Genteel Harrogate is getting a name for itself as a destination for real ale and craft beer drinkers and there is little wonder why.
A flourish of openings in recent years has seen bars pop up that would fit right in in a cosmopolitan metropolis such as Leeds, but instead it is this spa town’s drinking scene that is reaping the benefits.
Enter North Bar, which earlier this year opened up in the former premises of a computer games shop on Cheltenham Parade.
This is one of the sister drinking spots of Leeds’ very own bar of the same name, which claims to be one of the original pioneers of the city’s bar boom. The Leeds version opened in 1997 and since then has gained a glowing reputation for its impressive beer selection.
Now, that reputation is being built on in leafy Harrogate where since its opening has rarely seen a seat going spare on an evening.
Set on a corner and with large windows on both sides, North Bar is an inviting hangout. Inside, the look is chic minimalist. The bar itself is constructed from chipboard, the walls are white and the seating is slender.
But it is the impressively well stocked bar that immediately draws my attention. There are at least ten craft beers (and one cider) on draught and fridges full of mysterious, funky labels - the top row of one is filled with a selection of Scandinavian beers, for there is a mini Scandi beer fest going on here at the moment. Be quick though because once those bottles are gone, they’re all gone, the barman explains after helpfully pulling some out of the fridge to satisfy my questions.
I opted for a Hopf Helle Weiss and a Motueka Pale, two very tasty beers that I hadn’t seen anywhere before, while my drinking partner chose an apricot-flavoured beer in a bottle and an Aperol Spritz - all in all coming to around £18 which is not an unreasonable prices for what’s on offer.
The bar staff are particularly helpful, letting you know that they would be with you shortly if someone is in front of you at the bar and they bobbed over to our table twice to see if we fancied another tipple.
Among the beers on tap were some of North’s own brews, including a Herzog Kolsch-style number. The Full Fathom 5, which is a coconut and coffee porter, should give you some idea of how varied a palate is catered for here.
Cool and trendy without the pretention, friendly staff, a thoroughly exciting line-up of craft beer; there is little to detract from what is a glorious addition to Harrogate’s independent bar scene.
If anything it’s a shame the venue isn’t a little bigger - a positive criticism if ever there was one. A few more seats outside would also be a plus.