I didn’t nominate a bar in the Lynn News competition, but that doesn’t mean that I am not interested in the result.
As a CAMRA member of almost 40 years standing it is easy to become focussed on the quality of the beer in a bar almost to the exclusion of all the other things that make it a pleasant experience.
I wondered if the nominations from the general public might reflect these other factors to a greater extent. In the end I was pleasantly surprised by the short list. I knew all the pubs but one reasonably well and with one exception they sell real ale. Two are former West Norfolk CAMRA pub of the Year winners, and three are on shortlist of five for next year’s award, the Larling Angel – well outside the Lynn News circulation area – and the Peddars Inn at Sporle, missing out.
Most of the bars are what I would call community pubs with a wide variety of activities going on if you want more than a drink.
Bar Red and the Coach and Horses attract patrons for their music. Quiz nights abound – we have been to both the King’s Arms and the Victory to compete recently.
Many serve good food with the Hare Arms, Carpenters and Foldgate some of the first places to consider when heading out for a meal.
With the trend towards large establishments with a staff of dozens it is interesting to see how many of the selected bars are family run, where you can expect to see a familiar face behind the bar.
The Hare Arms has been in the same hands for many years, whilst no visit to the Crown and Mitre would be complete without a word with Roger. The Victory without Wayne and Beata seems somehow unthinkable.
Nor are there any gastro pubs on the list. Perhaps us locals will leave those to the tourist.
As well as producing a worthy winner, I hope the poll inspires people to go and try somewhere new.
The only one that I was unfamiliar with was the King William, my last visit being when I played dominoes there back in the 1980s. So we headed for a look and was pleased to find a bright and tidy pub with a selection of real ale and a good value menu.
The previous evening we went along to the inaugural Philosophy Evening at the King’s Arms and had a fun evening wrestling with knotty problems. Suppose that there is a runaway train heading down the track, and five people are on the line that will surely die if you do nothing and allow the train to hit them. However you could switch the points to a branch line where one person is on the track. So what would you do? Let five people die or pull the lever and let one die? All this, plus clips from Batman and the Matrix and Broadland Sunrise.
As charming hostess Olivia said, there is no correct answer. The same is true of the Best Bar poll, and any of the 12 is a deserved winner.