Food & Drink: Harrogate Tap crafts a rather special place

wkd  The exterior of Harrogate Tap.  (140106M1)
wkd The exterior of Harrogate Tap. (140106M1)

Bites by Tom Hay

The Harrogate Tap is up and running. Sat next to the town centre station, it opened just a week before Christmas.

It’s the work of a pub company called Pivovar, based in Elvington on the south side of York. Its director, Jamie Hawksworth, started out as a specialist beer importer and opened his first pub in York, Pivni, in 2007.

Since then he’s branched out to railway station bars in York, Sheffield and Euston – netting heritage awards in the process – and will shortly be opening Tapped Leeds in the city’s Trinity Centre. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, there’s a Tapped Brewery too. Starts to make a lot of sense with that many outlets.

Its arrival in Harrogate is very good news for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s a hell of a thing to see that building actually being used.

Way back in 2005, when I had just started as a trainee reporter for the Advertiser, I covered a planning meeting which discussed a transport interchange.

“What a good idea,” I thought, greenly. “I wonder when they’ll build it.”

Well, it’s been nine years. And that grand project, to reinvigorate an oft-criticised bit of the town centre, had languished in development limbo for a very long time before I first encountered it.

But not only is it good to see this derelict station building in use – it’s even better to see it in use as a craft ale pub.

Sure, you can find places serving real ale: the Coach and Horses, the Fat Badger, Wetherspoons and the new Grape & Graze, to name a few.

But craft ale, properly interesting, experimental craft ale – the type where you discover that your bottle of 9.5 per cent ABV Norwegian-style hazelnut stout was made by a former scientist in a basement in Bristol using a rare kind of malt found in a Japanese cave and a 16th century recipe he unearthed in the British Library – doesn’t get much of a look in. The Old Bell and the Swan on the Stray, that’s about it.

That kind of serious beer geekery seems to be stitched into the fabric of the Harrogate Tap. If you’ve been in, drop me a line to let me know what you think –