Bar Man, by Jeff Hoyle, July 3, 2015

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People love awards and West Norfolk CAMRA is no different. For the second year in a row we chose the Coach and Horses at Dersingham as our Branch pub of the year.

Last year it went on to become the Norfolk champion, but this year it was narrowly defeated by the Beehive in Norwich. There is no disgrace in this, as the Beehive is a fine suburban community pub on Leopold Road to the West of the city centre, near the ring road. If you go across on the X1 bus it stops close by on Newmarket Road, so it is fairly accessible for a visit.

The Beehive now goes forward to the East Anglian round, where it will be judged against the other county winners. These are the Orange Tree in Baldock, Herts, The King of the Belgians in Hartford, Cambs, the Victoria in Colchester, Essex, the Black Lion in Leighton Buzzard, Beds and the White Horse in Sweffling, Suffolk. If you are a CAMRA member and wish to get involved in the judging process, get in touch and I will explain what needs to be done.

Our choice for the Branch Cider pub is, once again, the Railway Arms on the station at Downham Market. Two years ago this was the national champion and last year it reached the last four in the country. This year it has triumphed in the Norfolk round and also the regional round, so is well on course to repeat its previous successes. If you haven’t yet been, it’s well worth a visit even if you don’t drink cider, but check the opening hours before travelling.

Our third award is the Club of the Year. In some ways this is the hardest to decide, given that entry to clubs is only open to members and their guests. We are aware of a number of clubs in the area which serve excellent beer and play a great part in the life of the local community. I may not be totally in tune with the policies of the Conservative party, but every time I have had occasion to visit the clubs in Gaywood, Lynn, Downham or Swaffham I have had a good pint. Other clubs that come to mind selling good beer over the years, include the Ouse Amateur Sailing Club, Middleton Golf Club, the Social clubs at Flitcham, Ingoldisthorpe and Runcton Holme. However our choice for club of the Year is the Narborough Social Club which not only serves a splendid pint and has lots of activities going on from pool to line dancing, but also makes us very welcome when we have held our meetings there. I was so impressed with the place that I decided to join, and at a pound a year I think it is money well spent. It is one of those places which serve a village which has lost its last pub and as such is a very important resource for the local community, so I hope it goes on to do well.

It is quite possible that some of you are thinking ‘Why didn’t he mention my local club, which serves fabulous beer?’ The chances are that we don’t know about it, so if that is the case drop us a line or even invite us for a meeting there.

We are breaking new ground in July with our Branch Meeting and Social at Amner Club, on the Sandringham estate. If you are not doing anything on Tuesday 14th, why not come along. Who knows who you might meet?