There’s plenty happening on the Calderdale pub scene at the moment with another new real ale venue in Hebden Bridge.  Nido, a cafe bar has opening its doors in the last month just up the road from Drink? And the Old Gate.  I’ve not been myself but fellow beer writer Chris Dyson alerted me to the place and I hope to get over there soon to give it a fuller review.  From its Facebook page it looked to offer 4 real ales including those from Dark Star, Great Heck, Siren Craft and Bowness last week.   It seems they’ve brought in a good range of brewers since they opened, offer a good bottled selection as well as a good range of spirits and cocktails.  All good signs that the Calderdale bar and pub scene is growing strong again, something which is good for all pubs.

lah-exteriorHowever this week I leave the area yet again and head over to Harrogate where I had a rather nice weekend away to celebrate my wedding anniversary.    We visited three venues over the duration of Saturday.  First during the day was the Alexandra, part of the Nicholsons chain which is better known in London and the home counties.  In the evening we spent extended stays at the Harrogate Tap and North Bar (sister bar to the Leeds site).  We intended to visit The Little Ale House, but time ran out and hunger diverted us for a late dinner at Wetherspoons (The Winter Gardens), The Little Ale House for the next trip.   

The Alexandra is a food led pub, with a large open layout, one side facing towards the Stray.   Food is fairly standard fare, the ales could be described similarly.   On 6 pumps (of 8) they offered 3 Sharps beers (which are the Molson Coors real ale brand), Leeds Pale Ale, their own Pale Ale plus one other.  Not trusting of Sharps I went for Leeds Pale Ale and their own version of the same over lunch, a perfectly good pint, but nothing you’d go out of your way for.   Which is not something you say about the next place, the Harrogate Taps.  I’ve visited here before back in Aug 2015, so knew a good range of beers was waiting for me.

img_20161022_172137The bar is located on the platform at Harrogate station in the old waiting / refreshments room.   The room itself is as you would expect, finding yourself surrounded by lovely wood work, a stone and tiled floor and plenty of original features.   Onto the beer, this isn’t a problem, with 12 pumps, 10 keg lines and wide range of bottles you aren’t going to beat the bar.  The real ales were from a mix of brewers both known and new to me.  Like the other pubs in the Pinovar chain it also sells a number of beers from their own Tapped Brew.  From the day North Riding Mosaic Pale, Credence Pale, Arbor I Speak for the Trees and Bad Seed Summer Ale all went down very well and were obviously well looked after.    Outside of the beers sampled you found Tiny Rebel, Oakham, Hopcraft and Marble represented with more mainstream tastes catered for by Saltaire and Dark Horse beers.    Looking at the bigger picture, the customer service is great, the staff knowledgeable and atmosphere friendly.   We was about to move on, but after travelling to get away from Calderdale we ended up bumping into my Guitar teacher from Elland and shared one more drink before walking down to the next pub. .

img_20161022_192959North Bar Harrogate is, like many new bars, very stripped back, so much so you can when the plywood on the bar was pressed!.  Located over two floors, the main bar area and  chilled lower ground area greet you as you enter.  The building itself is located a few hundred metres above towns Conference Centre.   The bar offers three beers on pump and about 14 on keg lines plus a good range of bottles.  This mirrors what you’ll find at the sister pub back in Leeds.  Normally I take a photo of the bar as an aid memoir, but forgot here so apologies for lack of detail.  But like Harrogate Tap,  a number of kegs turned over to their own brewing operation, this time North Brewing Co.  I had three beers here, a couple of keg beers and a real ale.  All of them hit the spot and the cellar work was spot on given their condition.   The pub also offers a simple menu of good local food and quality rum among other similar spirits to keep my wife happy.   Again the staff are really friendly and know their beer.   The atmosphere is nice and chilled and all of the above is all you can ask for, over and above good beer.

Wetherspoons was Wetherspoons, that’s all that needs to be said.  Next article I’ll probably be out of town still, this time in Preston.  So more from my travels in 7 days time.