I’m loving these random awaydays in the FA Cup. Of course, it’s Sod’s Law that they’re all coming at a time when we aren’t allowed to go and enjoy them. First Eastbourne and now Harrogate: two new towns that would have been fab for weekends away. Nevertheless, COVID regulations haven’t stopped me from taking another virtual away trip, so come along with me as we discover what Harrogate has to offer…
I picked up some bargain advance single tickets for this one: £14 there and £13 back. I board the 0721 from Blackpool North to Leeds (Leeds Leeds), where I meet the 0929 to Harrogate. I’m on Northern trains all the way today. Happily, the last Pacer train completed its final journey yesterday, so I’m on the brand spanking new shiny trains today. I wonder if they are still having teething problems like they were at the start of the year? Anyway, they’re comfy and quiet and I settle back to crack on with my writing.
I’m really rattling through my book now and have contacted a few agents so I can start the process of getting it out there. It’s all very exciting. My book is my memoir of watching Blackpool over the last 30 years and there is no shortage of content. It’s shaping up to be a corker, if I say so myself. Today I’m focusing on the Steve McMahon era and three wins at the Millennium Stadium. We really have had some great adventures over the years. It’s lovely reliving them for the book. I feel like I’m time travelling as I transport myself back to what life was like for me at the time.
I’ve arrived in Harrogate before I know it. There is a lot of pubbage to get through today. I’m going to start with the breweries, though, as I don’t want to run out of time to visit them and sample the local wares…
This brewery has only changed hands this year so hopefully will continue to go from strength to strength. There is now a taproom and beer garden. Historically, the brewery has won awards for many of its beers at Beer Festivals (ah I miss them!) and SIBA Beer Awards.
But what do they brew? Here goes:
- Harlow Blonde
- Pinewoods Pale Ale
- Cold Bath Gold
- Stray All Day IPA
- Plum Porter
- Harrogate Lager
- Jumping The Shark (US East Coast IPA)
- Beeching Axe IPA
- Harrogate Pale
- Salted Caramel Porter
- Coffeehouse Porter
- Vanilla Porter
- Horse Head Stetson (hoppy IPA)
- Kursaal Stout
- Kuckha Stout
- Steppen Wolf Pale
Phew! There’s a lot to go at there! A third of each of the Salted Caramel Porter, Vanilla Porter and Plum Porter please. Wow – that’s a great way to start the day. I’m going to need to find some food pronto, though!
There was a food fest here in October, which included the Yorkshire Wrap Company. Now I love a Yorkshire Pudding Wrap. Indeed I spent most of my birthday last year trying to hunt one down at the Pleasure Beach, only to discover they don’t do them any more. I did find one in Manchester earlier this year and can confirm it was amazing – if VERY messy. If you haven’t tried one, check them out!
Ohh I’m loving it here already! Check out this brewhouse:
Their core beer range is:
- Coffee Porter
Nowt fancy there in terms of naming their beers or having eye-catching pump clips. But their food! They have a ‘unique menu, specially created to accompany our beer’. Check out these cheeseburger dumplings!
I really do love the quirkiness of this new breed of brewery tap. Gone are the days of beer being for beardy old men (if that was ever actually a thing). Breweries are cool and exciting and I love visiting new ones. I’ve never been interested in the technicalities of the brewing process (nor do I care if it is technically ‘real ale’ or not) but I know a good beer when I taste it. And I love Yorkshire beers more than any other.
Aw do I HAVE to leave this place…
…Roosters, though! And there’s only a bloomin’ taproom here, too! Am I even going to make it to the pubs today? Is there any need?
There are 16 (SIXTEEN) beers on tap here, not to mention the fridges.
So what do they brew?
- Baby Faced Assassin (IPA)
- Twenty Four Seven (session IPA)
- Yankee (pale ale)
- London Thunder (porter)
- YPA (Yorkshire pale ale)
- Capability Brown (bitter)
- Highway Fifty One (pale ale)
- Buckeye (pale session ale)
- One Trick Pony (rose lemonade sour, collab with Taylors)
- Pils-near (pilsner / pale ale hybrid)
- Go Backer (Vermont session IPA)
- Better Late Than Never (NEIPA)
- Roots Rock Reggae (pineapple & grapefruit IPA)
- First World Problems (salted caramel stout)
I’m on the thirds again here, as there are so many to choose from. I’m going for the One Trick Pony (because I’m curious, although suspect a third will be enough!), Roots Rock Reggae (which I’m hoping tastes like Lilt) and First World Problems. I usually avoid anything that has ‘salted caramel’, as salt can be a migraine trigger, but I’m feeling reckless today.
