CAMRA names the best four pubs in the country
The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has named the best four pubs in the country as part of its Pub of the Year 2022 competition, one of the most respected and well-known pub awards in the UK.
The finalists are the Station House in Durham, the Horse & Jockey in Stapleford, the King’s Head in Norwich, and the Tamworth Tap in Tamworth. They will now have a chance to compete for the National Pub of the Year title, one of the highest accolades afforded to Britain’s pubs.
The Station House in Durham was opened in 2015 by CAMRA members and takes a very friendly, back-to-basics approach with an emphasis on conversation. A wedge-shaped pub in the shadow of the railway viaduct, the Station House offers a changing range of beer and cider with a dark beer always on tap.
The Horse & Jockey in Stapleford is a welcoming free house boasting 13 real ales, including at least one dark beer and five of which are LocAle – i.e., brewed locally. It boasts a wood burner, sports TV, light music complimented by occasional bands and a weekly pub quiz.
The King’s Head in Norwich is a traditional two-bar city pub which has been a mandatory stop on the Norwich real ale trail since 2005, serving up to a dozen beers which are mostly from Norfolk breweries.
Finally, the Tamworth Tap is a 16th century part Tudor building in the shadow of Tamworth Castle. Eight handpulls usually feature one Tamworth ale, and there is a ‘CAMRA corner’ at the bottom of the stairs which includes a rare, complete set of Good Beer Guides. Themed events include beer tastings and ‘paint and sip’ sessions.
All the pubs in the competition are selected by CAMRA volunteers and judged on their atmosphere, decor, welcome, service, value for money, customer mix and most importantly – quality of beer. The four finalists will now have a chance to win the National Pub of the Year title for 2022, which will be announced in January 2023. The competition has been on hold over the last two years due to COVID-19 restrictions and was last won by the Bell Inn in Aldworth, Berkshire in 2019.
National Pub of the Year Co-ordinator Andrea Briers said: “All of these pubs should be very proud of themselves for reaching this stage in the competition. It is a huge honour to be considered one of the top four pubs across the country. While each of these pubs offers something unique to their visitors, they all share the foundation of what makes a great pub – a warm and welcoming atmosphere, excellent service and a fantastic range of beers.”
The four finalists will be presented with their awards at local events over the coming weeks.
Images are available here
Station House (Durham)
A wedge-shaped pub in the shadow of the railway viaduct, opened in 2015 by CAMRA members. It is very friendly, with a back-to-basics approach and an emphasis on conversation. A changing range of beer and cider is served directly through a hatch from the cold-room. Handpumps have recently been installed, with gravity remaining an option. A dark beer is always available, and an extra beer is often added at weekends.
Co-owners Susannah & Chris Mansfield said: “We opened The Station House in 2015 with a view to being the kind of pub we wanted to drink in. In the years since we’ve gradually made tweaks, but our central aims have remained: great beer and cider, great community, and a welcoming space for all. In essence, we want people to come because the beer is excellent and stay because they’ve got chatting to someone.
“Our amazing team of staff is key to what we do, and we could not be prouder of them. Our regulars, whether old or new, local or from further afield, make the pub the vibrant, welcoming community it is. Without their continued support, the last few years would have been even tougher. The Station House remains the pub we want to drink in. We’re very proud, therefore, to be national finalists for Pub of the Year.”
CAMRA Branch Chair Paul Dobson adds: “It is great to see the Station House crowned Regional Pub of the Year against some really stiff competition, and it’s absolutely wonderful that it has emerged successful at Super Regional level. It shows to the beer-drinking and pub-going world that the North East in general and County Durham in particular has some great establishments.
“The Station House is relatively young, but in the few years of its existence Susie, Chris and the rest of the team have stuck to the principles they quickly established – which match those of CAMRA. Being placed in the final four of the national competition is a fitting acknowledgement of their sterling work – particularly given the effects of lockdown and the current economic climate – and a great honour for our branch.”
Horse & Jockey (Stapleford)
Known locally as ‘The Jockey’, this welcoming free house offers a choice of 13 real ales, including at least one mild or stout/porter, five of which are LocAle. Split level pub with main bar area featuring sofas and high tables and warmed by a wood burner, the upper seated area has tables and perimeter seating, a fish tank and sports TV. Light music is complimented by occasional bands and a weekly pub quiz attracts a large gathering. The pub is dog friendly, with water and doggy treats being provided. TV shows Rugby Six Nations matches and other occasional major sporting events. Photographs of local landmarks and Stapleford from previous eras decorate, along with whisky water jugs hanging from the ceiling, a yard of ale (if you wish to attempt it) and many CAMRA publications and publicity material. Food includes bar snacks, including locally sourced pork pies, sausage rolls, stottie rolls, pies (including vegetarian) all day, 2-for-1 pizza on Thursdays.
