Having just recovered from the Great British Beer Festival, beer drinkers around the UK are rejoicing at the release of the latest edition of the Good Beer Guide.
To mark the launch of this beer tome, CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) has announced the 16 regional finalists of it’s Pub of the Year competition.
These pubs now have the chance to win the National Pub of the Year competition, won last year by The Baum in Rochdale.
Pubs are judged on their atmosphere, decor, welcome, service, value for money, customer mix, but most importantly, quality of beer.
CAMRA’s top 16 pubs in the United Kingdom
Nag’s Head, 5 Russell Street, Reading, RG1 7XD
In six years the nag’s head has established itself as a premier ale and cider venue. Pies and baguettes are available during the week, with a roast on Sunday. An eclectic mix of bottled beers is stocked. Numerous board games are available above the (tuned and working) upright piano.
The Dove, 68 Hospital Road, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 3JU www.thedovepub.co.uk
A traditional Victorian Ale House just five minutes’ walk from the historic town centre. The Dove has six handpumps and real ciders but no music, TV, gaming machines or lager. A no frills main bar has scrubbed floorboards, alongside the carpeted parlour. The staff offer a warm and friendly welcome and are knowledgeable about the beers they sell – a varied, ever-changing range from East Anglia and established regional brewers.
Horse and Jockey, 20 Nottingham Road, Stapleford, NG9 8AA www.horseandjockeystapleford.co.uk
Known locally as simply ‘The Jockey’, this pub is situated close to the main crossroads in the centre of town. Refurbished and turned into a traditional ale house in 2012, it offers a choice of ten ever changing real ale, plus local ciders.
The Berry, 23 Canada Road, Walmer, CT14 7EQ www.theberrywalmer.co.uk
Far from an ordinary pub, with its 10 handpumps alongside two ciders and a perry. Entertainment includes darts, pool, a monthly quiz and live music on some Saturdays. There is a real ale festival in February, a cider festival in May, and a continental flavour is assured at the Oktoberfest.
Merseyside & Cheshire
Freshfield Hotel, 1a Massams Lane, Freshfield, Formby, L37 7EU
Following refurbishment the pub has increased its range of beers to 14. Due to a CAMRA-led campaign the extended bar was retained, even though the refurbishment had been driven by a food based agenda. The enlightened licensees have maintained the pub’s usual consistency in beer, quality and range, with Liverpool Organic beers featuring regularly. This dog friendly pub set in a residential area has maintained its community focus and is an example of how a Green King pub should operate.
Scotland / Northern Ireland
The Cobbles, 7 Bowmont Street, Kelso, TD5 7JH www.thecobbleskelso.co.uk
An award-winning gastro-pub offering eclectic mix of British classics, Pacific Rim and modern European cuisine, using the finest locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. To the right of the main dining area is a lounge bar where beers from Tempest, the pub’s own microbrewery, are featured. Though the focus is on food, drinkers area welcome here. Private functions are catered for upstairs.
Swan with Two Necks, Main Street, Pendleton, BB7 1PT www.swanwithtwonecks.co.uk
A pub that was in the final four of CAMRA’s National Pub of the Year competition in 2012. Guest beers are often from micros such as Phoenix, Dark Star and Salamander, and there is always a real cider. A discount if offered for CAMRA members. The home-made food here comes in portions ideal for hungry walkers. There is outdoor seating in the garden and in front of the pub, looking out onto a small stream running through the beautifully kept village. Cosy open fires blaze in the winter months. An amazing collection of teapots is on display.
Quakerhouse, 2 Mechanics Yard, Darlington, DL3 7QF www.quakerhouse.co.uk
Ten times local CAMRA Town Pub of the Year, this bar is the first point of call for CAMRA members visiting Darlington. The lively award-winning free house opened in 1998 in the former Quaker Coffee House in one of the old yards just off the pedestrianised town centre. The drinking establishment has the feel of a cellar bar, offering 10 guests from regional and microbreweries countrywide, and Old Rosie cider. A popular music venue, it caters for all tastes from acoustic to rock – on Wednesday there is a door charge after 7.30pm
Baum, 33-37 Toad Lane, Rochdale, OL12 0NU www.thebaum.co.uk
Fabulous pub with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere set within a conservation area and joined to the original Pioneer building that houses the first ever Co-op. A single bar with eight handpumps, one dedicated to cider, caters for two levels and a conservatory. Local beers are always available alongside others from far and wide. Excellent fresh food is sourced locally. Outside, there is a large beer garden and two boules pistes. Greater Manchester and National CAMRA Pub of the Year 2012. Not to be missed.
