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Brew York...Raising the Bar....

I visited York last weekend to meet up with some of the family who were over from Ireland and staying in the city. After a pleasant lunch and catch-up, some had things to do, while the rest of us headed off into the city centre with the aim - well, it was mine, anyway - of visiting the Brew York brewery tap.

We arranged to meet the rest of them at the Blue Bell on Fossgate, a wonderful friendly old pub with a tiled exterior, a beautiful wood-panelled interior with two small rooms, and a serving hatch for the corridor, which acts almost as a third room. I opted for a very pleasant pint of South Side, from Roosters, which with both rooms being full, was enjoyed in the corridor. The Blue Bell is one of those timeless pubs that is a reassuring escape from the bustle of the city streets outside.

From the Blue Bell it is a short walk down Fossgate, cross the bridge over the River Foss, and then on to Walmgate which eventually leads through a bar in the city walls to another great pub, the Rook and Gaskill. We didn't have to go that far, though; Brew York is situated just over the Foss bridge, at the back of a yard which is also home to a bike shop and a boxing club. The brewery tap opens for a few hours on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, a few additional ones on a Friday, and then all day on a Saturday and Sunday.

The taproom was quite busy when we got there, a great atmosphere, subdued lighting, and decent music coming out of the sound system. Away to the left, the steel pipes and tanks of the brewery on the left gleamed in the half-light. We made for the bar, which is situated on the left halfway down the room. The place was busy, as befits a brewery whose beers have been some of the best I have drunk this year. The brewery only started up in 2016, and with a 20hl brew house, plus in excess of 250hl capacity for fermentation and conditioning, and their beers being widely available across the country, it has been a pretty impressive start by any standard. And what of the beers? Well, they are pretty impressive too. I think the first time I tried one was a pint of Keras, a 4.1% American-style IPA, at the Victorian in Halifax earlier this year. I remember it being very good. There were other memorable ones over the following months: a delicious pint of the 4.5% session IPA X-Panda at Drink! in Hebden Bridge, a can of the occasional X-Parrot bursting with tropical fruit favours and weighing in at over 5%, plus several more in various locations over the ensuing months. They are all interesting beers, crammed with flavours, with their take on a traditional English bitter, the 3.9% Maris the Otter - another one with a wildlife reference - which my brother-in-law and I enjoyed at the tap room, going down well with the customers when I called in the Stalybridge Buffet Bar the other evening. These guys can brew!

Lest we forget, there is another brewery within the walls of the city, York Brewery, who since the mid-90's have been brewing pleasant enough beers like Guzzler, Yorkshire Terrier, and Centurion's Ghost, and have plenty of admirers. Brew York have, though, brought something extra to the city's brewing portfolio - fresh, modern, interesting beers, crammed with flavour, featuring striking, unmissable, artwork on their pump clips,taps, and cans. If you haven't tried them yet, they are well worth seeking out. As you can no doubt tell, I am a fan.

Back at the taproom, the family seemed to have enjoyed their visit, even the non-beer drinkers. Indeed, my niece apparently thought it was 'cool'. We said our goodbyes, and I headed back through the busy evening streets towards the station with my sister and brother-in-law. A quick pint followed at the Maltings - always a reliable place for a good pint - before I left them there as I had to catch my train, having had a most enjoyable day.

The following day, I headed into Halifax. After enjoying the Sunday vibe and a couple of pints of Marble Pint at the Grayston Unity, I moved on to the Alexandra, whose next door music venue, as mentioned last time, The Lantern, opens this weekend. I had an interesting beer from the delightfully-named Weird Beard brewery from West London. Unfortunately its name escapes me, and I can't recall it amongst the large number, most with great names, listed on their website, but I enjoyed it. From there I visited the Victorian Beer Cafe where, just as previously mentioned I'd had my first pint of Brew York, I had my first pint from Good Chemistry, an up and coming brewery from Bristol, where, according to their excellent local CAMRA magazine, 'Pints West', there seems to be exciting things going on in the local brewing scene. This was another really good beer, Kokomo Weekend, at 7% and full of flavour! Beers from Arbor and Bristol Beer Factory have been regularly seen in West Yorkshire for a year or two now, it is good to see the likes of Good Chemistry and Wiper and True starting to appear in our local pubs and bars. Maybe I should take a trip to Bristol some time....

So, a most agreeable weekend all round, with some good company, excellent places, and great beer....

Brew York Taproom

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