You do not have travel far from Leeds by rail to access exceptional ale trails. Sadly, the Leeds to Harrogate line is not littered with such opportune imbibery.
You have to go the full seven stops to the North Yorkshire spa town to sight a drinking establishment situated on the train platform.
The Tap is as good, and in some respects better than, many of the station stop-offs along the popular transpennine real ale trail between Batley and Stalybridge.
Accessible from a door on the platform and from the other side on Station Parade, it is a gloriously reimagined space that is both a throwback to those proud old boozers furnished from floor to ceiling in mahogany and the epitome of the modern craft beer bar.
Chandeliers on high ceilings and attached vintage timepiece give way to a polished dark wood panelled bar from which Tap-branded glasses hang in front of windows that look out over the station’s twin platforms.
Black and white tiled flooring in front of the bar is replaced by a light mauve-red carpet where colour-matched leather benches and stools line a wall. A lit fire beneath a wooden mantelpiece gives a warm glow at one end of the bar where coffee is made with an industrial-sized coffeemaker.
Another room adjoins this one, separated in a nod to when such drinking holes had their own ladies rooms, and this is furnished to the same spec.
Back at the bar there is an extensive choice of drinks. Some 23 brass pumps in operation on this visit offer everything from cask stouts to IPAs and pale ales to Bernard Pilnser, Vetlins lager and ciders.
Behind the bar a long row of glass fronted fridges beneath window sills, one bedecked with fancy-looking branded beer glasses, are full of canned and bottled craft beers, continental lagers and a selection of ciders.
The difficulty comes in making an informed choice but the bar staff seem more than happy to offer samples to help you reach a decision. In fact give them a brief and they will come up with a recommendation. It is no wonder that this helpful, cheery service has earnt one of the barmen on duty on this visit a recent hospitality award. This is a dog-friendly venue and the same barman brings our Westie a bowl of water.
A pint each of Wild Beer’s Bibble and Electric Bear’s Live Wire, plus a 175ml glass of Cuvee De L’Aubade, a bottle of Thistly Cross elderflower cider and two bags of Pipers crisps are consumed to a background of muted rock music and the occasional sound of trains heaving along the nearby railway tracks.
The final bill is just shy of £19 and it is a bar to which a return visit is an absolute given.