I spent the weekend there with my CAMRA chums and of course, Eileen. A quick run down of impressions will suffice I think. The pub scene is relatively thriving. The usual rule applies in that good pubs were really busy and crap ones weren't - not that we spent any time in crap ones - but we did look see a few times. The cafe bar scene is big there, with modern IKEA furnished places abounding, but as well as food and foreign beers (a must), well chosen cask ales completed the picture. Ripon was big on these, as was Knaresbourgh. Cask beer was uniformly in good condition, though with a few surprises. John Smith's cask was widely available, as was Theakstons and Black Sheep.
The JDW in Thirsk, where we stayed, was excellent with brisk and friendly service and good beers from the JDW festival list. My usual luck with North Yorkshire weather held. That is, it pissed down, so much so that we just stayed in JDW all night, until we drank them out of the excellent Grumpy, brewed by Port Brewery's Tomme Arthur at Shepherd Neame. This was resinous, bitter and hoppy with the amarillo hops shining through. No caramel malts to ruin it either. Delicious.
Best pubs were old favourites, Blind Jack's in Knaresborough - heaving on a Saturday lunchtime and The One Eyed Rat in Ripon which had a German beer festival on. Both are old favourites and "don't miss" destinations. Best beers? The aforementioned Grumpy, closely followed by Saltaire Bavarian Gold.
The One Eyed Rat was full of us CAMRA types, a visiting (posh) rugby team from Darlington and locals. It was an eclectic mix and the friendliest scene imaginable. All mixed easily. That's one sign of a good pub. The quality of the offering is another.
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