In A Happy Place – A Weekend at the North Riding Brewpub

Weekends away. Something that we lost. Fresh sea air, laughter with friends you haven’t seen in person in over 2 years. Lockdowns can have that effect on your social life. But sometimes, opportunities arrive (and are inspired) at the strangest times.

This one was in the immediate aftermath of the #ISBFHeroes4 event. And a chat with my dear friends Mike & Jo. About the ISBF Heroes 4 playlist. It went something like…..

“Have you ever been to…….? No? Well then…..back in a few minutes…… What dates are you available?……

I know that I’ve said this before, but the North Riding Brewpub in Scarborough is one of my happy places. A place of some very special memories for both myself and TLO. Lovely evenings before our world inverted, evenings of healing afterwards. Healing, via the sweet balm of great beer and lovely, friendly people.

A combination of destination pub and Local. With the added bonus of a 2bbl brewery in the cellar. A cask range showcasing beers from both downstairs and the “Factory” (North Riding Brewery – for me, my favourite cask brewery). A keg range from some of the best in the country (including a dedicated Kernel line…..). The beer is exceptional. But – for me – as fabulous as that is, the attraction is the people.

And Karen & Stuart Neilson are good people.

TLO and I got to Scarbados via 4 trains. Owing to line works between Leeds & York we had to travel via Sheffield (Bolton to Mcr. Mcr to Sheffield. Sheffield to York. York to Scarbados.

The juice is always worth the squeeze.

The weather forecast was unspeakably shit.

Weather forecasters eh?

What do forecasters know eh?

Walking into the pub, a masked figure wrapped TLO in a bear hug. Oh how we’ve missed Karen. Force of nature meets pub owner meets one of the best custodians of cask conditioned beer in the country. She’s a bit beyond description. She’s a sweetie.

Walking into the bar, John & Caroline (also over from God’s own county) were already in situ. Looking content. Beer was ordered. Fellow travellers Mike, Jo & Jock soon sat with us. And whilst it would be easy to extol the exceptional beer lists (the beers WERE fabulous – lists below), it’s always the people that make the evening.

Conversations had me in tears of laughter and joy. I’ll never think of Andy Williams in the same way again! All regulations were in place and adhered to. Some beautiful doggos visited. Chats with locals across tables. Service was fabulous and attentive (with Karen in charge, I never doubted). We polished off beers. The lists changed….

There may have been a can or two from the equally excellent fridge selection to finish the night right….

Next morning, an invigorating stroll along the length of the North Bay prom….

Just behind the pub. The North Bay….

After a wander around town (Mike & Jo watched a pod of Dolphins and schlepped up to Scarborough Castle!) we headed back to the pub to plan food (a monstrous kebab delivery from the excellent La Unica) whilst I had another “appointment” with the rather gorgeous Barleywine……

The struggle to hire staff in hospitality was borne out by Karen having to run everything herself. Pour, serve, collect, clean. Having a chat with her later, I got a clear sense of frustration. Something that tallies with a lot that I’m hearing about hiring staff in the industry.

But she did a belting job. She always does.

More exceptional beers flowed. More Elusive / North Riding “Spin Wizard”. More Marble / North Riding “Silly Point”. The introduction of “Bitter Summat” by Five Towns went down well. As did the Peasholm Pale brewed in the cellar. There might have been more of that Kernel East India Porter…

But beer. It’s not everything is it?

This weekend was about being with friends. Walking. Talking. Listening. Laughing (occasionally uncontrollably – I’ll never think of Andy Williams in the same way again! Repeated for emphasis…) . Thank you Jock, Jo, Mike, Caroline & John. So much.

And also about being in one of my happiest of places. With two lovely people. Karen & Stuart.

In one of the best pubs in the country. The North Riding Brewpub. If you’ve never been, then you should.

You can thank me later.

Back soon. Jx