by Steve Renshaw
Which is the best pub in Lincolnshire? If I asked a thousand people, I’d probably get hundreds of different answers. Pub-goers are very loyal, so many would vote for their local. Others might plump for a chocolate-box inn out in the countryside. Or, perhaps, a lively town-centre bar.
The problem is that there are so many different types of pub that it’s difficult to choose. Is it the best pub for atmosphere? Is it the pub with the friendliest landlord? Is it the pub with the best food? Or the best beer garden?
If you’re going to do the job properly, you need to decide on the criteria that you’re looking for in a good pub. And then you need experienced judges who will rate the pubs objectively against those criteria. That’s what CAMRA does when it’s selecting a Pub of the Year.
The most important single factor in judging a pub for a CAMRA award is the quality of the real ale. The pub doesn’t need to sell a wide range of beers to score highly. A pub selling a couple of ales in tip-top condition is infinitely preferable to one selling seven or eight of variable quality.
The “feel” of the pub is another factor we consider. Is it a nice place to be? Pubs don’t have to be picture-postcard, unspoilt, rural gems to score highly here. Estate pubs, modern city-centre bars, back-street pubs – all can be excellent in their own way.
Service and welcome are self-evident. Is the service prompt, efficient and friendly? Does the person serving you seem to regard you as a human being rather than just a source of revenue?
CAMRA believes a good pub should be a social hub, so community focus is an important factor. It is possible to have a community pub in the city and town centres, just as much as out in the country villages. We expect a good pub to attract a cross-section of people and age groups, and to be a vital part of the community.
The final factor is value for money – in the widest sense of the term, not just how cheap the ale is. Having made the effort to visit the pub and spend your hard-earned cash, how good a pub experience have you had?
So, armed with their score sheets, the judges have visited the top pub in each CAMRA branch in the county. And the best pub in Lincolnshire, for the second year running, is the Dog and Bone on John Street.
If you’ve never been, why not join us there on the afternoon of Saturday, 25th July? We’ll be presenting a certificate to landlords Chris and Sarah Sorrell, and having a few beers to celebrate.
And what about the beer? Batemans Gold (3.9% ABV) is a regular at the Dog and Bone. Formerly Yellabelly Gold, it’s brewed with lager malt and Chinook and Cascade hops, giving a crisp, citrus flavour and aroma. Perfect for a summer’s afternoon.