If you’re planning on spending the bank holiday boozing it up, at least make sure you do it in some of Britain’s best pubs.
The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has revealed the top 16 pubs in the running to becoming its next national Pub of the Year. The overall winner will be revealed in February 2020, but in the meantime pub-goers are encouraged to visit each and every one of them.
With a heatwave due in some parts of England this weekend, it would be rude not to bask in the wonders of our unique pub scene. From bustling micropubs to traditional coaching inns, here is CAMRA’s cream of the crop.
The Bell Inn, Aldworth
A long-standing pub in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide and a former national Pub of the Year winner, this 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 all round the area.
Bell Lane, Aldworth RG8 9SE
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. There’s the Consett Ale Works brewery at the back and beer festivals held twice a year. The coast-to-coast cycle route is close by and live entertainment and a quiz night make it a worthy stop-off.
115 Sherburn Terrace, Consett DH8 6NE
The Red Lion, Preston
This attractive free house stands on the village green and is the first community-owned pub in Britain. There is an ever-changing list of beers including many from small breweries. Food is fresh and made from locally-sourced ingredients. The pub also hosts the village cricket teams and fundraises for charity.
The Green, Preston, Hitchin SG4 7UD
The Hornet Alehouse, 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 staff with tasters available makes this a wonderful addition to Chichester, not to mention the ever-changing range of cask ales.
23 The Hornet, Chichester PO19 7JL
The Smithfield, Derby
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 – this bit’s key – dog-friendly with wifi, live music and traditional pub games, it’s a great stop in the area.
Meadow Road, Derby DE1 2BH
Mansel Arms, Porthyrhyd, Wales
This 18th-century former coaching inn with wood fires in both bars has maintained its traditional character. The landlord is passionate about real ale and encourages customers to taste and experience the variety with third-pint tasting boards. An in-house cask ale members’ club encourages beer-lovers to make regular brewery visits and there are also brewer speaker/taster events.
B4310, Porthyrhyd, Drefach, Carmarthen SA32 8BS
The Flying Horse Hotel, Greater Manchester
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.
37 Packer Street, Rochdale OL16 1NJ
The Cricketers Arms, Merseyside
Tthe Cricketers Arms 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.
64 Peter St, Saint Helens WA10 2EB
The Admiral’s Arm, Isle of Sheppey
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.
West Street, Queenborough ME11 5AD
Bridge Inn, Peebles
A cheerful, welcoming, town-centre local 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.
Portbrae, Peebles EH45 8AW
The Hope, London
This is a real community pub ‘by beer enthusiasts, for beer enthusiasts’, which is owned by 46 of its regulars. There are no fruit machines, TV or ‘muzak’, but there are five regularly changing guest beers and three regular cask ales – ie. a real ale dream. The pub’s main twitter feed is @PubCatHope, named after the stray that was adopted some years ago and is a well-known face in the Hope.
48 West Street, Carshalton SM5 2PR
The 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. It hosts two beer festivals each year and Shrewsbury Town FC memorabilia adorn the building inside and out, with some of the seating from the old Gay Meadow Ground skirting the bowling green.
30 Bynner St, Shrewsbury SY3 7NZ
Tom Cobley, Devon
Up to 10 West Country ales, some straight from the cask, plus 12 or so eeal ciders and perries are on offer in this traditional 16th-century village pub. There’s a good range of bar snacks and an extensive menu at lunch and int the evening. Plus darts, quizzes and five ensuite guest rooms.
Spreyton, Crediton EX17 5AL
Swan With Two Necks, Lancashire
This recently renovated traditional pub set in a pretty Pendleside village is deservedly popular with locals and visitors. Five constantly changing ales and one real cider are served. There’s also some delicious home-cooked food on the menu including some local specialities. There’s plenty of outdoor seating so you can watch the world go by in summer (but lovely open fires for when you come back later in the year). Dogs on leads are welcome in the beer garden.
Pendleton, Clitheroe BB7 1PX
The Firkin Shed, Bournemouth
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 14 plus ciders sourced from around the country. Beers are served straight from the cellar and there;s occasional live music and all the bar snacks you could need.
279 Holdenhurst Road, Springbourne, Bournemouth BH8 8BZ
George & Dragon, Yorkshire
At the heart of the village, this homely multi-roomed country inn 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 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. And – praise be – it’s open all day on bank holidays.
Hudswell Ln, Richmond DL11 6BL