CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide 2012, launched today, has announced its top 16 pubs by region. These will now compete to be crowned CAMRA’s national pub of the year, with the announcement to be made in early 2012.
Pubs are judged by CAMRA’s 130,000 members on all the criteria that make a great pub, including atmosphere, decor, customer service, value for money, clientele mix, and most importantly, the quality of the real ale and cider/perry!
The top 16 are as follows.
Central South — Radnor Arms
32 Coleshill, Coleshill, Oxfordshire, SN6 7PR, www.radnorarmscoleshill.co.uk
CAMRA description: Set in a beautiful National Trust village, this 18th century building was the former smithy to the Coleshill estate. Old blacksmiths’ tools are displayed in the split-level two-room interior, one of which has its own snug. This pub is the brewery tap for the on-site Old Forge Brewery. The beers are dispensed by gravity and handpump and can be enjoyed along with traditional home-cooked pub fare.
East Anglia — Engineers Arms
68 High Street, Henlow, Bedfordshire, SG16 6AA,www.engineersarms.co.uk
CAMRA description: This lively two-bar pub in the centre of the village is a must for real ale fans, with 10 hand pumps featuring a wide range and style of beers. There are also five ciders and a perry on offer, typically from Westons. The bar room walls are covered in pictures dedicated to local history, sports stars and brewery memorabilia.
East Midlands — Crown
Church Street, Beeston, Nottinghamshire, NG9 1FY
CAMRA description: A beer house since 1830 on a grade II listed site, the Crown has now been fully restored by Everards, An outstanding cask ale emporium, it was East Midlands CAMRA pub of the year winner in 2010. It has five traditional rooms, including the three-seat ‘confessional’ snug, reputedly once the vicar’s hideaway, a whisky bar and games room. The choice of 14 real ales include three from Leatherbritches, three LocAles, two dark beers, a wide range of guests, a range of continental beers plus six real ciders/perries.
Greater London — Southampton Arms
139 Highgate Road, London, NW5 1LE, www.thesouthamptonarms.co.uk
CAMRA description: This pub has established itself in a short time as a must-visit for London’s ale lovers. Twelve pumps adorn the long thin bar, 10 for beer and two for cider, with six more ciders behind. Music is played on vinyl, mostly jazz, blues and soul, except on Sunday and Wednesday when there is a pianist. Outside is an attractive seating area.
Greater Manchester — Magnet
51 Wellington Road North, Stockport, SK4 1HJ, www.themagnetfreehouse.com
CAMRA description: Once a failing keg pub, the Magnet was rescued then renovated to become CAMRA branch pub of the year 2011. It boasts 14 hand pumps for beer and a draught cider. A large foreign bottled beer range completes the now rosy picture. It has a bustling vault to the left, leading to a lower pool room, and a series of rooms separated by arched doorways on the right. The pub is home to the Cellar Rat Brewery.
Kent — Flower Pot
96 Sandling Road, Maidstone, Kent, ME14 2RJ, www.flowerpotpub.com
CAMRA description: This split-level, street corner freehouse is a real ale lovers’ paradise. Nine hand pumps adorn the bar, dispensing ales from Kent micros and the rest of Britain. Dark Star and BrewDog often feature. A TV screen displays not only the beers on offer, including the strength and price, but also forthcoming events such as music and jam nights. Occasional beer festivals are held, and several ciders are sold. A must when visiting the county town.
Merseyside/Cheshire/North Wales — Bridge End Inn
5 Bridge Street, Ruabon, Wrexham, LL14 6DA, www.mcgivernales.co.uk
CAMRA description: This former coaching inn close to the station has been completely revitalised since it was taken over by the McGivern family in 2009. It has proved so popular with locals and real ale aficionados from further afield that it was voted CAMRA branch pub of the year in 2010. Five changing real ales are available and a new brewhouse at the rear of the pub will soon be operational.
North East — Boathouse Inn
Station Road, Wylam, Northumberland, NE41 8HR
CAMRA description: A superb two-room pub with 15 handpulls, three dedicated to cider. Beers are sourced from near and far, and on bank holidays there are themed beer festivals. Food is served lunchtimes and early evenings during the week — Sunday lunches are a highlight. This pub is a popular stopping off point for Whistle Stops II travellers. The first Wednesday evening of the month is buskers’ night.
