Find out where has been named the West Norfolk Social Club and Cider Pub of the year
The Bar Man column, by Jeff Hoyle (CAMRA), Friday, February 28, 2020
The decision has been made and our award winning pubs and clubs declared for another year.
The West Norfolk CAMRA Club of the Year is once again the Ferry Lane Social Club, which just pipped the Narborough Social Club to retain the title.
Both would have been worthy winners, but we feel that there are probably more great clubs out there that we are not familiar with and hope for a wider range of nominations in future years.
Our Cider Pub of the Year is The Live and Let Live in Lynn, which triumphed over the Blackstone Engine Bar at Denver in the closest contest that we have ever had.
Not far behind were the other two pubs on the shortlist, the Union Jack at Roydon and the Cock at Magdalen. In the end, at least for me, it didn’t come down to the quality of the cider as all served a great drink.
What elevated the top two was the welcome.
At the Blackstone it was the barman. I was in there with a friend who was visiting for the weekend and when she asked about the beer, she was given a sample of all the ones on offer, with details of the style, ingredients used and taste. He also recommended a cider for me from a local supplier.
With the Live and Let Live, it was the customers. I called in for one and ended up staying for err, more than one, as I entered into animated discussion with the customers, some of which I knew and some strangers.
A couple of hours later I headed for home not much wiser about the difference between swedes and turnips, but feeling enriched by the experience.
Our Pub of the Year also had strong contenders, with the current holder, the Rose and Crown at Massingham up against former winners, the King’s Arms at Shouldham and the Union Jack, with newcomer, the Wellington at Feltwell making up the shortlist.
Again it was a close contest, but the King’s Arms once again came out on top, making it four victories in five years. I think that when it started its run, it was difficult to see where a challenger would come from, but this is no longer the case.
All of the shortlist would have been worthy winners, and it shows that the standard of our best pubs is improving when perennial challengers such as the Angel at Larling were not even in the frame.
Worthy winners all, and especially hard luck on the Union Jack which was close in both awards and is probably even better now than when it was our champion with little touches like the labels on the toilet doors enhancing its appeal.
Next will be the presentations, which we always look forward to with great anticipation and then our choices will go forward to compete against the winners of the awards from the other Norfolk CAMRA branches.
From there the Champion of East Anglia beckons, and then on to the top four in the country before the national champions are announced in about a year’s time.
West Norfolk has had national winners in the past of both the Club of the Year (Ouse Amateur Sailing Club) and the Cider Pub of the Year (Railway Arms, Downham), and we would love to repeat these, and add the Pub of the Year to our achievements.
The current champion, announced earlier in February is the Bell in Aldworth, Berkshire.
I haven’t been, but good as it is, can it really be better than the King’s Arms?
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