BRANCH AWARDS 2018
Branch Pub of the Year 2018
Polhill Arms, Renhold
You can hardly miss this friendly, one-bar village local at Salph End, on a bend in the road from Bedford to Wilden. The pub offers a warm welcome and a large garden, play area and restaurant. An interesting collection of pub and brewery artefacts is displayed, as well as R101 airship memorabilia. Live entertainment and quiz nights feature regularly, with darts and hood skittles also popular.
Landlord Paul Smith and partner Lindsay Kemp offer Hardys & Hansons Bitter and up to five changing real ales in fine condition, not all from owner Greene King. There are always at least two real ciders, usually served direct from a bag in a box, increasing to four in the summer months. Like the beers, cider brands change regularly and are often from small producers in Bedfordshire or neighbouring counties. The pub was CAMRA North Beds Cider Pub of the Year for both 2016 and 2017.
Paul and Lindsay also serve traditional pub food including fish and chips, except on Sunday and Monday evenings. Congratulations to them for winning a branch award for three successive years against stiff competition. For further information, call 01234 771398, visit polhillarms.co.uk or follow the pub on Facebook @polhillarmsrenhold.
The Polhill Arms will now compete against the Engineers Arms, Henlow, and the Black Lion, Leighton Buzzard, the respective Pubs of the Year for CAMRA’s East and South Beds branches, for the Bedfordshire Pub of the Year award. The winner will then go on to compete for the East Anglia regional title against five other county winners, and the regional champion will compete for the national title later in the year.
Most Improved Pub 2018
Since it passed into private ownership a few years ago, this friendly village pub has greatly improved and fully deserves this award. Landlords John and Linda O’Grady are excellent hosts, creating a warm welcome for regular patrons and occasional visitors alike. Fuller’s London Pride, Greene King IPA and two changing real ales are available, often from microbreweries like Grainstore, Tring or White Park. The pub is now closed on Mondays, but opens on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, lunchtime and evenings on Thursday and Friday and all day from 12 at weekends. Food includes fish and chips on Friday evening, themed meals on Saturday and Sunday roast lunches, with a popular breakfast club on the first Saturday of the month - but book in advance!
The back garden is used for summer beer festivals, with extra ales served from a shed used as a garden bar. After a planned garden upgrade, a Sunday barbecue will replace roast lunches from June to September. The garden gives access to the Ouse Valley Way footpath and the Grant Palmer 25 bus from Bedford stops nearby.
Congratulations to John and Linda for winning our Most Improved Pub award, which we do not make every year, but only when there is a convincing case. For further information call 01234 822834 or follow the pub on Facebook @PavenhamPub.
Cider Pub of the Year 2018
A traditional Charles Wells community pub at the heart of the Russell Park residential area, the “Devvy” is well supported by local people. There is a warm, friendly atmosphere, an open fire in winter and even candlelight. The front bar has bare floorboards and an open fire, while there is a separate snug at the rear. The garden is popular for sitting out in good weather and includes both a gazebo for smokers and a no-smoking paved area. Traditional pub games like cribbage and dominoes are played regularly.
Landlords Ronnie and Rebecca Toms offer three regular real ales from the Wells stable and three guest ales often sourced more widely, but our award is for the reliable Old Rosie and Rosie’s Pig ciders and Country Perry, all three from Westons of Much Marcle, Herefordshire, and served direct from a chilled box. A range of wines is also sold by the glass or bottle.
Although the pub does not serve food on a regular basis, snacks may be provided during the occasional beer and cider festivals. The Devvy has won CAMRA awards before - it was our Branch Pub of the Year in 2013. For more information, call 01234 301170, visit devonshirearmsbedford.co.uk or follow the pub on Facebook @devonshirearmsbedford
Dudley Street, Bedford
Club of the Year 2018
Local CAMRA members are most impressed by this lively social club for staff and students at Cranfield University, also known informally as The College Arms. All staff and students are automatic associate members, while full membership offering additional services is only £3 pa. Pool, snooker, darts, table tennis, bridge and a golf society flourish, while larger function rooms can be hired by members and non-members for weddings and other private events.
The bar, which is open daily from 12, offers Fuller’s London Pride, Sharp’s Doom Bar and two changing guest ales. Tapas and salad lunches are served Monday to Friday, with Chinese restaurant meals available on Saturday lunchtime and Tuesday to Sunday evenings. Guests are welcome and can be signed in by the manager or any member. For further details, call 01234 751586 or visit cranfieldsocialclub.co.uk.
