As well as Betty's, another interesting stop-off in York is the medieval hall which hides a secret pub called the House of the Trembling Madness. There is a sign on the downstairs shop window, but the place looks like a well-stocked off-licence and you have to walk through the shop to a set of stairs at the back.
At the top is a high ceilinged and beamed room as well as the tiny but creatively stocked bar. The oak beams are from ships that sailed over 800 years ago and the original building dates from 1180. There's a need for some ingenuity to get a seat in busy times, but its worth the jiggle to get snug and taste a beer or two and maybe one of the well-prepared dishes, which can include mushy peas and mash and perhaps some ghostly ingredients.
We stayed with the lower octane beers and under the counter scrumpy (although 5.5% was actually quite strong), but there's a range of Belgian monastery beers well into the 9% that would hasten me into the Confrerie van de Roze Olifant, were I to partake.
Beyond even that were a few ultra strong tipples like the 32% abv Tactical Nuclear Penguin which is probably best admired in the bottle.