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Best of the North East beer industry gets the recognition it deserves

North East pubs and breweries get a good showing in the latest Good Beer Guide which is published this week

John Bull Inn in Alnwick
John Bull Inn in Alnwick

This week is the most important week of the year for the UK’s best pubs, as it is both the week that the Campaign for Real Ale’s (CAMRA) Good Beer Guide is published and also the week that the regional winners of the national Pub of the Year competition is announced.

Pubs are anxious to see if they have been selected for the Good Beer Guide, aware that every year the guide is compiled following surveys by local CAMRA members.

If a pub has a change of ownership or a change of management, a pub may well be ineligible for inclusion, as CAMRA members can only include pubs that they are 100% certain will be up to the high standards that the Good Beer Guide represents.

Every year there are pubs included for the first time; in Newcastle’s High Bridge, Pleased to Meet You is included for the first time and a pub which at one time was owned by CAMRA – The Duke of Wellington – has returned to the guide, its new management having demonstrated an enthusiasm for cask ale with an interesting range of beer always in top condition.

To be included a range of different cask beers is not enough, and CAMRA members – as would be expected – evaluate the quality of the beer served. Beer must be looked after, cherished and served with care.

The John Bull Inn in Alnwick is the CAMRA North East pub of the year. It has reached the last 16 of the Pub of the Year competition. The John Bull is a small one-room, back street pub and has beaten large pubs with large cellars and a large range of beers, demonstrating that judging takes place with an open mind and that pubs are assessed in detail. Gus, the landlord of the John Bull, at first couldn’t believe that he had won.

It is a tremendous achievement.

One of the unique features of the Good Beer Guide is that it includes information on UK breweries. There are now 1,285 breweries and we now have more breweries per head of population than any other country in the world!

Over the last year there has been a 13% increase in breweries, and the big growth is in the number of small micro breweries.

The North East has 48 breweries, and five are included in the Good Beer Guide for the first time. Good Beer Guide editor Roger Protz says: “It’s fantastic to see a continued growth in local brewing which has been encouraged by an increased interest in local ales.

The overall brewery number has been heavily contributed to by small breweries which have been popping up across the country. It’s welcome news for ale lovers as more breweries means more choice.”

The Good Beer Guide 2015 is now out in paperback at £15.99 and is available from all good bookshops. An essential book for all beer lovers.”

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