BRANCH AWARDS 2020
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Branch Pub of the Year 2020
Hearty congratulations to licensees Ronnie and Rebecca Toms at the Devonshire Arms for winning three different branch awards in successive years.
A traditional 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 crib and dominoes are played regularly.
The Devvy offers three regular real ales from Bedford’s Eagle Brewery and three guest ales often sourced more widely. Three real ciders are also available from a chilled box in the cellar, usually from Westons in Herefordshire. 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
Branch Pub of the Year 2020
Town Pub of the Year 2019
Cider Pub of the Year 2018
Devonshire Arms, Dudley Street, Bedford
Branch Pub of the Year 2020
Cider Pub of the Year 2020 *
Sun, Grange Road, Felmersham
Congratulations to licensees Peter and Conny Pestell for winning our Cider Pub of the Year award.
This pretty, thatched, village local re-opened as a free house in 2013 and went on to win our Branch Pub of the Year in 2015 under previous owners. Although the pub has changed a lot since Peter and Conny arrived, they have done a superb job in retaining the Sun’s friendly village pub atmosphere while earning a high reputation for their quality food.
The pub offers Eagle IPA and two changing real ales, but this award is for its real cider. Although the dedicated handpump serves only one real cider at a time, the brand changes regularly and it’s always well kept. The creative food menu includes rotisserie-cooked chicken, hand-cut chips and seasonal ingredients from local producers. There is also a monthly food and drink theme night. The refurbished dining room at the rear can accommodate up to 40. For more information, call 01234 781355, visit www.thesunfelmersham.com or follow the pub on Facebook www.facebook.com/thesunfelmersham
A belated presentation of their Branch Certificate has now been made to Peter and Conny now the Coronavirus pub regulations have been relaxed,
Country Pub of the Year 2020 *
Congratulations to owner-licensee Alison Thompson for winning this award three times since buying the Fox a few years ago.
A charming, thatched community pub on the old High Street off the Turvey road south-west of the modern village centre, the Fox has been a fine pub offering real ales for many years. However, Alison has made it even more special with a warm welcome for both regulars and casual visitors. An old, under-used restaurant was knocked through into the bar, providing a larger and more flexible space for drinkers, diners and games players. The attractive garden is always popular with families in good weather. Competing for customers with so many good rural pubs nearby, Alison and her team at the Fox have maintained their initial success and fully deserve our award for the third time.
The regular real ales are Eagle IPA and Fuller’s London Pride, with two frequently changed guest beers, often from local microbreweries. Cellar management is excellent, guaranteeing you a well-kept pint. Good value, home-cooked lunches are served from Tuesday to Sunday and evening meals from Wednesday to Saturday. There is a regular quiz on Thursday evening, occasional themed food evenings and regular beer and cider festivals on the spring and summer bank holiday weekends, for which an outhouse in the garden provides an additional bar and cask stillage. There is regular live music and at both festivals.
For more information, call 01234 720235, visit the pub website www.thefoxatcarlton.pub or follow the pub on Facebook www.facebook.com/TheFoxAtCarlton .
A belated presentation of their Branch Certificate has now been made to Alison now the Coronavirus pub regulations have been relaxed,
Fox, High Street, Carlton
Young Members Pub of the Year 2020
Beerfly, St Cuthbert’s Street, Bedford
Congratulations to owner Tim Edwards for winning our third North Beds Young Members Pub of the Year award, one of the first regular Young Member awards to be made by a CAMRA branch.
A cross between an off-licence and a micropub, Beerfly has become very popular with beer lovers of all ages. A wide range of bottled or canned real ales is available, with a range of unusual and distinctive craft beers on KeyKeg dispense, including some from overseas and some that meet CAMRA’s definition of real ale. Draught beer is sold in third-pints, half-pints and two-third pints, but not in full pints.
There is a good selection of bottled or canned beers which can be consumed on the premises for an extra charge, while draught beer from the taps can be taken out in flagons. The selection of beers changes frequently. A draught real cider is also available, but like all the beers the brand varies. Beerfly is closed on Monday and doesn’t stay open until late for the rest of the week: check the website for daily opening times.
