Best pubs in Britain named ahead of the bank holiday weekend
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The Campaign for Real Ale has revealed the best pubs across Britain to mark the close of its Summer of Pub campaign – an initiative to encourage pub-going throughout the warmer months.
The top 16 pubs have been announced in the nationwide search for the next National Pub of the Year; the overall winner will be revealed in February 2020. Pub-goers are encouraged to visit these pubs over the weekend to celebrate the achievement.
Each of the contenders highlights something unique about Britain’s pub scene. They range from bustling micropubs to traditional coaching inns. The announcement comes ahead of the final summer bank holiday in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (26 August), providing a fantastic opportunity for pub-goers to seek out noteworthy pubs this weekend.
Ben Wilkinson, CAMRA’s National Director said: “The top 16 contenders boast the perfect mix of the essential characteristics which make a great pub – great service, a welcoming atmosphere, fantastic decor, great value for money and most importantly, quality real ale.
“As our Summer of Pub initiative comes to a close, we’d like to encourage the nation’s beer drinkers to seek out these extraordinary pubs this weekend, which have been individually judged by our volunteers, ensuring a high degree of impartiality and integrity in their nomination.
“These pubs will now compete in the next round of the competition, hoping to be named one of the four super-regional finalists – and stay in with a chance of becoming the overall winner. I wish them all the very best of luck!”
The announcement comes just two weeks ahead of the publication of CAMRA’s annual Good Beer Guide, which identifies the very best pubs serving real ale across the country. Pre-orders are now available for 12 September at shop.camra.org.uk
The final announcement of the National Pub of the Year will take place in February 2020. A full list of winners below.
Central Southern – Bell, Aldworth, Berkshire
A long-standing pub in CAMRA’s well-respected Good Beer Guide and a former national Pub of the Year winner, this perennial gem is the only pub with a heritage interior in Berkshire. Its name refers to bells which were part of the coat of arms of the traditional landowners. The large open garden and excellent beer attract walkers and drinkers from far and wide.
East Anglia – Red Lion, Preston, Hertfordshire
This attractive free house stands on the village green and is the first community-owned pub in Great Britain. There is an ever-changing list of beers including many from small breweries. Ray and Jo prepare the fresh home-made food, sourcing their ingredients locally. The pub also hosts the village cricket teams and fundraises for charity.
East Midlands – Smithfield, Derby, Derbyshire
A handsome riverside pub with a large outdoor terrace overlooking the river. The beer range is varied with a strong emphasis on new breweries and a good selection of craft keg beer. Family-friendly and dog-friendly with wifi, live music and traditional pub games, it is the ideal stop for anyone in the area.
Greater Manchester – Flying Horse Hotel, Rochdale
First built in 1691 and re-built in 1926, this is an impressive Edwardian stone-built free house with many original architectural features situated in the Town Hall Square. Ten cask ales and two traditional ciders are available as is live sports and music. The hotel features log fires and provides accommodation and a function room is available for hire.
A two-room micropub serving four real ales and a large range of ciders and perries. It boasts a very extensive range of gins and pub snacks, including beer-infused pork pies and scotch eggs. The decor is a nautical theme, with a mixture of high and low hand-crafted wooden benches and tables and a pizza oven has recently been brought in.
London – Hope, Carshalton
This is a real community pub ‘by beer enthusiasts, for beer enthusiasts’, which is owned by 46 of the customers. There are no fruit machines, TV or ‘muzak’, but there are five regularly changing guest beers supplemented by three regular cask ales. The pub’s main twitter feed is @PubCatHope, named after the pub cat, a stray that was adopted some years ago and is a well-known face in the pub.
Presentation: 31 October at 8.30 pm at the Hope. As it is there fifth time winning there will be five new cask beers launched that night.
Merseyside – Cricketers Arms, St. Helens
CAMRA National Pub of the Year 2017, the Cricketers is part of the St. Helens vibrant pub scene. A friendly, family-run community pub, it boasts 13 ever-changing hand pulls, 10 ciders and over 100 gins. This traditional pub has just undergone a refurbishment and has two beer gardens and an outside bar for regular beer festivals, private events, darts and pool leagues, quiz nights and regular fundraising events for local charities. An on-site micro-brewery is planned for this year.
