Category Archives: Pub News

Autumn 2013 Town Pub of the Season Presentation to Snickleway, Goodramgate

Chris presenting the award to Graham and Linda

Chris presenting the award to Graham and Linda

A good selection of members assembled at the Snickleway Inn for the presentation of the Autumn Town Pub of the Season award. We were greeted by an inviting fire from the back bar which gave a truly autumnal feeling to proceedings. On the bar was the expected array of excellent ales: Roosters Yankee, Jennings Snecklifter, Rudgate Frightfully Pale, Theakston’s Infallible, Treboom Kettle Drum plus John Smith’s Cask.

Chris presented the award to Graham and Linda, thanking them for their impressive work over the last few years in keeping the Snickleway right up there as one of the city’s most pleasant pubs.

Graham returned the compliment and said that he was pleased to feature in the Good Beer Guide for 2014. We then got on with the serious business of trying the beers, now reinforced by Bradfield Farmers Blonde (a beer not a woman) and setting to on the generously provided chilli and curry which was just the thing for an autumn night. As I left the pub at the end of an excellent evening the autumn winds were blowing and there was even a hint of snow in the chill breeze: I can’t wait to see what the winter seasonal pubs have in store for us! (CT)

Summer 2013 Town Pub of the Season Presentation to Old Ebor, Nunnery Lane

Karl presenting the award to Paul, Sarah and Kieran

Karl presenting the award to Paul, Sarah and Kieran

It was a good turnout from locals and CAMRA members alike to celebrate Old Ebor’s success as our Town Summer Pub of the Season on Friday 19th July. During a rare appearance of real summer (hot and sunny for more than 2 hours), it was a perfect night to sink some of Paul Matson’s well-chosen ales at an event that also marked the start of his first beer festival.

His son Kieran and business partner Sarah Hill, still recuperating from her recent illness, joined him to receive the award from yours truly, the nominator at the Branch meeting.

In what had been a challenging first year in the pub business, the winning team has established a growing reputation among real ale and cider enthusiasts, a welcome addition to the other good real ale pubs in that part of the city centre. But the regular local customers, even if they preferred alternative drinks, are the lifeblood of pubs like Old Ebor and were thanked for their continuing support.

Receiving the framed certificate, Paul remarked that he was honoured to have been nominated and amazed to have won the award and thanked CAMRA members for their support.

An interesting choice of ten ales (including four from the Isle of Man) across diverse styles and three real ciders, selected by Sarah, were well sampled.

Beers on offer were: Bushy’s Oyster Stout, Ruby Mild and Castletown Bitter; Doghouse Citra Pale Ale (the Manx ones); Big River Ropewalk; Saltaire Blonde; Great Newsome Jem’s Stout; Robinsons Trooper; Theakstons Rivers Answer; John Smith’s Cask.

Ciders on offer throughout the festival were: were Sandford Orchards Shaky Bridge; Manx Cider Co, Johnny Jump; Orchards of Husthwaite, Galtres Blush; Mr. Whitehead’s, Novo Pyrus (perry) Rough Old Wife, Blushing Old Wife.

Thank you to Paul, Sarah and the staff at Old Ebor for a memorable night (I certainly remembered how much beer I had consumed the morning after!). (KS)

Summer 2013 Country Pub of the Season Presentation to Wombwell Arms, Wass

Ian (left) presenting Ian (right!) with the award

Ian (left) presenting Ian (right!) with the award

The sun was shining and the temperature was heading into the high 20s, so it was time for the Country Summer Pub of the Season award to the Wombwell Arms. Fourteen of us travelled by minibus from York through the glorious North Yorkshire countryside to Wass on the 6th July. Passing the impressive ruins of Byland Abbey our anticipation of a good thirst quenching pint was increasing. We were not to be disappointed as Ian Walker, the landlord, was waiting to greet us with a choice of real ales. Other CAMRA members who had made their own way to Wass also joined us. Ian had reduced his beer prices for the event and advertised it within the local community. There were two guest ales, Rudgate Yorvik Blonde and Wensleydale Poacher together with the regular Black Sheep Best Bitter. We sat outside and enjoyed the beer and sunshine before going inside to the Poachers bar where Ian and his staff had laid on an array of tasty canapés for us to sample.

After our lunch, Ian Alford, the sponsor, made the presentation to Ian, the landlord and congratulated him on the continuing success of the Wombell Arms and in particular his commitment to offering real ales from local breweries at the pub. Ian thanked CAMRA for the award and then entertained us with an account of how CAMRA had influenced his life, career in the brewing industry and finally his choice of beers in his own establishment. It was also a tale of the many changes in the British brewery industry over the last few decades.

