Beer Range Pub of the Year 2009: Pivo Café Bar, York

Related tags Keg Cask ale Beer

A cramped 12th century timber-framed building in the centre of old York is not the likeliest home for a modern beer emporium - Pivo doesn't even have...

A cramped 12th century timber-framed building in the centre of old York is not the likeliest home for a modern beer emporium - Pivo doesn't even have a cellar. But that doesn't stop it delivering an exceptional, and educational, experience.

Opened in September 2007, the bar is owned by the UK importer of Czech brewer Bernard and while three of its draught beers are permanently featured the rest is down to manager Jamie Hawksworth's prolific imagination.

There are 11 other keg beers on the bar, none of them from multinationals. They could include Schneider Weisse, Sierra Nevada, Duvel Green, Weihenstephan Dunkel, La Chouffe, Timmermans Strawberry, Apple Bocq and something from London's Meantime Brewery.

Kegs are rotated daily to excite the yeasts, improving flavour and aroma, and each beer has its own dedicated glass.

Three cask ales from micros and family brewers change on a weekly basis. Because there is no cellar they are served from tilting stillages on the back-bar and kept in perfect condition with the help of Pivo's own cooling system, which makes innovative use of line chillers and probes, and are closely monitored.

The fridges are stocked with at least 60 bottled beers from around the world, the choice driven by the exciting and the unusual, most sourced direct from the brewer. Hawksworth is always looking for something different - don't be surprised to find a canned beer, if it's interesting enough.

Want more? Then bring out the Randolph Maximator, a device from America which adds extra hops to blander brews to create one-off house beers and provoke debate among the regulars.

All this could be intimidating for the casual visitor. But while you're catching your breath at the choice of beers there's always a highly trained and enthusiastic member of the Pivo bar team to help you find your way into the range, offer tasters and hold your hand through the more exotic and challenging taste sensations on offer.

Customers can browse the beer menu in the intimate, relaxing, yet always buzzing, atmosphere of the downstairs bar and - if it gets too crowded - retreat to the tables in the more spacious upstairs area.

Food is not a speciality, but if solids are required Pivo has an arrangement with a nearby delicatessen which brings in a range of paninis that can be toasted behind the bar.

For the regulars and staff fortnightly tasting parties, often with a brewer invited, promote discussion of

new products and are a great opportunity to get feedback from drinkers as well as proving additional training for barstaff.

The formula has proved a great success - and now Pivo is in the process of opening a sister-bar in Sheffield.

Related topics Beer

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