Believe me or not, but this punishing 3 posts-a-day routine is paying off, and I might even catch up this week, if I can even remember why Dick took back those two pints in Leeds.
Before Leeds, Harrogate. (Slightly) overrated by retired gentlefolk and cake lovers, underrated by folk who like good beer.
While I like walking 15 miles for 3 new ticks as much as BRAPA or Duncan, sometimes you can’t beat 3 pubs in 5 minutes walk from the station, as here.
A great sunny Sunday lunchtime to enjoy the scenery and dodge the shops.
I left the micro till last, on the sensible basis that it was shut, and headed for Betty’s.
Not because the home of the Fat Rascal has added a Brass Castle tap, but because I like watching people queue for cakes.
A few yards away, the Montpellier was filling up, despite the least readable lunch menu of the year.
Inside it’s the Harrogate house style. Open plan, light, upmarket comfort food for casuals in Laura Asheley florals and shades,
and a reassuring beer range including Tim Taylor, Bradfield and our second favourite Masham Best.
I sat down close to the newspaper rack and the comfort of the Harrogate Herald. Oh.
It’s good to see proper beers in Beer Guide pubs, but Sauvignon Blanc and San Miguel were winning the battle with cask here about 10-to-1, and the Theakston was cool but sweet (NBSS 2.5). Mr Coldwell will have a scathing explanation.
Quite a contrast virtually next door in the Blues Café Bar, which I eventually realised I’d been to years before as the completely different Blues Bar.
So, technically a good but wasted half of Salamader (don’t see that much these days), but a cracking bar with top service and proper drinkers.
Some came in and expressed astonishment at the rare beers.
“Is that local mate ?”
“Yes, it’s from Ilkley”
“I’ve heard of that mystical land, in a song”
Others came in for their keg Tets, or their San Miguel and Rose. You could have been in the Duck and Drake in Leeds, of which more later today. A gem of a drinker’s pub
And finally, a real highlight. And not just because the Little Ale House seems to be located within a top curry house.
Not just because it was open, despite placing a sign over the Sunday opening times to suggest I was going to be disappointed.
And not because of the “exciting” beer range, thrillingly displayed to maximise my disorientation.
It’s a winner due to the service, from the barman of the year, who actually seemed pleased to see people. And had spent the morning to keep the beer cool, and was obsessed with beer quality.
And happy to recommend a beer without being a “beer bore”.
I don’t like small pubs, but this place was filling up within 5 minutes of opening (the queue outside wasn’t for the curry), and with a better age range than your average Thanet micro.
I’ve had fantastic beer in half a dozen Harrogate pubs; this was the best so far (even better than the Bass in Hales, the North Riding an easy 4.5.
With twenty minutes till the train left for Leeds and a date with destiny (well, Dick and Dave), there was just time for a possible pre-emptive craft bar tick.
No, you’re not falling for that, are you ?