Horse & Jockey Manager Paul Guilford said: “We are so pleased to have got to the last four in the country again for the CAMRA award, it’s a great chance to show off our little pub. A big thank you should go out to the breweries, near and far, who supply our ales. Also, to our great customers and staff who make the pub what it is, cheers!”
CAMRA Nottingham Chairman Steve Westby said: “The Jockey is a deserved finalist in the competition as it offers everything you would hope for in a local community pub. This welcoming pub boasts a choice of 13 real ales includes both local brews and interesting guest beers from all over the country, always including at least one mild, porter or stout. A range of competitively priced bar snacks are always on offer and dogs are always welcome.”
King’s Head (Norwich)
A traditional two-bar city pub which has been a mandatory stop on the Norwich real ale trail since 2005, serving up to a dozen beers, mostly from Norfolk breweries, plus a few selected guests. There are also two local ciders (one occasionally replaced by a perry) and a large range of bottled European beers, but no keg beers at all. Four times CAMRA Branch Pub of the Year, there’s no food provided except snacks and (very good) pork pies, but there are plenty of local takeaways, and plates and cutlery can be provided. The pub also supports two teams in the local bar billiards league.
Stephen George, The King’s Head landlord says: “We are delighted for the King’s Head to advance to the final round of judging for the national CAMRA Pub of the Year competition. I feel this reflects the strong sense of the pub in the heart of our community, the laser focus on serving real ales in perfect condition and the total dedication of our whole team to keeping this beautiful old ale house thriving in a city full of wonderful pubs.”
Ian Stamp, Pub Campaigns and Chair of CAMRA’s Norwich & District Branch said: “Congratulations to the team at the Kings Head, who work hard every day to bring a great range of local and not-quite-so local ales and ciders to the discerning drinkers of Norwich! Competition for Pub of the Year is intense in the area, with several different pubs having won in recent years, and it’s great to see the Kings Head and the city recognised at such a high level.”
Tamworth Tap (Tamworth)
An elegant building, home to Tamworth Brewing Company and its tap. The cosy upstairs rooms have Tudor features, the historic courtyard beer terrace to the rear offers striking views of Tamworth Castle, and there is café-style seating to the front. Eight handpulls usually feature one Tamworth ale, the rest from near and far. Various snacks are offered, plus a wide range of ciders, gins, wines and bottled beers. There is a ‘CAMRA corner’ at the bottom of the stairs which includes a rare, complete set of Good Beer Guides. Themed events include beer tastings and ‘paint and sip’ sessions. The courtyard features regular live music with local performers, bat watch evenings, and the occasional screening of cult films on a large screen. The in-house ‘Tap Times’ lists local happenings and forthcoming events.
George and Louise Greenaway from the Tamworth Tap said: “We can’t express how much this accolade means to us. CAMRA values have been at the core of everything we have done since we opened our doors, so we’re absolutely thrilled to be in the final four! Pubs are its people, and we are surrounded by the best. We’d like to give a special mention to our amazing customers, affectionately known as ‘Tappers’ and to the truly terrific ‘Team Tap’ who make it all possible. We’re excited to be going forward in the competition!”
John Rowling, Pubs Officer Lichfield Sutton & Tamworth CAMRA Branch said: “I’m absolutely delighted at this exciting news. The Tamworth Tap is the jewel in Tamworth’s crown. ‘The Tap’ keeps going from strength to strength with its fantastic staff, old world décor, beer brewed on the premises and an award-winning rustic outdoor drinking area overlooked by Tamworth castle. It’s a really friendly, welcoming venue serving top quality real ales. To go from empty premises to this iconic brew pub in less than five years is real testament to the hard work put in by owners George, Louise and their staff. This is a tremendous achievement to be voted one of the top four pubs in the UK so on behalf of the customers and the local LS&T CAMRA Branch I wish ‘The Tap’ every success in the final judging.”
CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, is a not-for-profit consumer group with over 160,000 members that has been operating since 1971. Our vision is to have quality real ale and thriving pubs in every community.