Harrogate Pubs – our pick of the best
In our guide to Harrogate coffee shops, we gave you our pick of the best independent cafes in Harrogate.
Now you’ve tried the best cups of coffee, it’s time for something a little stronger: beer.
There are a lot of great places to drink in Harrogate, but here we’ve focused on where you can find the best real ale. These Harrogate pubs are our favourite, not only because they serve a great selection of beer, but also because they have that extra special something when it comes to atmosphere and charm.
Major Tom’s Social
Tucked away above a retro clothing emporium and a vintage vinyl store, this bar/ pub/ café/ music venue is the coolest thing to happen to Harrogate since Bardo rocked Eurovision back in ’82.
After opening in mid-January 2014, Major Tom’s has established quite a large and eclectic group of customers (including the majority of our staff).
Owners Lee and Toby serve a changing selection of craft beers, cask ales and premium spirits. They handpick four guest beers a month and have a weekly special cask beer, which they pair with fresh homemade pizzas (believe us, they’re delicious).
These guys seem to have built themselves a reputation for American-style citrusy ales, however they cater for all tastes and we can guarantee you won’t be stuck for choice. Their ever-changing bottle menu is around 100 beers strong, and the sheer magnitude of branding in the coolers has turned the bar into a psychedelic work of art in itself.
If you find yourself a little overwhelmed, the staff here are really knowledgeable and friendly and are more are more than happy to give a recommendation. They want Major Tom’s to be a place where people branch out and try something new. Oh, and get Jack who works behind the bar talking about beer and you’ll leave with a whole new appreciation for the stuff.
Lee and Toby have created the perfect laid-back atmosphere with good food, great beer, board games and even a Sega Megadrive. To top it all off, the days and nights are accompanied by an eclectic soundtrack of old records, which they get in return for pizza from next door’s vinyl shop.
Ask anyone who knows this place and you can guarantee they’ll mention the word ‘vibes’.
We fear we may have just given away one of Harrogate’s best kept secrets but we don’t regret it because Major Tom’s is something you simply can’t miss out on.
The Little Ale House
If ever there was a bar that the reflected the dreams and ambitions of its owners, then the Little Ale House in Cheltenham Crescent is it.
Rich and Danni Park quit their jobs in London and returned to their Northern roots, bringing with them their love of micro-brewed ales and good conversation. The result is the Little Ale House which opened in May 2016.
The pair sell the products that they would want to drink. All the labels are micro-brewed and from regional brewers – North Riding in Scarborough, Magic Rock in Huddersfield, Brew York and Settle Brewery to name a few.
There’s no fixed beers just a constant rotation of five cask and five keg brews, which is what makes the offering so interesting for their customers and for them, says Rich. However, there will always be a bitter, a golden ale, an IPA, a hoppy brew and a dark brew.
Ales aside, the wine selection is expanding and Rich takes his single malt whiskies very seriously. The gin is very local, coming from Harrogate Gin in Ripley and Whittaker’s in Dacre Banks.
But it’s not just about the drinks. Conversation is king in the Little Ale House which has no TV and no background music. The interior is small with a rustic and functional feel emphasised by the display behind glass doors down one wall of the casks and kegs.
When Rich and Danni moved back north, they were drawn to Harrogate by the “great beer scene” and it’s fair to say that the Little Ale House is now firmly part of that scene.
Starling Independent Beer and Coffee House
Starling Independent Beer and Coffee House is flying high after winning two awards in swift succession – Harrogate and Ripon CAMRA Pub of the Year and Harrogate Hospitality and Tourism Awards Newcomer of the Year.
Nestled in Oxford Street, Starling’s range of beers and ales has a local flavour while its own-made Neapolitan-style pizzas add an international touch.
It’s not just a place for drinks and eats, Starling hosts stand-up comedy nights, gigs and other music-themed events such as the Vinyl Session talks. There’s space for business meetings and private functions and it plays host to community groups.
But back to the beers as CAMRA would say. Starling offers 16 draft beers sourced from the north of England – six cask and 10 keg. For those with a palate for European beers, Czech and German lagers Urquell and Warsteiner are also sold.
