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Pub’s new double act
12:46pm Saturday 24th November 2012 in Pints of View
GAVIN AITCHISON previews the new look Rook and Gaskill in York
IF you’ve been along Lawrence Street this week, then there’s a fair chance you’ll have already clocked the latest development in York’s ever-changing beer scene.
After a seven-week closure and a refurbishment, the award-winning Rook and Gaskill is reopening to the public – under new management and with a new beer range.
Martin Kellaway from Wharfebank Brewery and Steve Bradley from the Fulford Arms are the new team in charge, following the departure of former landlord Neil Trafford last month. Martin is taking on the tenancy from owners Castle Rock Brewery and Steve’s company, Fillmore Entertainments, will run the place.
Work is under way on a tidying-up job inside the pub and new signs have gone up outside, ahead of the planned opening in around ten days’ time (watch this space next week for a more details).
It’s uncharted but exciting territory for Wharfebank, whose beers have long sold well in York but who have never had a base in the city to call their own. Tether Blond, Slingers Gold and Camfell Flame are regular sights on York bars, while their spicy Christmas special – WassAle – has been spectacular in the past couple of years.
At the Rook and Gaskill, Wharfebank beers will occupy three of the hand-pulls, giving them a strong presence in one of the city’s best real-ale pubs, a welcome development all round. Castle Rock will take two hand-pulls alongside them and a further four will be left freehold for rotating guest ales, always including one local ale from the YO postcode area.
Martin is clear that the pub will remain a “beer first” venue, protecting the reputation it has established in recent years under Traff, and he says he’s delighted to have reached an agreement for its future and to have Steve as manager.
“Our long-held belief is that pubs are a terrific way of showcasing what we do best – produce great beer,” he says. “The Rook and Gaskill enjoys a reputation as one of the stalwarts of the local pubs scene in York.”
Castle Rock’s MD Colin Wilde is also upbeat, saying the venture will allow them to tap into local knowledge on the beer front, securing a prosperous future for the pub.
Steve, meanwhile, stresses that he is not leaving the Fulford Arms but will run both venues, with the support of his staff. He says the aim is to make the pub a “good beer house that people can drink in” – and says he thinks it can win York pub of the year next year.
Only time will tell if he’s right, of course. But if he and Martin can hit the ground running, and maintain the excellent reputation the Rook has built up in recent years, then they’ll certainly be in with a fighting chance.
• The Slip Inn in Clementhorpe has a beer festival next weekend, featuring West Yorkshire breweries.