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West Norfolk CAMRA’s Pub of the Year revealed

In his weekly The Bar Man column, Jeff Hoyle discusses CAMRA selections...

It has been a long road. It was last October when I first sent out a call for local members to nominate their top pub of the year for West Norfolk CAMRA. The seven suggestions were whittled down to four for our shortlist: the Black Horse in Thetford, the White Hart at Ashill, the Globe at Upwell and the Angel at Larling (we cover a large area!).

Members were then invited to visit these and score various aspects of their offerings using a sheet devised by CAMRA HQ. Eventually, the Angel at Larling came out top, and was named our branch Pub of the Year.

Jeff Hoyle
Jeff Hoyle

Situated just off the A11, near the Snetterton racing circuit, it has been in the same family for many years and if you are in the vicinity, it demands a visit to find out the reasons for its success. Unfortunately, Norwich has many fine pubs and when The Angel went forward to the county round of the competition, it lost out to the White Lion.

Next came the East Anglia round, where the six county winners competed for a place in the last 16, and our Norfolk entry was defeated by the Essex champion, the Endeavour from Chelmsford. The results are now in from the round of 16 and East Anglia has not made the cut.

The national pub of the year, to be named in a few months’ time will be either the reigning champion, the Tamworth Tap from Tamworth, near Birmingham, The Trafalgar Hotel in Ramsey on the Isle of Man, The Beer Engine in Skipton in Yorkshire, or the Nelson Arms in Tonbridge, Kent. Who will win?

I have not visited any of them, though we do have a trip to the Isle of Man booked to see the phoenix Bury FC, the rather less Mighty Shakers, take on the local outfit in the North West Counties League early next year. I suspect that a pint in the Trafalgar is not out of the question.

Before that happens, we once again embark on the long road. If you are a local CAMRA member, I would love to hear your nomination for the best pub in our area. The entries will be sifted by comparing their average beer scores over the past 12 months to produce a new shortlist for members to survey.

Despite Lynn being our largest settlement, we have never had a winner from the town. Indeed, in the many years that we have been running the competition, I think all our winners have come from villages, so will that change this time round?

Unlike the Good Beer Guide, it is not just about the quality of the ale. Other factors such as cleanliness, welcome, staff knowledge, community involvement and support for real ale also come into the reckoning. No need for a forest of hand pumps, the Globe made last year’s shortlist despite only selling one cask ale.

If you are not a CAMRA member, it would still be interesting to hear your suggestions to check if there is anywhere that has been overlooked.

We also have two other awards that run along the same lines. If you are a cider drinker, put forward your favourite cider pub and members of clubs who serve real ale can also enter their watering hole for our Club of the Year award.

We have had two national winners in the area in the past, the Ouse Booze took the club award and the much-missed Railway Arms in Downham was cider champion. I would love to see us make it a hat trick.


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