His first involvement with the brewing industry was at the age of three when his father took him to the Scarsdale Brewery in Chesterfield where he worked. That brewery was taken over in 1959 by Whitbread and immediately closed. Latter, while at university Ian worked during the summers with Whitbread in Sheffield stacking crates, working in the office and cleaning cellar tanks. Some of the pub cellars had over 20 tanks and sold more Whitbread Trophy in a week than the Wombwell Arms’ beer sales in a year! In 1976, fed up with the fizzy beer at university he joined CAMRA and along with some friends got elected to the student bar committee, ended the Scottish and Newcastle arrangement and installed hand pumps. His copy of the 1976 Good Beer Guide (much thinner than the latest edition) was passed around as today’s CAMRA members searched for their favourite pubs. After graduating Ian got a job in product development with Watney Mann and Trueman at the Brick Lane London Brewery and in the post Red Barrel era was involved with new brands such as Watney’s Stag Bitter and Trumann’s Tap Bitter. In 1981 with the inducement of a company Ford Cortina he moved to sales eventually becoming General Sales Manager for new business and key accounts. Following takeovers and mergers he moved to the Courage Bristol Brewery which produced Directors, Courage Best and Courage Bitter Ale (3.2% for the local market). Thanks to the Bristol Brewery being a devolved business unit Ian was able to rename this latter beer as George’s Bitter, a traditional name. Along with an advertising campaign he increased sales fourfold and a long term decline in bitter sales was reversed. Following this success a 4.4% George’s Premium was launched for Christmas selling 987 out of the 1000 casks produced. Subsequently the brewery was closed and eventually Courage was taken over by Scottish and Newcastle and Ian became the West Country Regional Sales Director. Following a period of illness and a reorganisation where his job disappeared and Scottish and Newcastle itself were being acquired by Heineken, Ian decided to take early retirement and redundancy to fulfil his dream of running his own business.

Ian and his South African wife, Eunice, purchased the Wombwell Arms five years ago. Eunice is the head chef and brings a South African twist to their menu. Originally a micro brewery was planned. However, the need to refurbish the pub and in particular the kitchen, letting rooms and toilets has put the micro brewery on hold for the foreseeable future. A recession and poor weather has also not helped. Recently the Wombwell Arms has introduced a second guest beer alongside Black Sheep Best Bitter. The guest ales are always from local micro breweries and mostly in pins to maintain quality. Business now seems to be improving with last year’s turnover up by 7.5%. Perhaps the micro brewery may become a reality.

After a few more beers it was time to board the bus for the journey back to York. On the way back a call was made at Stillington for a beer break at the White Bear. This is a CAMRA favourite which offers a 10% discount to CAMRA members. The choice of beers on offer included Ilkley Black and Sam Smith’s Bitter. After an enjoyable pint or two we continued back to York after all having had a splendid day out. (IA)

Spring 2013 Town Pub of the Season Presentation to The Habit, Goodramgate

Kevin presenting the award to Simon

Kevin presenting the award to Simon

On a windy and rainy March night a group of us met at the Habit to present Simon and his staff with the Spring Town Pub of the Season.

This little bar in Goodramgate provides a little oasis serving two cask ales, one always a LocAle. On presentation night Treboom Baron Saturday was the beer of choice and in fine fettle it was too.

Simon and his staff have worked very hard over the last few years to build a free trade business in a listed building. Listening to customers, one hand pump was installed and slowly people got to know about it leading to a second hand pump as demand grew. Simon’s plan for this year is to install a third hand pump, a tight squeeze but as Simon says a challenge!
Real cider is now also a regular feature with Moonshine being the most popular though others do make the occasional appearance.

This is a venue that has quietly worked its way into a regular port of call for me and goes to show that it is still possible for a determined owner to succeed. With regular music nights a roof terrace and showcase for budding local artists it has found its niche, a quirky one but life would be so dull without such places. (KK)

Spring 2013 Country Pub of the Season Presentation to Fenton Flyer, Church Fenton

John presenting the award to Ross

John presenting the award to Ross

Eighteen members journeyed out to the Fenton Flyer in Church Fenton for an evening presentation of the Branch 2013 Spring Country Pub of the Season award in March.

On a dull evening, with snow threatened, many locals welcomed us to a warm pub to what had been a well-publicised social event by landlord Ross Higham.

There were three LocAle beers on offer as well as John Smith’s cask and Sharps Doombar, their permanent replacement for Tetley Bitter. The three guests beers were Ossett Yorkshire Blonde (later replaced by Ossett Silver King), Roosters Yankee and Brown Cow Captain Oates Dark Mild.

