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Steaming! Northern pubs show how to pack the punters in with global craft beers

Added: Tuesday, January 15th 2013

The Head Of Steam group of pubs is known to lead the way when it comes to looking for what's next in the pub trade. Well, it's official - the next big thing is imported beers and we're also going can crazy. Most of the company's pubs now sell a huge range of beers imported from every corner of the world - none more so than Tilleys Bar on Westgate Road, Newcastle, which has installed a bank of bottle chillers into its back bar fitting.

How rare can a beer be? Well, not much rarer than Alaskan Smoked Porter from the Alaskan Brewing Co. of Juneau, Alaska (pictured) with manager Graham Frost.

"We were a bit concerned about whether we were stocking beers that our customers simply would not want to buy because of the price," say Graham. "The Alaskan Smoked Porter - admittedly very strong and in a very big bottle - was put on sale at £17.50 and we held our breath but the bottles flew off the shelf and now we are trying to get some more. Hen's teeth don't come much rarer!" 

Meanwhile, going can crazy has had a big impact on the trade of the basement bar of The Head Of Steam in Neville Street, Newcastle. "We have live bands and DJs virtually every night in the basement bar," says Chris O'Connor, assistant manager of The Head Of Steam. "Selling drinks in cans there means less problems collecting dirty glasses and our customers think it's cool, very retro, to drink out of cans - which you can do while you are dancing. So we now have a large range of canned beers from around the world and they are going like a bomb" he said.

Meanwhile, Julian Ive, Manager of the Cluny and next-door Cluny 2 in Ouseburn, Newcastle, is about to introduce a trolley service into the venue of Cluny 2 to serve customers cans at events without them having to go two flights up to the bar. "We can't wait to get the service started next week," says Julian. "It's going to make it easier for customers to get better service from us, without them missing any of the show they have come to see".

There is also a trend toward tastings of quality products. The Head Of Steam in Durham has had several tasting nights, while the Central in Gateshead is about to have a malt whisky tasting night. "Only 25 tickets were available and they sold out almost immediately," says Gavin Sinclair, manager of the Central.

And watch out for something really special coming from Ireland for St Patrick's Day - again - this year...

For more information about what's going on in The Head Of Steam pubs, contact Daisy Turnell on 0191 2212659, of check out the web site and Facebook.

Smoked Proter