Pub/Bar of the Month November 2016: Pivni, York, UK
Pivni, York, UK
On a number of occasions I’ve been invited to host beer tastings at the York Food Festival. It’s always a fun event, with lots of enthusiasm from local drinkers, and it’s topped off for me by the chance to visit some of the city’s excellent watering holes.
The first place I always head for, as it’s just around the corner from where the tastings take place, is Pivni, which, it must be said, is not your typical York pub.
Located in a quiet side street just off the famous Shambles, it was opened in 2007 in a Grade II-listed, thirteenth-century building that had previously been home to a travel agency and a shoe shop.
Externally, it looks a little precarious and top heavy, with its black-and-white timbered upper storeys jutting out over the street below, but this does mean that, while the downstairs bar is rather narrow and confined, there are more spacious rooms upstairs.
I always like to be close to the action so the ground floor suits me just fine.
Here, beneath the low, crooked beams, there are just four small tables, set on a tiled floor, but I’m quite comfortable perched on a stool at the end of the bar from where I can see what the connoisseurs of York are choosing these days and have plenty of time to scan the taps to work out what I’m having next.
The pub is owned by Pivovar, the local beer importers and distributors who are probably most closely associated with the excellent, unpasteurised Bernard lagers from the Czech Republic.
I usually kick off with a premium or dark lager and then move on to the ales. There are five handpumps, dispensing beers that are racked on a stillage directly behind the bar.
The choices come from near and far – Thornbridge, Buxton, Bristol Beer Factory or Box Steam, perhaps, as well as beer from Pivni’s own Tapped Brew Co. – and twelve keg taps that feature both British and international brews, including weizens such as Weihenstephan and Maisel’s.
There are plenty of bottles and cans, too, which are brought to your attention in a glass cabinet right by the front door.
Rock music is pumped out of the speakers, which guarantees a vibrant atmosphere that is appreciated on a weekend evening by a youngish crowd. But, if it’s a bit too noisy down here, there is respite from the bustle up a twisting staircase.
The two upper levels feature lots of exposed old brickwork, blackened beams and rugs strewn over bare boards.
On the first floor stripped wood tables and a couple of armchairs provide the furnishings while on the top floor the atmosphere is totally different again. With its wooden benches and low-slung table lamps, it’s like an alpine chalet up here.
The success of Pivni – described as a ‘World Beer Freehouse’ – has prompted Pivovar to expand its pub empire.
Following in its wake have been a number of other bars, including the acclaimed railway venues The Sheffield Tap (profiled on these pages in September 2011), The Euston Tap in London, The Harrogate Tap and, just half a mile away from Pivni, the splendid York Tap, which, if you can prise yourself away from Pivni itself, is another must-visit pub in a city that is bursting with excellent boozers.
Pivni, 6 Patrick Pool, York YO1 8BB
Tel. (01904) 635464
Opening Hours: 11.30–11.30