Friday 24 February 2012

Real Ale Tales with the Amber Valley by Nathan Dilley

It’s that time of year again when the members of Amber Valley CAMRA have selected their pub of the year. This is an arduous task undertaken by the members and competition is fierce. We are fortunate to have an increasing list of quality pubs and inns in our region, from quiet rural pubs to lively town ones, bustling back street locals to quirky modern conversions.

Members will have been visiting pubs that may include the likes of The Old Oak Inn at Horsley Woodhouse, a curio of a place which affords a warm welcome in the shape of open fires, and at weekends the Rurad Bar which offers gravity-dispensed craft beers from near & far of varying strengths and styles. Another pub worth seeking out is the Dead Poets at Holbrook, which offers high-backed pews at the bar, stone flagged floors and comfy corners in which to enjoy any of the six guest beers that they have on at any one time. The area also includes pubs such as the Thorn Tree at Waingroves, a real locals’ pub which goes to great lengths to source beers not found elsewhere locally and puts on interesting beer festivals well worth seeking out. If character is what you are after, then the Holly Bush at Makeney will definitely not disappoint; this late 17th century listed pub was a possible haunt of Dick Turpin when it stood on the old Derby Turnpike before the new road opened in 1818.

The judging panel score not only on beer quality, but on such things as good value, service/welcome, atmosphere and numerous other criteria which CAMRA believes makes these pubs stand out in a crowded marketplace. Members will have decided whether last year’s worthy winner, the Hunters Arms at Kilburn, has retained its crown among such sterling competition. A list of potential pubs is whittled down to the eight pubs with the highest number of votes from members and these are then visited over a six-week period, and the winner is announced shortly into the New Year. The pubs mentioned above are only a small selection of possible entrants. What they all have in common though is excellent beer, a warm welcome and what I believe to be the ingredients that make the pub the essential place to while away many an enjoyable hour. Why not check out a selection of the above and see if they are deserving of a place in your own pub of the year list?

Nathan Dilley, Chairman of Amber Valley CAMRA

This article appears in our Feb/Mar 2012 issues - click here to read the All Things Local issue of your choice.

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