Branch & Local News 2018
Readers of Ale Cry, and recipients of the branch's emAle newsletter, will be aware that CAMRA Central Lancashire have been making changes to the branch awards that have long been in place. Most importantly it has been decided that Pub of the Year should now become an award in its own right, and that it should no longer be an award that goes automatically to the George Lee Memorial Trophy winner. Henceforth Pub of the Year is an award that is open to be voted on by all local CAMRA members, with them being able to make their selection from a shortlist that has been drawn up by the branch committee.
The time has now come for the voting for the 2018 Pub of the Year to commence, and the six nominations for the award are:-
For more information about the award, and how to submit your vote, go to the Pub Of The Year 2018 webpage.
January 12th saw the launch of the Chorley Real Ale Trail, a leaflet produced by CAMRA Central Lancashire branch to promote the many great pubs of Chorley (a total of 22 pubs are featured). The launch took place at the Malt 'n' Hops, Chorley, a most suitable venue as it is currently CAMRA's Central Lancashire branch Pub of the Year as well as being the Lancashire Area Pub of the Year. On the night there was a good turnout of CAMRA members and friends, with a full mini-bus of members from Preston travelling to join an impressive number of Chorley-based members.
The formalities were brief, but included a presentation by CAMRA Central Lancashire branch Chairman Dave Bell of a certificate to landlord John Grainger for the Malt 'n' Hops having been the branch's George Lee Memorial Trophy winner in 2017. Following this Dave then gave a short speech in praise of Chorley having become a great place for the real ale drinker, this being an important reason for the branch producing the leaflet. In attendance to respond on behalf of Chorley Council were Councillors Alistair Bradley and Danny Gee. Of course the Chorley Real Ale Trail is not just about the Malt 'n' Hops, and as the evening progressed many of those present moved on to look in at some of the other 21 pubs featured in the leaflet.
Just six days later, and it was time for more presentations to take place in Chorley. Rather than there being a branch meeting in January it had been decided that the branch would have a social visiting two of Chorley's many pubs that are featured in the recently published Chorley Real Ale Trail leaflet. The first port of call was the Potters Arms, Chorley, a pub which has had the distinction to appear in 20 successive editions of the Good Beer Guide. To commemorate the occasion, licensees Steve and Denise Potter were presented with a Special Award certificate by branch Vice-Chairman Adrian Smith.
After enjoying a couple of drinks at the Potters Arms (the branch's Pub of the Season in Autumn 2006 - see POTS Autumn 2006), the assembled CAMRA members gradually made their way to the Ale Station, Chorley (the branch's current Pub of the Season - see POTS Winter 2017/18). The Ale Station is a micropub which has been in existence just 18 months, having opened in July 2016 when it became the third micropub in the town. Here the second presentation took place, with branch Vice-Chairman Adrian Smith handing over the Pub of the Season certificate to the Ale Station owner/operator Mick Barker. A most pleasant branch social was completed with a couple more drinks, and thanks go to Mick for providing those present with an extensive Indian Cuisine selection.
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It's been a busy start to 2018 for CAMRA Central Lancashire, but February 1st saw another gathering of local members for a branch social at Hoppy Days, Longridge. The social had been arranged to recognise that Hoppy Days had been chosen as the branch's George Lee Memorial Trophy award winner for 2017/18. This is the CAMRA Central Lancashire branch's premier annual award which goes to the pub, person, or organisation that is deemed to have done the most for real ale locally in the previous year. Hoppy Days was a deserving winner, having been chosen by local CAMRA members in attendance at the 2017 Christmas Branch Meeting. There was a good turn out for the social, and a great time was had by all. An important part of the night was the presentation of the George Lee Memorial Trophy shield to Hoppy Days owner Peace Townsend (pictured above receiving the trophy from branch Chairman Dave Bell).
Last month we announced the launch of the Chorley Real Ale Trail leaflet. CAMRA Central Lancashire branch can modestly say that this leaflet has proved to be a great success, with copies being snapped up at an alarming rate from those pubs where it is stocked. With this the situation, we have now produced an on-line friendly version of the leaflet which can be viewed or printed off by anyone who is interested in visiting the many great pubs of Chorley. For more information about the leaflet go to the Real Ale Trails webpage.
