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)