The American film industry has the Oscars, their music industry has the Grammys, and in Britain we have the BAFTAs and Brit awards.
Meanwhile, in the world of beer, the most prestigious award for pubs is the Campaign for Real Ale’s (CAMRA) Pub of the Year Award.
Almost like the FA Cup, every CAMRA branch in the country selects their Pub of the Year, the winners go through to a regional stage and the process continues on via a judging process until the ultimate winner is selected. The first stage of the competition is decided by votes from local CAMRA members.
The Tyneside and Northumberland CAMRA branch splits the vote into a number of categories: pubs, clubs, cider pubs and geographical area. Every year, pub landlords wait for the results.
In the North Northumberland area, the John Bull in Alnwick was the clear winner. It is a small friendly back-street local with a passion for beer.
The vote for the South East Northumberland Pub of the Year was close, with the Three Horse Shoes at High Horton just beating other contenders. It is a large pub with a large outside drinking area – in many ways a contrast to the John Bull, but it shares a passion for cask beer.
Completing the Northumberland pub awards is the South East Northumberland Pub of the Year, which this year went to the Boathouse at Wylam – a pub which has won many awards from CAMRA over the years.
Following the selection of Northumberland area winners, a panel of judges has toured the county to decide the winner of the Northumberland Pub of the Year. It is a difficult job, but someone has got to do it!
The John Bull in Alnwick is the Northumberland Pub of the Year. On discovery of the news, landlord Gus was “gobsmacked” and thrilled.
The Tyneside Pub of the Year is The Bodega, which is at the bottom of Westgate Road in Newcastle.
The Bodega has won the Pub of the Year award a number of times in the past, but it is a number of years since it achieved the top spot (the Free Trade Inn and Bacchus have taken first place in recent times).
It was a close-run competition between the Bodega and other highly-rated pubs.
The Northumberland Club of the Year is the Haltwhistle Comrades Club, once again a clear winner.
The Tyneside Club of the Year was a more tightly fought competition, with the Newcastle Cricket Club in Jesmond coming out top.
The Tyneside Cider Pub of the Year is the Free Trade Inn, last year’s Tyneside Pub of the Year winner.
The Boathouse in Wylam is the Northumberland Cider Pub of the Year.
Over the many years that the Pub of the Year award has been running, the standard of pubs and the range of great real ale has developed significantly.
Clearly, only a few pubs get the top spot award, but it is great to see that many pubs received votes from CAMRA members and that the region has so many great pubs.