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Harrogate Brewery Taproom

The day was cold, the air was crisp. Snow lay on the ground over the tops.

The forecast had been for doom and gloom and Day After Tomorrow levels of snow but, as stoic Yorkshire folk, we braved public transport to head to Harrogate. Walking down to the brewery from Hornbeam Park station, the welcome from the staff at Harrogate Brewery was more than warm enough to make up for the cold.

The brewery was set up in 2013 and moved to its current site in Hookstone Chase in 2017. Harrogate Brewery came into the current owners’ hands in 2020 which should earn them an award for bravery to go with the medals they have been achieving for their beer.

At Harrogate brewery they’re committed to a mix of classic brewing with hearty Northern ales and the craftier end of the modern beer styles.

Situated on the outskirts of Harrogate, the brewery is a reasonable walk from the train station which is served well from Leeds; buses are also available and there is parking on site.

The taproom is open Friday 4pm – 10pm, Saturday 2 – 10 pm and Sunday 2 – 8pm, adding in Thursday 5 – 10 pm from June to August.

On Saturdays (and sometimes Sundays) a pop up food vendor is on site (check the website and socials for details).

Bistro Guy, a sourdough pizza van, was setting up on the day of our visit for those requiring sustenance. We were a little early for them, however. Also outside is a nice seating area, some of which is covered for elemental protection.

Entering into the taproom there was an array of tables set up into the loading bay. Being in the brewery in view of the fermenters always feels like it gives a wonderful feel to a tap room experience, however comfort hasn’t been sacrificed.

Heaters made sure a chilly day became toasty and warm. The chain lights give a nice atmosphere when the doors are shut with an almost snug like vibe.

The tables are spaced nicely so you have good space without sitting on your neighbours’ laps.

Toilets are taken care of by portaloos outside but were clean with ample hand wash and hand towels and sanitiser available, thankfully not reminiscent of the 3rd day of a musical festival in any way shape or form.

Quite a few of the tables were booked, which may be an idea if you are planning a visit as it certainly filled up when we were there with a mixture of (mostly well mannered) people and a smattering of dogs.

An array of 5 cask ales and 8 keg offerings were available as well as a fridge full of bottles and cans, and there were ample staff on hand so that there were no queues as the taproom filled up.

We started off with a couple of Harrogate Pale Ales and a half of the Kursaal Imperial Stout which is flavoured with Cranberry and Mandarin.

The pale was an outstanding beer, balanced and beautifully brewed by people who understand what good beer is.

The Kursaal, however, floored us all. Rich and opulent, like Christmas pudding in a glass, with bags of roast malt and amazing sweetness, it’s stunningly balanced (albeit with quite a hefty whack of booze coming through on this 11% number which is 2% higher than their normal Kursaal stout).

Speaking to the bar staff we found out later that this was one of twenty different imperial stouts that were brewed last Christmas, each with different flavours added to them.

We also were told that this was in competition for an award the following week at BeerX (fingers crossed!).

Moving on, we sampled the Padraig Gold, a seasonal, sessionable special to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. It’s another brilliant beer with a lovely malty biscuit base, again brewed sympathetically and a joy to a northerner’s heart.

Up next was the Nidd Mild which had a fabulous sweetness and a wonderful, rich, almost tobacco and coffee malt character, again brewed by a team who not only know how to brew a beer but how to keep it as well.

We partook in a taste of a pilsner which was good if a little sweet to our palates. We also tried one of their hoppier new wave numbers, Iris, which was another beautifully made beer packed full of juicy tropical hops, with ample bitterness. Whilst not to my taste, it proves that Harrogate are brewing all things to please everyone.

For those who struggle with their judgement as to how many branded glasses they need as much as we do, merchandise is available, and t-shirts are on display to tempt you post-pint.

We struggled to get an Uber to head back to Harrogate for an appointment with a rugby match. Whilst a little patience got us sorted, it may be an idea to use a local taxi firm or perhaps secure your travel earlier if you don’t fancy the walk.

I’d recommend a visit wholeheartedly – it’s a genuine brewery taproom experience, the staff are knowledgeable and friendly and, really trust me on this, try that Kursaal Imperial Stout! Maybe only a half though……

Matt Spicer

Matt Spicer is an exiled Yorkshireman who has lived in the south of England for longer than is really healthy. Incapable of taking a photo that's in focus. Loves his BBQ food and has been known to do a spot of brewing, he is on a one man crusade to get the people of Kent to put sparklers on their beer engines. Just don't ask him what the best song on Superunknown is.........

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