Travel Notes: Harrogate – August 2018

Harrogate

In recent times, a group of us have been up to Harrogate a couple of times a year as our old school friend Zoe lives there now. She’s a good sort.

On the last two or three occasions, we’ve only really used Harrogate as a base. The usual drill is to park the car, meet up with our friend, grab a beer from the Harrogate tap and hop on a train to Leeds, which has started to feel like a home away from home for me. It’s a great beer town, full of my kind of people.

When we took Zoe out in Brum in June, we made plans to come up and see her in August and agreed to stay in Harrogate for once. I already knew that Harrogate is a nice place to walk around, but the challenge was on for our old mate to show us that her town is a good spot for a few beers.

Here’s how our day panned out.

10 Devonshire Place

10 Devonshire Place

A short distance outside of Harrogate’s centre, looking out onto Harrogate Stray, this pub and bottleshop is only a five minute walk away from base camp. If this tastfully modernised old coaching inn was my local, I feel like my bank account would be extremely unhealthy as I’d happily spend many hours sat in the bay window, like a cat with a pint.

For my first beer of the day, I settled on Neon Raptor ‘Ghost Twins’ NEIPA, which went down my neck easily, despite being 6.8%. We only stayed for one drink, but with ten taps of keg beer and ten cask lines and a great assortment of beers from around Yorkshire, the UK and further afield, 10 Devonshire Place is worth a visit if you find yourself in the area.

Tap on Tower Street

Tap on Tower Street

The longest walk of the day took us to the Tap on Tower Street, in Harrogate’s southern reaches, just a short walk from Harrogate train and bus stations. This friendly tap house has fridges full of cans and bottles to drink in or take away, local cask ales and a few keg beers to choose from. If you’re hungry, there’s pizza, asian noodles, antipasti and local cheese to enjoy alongside your beer.

You probably won’t get half-stung by a wasp, but this did happen to Zoe whilst we were sat out the front, so it’s not a complete impossibility.

Cold Bath Brewing Co

Cold Bath Brewing Co

This brewpub had just launched when we visited, so unsurprisingly, it was very busy, which is always great to see when a new business opens its doors. Cold Bath currently brew just one beer on their premises, a 4.2% session lager, which unfotunately, none of us tried on this occasion. Alongside their own beer, the rest of the taps were taken up by the likes of Yorkshire favourites Northern Monk and Magic Rock, and the fridges looked to be pretty well stocked.

If you’re ever at the Harrogate Convention Centre and find yourself jonesing for a cold one, Cold Bath Brewing Co is just down the road.

The Little Ale House Micropub

The Little Ale House

I got a really good vibe from this place as soon as I entered. The team here have created a fantastic place to sit down with a beer and enjoy the art of conversation, which can sometimes seem lost in modern pubs where TV screens are everywhere and Ed Sheeran is right in your earhole. I’d take some rustic wooden décor, a couple of schooners of Elusive Brewing ‘Three Headed Monkey’ and a chat with my mates any time.

There’s a curry house upstairs too, which is always good to know.

Starling Independent Beer and Coffee House

Starling IBCH

I think that Starling could be my favourite place in Harrogate. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed and there are a few beers on tap to please most tastes. I went for a fruity Gose, before moving onto a couple of pints of cask Rooster. This place serves some decent pizza, so we stuck around for a while and stuffed ourselves to the brim with pizzas, garlic bread and three different kinds of fries.

From what I could gather from the events board, there’s always a lot of entertaining stuff going on here incuding vinyl nights, live music, comedy and arty gatherings.

North Bar Harrogate

North Bar Harrogate is a different animal to its Leeds cousin, where nights can descend into the very best kind of madness (and they have in my case). Here there is much more of a coffee shop vibe and food is served here all day. However, just like the original North Bar, the beer selection here is nothing short of outstanding, with twelve taps and fridges bursting with greatness.

I couldn’t resist Brasserie De La Senne ‘Jambe-de-Bois’. You may also notice that this was the point at which I forgot to take any more photos for this article. Sorry about that.

Major Tom’s Social

As the name suggests, if Bowie was to hang out at a social club, Major Tom’s could very well be the ideal place. This was the last stop on our guided tour of Harrogate and it was a cool spot to finish the night with a pint and a game of ‘Guess Who’, even if we were starting to feel the effects of the cheese-carbathon earlier on.

I’m told that Major Tom’s also do awesome pizza, so I’ll have to check it out next time.

Harrogate

That healthy morning after glow

It has to be said that Zoe has for many years been the de-facto mother hen of our group, so of course, she sorted us out with cups of strong tea and generous portions of sausages and bacon the morning after our mission around town.

Once we were feeling a little more alive, we strolled back into town for a coffee and a hint of déjà vu at Starling. I’m not much of an expert on coffee, but my espresso was really, really good.

As a strong believer in eating as often as possible, I couldn’t miss the chance to grab a freshly baked cinnamon bun from Baltzersen’s for second breakfast. This was an excellent choice and I’d be intrigued to try this Scandinavian inspired café for lunch some time.

Driving the 111 miles back to Walsall, discovering the joys of regional radio on the way with my good friend and passenger Mr.Westwood, I reflected on a fun and successful weekend. Harrogate may be more conservative than Leeds, Huddersfield or Sheffield (not just in voting patterns), but it’s a nice town with good beer to be had and some great architecture to take in as you go. It’s awesome to see some fantastic indy businesses making their mark.

Rob Edwards

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