Finding a pub to have a quiet drink in Durham City on a Saturday afternoon can be a bit tricky.
In the thick of the action you have the Market Tavern and The Shakespeare, both good places, but bustling with locals and visitors.
On North Road, towards the train station, you’ll find chain bars Wetherspoons and Yates’s, again normally packed and noisy.
But close by, just up a bank on Crossgate, are perhaps two of my favourite pubs in the city: The Angel and Ye Old Elm Tree (the Dun Cow is also on the list).
Now the Angel, a rock bar, is no place for a quiet pint but, over the road, the Elm Tree is. It’s a traditional pub, serving decent food and real ales.
There were five handpulls on and four of them were local – High House Farm’s Nels Best, Castle Eden Ale, Black Paw’s, Paw’s Gold and Maxim’s Swedish Blonde.
There was also Hobgoblin on, which although not my cup of tea, seems to be a favourite almost everywhere.
Regulars like John Smith’s, Fosters, and Strongbow were also available, as well as German lager Bitburger and the American Shipyard Ale.
Service was friendly and straightforward, with the option of starting a tab – an unusual touch but one that got me, without any cash, out of a tight spot.
The ales were all about the £3 mark and were extremely well kept.
First, I had a Swedish Blonde, a favourite of mine. Pale gold, with a citrus taste, Swedish Blonde is almost lager-like in appearance.
It was refreshing and crisp, just how it should be.
Sticking with the light beers, I had a Paw’s Gold next.
It is similar in appearance to the Maxim offering but has a more complex taste, with cereal or hay in the mix.
It wasn’t for me – it’s either blonde and crisp or dark and robust for me.
Nonetheless, it’s great to have such a comprehensive choice to pick your way through.