In June, it was time to present our prestigious Pub of the Year award to this year’s worthy winner, the Ferry Boat Inn at Thorganby. The pub won this award for the first time three years ago when it also went on to win the CAMRA Yorkshire Pub of the Year title, which was the first time our branch had produced a regional winner for some years. The Ferry Boat Inn is a genuine family-run free house, which has been run in the same vein, by the same family, for many years. The licensee, Olive Rogers, has had her name over the door since she was 21 and she is now in her eighties. Her daughter, Jackie, and son-in-law, Phil, run the pub nowadays and all three were over the moon to win the title for a second time.
Over the last dozen years or so, Phil’s interest in beer has seen the pub gradually increase its cask ale range from one to five, whilst never compromising on quality. By the time our bus arrived mid-afternoon, the pub and large garden were bustling with visitors to the beer festival that Phil and Jackie had organised, with help from Keith Simpson of Brown Cow Brewery, to mark the occasion. As well as the usual six hand pumps in the pub, the outbuildings just outside hosted a temporary bar with another fine selection of beers sourced by Keith from around the country, several of which were from Cumbria, and many of which I had never tasted before. Fantastic! There was even a marquee in the garden for the guest bands to perform in.
The weather was very kind, which meant that the presentation could take place outside where everyone was able to see and hear. It was the duty and pleasure of our Chairman, Matt Grant, to make the presentation. He began his speech by apologising to those present who had heard his speech on the same occasion three years ago because it was going to be very similar, as little, if anything, had changed at the pub, which in the case of the Ferry Boat Inn, is a very good thing! He then explained a bit about how the Pub of the Year is chosen by the membership from the 460 plus pubs in the York branch area.
Quality of beer/cider/perry is the most important criteria and this is weighted accordingly in the survey process. No one in the audience reported ever having a bad pint at the pub, so it seemed most people agreed with the membership on that point. It was also noted how Phil always tries to have a varied range of beer styles on the bar at any time, including a dark beer such as a dark mild, stout or porter, which has helped these once endangered beer styles begin to regain popularity.
The atmosphere/style/decor of the pub was described as being homely and cosy, especially with the roaring fire in winter, and in summer the pub has its amazing, large beer garden leading down to the River Derwent. Matt went on to describe how the pub is one of the most friendly and welcoming he has ever visited, which meant it did well in the service/welcome category too.
As regards sympathy with CAMRA aims, Matt noted that Phil and Jackie were both members, they always display CAMRA publicity materials and copies of this magazine, always serve full pints (a key CAMRA campaign) and have been members of our LocAle scheme since its launch.
The penultimate category is community focus and when Matt suggested that this pub appeared to be a hub of the community, a local user of pub shouted out that it was the hub of the community. The pub has a quiz night, dominoes team, music nights and several local clubs meet at the pub.
The final category is good value and whilst the pub has very reasonably priced products, this category means more than just cost. It refers to the overall value for money and experience that you feel you get from investing time and money to visit the pub.
To win the Pub of the Year title in an area with such a wonderful array of real ale pubs, a pub obviously needs to do well in all six categories, which the Ferry Boat Inn does indeed. Jackie, Phil and Olive accepted the certificate and trophy and then Jackie said a few words of thanks to the people who they feel have most helped them to build the pub up to its current high standard. These included several local breweries and, most importantly, their loyal customers who were once again there in abundance. I’ll drink to that! (MG)