Dave expressed mild surprise at my continued enthusiasm for Harrogate despite it’s predilection for pashminas, Prosecco bars and pints costing more than a fiver.

But it retains a refined charm, rather like Mrs RM, and its attractions are free once you leave the unfathomable queue for Betty’s and head for the Valley Gardens.

In case you wondered, the statue below shows the queue for the Gents in the Harrogate Tap (pre-social distancing).

So now you know.

The Tap is one of FIVE (5) Harrogate GBG entries that I’ve scored top marks (NBSS 4 or greater) over the years, and although beer quality isn’t the main reason you go to pubs it certainly encourages the odd return visit.

Recently I made a nostalgic reacquaintance with Hales Bar, this time it was the Old Bell.

It’s the pub Bill Clinton visited when he was ticking GBG pubs after leaving office, cheaper than that Sedgefield gastro Bush Jr ate at or those Kathmandu craft beer bars that Jimmy Carter loves.

It’s always been packed with smartly-dressed life when I walk past, so it’s disappointing to see it empty at just gone 16:00, lacking the tradesmen you get in a backstreet boozer in Berkshire.

But that’s because it’s just opened, and the food trade is still an hour away. Two gentlefolk peer in, see me, and walk on to the Spoons.

So I get it to myself, which is something I don’t really want, and decide it feels a bit “empty”.

Whether that’s the Market Town Tavern house style or some residual Covid precautions, who can tell ?

Anyway, pleasant enough in a way Mrs RM would appreciate, but not a classic.

The beer, however, is stunning.

A dull looking range (i.e. not Bass, Plum Porter and Doom Bar) forces a choice between Mary Jane and Boltmaker.

Hands up who’s had a really great pint of Tim Taylor’s Best Bitter in the last decade ? Me neither, not even in the Sportsman.

This one, first out of the pumps, was great. Cool, rich, clear as an Old Bell (NBSS 4). Let’s not take our NBSS 4 pints for granted; they’re a rarity.

Just be careful coming down the stairs after 5 pints*, yes ?

*I didn’t, but was tempted.

25 thoughts on “BOLTMAKER

  1. Yes the Old Bell was the pub we all headed to after work on Friday when I worked in Harrogate. Always a favourite,

    Market Town Taverns always improved the beer scene in whichever town they opened a pub. The Old Bell in Harrogate, BarTat in Ilkley and the Narrow Boat in Skipdale (Skipton).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Had a very good Boltmaker in the Fleece at Haworth last week. I don’t use NBSS and I’m not as generous as you, Martin – suffice to say it’s the first I’ve had for a few years and I was surprised how good it was, with a fine bitter finish to it.

    No photos of any lacings on my camera, unfortunately.


    1. It’s the pub. not the beer I’m scoring, of course Will. Plenty of very dull halves of Boltmaker and Landlord (NBSS 3 and 2.5) over the years so a striking example like this in the Old Bell stood out.


  3. Boring beer fact… I reckon Jin I’ve had bolt maker four times in the past four years snd each time it’s been sensational 👍


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