The presentation was made by the sponsor, John McCloy. John said that he had been a frequent visitor to the pub from the time when it was a Mansfield Brewery pub and had watched its rise and fall and how encouraging it was see the improvement of this village pub from the previous times with the arrival just over a year ago of the enthusiastic landlord. It was good to see that it was possible to sell guest beers alongside nationals. The pub was very much a community pub arranging frequent brewery visits and charity quiz nights and was obviously now a great asset to the village.

In making the presentation, John congratulated Ross on his enthusiasm and for his efforts and hoped it would keep going for the foreseeable future.

Ross thanked CAMRA for the prestigious award and all his locals for the support given to him during the time he had been at the Flyer. He also said that mention in the previous Ouse Boozer of the young man who had taken the pub was a surprise and had resulted in some friendly banter from the locals.

Opportunity to sample more of the beers followed before refreshments in the form of locally sourced pie and peas and chilli and chips were served.

During the evening Ross’s partner had been selling tickets for a raffle of numerous items donated by local breweries, such as Timothy Taylor, Sharps, Ilkley, Saltaire (and Molson Coors) and at the end of the evening Ross announced that it had raised £60 for the pub’s charities. (JM)

Winter 2012 Country Pub of the Season presentation to joint winner New Inn, Cliffe

Steve presenting the award to Adele and Ian

Steve presenting the award to Adele and Ian

On a cold and snowy night in January what better sight than a blazing fire and a row of hand pumps in a cosy pub? Not to mention the smiling welcome from our hosts Ian and Adele…

I was at the New Inn, Cliffe for the Winter Pub of the Season presentation – an award the pub had jointly won with the Blacksmiths Arms at Lastingham. The New Inn was proposed for the award for its transformation from a down-at-heel village local into a vibrant, real ale supporting community pub whilst still retaining its local character.

Before Ian and Adele took over the running of the pub just over eighteen months ago the former Enterprise Inns house had seen successive short tenure licensees and virtually no investment for many years. The opportunity was taken to carry out a full refurbishment inside, removing the poorly sited stairs to the living accommodation out of the main entrance and opening up the bar and the lounge areas.

Complete redecoration, new furniture and lighting has resulted in a step change in the ambience of the pub as you walk through the door. Brighter and more spacious yet still warm and welcoming, the effect is immediate.

Of perhaps more importance to CAMRA members and local beer drinkers alike is the growth of hand pumps on the bar – one has become six! Ian has squeezed the last few inches of space in the modest – nay, tiny – cellar to provide some carefully chosen and splendidly presented beers. The beers on offer have a distinctly local theme and why not when we have so many wonderful breweries nearby?

A quick scan of tonight’s ‘menu’ revealed the following: Brown Cow Captain Oates, All Hallows Peg Fyfe Dark Mild, Salamander Thin White Duke (which ran out and was replaced by Rudgate Winter’s Ale), Saltaire South Island Pale and Wold Top Wold Gold. This sort of choice is now happily a typical sight in the pub – a far cry from the single John Smith’s Cask offering in the past! John Smith’s Cask is still available for those who prefer it.

Ian makes a conscious effort to support our local breweries and the pub signed up for LocAle soon after Ian and Adele settled in. Indeed, at the presentation two of our local breweries were represented – Brown Cow by Sue and Keith Simpson and Bird Brain by Phil Usher. As Ian pointed out, in just seventeen months the pub has just had its 50th brewery represented and 251st different beer on the bar which is some achievement for the pub (and its cellar!).

Ian and Adele have links with the Cliffe area and so were mindful of the requirements of locals when they undertook the transformation of the pub. The darts, dominoes and football teams are well catered for and Ian’s first beer festival last September was used to raise some £2,000 for the village playing fields association.

That Ian and Adele have achieved so much in the time that they have been in charge and the manner in which they have enhanced the pub whilst still retaining its community ethos is a remarkable achievement and makes them worthy winners of the Pub of the Season award. (SG)

Winter 2013 Country Pub of the Season presentation to joint winner Blacksmiths Arms, Lastingham

Pat presenting the award to landlord Pete

Pat presenting the award to landlord Pete

On January 12th a full bus (28 members) eagerly set out to the wilderness beyond Pickering! Our destination was the Blacksmiths Arms at Lastingham for the presentation of the joint Winter Pub of the Season 2013.