Old No.7, 7 Market Hill, Barnsley, S70 2PX www.oldno7barnsley.co.uk
The jewel in the crown of Barnsley town centre’s burgeoning real ale scene. This Acorn Brewery owned bar boasts seven real ales and one cider/perry, all on handpump. Two further ciders/perries are usually found behind the bar, plus an extensive range of quality foreign beers. The attentive staff and well-run bar attract a broad clientele including circuit drinkers, football fans and beer connoisseurs, who are all made equally welcome. Local CAMRA Pub of the Year 2012 and 2013 and Yorkshire Regional Cider Pub of the Year 2013.
Surrey & Sussex
Surrey Oaks, Parkgate Road, Parkgate, Newdigate, RH5 5DZ www.surreyoaks.co.uk
Great 16th-century pub offering an excellent and ever-changing selection of ales from microbreweries (hoppy beers and dark ales popular), plus cider. Third-pint glasses are available. Good home-made food is served in the bar and restaurant (no food Sun or Mon eves). Low beams, flagstones and an inglenook feature; outside are two boules pitches in the large garden and a skittle alley in the barn. Beer festivals are held on the late spring and August bank holidays. Local CAMRA Pub of the Year 2003-2013.
Multi-room heritage pub superbly refurbished by the current owners. The rooms all retain original 1920s features including some amazing fireplaces. There is no music, TV or fruit machines, just pleasant conversation. The pub is managed by four local brewers – Conwy, Great Orme, Nant and Purple Moose – and showcases their beers as well as guest ales. There are two guest Welsh ciders. An excellent wine list and a good selection of malt whiskies is also offered. Local CAMRA Pub of the Year 2013.
Seven Stars, 40 Albert Square, Rugby, CV21 2SH
Family brewers Everards of Leicestershire teamed with Banks and Taylor’s of Bedfordshire to create their 24th Project William pub. Following refurbishment, the Seven Stars now has a smart traditional bar area, comfortable lounge, snug and small conservatory. Full of charm and character, it is free of electronic games and music, making conversation a delight. The bar boasts 14 handpumps serving a range of beers including a mild and two ciders. Winner of local CAMRA Most Improved Pub and Pub of the Year 2012 awards.
Trooper Inn, Golden Hill, Stourton Caundle, DT10 2JW www.thetrooperinn.co.uk
Stone-built, single-room community pub with a separate function room/skittle alley. There is an attached camping and caravan site and a children’s play area next to the beer garden. Good food is available lunchtimes and early evenings, with a popular Friday fish and chips night. Two guest beers are often on tap, one from the pub’s own microbrewery, the other from elsewhere in the region, plus a farmhouse cider. An annual beer festival is held in the spring. Dogs and walkers are welcome.
The Hope, 48 West Street, Carshalton, SM5 2PR www.hopecarshalton.co.uk
CAMRA Greater London Pub of the Year 2012 and local Pub of the Year 2013, this pub is owned by members of the local community. The seven handpumps dispense beers from microbreweries, including a dark ale, and a good range of British and foreign bottled beers is stocked. Real cider is also always available. Regular themed festivals are held, and many other community events. A conservatory has been added to help make room for the many customers from near and far.
Old Spot, 2 Hill Road, Dursley, GL11 4JQ www.oldspotinn.co.uk
Current county CAMRA Pub of the Year, this awardwinning free house dates from 1776, serving up to eight independent ales. Named after the Gloucestershire Old Spot pig, a porcine theme blends with the extensive brewery memorabilia, low ceilings and log fires to create a convivial atmosphere. The pretty garden has a heated, covered area. Wholesome, freshly prepared dishes complement the pub’s enthusiasm for real ale. On the Cotswold Way, it hosts regular beer festivals, and is adjacent to ample free parking.
The National Pub of the Year for 2013 (chosen from the above finalists) will be announced in February 2014.