The York pub interviews: The Brigantes – ‘We’re a sweet shop for adults’

Kevin Jones behind the bar of the Brigantes on Micklegate
27 Feb 2014 @ 9.40 am
| Food & drink
Kevin Jones behind the bar of the Brigantes on Micklegate
Kevin Jones behind the bar of the Brigantes on Micklegate. Photographs: Nick Love

In the first of his audio interviews with the people behind York’s Good Beer Guide pubs CAMRA’s Nick Love talks to a main man on Micklegate

To the uninitiated, “The Micklegate Run” could be one of those laudable annual half marathons that raises thousands for good causes. A bit wide of the mark I’m afraid!

For years this half mile stretch of licentious revelry has provided alcoholic lubrication for seething masses of humanity, but often resembles Darwin’s Waiting Room at weekends.

Who am I to judge though – there’s no doubting that its establishments provide local employment and deliver copious enjoyment, but until relatively recently not much for real ale lovers.

That changed just seven years ago when Brigantes morphed from the shell of a charity shop into a sort of craft beer “safe house” – seemingly invisible to hordes of stocious stag and hen parties yet known to those needing hoptastic refuge.

Listen here

Brigantes’ decor is minimalist but smart, having recently been refurbished by owners Market Town Taverns to include a new separate area to cater specifically for diners.

This leaves an unfussy bar area with a stripped wooden floor leading to a welcoming sunken adjoining lounge, both accommodating an eclectic mix of thirsty imbibers who come to taste the ever changing selection of ten handpulled real ales.

There is a predilection for supporting local Yorkshire breweries but there are also regular beers from as far away as the Isle of Man.

There is a more than respectable selection of craft beers on keg as well as traditional ciders.

Inside the Brigantes
Inside the Brigantes

As with all great examples of their type, Good Beer Guide pubs give the perception of a relaxed charm and a well-oiled machine naturally ticking over.

As with most things that work well, this belies the hard work and best practice that happens behind the scenes.

The art of excellence is the practice of making the complex seem simple and obvious.

Pulling all of this together at Brigantes is the charismatic Liverpudlian Kevin Jones. You don’t have to spend too long with him to realise that running a bar is a vocation and not a transitory pastime on the way to his chosen career.

Bar managers at the top of their game, like Kev, are articulate and intelligent. They know their business sector, their customers and strategise on how to deliver the best possible experience to their clientele.

There’s a genuine love of the products they sell, and their diligent research is reflected in the excellent quality and diversity of what’s on the bar.

The aim of these series of interviews with the protagonists behind all 12 of York’s Good Beer Guide pubs is to give you an insight into not only what goes into making them stand out from the crowd, but also to cast a light on some pertinent national issues facing the licenced trade as well.

I also believe that audio delivers an added texture and colour, where monochrome words on a monitor do scant justice, when it comes to personality.

The nuances of character, the vocal inflections, the enthusiasm, the peeks behind the scenes, the considered opinions – they’re all there.

I hope you enjoy getting a flavour of what goes into making York the best pub city in the UK.