The Harrogate Brewing Co. is a small micro brewery just outside the centre of Harrogate, opened this year once a month for their taproom open days. For those that don’t know Harrogate, it’s a small, vibrant town about 30 minutes drive from York and whilst not traditionally known for it’s beer, has been becoming a great place for a good Yorkshire pint in recent years.
The Harrogate Brewing Co. has been a project worked on by husband and wife duo, Anton and Sarah Stark and after having their first beer featured in one of Harrogate’s popular pubs in 2013, have gone on to make some fine quality ales at their small brewery just outside of town. Opening their doors once a month, the tap has clearly built a nice following as the brewery was suitably busy for it’s size at around 2pm on a Saturday afternoon the day we visited.
With space for about 40 people to sit comfortably, the tap room is a good size for its location and feels busy with ten but not overcrowded with 30+. When we arrived there were five of their own beers on and a Theakston’s guest ale giving ample choice for an hour or two visit. On recommendation, we first went for a pint of their Pale Ale, a 4.2% hoppy citrus ale. Overall the taste was as would be expected for a good local session ale with a bitter aftertaste, making sure the citrus flavours don’t dominate the taste. It was clearly a popular choice during the hour or so we were there and almost all visitors went straight in for this one, part of their core range. Labelled as “Cascade and Mosaic” the brewers at HBC change the hops used each time they brew this so I’ll be interested to return and see if it affects it in any way. Solid beer that I could have happily supped all afternoon.
The tap room and brewery was very dog friendly, making it a great stop when on a Saturday/Sunday afternoon stroll outside of Harrogate. We moved onto the Cold Bath Gold one of their traditional English Ales brewed with English Hops and traditional malts. At 4.4% this one, like the Pale Ale, did pretty much what it said on the cask label – the flavour at first taste was exactly as expected for an English ale with little head but again, it was a real joy to drink. I enjoyed the continual thread of Harrogate based names in their beer too, it was a quirky touch that locals can relate to. Another quality effort from HBC and another one I’d be happy to drink plenty of if it was the only option on the table
Moving up the bar and up in ABV, next on the agenda was one of their small batch beers, Beeching Axe IPA. I’ve seen this one served at a few bars in town, including Major Tom’s Social and Starling, and the 5.2% IPA was without doubt the best so far. The added ABV gave it a smoothness that the other’s didn’t have and the flavour of the hops came through with a real warmth missing from their core range. This is the beer the Stark’s should be basing their new beers on – it had everything I’d expect from a major brewing company; I’d happily buy a case of this to have in the house at all times. What was distinctively different from the Beeching Axe was the dry hopped brewing method which gave it a delightful aroma and made it the stand-out beer on the day.
Finally, a pint of their final light beer on tap was up to end out visit. Calypso, a 5.4% ABV, was their fruitiest offering and one that I’d recommend to all that aren’t big ale drinkers but wanted to try something on their visit. This wasn’t as nice a drink as the Beeching Axe, but I’m averse to fruity real ales anyway so may just be personal preference. I couldn’t help but feel this one, a little bit colder, would have been the best beer on the day but as a real ale, didn’t hit the mark like the previous beer.
All in all it was a lovely visit out to Harrogate to see what this brewery was all about. Lovely people, great beer and an excellent atmosphere, we will be visiting again next time it’s open for sure. All weaker beers were priced at £3 per pint and the stronger ones at £3.50 making it very reasonable for a micro brewery that is open once a month. £20 will allow you to drink a pint of each of their own at the bar and leave room change for some snacks or sample their rotating guest.
The Beers Ranked
1. Beeching Axe– IPA – 5.2%
2. Cold Bath Gold – Golden Ale – 4.4%
3. Pale Ale – Session Ale – 4.2%
4. Calypso – IPA – 5.4%
Address: Harrogate Brewing Co at Unit 7, Hookstone Centre, Harrogate HG2 7HW
Phone: 07774 891664
NOVEMBER Not open in November / DECEMBER End of year celebration – Sat 7th December – Beer, music and fun. *Fun not guaranteed.
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