This place is dog-friendly and they have pizza, with a residency from Cozy P’s. I’m going for the veggie option. Yes, I know, I’m eating a lot, but I need it to soak up all this lovely beer!
This brewery has been around since the 80s – you’ve seen them around. They’ve won a number of awards, including at the Great British Beer Festival (GBBF). I’m expecting a more traditional beer range here – and perhaps a cheeky winter ale. Let’s see:
- Old Legover (well balanced ale with a nutty and bitter-sweet taste)
- Monkey Wrench (strong ale)
The above are cask offerings – but they also brew this intriguing bottled beer, which is the one I pick up from their on-site shop to take away:
- Morocco Ale
‘Daleside Morocco Ale is a strong dark spiced and mysterious ale with plenty of taste brewed to a secret recipe dating back 300 years to the time of Elizabeth I.‘
Mmm…sounds right up my street, that one. But I must hurry: I can hear a micropub calling…
Google describes this as an ‘intimate mom-&-pop owned pub with a warm vibe, large microbrew menu & a dog-friendly patio.’ I love it already!
They currently have on cask (available to take away):
- Wensleydale Black Dub (oat stout)
- Two By Two Session Pale
- North Riding Mosaic (pale ale)
As I sup my half of Black Dub, I peruse the fridges, because it’s only a bloomin’ bottle shop as well. It’s looking predominantly Belgian at the moment but I’m told to keep my eyes open for British beers coming soon. Meanwhile, I pick this one off the shelf:
- Vault City Tayberry Sour
I confess my curiosity has been piqued because I don’t know what a tayberry is. The question is quickly answered:
‘It’s an intriguing cross between a raspberry and blackberry. No-nonsense, front and centre, juicy and freshly-picked.’
But what is this place like? Well, ‘there is no draught lager and shandy requests are not met’ and ‘they completely shun TVs, background music and pub “gastrification”.’ Yep. I like it. But, again, I must reluctantly move on.
Is everywhere in Harrogate brilliant? Major Tom’s is ‘a youth club for grown ups’ and its address is ‘The Ginnel’. It’s dog friendly, has a Pacman machine, board games, a record shop, Q&A evenings with authors and musicians and is ‘super friendly’. I’m very glad I came here and I’m now seriously considering moving to Harrogate.
Their beer range varies, but they favour beers from:
- Brew By Numbers
- Magic Rock
- Loka Polly
It’s predominantly pizza (again!) on the menu here. They’re posher ones here, though. I’m going for the Gorgonzola, caramelised red onion and rocket because I’ve never had gorgonzola despite it being my favourite cheese name of all time (apart from Lancashire, obvs).
My favourite part of the menu is the desserts, which are listed under the heading ‘Afters’. How wonderfully Northern!
I know that’s enough but I honestly can’t stop. There is so much to go at in Harrogate and it is definitely worthy of a wacky weekender. This is a live music venue that also serves food and ale.
Recent beer checkins on Untappd include:
- Daleside Dry Hopped Cask Lager
- Bridgehouse Tequila Blonde
- Rat Bike
- Yorkshire Heart Blonde
Ooh I LOVE Yorkshire Heart and I don’t think I’ve ever seen them in a pub before, so I’m quaffing a pint of that.
The food here is courtesy of Yorkshire Tapas. It’s a brilliant menu (my favourite of the day so far). The Yorkie Wraps sound awesome but I’ve already had one today – and you know I can never resist a curry.
I keep thinking ‘I really must stop now’ but I can’t because I can’t miss out on any of these amazing places! There’s no way I’m not calling in here, because of its name alone.
Their cask and keg offerings are as follows:
- Turning Point Analog Odyssey Simcoe Pale
- Turning Point Exile Pilsner
- Three Brothers Short And Stout
- Three Brothers West Coast IPA
I can’t take my eyes off the fridge in here, though – and am spoiled for choice. I find it hard to choose between the following:
- Vault City Cheeky Vimto
- Saint Mars Of The Desert Babayaga Smoked American Stout
- Totally Brewed Grand Papa Cherry Chocolate Tonka Stout
- Wild Weather Full Of Beans Export Maple, Walnut & Coffee Stout
- Lervig Saskatoon Cheesecake Stout
The snackage, however, proves a much easier choice. I’m having these, no messing:
Now I honestly can’t take you anywhere else. I do, after all, have a match to go to! This is another new ground for me and I’m very excited.