North East – Grey Horse, Consett
A traditional pub dating back to 1848. The interior comprises of a lounge and L-shaped bar as well as a wood-beamed ceiling. Consett Ale Works Brewery is located at the rear and beer festivals are held twice a year. The coast-to-coast cycle route is close by and live entertainment and a quiz night make it a bustling stop off.
Scotland & Northern Ireland – Bridge Inn, Peebles
A cheerful, welcoming, town-centre local which is also known as ‘the Trust’. The mosaic entrance floor shows it was once the Tweedside Inn. It has a bright, comfortable bar which is decorated with jugs, bottles, pictures of old Peebles and displays relating to outdoor pursuits. There’s a cosy corner with a log burner and a small room to the rear. The sun trap patio overlooks the river and hills beyond.
South West – Tom Cobley, Spreyton, Devon
The pub has won a multitude of CAMRA awards from local level right up to national Pub of the Year in 2006. Up to 10 West Country ales, some straight from the cask, plus about 12 real ciders and perries are on offer in this traditional 16th-century village pub. A wide range of bar snacks and an extensive menu is available lunchtimes and evenings. Darts, quizzes and social events are promoted and there are five ensuite guest rooms.
Surrey / Sussex – Hornet, Chichester, Sussex
A busy split-level micropub with plenty of standing room at the bar in addition to seating both downstairs and upstairs. The upstairs has board games and hosts quiz nights and ‘Meet The Brewer’ events. Friendly, knowledgeable staff with tasters available makes this a wonderful addition to the city and is a mecca for an ever-changing range of cask ales.
A friendly and welcoming 18th-century former coaching inn, with wood fires in both bars which has maintained its traditional character. The landlord is passionate about real ale and encourages customers to taste and experience the variety of flavours offering third-pint tasting boards. An in-house cask ale members’ club encourages beer-lovers to experience regular brewery visits and brewers’ speaker/taster events.
Wessex – The Firkin Shed, Bournemouth
Winner of CAMRA’s National Cider Pub, the Shed is a quirky, friendly, family-run micropub. Tables and benches hug the walls, which are decorated with flags, musical instruments, puppets and skulls. A shed is used as the bar with ten constantly changing ales, and fourteen plus ciders sourced from around the country. Beers are served straight from the cellar viewable through the window in the corridor. There is occasional live music and quality bar snacks are available.
Presentation: 23 August
West Midlands – Prince of Wales, Shrewsbury
A welcoming two-roomed back street local with a large decked sun-trap and heated smoking shelter facing out over the bowling green. The green is overlooked by a 19th Century Maltings and darts, dominoes and bowls teams abound. It hosts two beer festivals each year and Shrewsbury Town FC memorabilia adorn the building both inside and out, with some of the seating from the old Gay Meadow Ground skirting the bowling green.
West Pennines – Swan with Two Necks, Pendleton, Lancashire
CAMRA’s National Pub of the Year 2014 and recipient of many other local and national awards. This is an outstanding and recently renovated traditional pub set in a pretty Pendleside village that’s deservedly popular with locals and visitors alike. Five constantly changing ales and one real cider are served and discounts are available for CAMRA members. Delicious home-cooked food is also served with many high quality specialised local dishes. There’s plenty of outdoor seating so you can watch the world go by in summer plus lovely open fires when the weather grows colder. The pub has a large car park and dogs on leads are welcome in the beer garden.
Yorkshire – George & Dragon, Hudswell
At the heart of the village, this homely multi-roomed country inn was CAMRA National Pub of the Year for 2016 and has been Champion Pub of Yorkshire several times. A pleasant walk from Richmond (if you don’t mind the 300+ steps!) brings you to the pub’s large beer terrace with fantastic panoramic views over the Swale valley. Rescued by the community in 2010 and refurbished, it boasts its own library, shop, allotments and other community facilities as well as food and drink. Beers are mostly from Yorkshire breweries and a dark ale is always available, often Rudgate Ruby Mild. Open all day bank holidays.
Presentation: 28 September at the Beer & Cider Festival in Richmond North Yorkshire
Images of the pubs can be found on Dropbox here.