If you like beer, York is a great place to spend a few days. And that doesn’t just apply to fans of real ale.
From our experience, you can’t go too far wrong following your instincts in York — if it looks a friendly pub, it probably is — but here are some pubs we tried and liked.
The Three Legged Mare, High Petergate
An outlet for the York Brewery, and a very cosy but contemporary feeling pub — it doesn’t look like an olde worlde tourist trap. When we visited, there were five or six brews from the York Brewery, plus guests from Oldershaw in Grantham (Old, Boy and Caskade) and HB Clark in Wakefield.
York Brewery’s beers are, on the whole, decent, tasty brews, although all seem to be served via sparkler, which we know is an issue for some drinkers. More on that in another post.
YB Guzzler is a great session beer at 3.6% — it’s pale and hoppy and extremely refreshing. Better than the stronger but similar Yorkshire Terrier. Highlight of the session was Wonky Donkey (another name for the pub, apparently). It’s described as a winter warmer, and was dark and rich with a hint of spices, but not much in the way of hops – one of those Burtons Ron is always on about?
On the whole, an interesting place which straddles the divide between real ale/ grumpy old man pubs and studenty, would-be trendy places. There was no music, no kids, a jar of pickled eggs and pork scratchings, but it definitely didn’t feel like an old man’s pub. How do they achieve this so effortlessly when pubs in London seem to struggle?
Another YB pub, the Yorkshire Terrier off Stonegate, was very similar in feel, but with a different but equally interesting range of guest ales.
Pivo, Patrick Pool
Six months ago, Pivo opened on a narrow lane off the market square. It’s aiming for the student market but, like everywhere we went, the clientele was very mixed and friendly. The beer range was really excellent, with a range of generic Belgian and German beers on tap; unpasteurised Czech lager and dark lager from Bernard, also on tap (semi-ubiquitous in York, for some reason); three real ales in good nick; and fridges crammed with American, Belgian and German beer. Good luck to them, we say. They’ve certainly put the effort in.
Koko Bar, Goodramgate
A more established international beer bar, Koko is not quite as friendly, although the range of beer is arguably a little better again. On tap, were: Frueh, Fruli, Warsteiner, Van Steenburg’s Augustijn, Hacker-Pschorr Weizen, Koestritzer, Pure Czech, and two real ales (Dark Island from the Orkney Brewery and Ascension Ale, from the Leeds Brewery). In the two big fridges, Brooklyn Brown Ale, Anchor Sierra Nevada Brown Ale, and too many others too mention. Highlight: four elderly ladies from Newcastle on a day trip literally knocking back the koelsch.
Finally, our minds were blown by what must be the best beer shop we’ve ever seen. The Bottle, also on Stonegate, had hundreds of beers from around the world, including a massive selection from Yorkshire. This, along with the legendary York Beer and Wine Shop, means that the York ticker would be kept in novelties for life.
We liked York. Real ale isn’t an afterthought or a niche market — it’s mainstream, a part of the culture. The local CAMRA are an active lot whose publications and campaigns are slick and effective. You should go.
This post written, edited and posted on a train, courtesy of National Express’ free wi-fi and our lovely new Asus EEE PC… we truly live in the future.