they are there. However if it had been showing the Olympics, which were on at that time, I could have forgiven it. But I was not taken at all by the trashy American sit-com that was on the screen.
Yet only that last part of my comments is a criticism, as I quite liked the pub.
This is small and once entering I settled close to the door on the left side where there is a shelf with three high chairs in front. This followed on the left by an upturned barrel, after which the bar is to be found. Its counter is made of lovely carved wood that was apparently reclaimed from Wales. It looks as if was previously church furniture.
The toilet is at the back of the room and looking back on the right side I noticed there was a nice cast iron stove. Working my eye up the room towards the door I saw two small round tables with chairs, followed by a square wooden table with two cushioned bench-type seats facing it.
Finally, near the front window there are tall and low round tables with seating. On this side there is some nice wood panelling that was rescued from a school in South Shields on Tyneside.
The usual cask beer selection here is three ever changing ales. On this visit there were two from the Rat Brewery which is located at the Rat & Ratchet pub in Huddersfield and is owned by the Ossett Brewery.
They were Rat Attack Dry Hopped Bitter (3.8%) and Rat Green Tea IPA (4.4%). The third beer was Maxim Brewery (Houghton le Spring, Co Durham) Maximus (6.0%).
The cider selection came from Westons (Much Marcle, Herefordshire) and was from their new fruit-flavoured range with Flat Tyre (Rhubarb) (4.0%); Old Banger (Raspberry) (4.0%) and Hand Brake (Damson) (4.0%). As well as the wine and spirit range there were a lot of Belgian bottles in the fridge. They have a quiz night every second Thursday evening.
This pub is well worth visiting, especially if you are on the compact Baker Street Crawl.
Sherlocks, 7 Baker Street, Middlesbrough, TS1 2LF. Tel: 07789 227364
Hours: Monday-Saturday 11.00-23.00; Sunday 12.00-23.00
The pub is close to many bus stops and is about ten minutes from the bus station.
From the railway station the best way is to walk. Leave the station by the main exit. Turn left and go down the steps. Turn right at the bottom. Cross over the dual-carriageway road. Continue in the same direction. Cross over Corporation Street and keep on. The Town Hall is on your left. Then you will come across Grange Road on the right with a glimpse of the Infant Hercules micropub. Ignore it (for now) and keep going. The second of two more streets on the right is Baker Street. The three micropubs are near the other end.
Middlesbrough is served by many trains. From the south the most useful is the hourly Trans Pennine Express service from Manchester, Leeds, York and many other places on the way. There is a Northern rail service from Darlington and another from Newcastle via Sunderland.