Scotland/Northern Ireland — Fox and Hounds
South Street, Houston, Renfrewshire, PA6 7EN, www.houston-brewing.co.uk
CAMRA description: Established in 1779, this coaching inn is home to the Houston Brewing Company. The Fox & Vixen lounge offers the full range of Houston beers, including its seasonal, plus a guest, and has a viewing window to the brewery. The Stables bar serves three Houston beers and has multiple TV screens for all sporting occasions. The Huntsman bar and an a la carte restaurant are upstairs. Themed beer festivals are held every May and August.
South/Mid Wales — Ancient Briton
Brecon Road, Pen-y-Cae, SA9 1YY, www.ancientbriton.co.uk
CAMRA description: Excellent country inn within the Fforest Fawr Geopark, close to Dan-yr-Ogof Caves and Henrhyd Waterfall, frequently used by walkers, cavers and cyclists. Thirteen hand pumps regularly dispense up to six real ales and two real ciders, and an annual beer festival is held in September. Winner of local CAMRA branch pub of the year on three occasions and runner-up for South and Mid Wales in 2010.
South West — The Front
Custom House Quay, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 3JT, www.thefrontfalmouth.co.uk
CAMRA description: Tucked away in a corner of the picturesque Custom House Quay, this small cellar-style pub with low-vaulted ceiling lies below Trago Mills store. A popular student haunt, a whole range of live entertainment is on offer during the evenings- folk, shanty singers, open mike and more. Guest beers constantly vary to provide a year-round beer festival. There’s no food, but you may bring your own from various nearby outlets.
Surrey/Sussex — Evening Star
55-56 Surrey Street, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 3PB, www.eveningstarbrighton.co.uk
CAMRA description: A guide regular and firm favourite with discerning drinkers of all ages. Ignore the somewhat spartan furnishings — you are here to enjoy the great beer. As a flagship Dark Star house, four of its beers are available plus three from other micros, as well as real cider and sometimes perry, together with a varied selection of bottled beers and European beers on draught.
Wessex — Nog Inn
South Street, Wincanton, BA9 9DL, www.thenoginn.com
CAMRA description: Tucked away a short distance from the town’s market square, this attractive listed pub is not to be missed. A striking Georgian façade fronts a long, narrow building with parts dating back to the 16th century. A secluded sunny garden with covered seating can be found at the far end of the property. The guest ales are often seasonal and an extensive range of continental draught beers is always available.
West Midlands — Beacon Hotel
129 Bilston Street, Sedgley, West Midlands, DY3 1JE
CAMRA description: A classic, beautifully restored Victorian tap house and tower brewery, the home of Sarah Hughes ales. The heart of this atmospheric, popular pub is the small island server with hatches serving the central corridor and a small cosy snug, and the large panelled main room. Off the corridor is a traditional bench tapped room and a family room with access to a well-equipped garden and play area. CAMRA branch pub of the year 2008-2011, and national pub of the year runner-up 2010.
West Pennines — Swan with Two Necks
Main Street, Pendleton, Lancashire, BB7 1PT, www.swanwithtwonecks.co.uk
CAMRA description: A true local in every sense, with a friendly, relaxed atmosphere and traditional, home-cooked food with ingredients from local suppliers. The licensees are both CAMRA members and are celebrating their 25th anniversary running the pub. Four handpumps regularly feature beers from George Wright and Phoenix, and sometimes also from one of the local microbreweries. Westons cider is a standard here. Rosie the cat is a local legend, as is the vast collection of teapots.
Yorkshire — Jemmy Hirst at the Rose & Crown
26 Riverside, Rawcliffe, East Yorkshire, DN14 8RN, www.jemmyhirst.freeservers.com
CAMRA description: An outstanding local village pub, well known in the region and winner of numerous local CAMRA branch awards, including six times pub of the year and Yorkshire runner-up. A warm welcome awaits you from the owner, locals and Bruno the dog. Book-lined walls and an open fire provide a haven on a cold winter’s day — the perfect place to sample the four guest ales or Westons cider. The patio or river bank beckon in warmer weather.