Great Northern Pubs
Ok, seeing as though Culture Vulture is in the mood for lists, here’s a handful of Great Pubs that we are spoiled to have here in the North. A few minor pointers, first, however; note that this is not definitive, nor a “best of” – very much a word-of- mouth exercise amongst a few beery mates; there are simply far too many great pubs to mention here. I’ve steered clear of ‘Gastropubs’ - simply due to the fact that many are not geared towards the customer who does not want to eat – and Beer Bars. To be fair, probably deserve a list of their own. So, onward and upward – here are some great Northern pubs.
The Philharmonic Dining Rooms, Liverpool – (Pictured Above) Despite the name, this cavernous pub and Grade2* listed building is a must-see whilst in Liverpool. Opened in 1898, the interior – all carved wood, acid-etched glass, mosaic-tiled flooring and high ceilings, provides cocoon-like wonder for those in search of a truly opulent place for a drink. The beer range is varied, and food is served every day. No beer journey to Liverpool is complete without a pint in The Phil.
The Cross Keys, Leeds – The Cross Keys is North’s softer, warmer sister and a gem to boot. As to be expected from the same people behind North, the beer range is excellent, with local beers from the likes of Abbeydale and Rooster’s nestling alongisde more esoteric brewers such as Thornbridge and Sierra Nevada. Achingly hip-yet-incredibly- friendly staff glide around, ensuring the plates and glasses are full, and the food is excellent. From Sunday Roasts to Beer-Matching nights, The Cross Keys is worth taking that trip out of the city centre for.
The Grove, Huddersfield – Easily one of my Favourite places in the entire world. Behind the unremarkable exterior sits a beer heaven; a massive beer list, stupidly knowledgeable and friendly staff, and a relaxed, unmistakeably down-to-earth vibe. There’s no airs and graces here; just some serious drinking where locals sits side by side with beer geeks on pilgrimage. Once you’ve drunk here you’ll find it difficult to go to Huddersfield without popping in for a swift half.
The Narrow Boat, Skipton – Part of the Market Town Tavern group, those familiar with the likes of Arcadia in Headingley and Veritas in Leeds will know what to expect; a no-nonsense, northern-centric beer range, homecooked food and an aversion to loud music, sport and big crowds (apart from Morris Dancers, of course). Dog-friendly, it’s the perfect place to relax after a pleasant jaunt around Skipton with the faithful hound laid at your feet.
The Marble Arch, Manchester – Situated in the slightly-less-glamorous Northern Quarter, The MA is the birthplace of Marble; one of the North’s best young breweries. A gently sloped floor leads to a small but well-stocked bar, where you can sample Marble’s wares as well as a few well-sourced guests. The food’s no slouch either; and I can personally recommend the wonderful cheese board. Be warned; you might get neck-ache gazing at the original tiled ceilings. A beauty of a Pub. Well worth the short walk out of the city centre.
The Maltings, York – Despite the plethora of brilliant pubs in York, The Maltings is always the first and last stop on every trip to York, for me. Over the road from the Train Station, you get a lot packed into a tiny space – great beer, always fresh and a rotating choice, a busy-yet-fun vibe, and the odd bit of food thrown in as well. If you can get a table it’s a bonus, but The Maltings has been a part of York’s fabric for a long time; and so it should.
The Crown Posada, Newcastle - How many places have excellent Real Ale, various CAMRA awards under its belt, stunning interiors and music courtesy of a Gramophone? The Crown Posada is the city’s second oldest Pub, and has a legion of fans who sink endless pints from the likes of Jarrow, Wylam and Taylor’s amongst others. If you’re in town, into beer – or even peace, quiet and relaxation – then the Crown is the pub for you.
Mr Foley’s Cask Ale House, Leeds - OK, I’m from Leeds so I think we should have two pubs in this list. Foley’s has come on leaps and bounds in the last 18 months or so, with one of the best ale selections in the city (and getting better al the time). Bar food is served every day, and Foley’s manages that tricky task of showing sports without attracting replica-kit beshirted idiots. Sports, good food, great beer, and staff that genuinely care about what you put in the pint glass – what else do you need?
The Boltmaker’s Arms, Keighley – Somewhat of a pilgrimage if you like Timothy Taylor’s beers. With Tetley’s disappearing from Leeds, Taylor’s will become one of the biggest Yorkshire Breweries, and The Boltmakers is held by many a local to serve the best pint of it in the land. Unassuming, small, unchanged, and unashamedly local.
The Lion Inn, Blakey Ridge – The Lion got a surprisingly large amount of mentions despite it’s remoteness. Nestling in the North Yorkshire Moors, The Lion has been refreshing walkers for centuries. A Theakston’s house, you can expect robust bitters, unfussy food to fill the empty belly, and stunning views. Again, if the legs get too heavy, there are B&B rooms available.
The Tan Hill Inn, Richmond – The Tan Hill Inn is kind of famous – it’s been featured on many programmes and adverts – as it’s the highest pub in Britain. A walk from the beautiful countryside of Swaledale will take you there, and you can enjoy a pint at 1732 feet above sea level. Again, another Theakston’s house (well, it is their back yard), means rustic interiors, muddy boots, real ale and simple bar food.
The York, Sheffield – Sheffield has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to great pubs, but The York is a little outside bet amongst the regular runners. Sheffield Brew Company brew an in-house Porter for them, but the main draw is the food – an awesome menu, supplemented by wares from their own Smokery. That’s right – their own Smokery. All jams, chutneys and breads are homemade, but The York manages to cater for both the diner and the drinker excellently.
Well those are my (and some well-informed friends!) tips for some of the best places to drink whilst seeing some of the sights that our Northern cities, towns and villages have to offer. Do let me know if you have any suggestions or recommendations of your own in the comments box. What makes a great pub can very personal; it could be something as small as your favourite spot by the window or closeness to your front door. But one thing that all ‘Great Pubs’ have in common is the welcome; if you are made to feel at home when sitting down with friends or own your own, then you’re onto a winner. That’s the key.