Herefordshire CAMRA

HEREFORDSHIRE PUBS OF THE YEAR 2013

Beer in Hand, Hereford

SMALL PUB, BIG AMBITION

City micro-pub, Beer in Hand voted Herefordshire CAMRA Pub of the Year

When CAMRA first learned about plans for the county’s first micro-pub we were privately concerned how it might work: outside the city’s ‘ring road’ and in a converted launderette, it didn’t sound like an obvious blueprint for great beer success. How wrong we turned out to be! For a start, we hadn’t allowed for the effort and business skills of owners Mitchell and Alison Evans.

Hereford had long been calling out for a pub that offered a good range of beers from different small breweries from around the UK. The Beer in Hand has now filled that gap many times over, as is evidenced by its runaway success. The customers have just kept coming across the threshold ever since it first opened back in August 2013. Not stopping there, the operation has gone on to provide the largest selection of real ciders and perries in the county - typically as many as a dozen being available. And just to top this lot off is an eclectic selection of bottled beers and ciders.

At the end of 2013 the pub was awarded the accolade of Herefordshire CAMRA Cider Pub of the Year. Now, only twelve months later, it has won the BIG prize - and thoroughly deserved it is too.

The Beer in Hand isn’t your run-of-the-mill pub, thus the moniker ‘micro’ being applied to the Eign Street premises. Besides the enormous range of real ales (plus ciders and perries), the most notable feature is the large enclosed racking unit. Holding up to sixteen barrels behind individually-sealed glass fronts, it is a neat way of efficiently chilling the beers without the need for a traditional pub cellar. This brings the added bonus that the customer can see their beer served straight from the barrel every time.

Otherwise, the Beer in Hand might be best described as basic-cum-minimalist modernist in decor, with comfortable furnishings towards the front and a seated alcove area off to one side towards the rear. Whilst it’s nothing like a spit and sawdust boozer, it still seems to engender a good locals’ pub atmosphere. Conversation will always hold sway in a place like this. The owners appear to have the Midas touch for the pub trade. Whatever they do at the Beer in Hand seems to land the right way up every time: such as the introduction of food nights and Sunday lunches, live music and quizzes - all admirably supported by an ever-building number of loyal locals. We’ve even forgiven them for running a ‘Beer on the Eign’ festival concurrent with our Beer on the Wye festival back in July! Obviously, that was a success too.

Simon Crowther, Herefordshire CAMRA Chairman, explains:

“The Beer in Hand is a very welcome addition to the city’s pub scene. It gives Hereford’s beer drinkers a chance to try a number of different beers from various UK small breweries, an opportunity they otherwise only get at a beer festival. For visitors to the city, it represents a stellar showcase for local Herefordshire ciders and perries.

“Getting the Beer in Hand established was a big commitment and a massive leap of faith - one that has very much paid off for the owners. Well done and thanks go to Mitchell and Alison for taking the risk and then making it work so well.”

A presentation of the Pub of the Year certificate will take place at the Beer in Hand in February.

 Beer in Hand, Eignbrook House, 136 Eign Street, Hereford, HR4 0AP. 12 (4 Tue & Wed)-11; 11-10.30 Sun; fully accessible; 10p/pint discount for CAMRA members website: www.beerinhand.co.uk; twitter: @bihhereford

 

ANOTHER ACCOLADE FOR BORDER PUB

Bridge Inn at Kentchurch is voted Herefordshire CAMRA’s Country Pub of the Year

Bridge Inn, Kentchurch

The Bridge Inn Kentchurch is a pub not so much in the centre of the village as in the ‘Heart of the Community’. Taking the B4347 eastwards from Pontrilas, one wonders just how the tiny parish of Kentchurch village with so few visible signs of habitation can sustain a pub. Yet since taking over the pub, Nick Phillips and his wife Andi have taken it from strength to strength.

Once part of a mill complex dating back some 400 years, the pub still retains much of its historic character, while the garden, set beside the River Monnow, offers stunning views towards the Black Mountains.

Nick and Andi are committed to offering excellent beers, with three real ales availablle in winter, increasing to four - plus a real cider - in the summer. The á-la-carte menu includes traditional "pub grub", plus a range of specials which vary from night to night - all freshly prepared on the premises. Sunday lunches and regular themed nights are very popular and booking is recommended. Andi's homemade puddings are always popular - particularly the cheesecakes!

The pub is surrounded by delightful countryside offering some fine walking, providing a handy refreshment stop along the Herefordshire Trail or the Bagwyllydiart and Pontrilas walk described in the ‘Garway Bus’ leaflet. Download here and follow links leisure, then walking.

Bridge Inn, Kentchurch, Hereford HR2 0BY. Tel (01981) 240408. Opening Hours Mondays 6pm to 10pm Tuesday Closed Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 12pm to 2.30pm and 5.30pm to 11pm Saturday and Sunday 12pm to 11pm

PUB OF THE SEASON

Chase Inn, Upper Colwall

DOUBLE CELEBRATION AT THE NEW INN

Spring 2015 Pub of the Season is the New Inn, Fownhope.

In 1980’s Fownhope, the Forge & Ferry was the place to go for interesting beer; the Green Man did good food, plus Sam Smith’s Bitter, and the New Inn just did Ansell’s. Fast forward to 2015, and the Forge & Ferry is just a distant memory; the Green Man has reinvented itself as a trendy eating house, and the New Inn is the thriving village local. Throughout this time, the Gummery family have been in charge at the New Inn. Father Les, now 87, took over 53 years ago, and prised the pub from the grip of Ansells around 1990. It was at about that time that he handed over the reins to daughter Sandra, although he is still around to act as licensee when Sandra needs a break. So, it is fitting that our Spring Pub of the Season award doubles as a celebration of Sandra’s 25 years in charge.

First and foremost the New Inn is a village pub, run for the locals. Good honest home-made pub food, which is offered at lunchtimes during the week attracts customers from further afield, but you really need to be a local to keep in touch with the irregular pattern of food offerings in the evening, which feature fish and chips, pies, steaks and curry in rotation. Dates for the evenings are advertised at the pub, as they are also for the monthly Sunday roast., and the events are all well-supported and enjoyable.

The ad hoc nature of events at the New Inn carries over into jam sessions and quiz evenings which also don’t follow any set pattern, but are advertised at the pub, and on the website. Hobsons Best Bitter has been the staple beer for many years. On the day of the presentation it was complemented by Wye Valley Bitter, thinly disguised as “New Inn Bitter”, and Sharp’s Doom Bar. The latter two change from time to time, but at least one of them will always be from a local brewery.

The pub consists of a single room with exposed beams divided into more discrete spaces by a central, bare-brick fireplace. It has recently been given a makeover to lighten the decor, but most important is the warmth of the welcome from the locals who maintain a lively banter at the bar. This pub is a credit to Fownhope and worth a visit at any time.

New Inn, Fownhope, HR1 4PE. Telephone (01432) 860350. Opening hours: 12-3,6-midnight Mon-Fri; 11-midnight Sat; 12-midnight Sun. Meal times: 12-2.30 Mon-Sat; 12-4 Sun (monthly). www.thenewinnfownhope.co.uk Nearby bus route: 454


Recent Pubs of the Season

Chase, Upper Colwall
Xmas 2014: Chase Inn, Upper Colwall
Autumn 2014: Red Lion, Peterstow
Summer 2014: Baron’s Cross, Leominster
Spring 2014: Green Dragon, Bishops Frome
Autumn 2013: Bridge Inn, Kentchurch
Summer 2013: Royal George, Lingen
Spring 2013: Wheelwrights, Pencombe