However, it’s the products from closer to home that go down the best and that’s a conscious decision by Starling’s Harrogate born and bred owner Simon Midgley.
Rooster’s Baby-faced Assassin, Harrogate Brew Co.’s Pinewoods Pale and Hawkshead’s Windemere Pale are the most noteworthy labels with 30 gins, more than 20 whiskies and seven tonics lining up alongside the beers. Customers are welcome to talk about the offerings and suggest brews of their own.
And the inevitable question, what about the name? Simon explains that there’s two reasons for the name; first, he’s a lover of nature and second, starlings form communities so he thought it apt for his beer and coffee house to take the name and build its own nest in the community.
The Harrogate Tap
The Harrogate Tap literally welcomes visitors to the town as it occupies a unique location in the original railway station building built in 1862.
And while travellers take their trains to Leeds and York and beyond, drinkers can enjoy an atmosphere of expectation and adventure enhanced by the railway heritage of its surroundings.
The bar opened in December 2013 and offers a wide choice of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Featuring products from some of the best UK and international breweries, it boasts 12 cask lines and 12 keg lines with over 100 different beers stocked in its ample fridges.
As the Tap works on a rotational basis with no permanent beer lines, general manager Andy says it’s hard to name his customers’ favourite brew but Roosters, Turning Point, Arbor, Tiny Rebel, Electric Bear, North Riding and Harbour all go down very well with customers.
For Andy, as well as the wide range of drinks, delivering a well-kept high-quality beer is essential as the Tap recognises this is where its appeal lies. Accordingly, the behind-the-scenes work that goes into running the bar such as the cellar work and service is of a high standard.
So weary travellers may plonk themselves down in a comfy seat for refreshment but it’s the loyalty of its regulars that has enabled the Tap to flourish with Andy observing plenty of the same faces downing their favourite brew since 2013.
10 Devonshire Place
10 Devonshire Place is another great pub in Harrogate, priding themselves on being “fiercely independent”.
Once one of the most run down pubs in town – The Devonshire Arms – Andi and the team turned the place around when they opened in November 2014. It’s the second oldest pub in Harrogate, originally starting trade back around 1863. Even now it still has the original horseshoe bar.
Like the name, the focus of the menu is based around the number ten; having ten hand-pulled casks and ten keg beers on offer. As well as 10 different red and white wines. They slightly stray from the ’10’ theme with around 70 different gins on offer (but we can forgive them for that).
Since opening, they’ve offered around 200-250 ales; the menu is constantly changing. All the beers are chosen on the basis of quality, which has brought a range of different brands, including a section of micro breweries, from here and across the pond.
Alcohol is not all that 10 Dev have to offer though. They have a rotation of different street food cuisines which take over their kitchen, including Jamaican, Malaysian and Indian, and a number of different events.
The events include everything from a weekly pub quiz on a Sunday evening, a monthly bingo night with its very own characters, to vinyl nights with a collection of different DJs. Gin tastings are in occurrence and some times delicious food and wine pairings are on offer.
A noteworthy point to make about this bar, is the adjoining bottle shop which contains around 200 different bottled beers and 100 wines to either drink in or takeaway that can either be bought in store or from their online shop.
North Bar has come to Harrogate in February 2016, taking the place of where Game Station once stood.
Though North Bar is new to Harrogate, it’s been open in Leeds for 19 years now. This new branch has been long-awaited and welcomed with open arms.
With all this experience comes a great knowledge of craft beer. The aim is for the bar to boast around 100 bottles of beer, many being rare and niche brands.
Beer isn’t the only thing on offer here though. Christian wants the place to be somewhere people can come at any time of day. They have a range of sandwiches and snacks on offer, as well as coffee.
Like the other bars in this list, North Bar has a pride of being independent and wants to support other independent businesses too. They try to locally source most things on offer, such as the coffee coming from Dark Woods Roasters in Huddersfield.
In the future, they plan to have different events, including showing the Spring Classics every weekend beginning in March 2016.