Catherine of Braganza would surely have been packed off back to Portugal if she’d arrived in Tadcaster and demanded tea rather than beer. Mind you, we managed OK – there’s a great little tea room and a nice place for coffee. Hey, even brewery workers need a cuppa!
You don’t even need to get out of the car to smell the malt brewing in Tadcaster. Locals probably barely notice it, I guess, but for me it had memories of when the wind was in the east in my home town of Hull – that was when we’d get the malty, mushy feel to the atmosphere on the way to school, as Hull Brewery got to work.
And just to say welcome, what should trot past within a minute of hitting Tadcaster’s main street than this horse-drawn beer delivery cart, courtesy of Sam Smith’s. Again, it’s an every day sight for the locals, and apparently it’s the reason why there are no nasty speed limiters (bumps, slalom-like blocks) in Tadcaster: it would upset the horses and might upset the beer cart, literally.
Just across the road from Sam Smith’s, and in a building owned – like most of Tadcaster – by one of the beer-brewing familes, is our choice for coffee in Tadcaster.
The Granary in Bridge Street focuses as much on its evening bistro menu as its daytime café, but they do bake their own scones and teacakes (ours came straight out of the oven – first batch of the day), and the Caffe Society coffee does a decent cappuccino.
It can get really busy in here, but if you do stay on for lunch and have a table, why not kick back and have a beer – Sam Smith’s, of course…
It’s the quality of the water from the River Wharfe (and the bubbles from the natural springs under the riverbed) that make this an ideal spot for brewing beer.
This was a Roman settlement too, though, and apparently somehow or other those Romans managed to ford the river somewhere near Tadcaster, although it’s hard today to work out where.
Another nice little bit of history comes from The Ark, Tadcaster’s oldest remaining building. The lucky staff at the Town Council work in here now (though I’m told it gets a bit nippy in winter), but its claim to fame is that the Pilgrim Fathers apparently met here to plot their big trip across the Atlantic – a reminder that a good number of them came from Yorkshire, of course.
For tea, we came across the lovely Tea Lounge in Westgate.
This place ticked a lot of the Fancy a Cuppa? boxes: delicious, home-baked cakes, made to recipes passed down from owner Lisa’s granny – and none of them written down…yet; tea and cake beautifully-presented in their own attractive blue tea sets; and a really warm welcome.
These cakes were some of the best I’d tasted on this North Yorkshire tour – no wonder people travel from miles around for a cuppa here. And the nicest thing about the owner’s attitude to her business is her constant look-out for new ideas, listening to customer suggestions and always thinking how to make her tea room that little bit better.
So, no complacency about being the best tea in Tadcaster here!
Now, I’ve mentioned Sam Smith’s brewery and beers a few times in this blog entry. So it’d only be fair to mention the other breweries in town, too.
John Smith’s is the big brewery whose presence looms over the High Street (Sam Smith’s is quite discreet in comparison, although only a few yards away).
And just round the corner is Coors brewery, the best views of which come from down by the riverside.
So, in Tadcaster, it doesn’t matter which way the wind blows. Chances are you’ll smell the beer brewing. To escape, you’ll just have to go into one of our tea or coffee suggestions for another type of brew…