IT’s always nice when you find a nice chance upon a decent drinking establishment, as we did on an impromptu trip to Harrogate on Sunday.
On the return journey to Leeds and having some time to kill before our train arrived, we ducked our heads into the Harrogate Tap, which is, essentially a cut-through from town to the platforms and has a sense of grandeur which could only be Victorian, with one room being done out in floor-to-ceiling wood panels. There’s also an olde worlde tiled floor which meanders its way through the long thin space and suspended from the ceiling an ornate clock.
Straight away you get the impression that this is a pub which takes its responsibilities seriously. Service is as polished as are the glasses hanging above the bar and glinting in the light from the chandeliers above. Judging by the number of beers they have on offer, this is a real ale drinker’s paradise.
A huge board near the open fire (complete with burning logs) lists 10 local ales, from Fyne Jarl (3.8 per cent and £3.70 a pint and described as a hoppy, blonde session ale) to Colorado Red from Thornbridge, described as ‘fragrant’ with a ‘malty backbone’ and packing a punch at 5.9 per cent (£4.50 a pint).
Don’t you just love the way these beers are described? It’s all part of the magic of course, and Harrogate Taps has that in spades, despite the fact it’s not that big.
Staff couldn’t be more helpful, offering to allow you to taste the beers on offer before you buy. They also have a decent selection of Keg beers and craft beers by the bucket load.
I order a half Matuska Raptor IPA, which is expensive at £3.25 but well worth it, having a soft, malty texture and a smooth finish which leaves you wanting more. My partner in crime goes for something more exotic, this time from the fridge selection of craft ales, some of which are canned, like the Magic Rock Clairvoyance (£6.70), which is aptly described because I think you’d have to have clairvoyance on two fronts: firstly to appreciate how strong it is (7 per cent) and secondly because you can’t see through it. It’s cloudy and slightly fruity and reminded me of some of the German wheat beers in that it had a yeastiness about it but without being overwhelming or off-putting.
The flavour of the beer was superb and its strength is deceptive.
Two more beers from Magic Rock followed, in the form of Wayniac and Hypnotist (£6.50 and £6.20 and 6.4 per cent and 6.8 per cent respectively) but sadly we did not have time to sample these in the pub as our train was due, so we took them home.
Overall, it’s well worth the trip to Harrogate just to visit this pub. You may not even get beyond it.