Harrogate Town v Blackpool
Harrogate Town are newcomers to the league, having won promotion from the National League via the play-offs last season. They’ve had to replace their artificial pitch, as these are no longer permitted in the league, despite being the lifeblood of many non league clubs, and were groundsharing with Donny earlier this season. They’re back home now, though.
Critch changed half the team after a disastrous second half at Donny in the week. But it’s not as if he brought in players who aren’t good enough. Everyone in this squad ought to be good enough to perform in the first team when called upon. I know some are better than others, but Dan Ballard (on loan from Arsenal), Jordan (Lawrence-)Gabriel (on loan from Forest) and Ben Woodburn (on loan from Liverpool) are hardly League One reserve players. And now we’ve got them cup tied we might be able to keep them a little longer…
The first half was tough. Harrogate were feisty in midfield and carved chances up front – but they couldn’t cope with CJ Hamilton at all. They only had one man on him (foolish) and he just couldn’t cope with CJ’s pace. Consequently, CJ whipped countless balls from the right wing into the box. Alas, none were converted. Blackpool were woefully lacking in the conversion department. If only we had an instinctive goal poacher: a Scott Taylor, a Stephen Dobbie – even an Armand Gnanduillet. This is where we must strengthen in January.
Our fitness shone through in the second half (Critch even has them in training on Sundays) and we tore our hosts apart. Luke Garbutt scored directly from a corner (craftily bypassing the impotent forwards) and the floodgates opened, further goals coming from Grant Ward (nicely taken from in the D), Gabriel and Dan Kemp.
On the subject of Kemp, he and Bez Lubala are players I love to watch, and I was disappointed neither started today. They are both industrious, unpredictable troublemakers that opponents find hard to handle. Fellow Blackpool blogger Mitch Cook’s Left Foot describes Bez as ‘a manic chaos engine’. Please do give him a read and a sub, by the way, as his blogs are beautifully written. I particularly love his imagery, as he describes Ballard as having ‘the strength of an ox, the timing of a Rolex, the spacial awareness of a bat...’
Harrogate had a man sent off towards the end, which seemed harsh/stupid and you could imagine James Husband doing that sort of thing. He was flat out on the floor and our man was through on goal and destined to score. The game was already lost to Harrogate at that point, so it was pointless really – perhaps simply frustration or instinct to stop a certain goal.
Here’s how Lee and I reacted to the action as it happened on our livestream show on YouTube:
My train home was not until 1807, giving me time after the match to head to the bottle shop. Hmm now let’s see…
- Brass Castle Christmas Kitty Festive Spiced Porter
- Brass Castle Hygge Figgy Gluten Free Fig, Blueberry & Almond Porter
- Amundsen Barrel Aged Upside-Down Christmas Cake
- Amundsen Sticky Little Fingers Sticky Toffee Cinnamon Ultra Pastry Stout
- Play Brew Co Chocolate & Honeycomb Birthday Cake Stout
PLEASE SOMEONE GET ME OUT OF HARROGATE!!! I’m probably half a stone heavier just from this virtual crawl…
…but of course a visit to Harrogate would not be complete without the compulsory visit to Betty’s. If I’d been a bit more organised (and the earlier train prices had been a bit more favourable…and the breakfast items were actually listed on their website), I’d have popped in here for breakfast earlier. As it is, I’ll have to be content with a takeaway afternoon tea:
Ooh I felt like I was in first class on the train home with that veritable feast! Cheers Betty, love! I also treated myself to a cheeky Christmas tea.
Tea is my non-alcoholic flavour adventure and I love sampling different exciting ones. Betty’s is, of course, home of the famous Yorkshire Tea. Sadly, black tea is a migraine trigger for me (I love an Earl Grey as well), so it’s fruit, herbal, green and red tea all the way for me.
The train had me back in Blackpool for 2104 (again changing at Leeds). Today was a grand day out. I know I’m not supposed to, but I love Yorkshire. So there.
NB Pics above are taken from the websites referenced.
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