The York pub that taps into the brewing boom

Beautiful renovation, brilliant beers… the York Tap. Photograph: York Tap
7 Jan 2013 @ 4.40 pm
| Food & drink

Beautiful renovation, brilliant beers… the York Tap. Photograph: York Tap
Beautiful renovation, brilliant beers… the York Tap. Photograph: York Tap
A pub created in the shell of the city’s model railway is on track for another award this week. York CAMRA’s Nick Love knows why

If one event exemplified the ever increasingly popularity of real ale and the burgeoning success of microbreweries it was the opening of the York Tap. This homage to the hop was a year old not so long ago and in that time it has carried all before it, garnering an enviable array of awards and with it national prominence.

This was brought home to me recently when in a very well-known craft beer house in London. Sometime during the general badinage with bar staff I mentioned where I lived and it turned out they were organising a day return trip to York. Ferroequinologists they were not, yet they had no intention of leaving the environs of the station. The York Tap has that allure.

york-tap-2It is particularly rare that a single pub brings together all the key individual criteria which ensures a thoroughly enjoyable drinking experience. The York Tap has just won York Camra’s Winter Pub of the Season as it manages this feat. It is architecturally satisfying; it serves consistently good beer; it has wide demographic appeal – all types of humanity pass through it; it is eminently accessible and it has a huge choice of draught beers, ciders and lagers as well as many more bottled specialities.

Firstly, the sensitive renovation should not be overlooked, as it often is. This is a skilfully restored piece of railway heritage. The attention to detail by experienced pub interior renovators Andy Stone Ltd and a willingness to not skimp on quality by the owners Pivovar Ltd should be applauded.

That applause was forthcoming most tangibly in the form of the Railway Heritage Trust Conservation Award for the best restored listed structure. It’s not hard to see why they won this gong: much of the original fabric of the former Victorian tearoom has been kept, from the terrazzo floor, to the iron columns and most impressively the beautiful stained glass cupolas that flood the bar with natural light.

On a cold winter’s evening the restored original fireplace surrounds encase flickering open fires that project much needed warmth and contribute to the ambience and conviviality.

The handsome period-style island bar hosts a vast ever-changing eclectic range of 20 real ales, 12 craft beers and the arched pediment with two clocks at the back of the bar houses capacious fridges stocking an international range of bottled beers. This has ensured not only an enviable local reputation with York drinkers, but national publicity and recognition in the form of UK Cask Ale Pub of the Year from The Morning Advertiser.

Although it stocks beer from all over the UK, local breweries have also benefitted from having their portfolios showcased in the York Tap with Meet The Brewer events from Hop Studio and Urban Brewhouse being two of the most recent.


The York Tap’s proximity to the station ensures it serves probably one of the most diverse clientele around. It is an ideal source of refuge for the weary traveller heading home after a long stint at the coalface. I’m sure that many trains have been missed or caught later than intended due to “one too many”, but I doubt few hold this against it and probably repeat their tardy punctuality before too long!

As well as regular commuters, the pub has become a haven for drinkers from not just Yorkshire, but all parts of the UK with numerous groups organising special away-days.

This Thursday, January 10, I will have the happy task of presenting the York Tap with York Camra’s Winter Pub of the Season award as part of a night of celebration of the success of the pub itself but also of Yorkshire brewing and local breweries in particular.

Probably only once will you ever find 18 beers in one place that come from breweries that are less than 25 miles from York. That is what the good people at the York Tap have in store for you if you make it down there that evening. More than that – most of those beers are award winners from the 2012 York Beer Festival so you don’t need a better incentive than that.

The award itself is well deserved, for a local pub that has contributed greatly to making York the real ale destination city that it has become.