Because many are not used to being so far outside York, we had decided to take a couple of detours. First thirsty stop was the New Inn at Cropton, where we all enjoyed trying to match the newly-named beers of Great Yorkshire Brewery to the old Cropton range. I think everyone did well here and there were still some old favourites such as Scoresby Stout and Monkmans Slaughter on tap.

On arrival at the Blacksmiths Arms, we were greeted with the old world charm of a great log fire burning in the Yorkshire range in the bar, a warm welcome from the staff and a room prepared for our delicious buffet. We crowded into the cosy bar to hear Pat Burlingham present the award to owners Peter and Hils Trafford. She described how Pete and Hils have worked hard over nine years to build up trade in difficult times: they not only provide accommodation and a top quality restaurant, but they also maintain a traditional bar and serve quality ales from local breweries. Over their time Pete and Hils have refurbished and made small and sympathetic improvements to the multi-room layout. Peter was obviously delighted with the award and gave a great speech which included pointing out his growing collection of pump clips pinned to the ceiling beams.

On offer on our visit were the regular, Theakston’s Bitter, together with Rudgate Ruby Mild and Marston Moor Fairfax Special, which was later replaced by Rudgate Volsung – all were in tiptop condition.

Pat had a little story to illustrate the community spirit Pete and Hils foster here. In June 2004 they put on a whole day of nostalgia to commemorate 60 years after the D Day Landings. There was a tank outside, everyone was dressed in 1940’s fashion and, of course, there were spam fritters. As Pat’s dad Bill Burlingham, then 90 years old, was a survivor of this day, Pat and Stuart took him along. Well, as he was the only person who had actually been there he was made a great fuss of (quite rightly) and had a fantastic time. To mark the occasion many photos were taken, one of which Pete displayed on the wall. That meant dad enjoyed many more visits (to see his photo) until sadly he passed away two years ago. If you go to the Blacksmith Arms you will still see him wearing his medals, wishing he was having a pint too.

A group of CAMRA members visited the Norman crypt of St Mary’s church opposite for which Lastingham is famous – an eerie experience when one of them developed echoing hiccups!

On the way home we called at the Jolly Farmers at Leavening. Here, in front of another blazing fire, we enjoyed York Guzzler, Taylor’s Landlord, Hop Studio Porter and Kirkby Lonsdale Tiffin Gold.

Congratulations to the Blacksmiths Arms for making us leave the city walls. It’s a cliché, but it’s well worth seeking out this rather remote gem on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors.

A very good day out was had by all: I’m not sure if anyone tried all the beers, but we did our best! (SB, PB)

Winter 2012 Town Pub of the Season presentation to York Tap

York Tap beer board with 18 LocAles

York Tap beer board with 18 LocAles

The Winter Town Pub of the Season award night at the York Tap turned out to be a truly memorable event for all who attended – and that was a very large gathering indeed. This was in no small part to the efforts of the York Tap who decided to make the event a celebration of Yorkshire ale – and in particular breweries local to York who had won awards at last year’s Knavesmire Beer Festival.

There has never been a pub in York that has showcased 18 “LocAle” Yorkshire ales on tap all at one time and this proved to be a massive attraction as people flocked to this unique event. There was a considerable attendance from the general public and the word had spread far and wide as real ale enthusiasts from all over Yorkshire poured into York station, including staff from nine breweries, which supplemented a very good turnout from York CAMRA members.

Presenting the award to the York Tap’s manager Jon Chappell, York CAMRA’s Nick Love outlined some of the reasons that the pub deserved the seasonal accolade. He invited those in attendance to look around them at the architecture of the building they were in. In particular the sensitive restoration of the 1907 former tearoom was praised for the attention to detail – the highlights being the terrazzo floor, the wonderful stained glass cupolas that let light flood in through the roof and the wonderfully striking island bar. All of this had recently already been recognised with the National Railway Heritage Award for Conservation.

Nick (centre) presenting the award to Jon and the team

Nick (centre) presenting the award to Jon and the team

Obviously the beer is a hugely important criterion when selecting a CAMRA pub of the season and no-one needed it pointing out that night what a fabulous selection was available to all who attended that night. It was pointed out though that the York Tap kept its patrons happy throughout the year with an ever-changing eclectic selection of beers served in top condition.

Finally there was the recognition that this National Cask Ale Pub of the Year had greatly contributed to the allure of York as a real ale city and had become a destination pub due to its convenient location and beer selection, with groups from as far as London making day trips to sample the vast ale selection and unique atmosphere.

The feedback on the night was overwhelmingly positive with those attending enthusiastically effusing about the great selection of award winning Yorkshire beers served in great surroundings. (NL)