Cranfield Campus Social Club
Town Pub of the Year 2018
A comfortable town inn dating from the 1770s and for long a favourite meeting place for locals of all sorts, the Three Cups is now a Greene King Local Hero pub offering local microbrewery beers. Seven real ales are always available, including Greene King IPA, Morland Old Speckled Hen and at least two from White Park Brewery, which holds the lease. The Three Cups is effectively White Park’s brewery tap.
Manager Bev Burridge, who learned her cellar craft in other leading pubs in Bedford, brought with her the knowledge and experience to keep and serve real ales of excellent quality. Tasting thirds are available, with a rack of six tasters for a fixed price. Locally sourced home-cooked lunches are also served, with evening meals also available from Monday to Thursday. Old wood panelling helps retain some of the pub's original character, which has led to its often being described as Bedford’s “country inn in town”. The pub is only five minutes’ walk from the town centre and close to Bedford Blues rugby ground.
The Three Cups won North Beds CAMRA’s Pub of the Year in 2017 and was previously Town Pub of the Year in 2015. Congratulations to Bev and White Park Brewery for winning three branch awards in four years. For more information, call 01234 352153, visit threecupsbedford.co.uk or follow it on Twitter @ThreeCupsPub or Facebook @The-THREE-CUPS-Bedford.
Three Cups, Newnham Street, Bedford
Young Members Pub of the Year 2018
We are delighted to make our first ever award to this popular High Street pub for our Young Members group (officially defined as under age 26, but all real ale drinkers are young at heart). The Bear has for long been one of the few traditional pubs in the town centre and was reborn under its old name in December 2016 after a few unsuccessful months first as an Artisan Tap featuring mainly craft keg and bottled beers and then a Snug cocktail bar. Under local pub group Camelot Inns the pub has rediscovered its old self as a friendly, traditional urban pub and might have won a Most Improved Pub award if our Young Members had not got in first!
Manager Cherrie, supported by Andy and the bar team, offer four changing real ales and a real cider, usually Westons Old Rosie, also on a handpump. Food is available at lunchtime and through the afternoon until 5pm, but evenings are busy with drinkers. As with many other town centre pubs, closing time is late on Friday and Saturday. There is a popular patio garden to the rear offering a haven for smokers, or for customers just to sit outside over drinks in good weather.
For more information, call 01234 630235 or follow the pub on Facebook @TheBearBedford
Bear, High Street, Bedford
National Pub and Club of the Year 2018
North Beds CAMRA
CAMRA awards are given only to the best pubs and clubs, and to the hard-working people who run them. This year North Beds Branch is making six awards for excellence to five pubs and a local club. Branch chairman Roger Stokes commented: "I am delighted that we can again honour a number of pubs and a club, including a Young Members pub award for the first time. They are all different, but each seeks to serve, and is part of, its local community. Together they demonstrate the variety of the best real ale and cider outlets and I look forward to visiting them again to present their awards."
Framed certificates will be presented to all six award winners. You can find more information about them all in CAMRA’s WhatPub online pub database.
Last year’s national Pub of the Year competition came to an end in December. The Black Lion in Leighton Buzzard, our Bedfordshire Pub of the Year 2017, was beaten to the East Anglia regional title by the Stanford Arms, Lowestoft, Suffolk. After further competition among the top pubs in the country, the Stanford Arms was joined by Weavers Real Ale House, Kidderminster, Worcs, Wigan Central in Wigan, Greater Manchester and the Cricketers Arms, St Helens, Merseyside, as the final four candidates for the new national title. The national Pub of the Year award has now gone to the Cricketers Arms in St Helens.
CAMRA’s national Cider Pub of the Year 2017 was announced in October, to coincide with National Cider Month. The winner was Ye Olde Cider Bar in Newton Abbot, south Devon. It is the only pub to have taken home this prestigious award twice, after also winning in 2011.
CAMRA’s Club of the Year competition also produced four national finalists - the Albatross (RAFA) Club in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, the Real Ale Farm (also RAFA) near Cardiff, the Appleton Thorn Village Hall in Warrington, Cheshire and Flixton Conservative Club in Urmston, Manchester. The winning Club of the Year is the Flixton Conservative Club in Urmston.