Pubpaper 819 – Around the UK in 4 pubs

Posted: 7th August 2015 by santobugtio in Pub Paper, Writing

The previous weekend saw a few days away visiting the parents in Leicester and a night in Harrogate for my daughters birthday.  One of the best bits about going away is going back to pubs you haven’t visited in a few years and discovering new venues.  Starting with the latter trip to Harrogate, I visited the Harrogate Tap at the Railway Station.  This bar is operated by the same people who run the Leeds, Sheffield and Euston Tap venues.  The premise is the same as the Sheffield Tap, a good mix of cask, keg and craft beer in period surroundings.  The bar had good range of 20ish beers, equally split between cask and keg.  Prices range from £3 for a regular session ale up to £6.20 for the more expensive craft keg.  Trying a beer from each side of the fence, firstly on the keg side, Magic Rock Salty Kiss (5%), a sour, naturally slightly salty beer, brewed in the Gooseberry Gose style from Germany.  I’ve had this beer before and like it although I have to admit it is an acquired taste.  The barman warned me it was £5 per pint post ordering, but if you have been to the Sheffield Tap, you’ll know that is where a lot of the their keg beers start at.  On the cask side I had Bristol Brewery Milk Stout (4.5%), another repeat beer for me and one I really enjoy.  A smooth creamy affair, it is a cracking stout, good body and not feeling heavy in the mouth, with a nice lingering aftertaste.

Now back to the earlier trip, a couple of days in Leicester saw quite a few pubs visited, some old favourites, some new.  When I was in my student days, I used to drink a lot a pub called the Rutland and Derby, an Everards joint then (the major brewer in Leicester), now independent and selling a range of craft keg and draught beer including some from the aforementioned Everards.  A couple of beers partaken, it is a cracking place for a beer, well laid out and decorated, good beer garden, a decent menu if you want food and a good range of 10-15 beers split between cask and keg.  I tried one from each side, both well kept and served.  I also got to visit my third Brewdog pub, a big fan of the Leeds Corn Exchange bar, the Manchester one not being as good for choice for non Brewdog drinkers or cider choice on my visit.   The Leicester branch is the best so far, nice and open, with a good range of Brewdog and non Brewdog keg.  The customer service was good and I converted my dad to a couple of their beers, something I had doubts I would.  The decor is “industrial cinema inspired” and seating is spread over 2 floors.  A cask ale person normally, he liked the Vagabond Pale Ale, a 4.5% beer and Dead Pony Ale at 3.8%, coming in at about £4 per pint it is not cheap, but a good pint nevertheless.  I partook of the Five A.M Red Ale (5%), and a ? Schooner of Jack Hammer (7.2%), both very nice beers.  Brewdog might not be to everyones taste, however I am a fan of theirs and their expansion across the country is only good news for me.  Their bars are the craft equivalent of a Wetherspoons, you know exactly what you will get beer wise wherever you go, even if the food offerings may differ at Brewdog.  They are after all the big player in their sector, very much like the ubiquitous pub chain.

Lastly this week, closer to home.  I’m a big fan of the Grove pub in Huddersfield, great range of beers, both cask and keg and had the chance to pop over a few weeks ago.  The pub has had an external makeover with new branding with the new leisure centre opening next door.  The bar has 19 cask lines and 17 keg lines, impressive by any stretch, possibly beating the Sheffield Tap.   The range of whisky and whiskey is impressive as well, with dozens of aged examples behind the bar.   The day in question was a keg day for me, with Magic Rock Magic Eight Ball being my first pint, the 7% beer is not cheap at £5.50 a pint and initial appearances are of a heavy beer, my wife comparing it to a pint of mud, but the Black IPA is light, full of flavour, with tons of hops once in the mouth.   The second beer was Brewdog Dead Pony Ale, discussed previously, both beers both kept and served well.