CAMRA has today announced the four pubs in the final of their National Pub of the Year competition – one of which will be crowned the overall winner early next year.
The Freshfield in Formby (Merseyside), The Harewood Arms in Broadbottom (Greater Manchester) The Salutation Inn in Ham (Gloucestershire) and The Windmill in Sevenoaks Weald (Kent) have won their local and regional competitions before being selected as the final four from a list of sixteen regional winners.
“Each of these four fantastic pubs are already winners in their own right and really are well worth a visit from any ale-lovers who find themselves in the area. They will now go forward to fight it out for the overall National Pub of the Year, which will be announced in February next year.” Gary Chester, competition organiser.
Last year’s winner was The Swan with Two Necks in Pendleton, a cosy, village-centre pub that proved a huge hit with locals and visitors alike – as well as impressing the competition judges of course.
The competition looks for a number of things in winning pubs – decor, atmosphere, value for money – but it is the quality of the beer that is always most important. In fact, last year’s winning landlord Steve Dilworth said at the time he believed it was his close relationship to the beer in his cellar that helped them win, saying “Talking to the barrels has finally paid off!”.
The Four Finalists are:
The Windmill, Kent Region, 1 Windmill Road, Sevenoaks Weald, Sevenoaks, TN14 6PN
“We are hugely honoured to receive this award. The main focus of our business is great quality cask beer, focussing on locally produced ales but also offering guest beers too. We think it’s important to offer a true range, with dark beers such as porters and stouts, tawny beers such as best bitters, as well pale ales, IPAs and Golden Ales. The staff are really proud of the cask beer we serve.” Matthew Rudd, Landlord of The Windmill.
The Windmill offers an excellent selection of five to six top-notch ales, three Kentish ciders, and continental draught lagers, together with a comprehensive menu and basket meals (no food Sun eve). The homely interior features wooden settles, a log-burning stove, etched windows, porcelain and pub memorabilia, while a quiet, colourful garden is available for warmer times.
The Freshfield, Merseyside & Cheshire Region,1a Massams Lane, Freshfield, Formby, L37 7EU
“When we first heard the pub had reached the final 16 for the second year running, we were astonished. To learn we have now reached the final four is a dream come true. I am so proud of my team and everything they have helped us to achieve. They constantly deliver and exceed our customers’ expectations. I am not sure how we will celebrate if we win Pub of the Year, but we will definitely be toasting this latest news with a glass of real ale!” The Freshfield manager, Simon Cox
A great example of a community local where the emphasis is on beer quality. A Greene King pub, it offers up to 14 ales including 10 guests. The pub also has a growing reputation for good food served in the restaurant. Following a successful CAMRA-led campaign, the stone floored area has been retained. Families are welcome and an enlightened management with engaging staff help to ensure a welcoming experience.
“It’s awesome to win but I can’t just take credit myself as this is a family effort with my wife and son also running the pub with me. We bought the pub from Enterprise and have put lots of effort in to improve the beer on offer and give the pub its character back.” Philip Wild, Landlord of The Harewood Arms.
Taken over in 2013, the Green Mill brewery has moved from Rochdale to the cellar of The Harewood Arms and the pub is now essentially a brewery tap. A range of continental bottled beers and a guest handpull cider complement the Green Mill beers. This large open-plan community pub is warmed by open fires, helping to create a friendly atmosphere. There is a pool table and elevated darts area to the rear.
“It’s incredible [to be named in the final four]. My wife Claire and I have never run a pub before and have only ran The Salutation Inn for 18 months so to be in the final four is overwhelming. Our passionate staff and great regulars really do make this pub what it is.” Peter Tiley, Landlord of The Salutation Inn.
This rural gem is in the Severn Valley, within walking distance of the Jenner Museum, Berkley Castle and Deer Park. The enthusiastic landlord keeps an inspired selection of ales and eight real ciders and perries. The pub has two cosy bars with a log fire and a skittles alley.