Last Orders in Hartlepool

The brewery in Hartlepool is Camerons: The Lion Brewery. Founded in 1865, things looked bleak between the Seventies and Nineties when it was bought and sold a total of four times by large brewers.

Thankfully in 2002 the other excellent brewery based in Hartlepool, Castle Eden, bought the Lion Brewery and combined production of its own beers and Cameron's on the one site. There's been some streamlining of brands since, with a few beers sadly lost, however at least it's back in independent hands and the future looks reasonably rosy.

Under the Camerons label three beers are produced all year round in both cask and keg form, of which Strongarm is probably the best known. There's also Banner Bitter and Long Leg solely in cask form.

From the Castle Eden stable Castle Eden Ale and Nimmo's XXXX have been maintained, as has that label's range of four seasonal ales. The Castle Eden Inn, some miles outside Hartlepool, where it all began in 1826, now only stocks one Castle Eden beer on an occasional basis.

Church Street and Church Square (by the Railway Station) have a load of pubs and bars cheek by jowl, with more in the immediate side streets. A couple have been listed below. Probably the very closest pub to the ground is the Millhouse Inn but as it is at the home end there doesn't seem a lot of point trying to squeeze in with myriads of Pools fans waiting to be served.

Club Bars: The Corner Flag Supporters Club on the other side of the stadium, between the away end (Rink End Stand) and the Cameron Brewery Stand, welcomes visiting fans both before and after matches. There is a small charge for entry. Has TV, including Sky Sports. The Victoria Suite near the away turnstiles is for members only.

Causeway: Around a mile virtually due south of the stadium, so fifteen minutes walk. Look for the church - home in on that and you can't miss the pub. Real ales are Banks's Bitter and Original and Camerons Strongarm as the regulars, plus a rotating guest or two. Vicarage Gardens, Stranton.

Gillen Sports Bar: If you are looking for the sports bar style of outlet this is a possibility. Under fifteen minutes walk to the stadium not far up from the Causeway (above) in Park Road.

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The recommended Causeway is arrowed, the Gillen is in Park Road the square above, and the ground and Corner Flag bar, just keep going up York Road, top left, you'll see the floodlights.

This is a very difficult trip so near to Christmas but if anyone still has to make up their mind read all about the ways and means of getting to Hartlepool here: www.southendunited-mad.co.uk/news/loadsngl.asp?cid=EDW4&id=420039

(Many thanks to the hardened drinkers at www.ciderspace.co.uk for all their help with this article.)