For more information, call 01234 303211, visit the website beerflyshop.co.uk or join its popular following on Facebook www.facebook.com/beerflyshop .
Most Improved Pub 2020
Congratulations to licensees Tom and Vicki Farmer for winning this special award in less than two years after they took over the pub in 2018. We do not make this award every year, but only to recognise exceptional pubs where hard work has raised the standard from the ordinary to something special.
A corner pub next to the site of a former railway bridge, the Bridge has been modernised to a high standard. It caters for all ages with a large rear bar offering three sports TV screens, while the smaller front bar is quieter. Wednesday is quiz night and there is regular live music. Eagle IPA and a guest ale from the Wells list are available on handpump, together with a changing real cider. Special events include pie nights, although regular meals are not currently available while the kitchen is awaiting refurbishment.
Until Tom and Vicki arrived, the Bridge had languished for several years without real ale at all. We always welcome the return of cask beers to the bar and wish the pub every success in future.
For more information, call 01462 351395 or follow the pub on Facebook www.Facebook.com/thebridgeshefford
Bridge, High Street, Shefford
Club of the Year 2020
Congratulations to the Stewartby Club and steward Shane Walker for winning our annual Club of the Year award.
A former brickworks social club in a village that has never had a pub, this club more than fills the gap. A large building with several bars, it has a similar look and feel to an Australian pub, but also offers Banks’s Amber Ale and two changing cask beers on handpump. As in most clubs there is pool, darts and snooker, but also a wide range of social activities, music nights, quizzes and other events. There is even an annual autumn beer and cider festival open to non-members.
Many community activities are based here, with buffet food often served during events. There are no regular meals, except for English breakfast served on Sunday morning. The large function room is available to hire for weddings and private parties. Club membership is open to all for just £5 per year.
For more information, call 01234 768261, visit the club website www.stewartbyclub.com or its Facebook page www.facebook.com/Stewartby-Club-102268283206043
Stewartby Club, Stewartby
Pub of the Year
Most Improved Pub of the Year
Cider Pub of the Year
Club of the Year
Town Pub of the Year
Young Members Pub of the Year
CAMRA awards are given only to the best pubs and clubs, and to the hard-working people who make them a success. This year North Beds Branch is making six awards for excellence to four traditional pubs, a popular micropub and a club. Branch chairman Dan Veal commented: "I am delighted that we can again honour a number of pubs and a club. 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 presenting their awards."
Framed certificates will be presented to the award winners. You can find more information about them all in CAMRA’s WhatPub online pub database.
CAMRA’s current national Pub of the Year is the Bell, Aldworth, Berkshire. This is the Bell’s second victory as national champion, having first won 30 years ago in 1990. The Bell is a real gem, recognised by CAMRA as having a historic interior of national importance. The other finalists were the Swan with Two Necks, Pendleton, Lancs, the George & Dragon at Hudswell, Yorkshire, and the community-owned Red Lion at Preston, near Hitchin, Herts. Congratulations to them all.
The current Cider Pub of the Year is the New Union, Kendal, Cumbria, for its wide array of real ciders and perries. The other finalists were last year’s national winner, the Appleton Thorn Village Hall in Appleton Thorn, near Warrington, Cheshire, Larkins’ Ale House in Cranbrook, Kent and the Woodbine in Waltham Abbey, Essex. Congratulations to them too.
Appleton Thorn Village Hall was also one of three runners-up in CAMRA’s national club competition with the Flixton Conservative Club, Manchester, and the Orpington Liberal Club, but the winning Club of the Year was the Cheltenham Motor Club in Gloucestershire.
Our new Branch Pub of the Year, Cider Pub of the Year and Club of the Year would normally go forward to the respective regional and national competitions, but sadly, all CAMRA pub and club competitions in 2020 at county, regional; and national levels have been cancelled because of the Covid-19 crisis.
The Campaign for Real Ale
* see new presentation photos!