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Bangers and match.

Byline: ALASTAIR GILMOUR

THE pie and pint is an unbeatable double-act. Only cheese comes close, but another link is about to test their culinary comradeship.

Over the years we've teamed horse meat with French bottle-conditioned beer and crocodile pie with Budweiser Budvar. We've munched a Crunchie while sipping Brakspear Oxford Gold and paired an asparagus, watercress and tomato risotto with Grolsch Weizen, then wallowed in its full-bodied orange kick and coriander bite.

Next week, however, a Gosforth pub is going decidedly continental by combining beer and sausages. But no ordinary sausage will do - the Brandling Villa Sausage & Beer Festival is an opportunity to sample the best in local ales and some innovative sausage styles dreamt up by Steve Pearce, the award-winning butcher at Stewart & Co Fine Food in Jesmond, Newcastle.

Sausages and beer were made for each other. Delicately-flavoured sausages need a gentle golden lager or a wheat beer to accompany them.

In Belgium, black pudding is invariably served with Gueuze - often called "the Champagne of Brussels" - which is an assemblage of young and old beers that provokes a secondary fermentation of the whole.

Italian sausage needs something with a touch of spice and some observers insist smoked sausages require smoked beers for each to perform at their best.

At the festival we'd be tempted to team up Harviestoun Schiehallion Cask Lager with Stewart & Co Ginger and Spring Onion sausage, while Durham Evensong would simply croon alongside Duck and Orange.

Jarrow McConnell's Stout with McConnell's Stout sausage may be an obvious pairing - as is Theakston's Old Peculier sausage with Theakston's Old Peculier - but festival-goers should have beery fun with Chainbridge Honey and Lemon sausage and Northumbrian Beef and Leffe Brune sausage, as well as finding a meaty match for Tyneside Brown Ale from Hadrian & Border Brewery and Wylam Dognobbler, an ale we're assured is named after a fishing fly.

"We'll also have Beef and Guinness sausage and another one made using the new chilli beer from Allendale Brewery," says Brandling Villa landlord Dave Carr. "We'll hopefully have 20 beers available with six on at any one time and quite a few ciders, plus 16 different sausage styles.

"We've got a very good relationship with Stewart & Co and we already use the meat from their butchery in our beefburgers."

The Brandling Villa was built in 1900 for Newcastle brewers WB Reid & Co. A two-storey pub previously occupied the site but the new Villa was built as a hotel as well as a pub. The sandstone exterior is described by Gosforth-based author Lynn Pearson in The Northumbrian Pub: An Architectural History as "reminiscent of a small-scale baroque town hall, with its balcony and decorative finials and gablets". The original interior was divided between hotel and pub usage, the pub having a large public bar and a "bottle and jug" - basically, an off-license.

These days it has been knocked through into one huge room with clearly defined seating areas, such as a comfy settee corner to complement the more traditional tables and chairs. Five real ales, one cider and a healthy-looking wine rack are a welcoming sight, as is a well-thought-out lunch menu.

There's a shelf laden with board games, including Scrabble, a giant Jenga set and Twister, which could be even more fun come 10pm on a Saturday. There's also a British Isles jigsaw similar to one we once had that advised "seven years" on the box. It left us feeling ever so smug because we'd taken only six months to complete it.

Dave Carr took over the lease last September and, although it's his first pub as licensee, he is using his previous experience from working in the Head of Steam and Free Trade Inn in Newcastle and the Market Tavern in Durham to turn the ship around following its spell as a bistro.

The Brandling Villa takes its name from the family that played a leading role in Newcastle life for 450 years, acting as mayors, businessmen, members of Parliament, landowners and mine owners.

Sir John Brandling, originally from London, settled in Newcastle after marrying Margaret Clavering, of Callalay Castle, in Northumberland and served as sheriff in 1505 before becoming lord mayor a few times.

The name also lives on in Gosforth's Brandling Park and Brandling Arms Hotel and Brandling Village in Jesmond. And it was the disastrous explosion at the Brandling-owned Felling Colliery in Gateshead in 1812 that led to the invention of the miner's safety lamp.

Most of the Brandling family were fine, upstanding citizens, while some were sharp businessmen or worse - one 16th Century Brandling was excommunicated after being charged with adultery, assault and other offences. He was fined pounds 3,000 plus costs and sentenced to prison. But, as ever, it's not what you know - somehow he neither paid the fine and nor served his time. By 1852 the family was bankrupt.

Now the Brandlings have been elevated to a Sausage & Beer Festival, where there's also an impressive live music line-up with appearances by the likes of Tony Bengtsson and singer/songwriter Simma, who also writes and performs poetry in pubs about singing in pubs. Lines such as "Your mineral water sparkled, sadly not your conversation" live long in the memory.

But beer and sausage will be the real stars and both come with fine pedigrees. Stewart & Co butcher Steve Pearce - one-time junior at Newcastle United under manager Arthur Cox - is the proud recipient of two trophies which he recently brought to the North East from a competition in Andover, Hampshire.

He won first prize for his version of plain pork sausage, and another in the speciality category where his blend of pork, leek and tomato also highly impressed, so his concoctions of Mordue Workie Ticket, Pork and Old Rosie Cider and spicy Merguez should be an unqualified success.

Full marks to Dave Carr for his clever linkage, but what's the maximum Scrabble score for "sausage"? The Brandling Villa Sausage & Beer Festival runs from Thursday, January 14, until Sunday, January 17, at Haddricks Mill Road, South Gosforth, Newcastle, NE3 1QL. Tel: 0191 284 0490 for details.

alastair.gilmour@hotmail.com

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TASTY TREATS The Brandling Villa in South Gosforth, Newcastle, will host their first Sausage and Beer Festival, starting on Thursday, January 14.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 8, 2010
Words:1038
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