THERE was a good story in my old newspaper this week about beer. That paper does like its beer, and why not, as there is a lot of it sloshing around York.
The Scottish brewers Brewdog want to open a bar in Micklegate in a premises that has been empty for a while and has seen assorted uses (photography studio, Yorkshire deli, charity furniture store). A neighbouring restaurant owner had been attempting to block the licence in court on the grounds of suitability. Clarissa O’Callaghan owns a newish restaurant called Rattle Owl, and she was suitably rattled by the prospect of the Brewdog pub.
So much so that, bizarrely, she hired a private detective to visit other Brewdog bars. To no one’s general surprise, he discovered that people are sometimes found to be inebriated in their vicinity (possibly from drinking the lovely but lethal Punk IPA).
My York private investigator Rick Rounder was never employed on a job like that. Neither was he hired to investigate the toilet habits of bears amid the trees, but there you go.
Brewdog won the day in court and the pub will now open. I walked past the empty premises yesterday afternoon, then past the nearby restaurant. The empty shop would be better used as a full pub, I’d say; and, in fairness, Rattle Owl looked perfectly nice, and it had a good review in the Yorkshire Post recently.
I was on my way to visit another new pub in York. They open all the time in this city. This isn’t necessarily a good thing, except that they are often very good. And often full, too.
The minus side is that every time a local shop closes, a pub or restaurant moves in, often a chain. Already the departed china shop Mulberry Hall has a notice in the window about a licence application, so that’ll be somewhere else to eat and drink. If this continues, soon York will be nothing more than an endless jumble of pubs, coffee bars and restaurants. And with each properly local shop that disappears, a little bit of York goes too. This is a shame, but here comes the hypocritical footnote: I visit those pubs and coffee shops, and often like them.
I carried on down Micklegate which was filled with the usual Saturday throngs. Probably the usual Saturday thongs as well, the way some of these people dress. I passed a group of Señoritas tottering about in fancy dress, although I thank that is the wrong use of the word. Señorita usually refers to a young unmarried woman, whereas this lot were mostly middle-aged and wearing the sort of short skirts they might once have warned their daughters against going out it.
Often with these groups the shortest skirts rise above the oldest legs, but who am I to comment? Come the summer and I’ll be out there in my shorts, although not the lurid makeup.
My destination yesterday, after picking my wife up from work, was the new Brew York bar in Walmgate. This sounded odd in prospect, a huge warehouse turned into a brewery and pub. In the event it was fantastic.
The beer was tremendous: I had a pint of Brew York Brew York IPA, and will certainly return for more. There was folk music on a raised area above the bar, and at the back – if you brave all those smokers – a riverside area looks over the Foss, with Rowntree Wharf looming up like the prow of a very tall ship.
Congratulations to co-founders Wayne Smith and Lee Grabham. Brew York deserves to be a great success, and it gives a much-needed fillip to a part of York that is still working to overcome the effects of the floods at Christmas.