Review: The Maltings, Claypath Lane, South Shields

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PUBS such as The Maltings are an abomination of the modern drinking scene.

 At one time a man could drink well-chilled pints of mass-produced lager and think himself well-quenched.

 Now, thanks to The Maltings, the discerning drinker has come to expect better – and must cope with crushing disappointment when visiting other establishments.

 We live in an age of uniformity, banality and humdrum. The Maltings has no place here.

 The pub, formerly The Chameleon, was bought by the Jarrow Brewery in 2004 and converted into a self-styled “drinkers emporium”.

 A rolling portfolio of guest ales and real ciders join the company’s own brands on the myriad of hand-pulls dotted about the bar.

 If I’ve lost you in a sea of images of fairisle jumpers, folk music and Camra membership forms, please come back (not that that category of customer would be disappointed at The Maltings).

 The pub also offers more “designer” beers of the Leffe and Erdinger ilk, not that I paid too much attention.

 There are also easy-drinking fruit beers and a variety of other beverages if you have no desire to get stuck in to the hoppy, malty goodness offered by the brewery’s produce and its contemporaries.

 My personal favourites sampled in the evening included Origin and Venerable Bede, which seemed to be awash with flavour – but not with chemicals.

 The first thing that greets you when you enter The Maltings, which was apparently originally a Co-op dairy, is a set of double doors leading into the brewery, where all of the company’s products are made.

 An intriguing staircase leads up to the wood-panelled pub, dimly lit and dotted with cosy seating areas.

 The walls are decked with period pictures and other paraphernalia not genuinely in keeping with the building’s past, but the decor pulls off the “real old pub” feel quite well.

 There is still that major drawback, though. Visiting The Maltings will leave you bitterly disappointed the next time you’re served up with a pint of over-priced, under-flavoured mainstream lager.