Taverner: The Doghouse, Selby
PERHAPS?it feels a little like being in the doghouse, trading your beer from a bar with a narrow shop frontage so close to the magnificent stone bulk of Selby Abbey.
But business seems to be booming in the Doghouse, a lovely craft beer bar which opened in 2018 to provide a ready shop window for beers from Black Dog Brewery – which itself has Gothic surroundings, in the grounds of nearby Carlton Towers, the long-time Yorkshire seat of the Dukes of Norfolk.
Bar and brewery are symbiotic, a perfect family eco-system. Nigel Kot and son Jordan brew the beers; wife Christine and daughter Emily run the bar. “When we opened, the demand was incredible,” says Christine, a former childminder who is enjoying this complete change of career. “There’s nothing else like this in Selby, and it’s gone down really well.”
Everything produced by the brewery comes here: “We’re producing just enough to keep up.” Only when Jordan’s partner had a baby did Christine have to source casks elsewhere.
On my visit last week, the single beady eye of Little Black Dog’s rather pugnacious-looking terrier was staring at me from a row of pumpclips, though the final one was given over to local rival Spotlight Brewery – more of which in the beer of the week column, right. In a neat touch, little blackboards shaped like comic-book style bones of the kind which Gnasher would gnaw on in the Beano, are lined up wth the latest beers and gins on offer.
The premises used to be a restaurant, and the Kot family were quick off the mark when they heard that it was set to close. “We knew the people here and we were looking for somewhere to get our beers into. It can be quite hard to get your beer into pubs, when so many are tied to breweries or pub companies – and there are so many small brewers trying to get into freehouses.”
So the Doghouse proved a perfect solution, filling an obvious hole in the Selby scene, while offering Little Black Dog a guaranteed route to market. Some serious hard work was required prior to opening, to create this quirky and welcoming watering hole. One wall is devoted to a vast array of chemical symbols and bonds, each related to brewing, others have a whimsical nautical theme, while lyrics sung by artists from Frank Sinatra to the Sex Pistols are incorporated into every nook and cranny of the designs. It’s a work in progress which reveals an artistic bent to this family’s talents.
The brewery makes great play of the fact that their cask ales are unpasteurised, unfiltered and unfined, so it would be reasonable to expect a little haze. All the same, the Bitter (3.8%) which I tried was a bright clear bronze, with a gently hoppy, crisp, refreshing nature which you’d expect from a traditional Yorkshire session ale.
“We get a lovely lot of regular customers,” says Christine, who also lays on cakes and coffees for those not drawn to the ale. A room upstairs is available for private hire; the proximity of the Abbey makes it perfect for Christenings. Open mic nights and live music events add a further dimension, while on my visit Christine was just putting the finishing touches to the questions for the pub’s first quiz night.
“This has become my favourite place in Selby,” one female customer tells me. “I bring my book, and have a cup of tea and a cake. It’s perfect.”
Park Street, Selby, YO8 4PW
Type: Stylish cafe and alehouse
Host: Christine Kot
Opening Hours: Noon-9pm Mon, Tue, Thurs; noon-11pm Fri-Sat; noon-6pm Sun. Closed Wed
Beers: Changing range of beers from the Black Dog Brewery, plus occasional guest ales
Wine: Good selection
Food: Pie and peas, scotch eggs and sausage rolls – plus a selection of cakes
Disabled: Straightforward access
Entertainment: Quiz night Monday, monthly open mic night and music events
Functions: Room available for private hire
Beer garden: Some tables to the front
Parking: Town centre car parks nearby
Phone: 07495 026173