The Chorley Real Ale Trail leaflet may have been produced only last month, yet already it has become out of date with the opening of the Ginnell, Chorley on February 27th. This is yet another micropub opening in Chorley, the town that has really come to the fore as the number of micropubs in the area has continued to increase. Located in a former hairdressing salon at the town end of Pall Mall, this self-styled 'drinking den' has limited opening hours, being open 4pm to 12midnight Wednesdays and Thursdays, and being open 12noon to 12midnight Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, but being closed Mondays and Tuesdays. It has four handpumps, with two changing cask ales and two ciders always being available. Great news - and with more micropubs planned to open in Preston (and possibly others to open in Leyland and Penwortham), the micropub revolution in Central Lancashire would still appear to be flourishing.
Exactly four years ago it was announced on this website, 'The Bitter Suite is no more - long live the Ale Emporium'. Well now it can be said 'The Ale Emporium is no more - long live Mad Hatters'. For over 10 years now the newly re-christened Mad Hatters (since re-named the Speakeasy, Preston) has been one of the most popular real ale establishments in the branch area, being a regular entry in the Good Beer Guide. Midway through 2017 there was a change of regime, with the pub being taken on by Alan Chester, once of the Wellington, Ashton. Under his stewardship the pub has had a change of direction, with live music now being featured much more often, and with the availability of food being extended. With all this going on, a name change was considered appropriate, and with Alan being renowned for his ever present range of headware, the name Mad Hatters was chosen.
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March 1st was the official publication date for Ale Cry 118, the Spring 2018 edition of the CAMRA Central Lancashire branch quarterly magazine. This is another 32 page issue, which we hope that you will find to be crammed full of interesting articles and important news items etc. The branch's George Lee Memorial Trophy winner for 2017-18, Hoppy Days, Longridge, is featured on the front page, and inside there is also an article about this annual award. The Masons Arms, Chorley is revealed as the branch's latest Pub of the Season winner, while Chorley is further highlighted with an article on the recently produced Chorley Real Ale Trail leaflet. As well as Ale Cry's many regular articles, the magazine includes Part 1 of a series of articles on Historic Preston Pubs. Copies of Ale Cry 118 will be available from pubs and clubs throughout the branch area in the coming weeks.
It's been going on for two months, but at long last voting for the CAMRA Central Lancashire branch Pub of the Year for 2018 has come to an end. Thankyou to all local CAMRA members who took the time to cast their vote - I think it's true to say that the number of votes received far exceeded the branch committee's expectations, particularly as we were unable to publicise the award as we would have liked in the Winter 2017/18 Ale Cry.
As branch members who receive the emAle newsletter will already know the winning pub was the Guild Ale House, Preston. Congratulations go to pub owner Gary Quinn and his staff, the Guild Ale House has become the branch's first ever Pub of the Year to be chosen by an open vote of local CAMRA branch members. In second place (and not too far behind) was the Malt 'n' Hops, Chorley, while third place went to the Moorbrook, Preston. The Guild Ale House will now go forward as the CAMRA Central Lancashire branch nomination for the Lancashire Pub of the Year (the current holder of this award being the aforementioned Malt 'n' Hops). In the coming weeks a presentation will be arranged at the Guild Ale House to hand over the branch's brand new Pub of the Year shield.
As well as the branch choosing a Pub of the Year, there have recently been two other important decisions made in selecting branch award winners. After much deliberation by the CAMRA Central Lancashire branch committee it was decided that our Club of the Year for 2018 should be the Trades Hall Club & Institute, Bamber Bridge, while our Cider Pub of the Year for 2018 should be Haighton Manor, Haighton. As with the Pub of the Year winner, both our Club of the Year winner and our Cider Pub of the Year winner become the branch's nominations to go forward for consideration in the corresponding Lancashire Area and West Pennines Regional awards. Good luck to all three of our nominations.
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The nation-wide micropub revolution continues unabated with yet more new openings in the CAMRA Central Lancashire branch area. Good Friday (March 30th) saw the official opening of the Tap And Vine, Penwortham, a new micropub which has been created in premises that were previously occupied by an Arts & Craft shop. Opening on a bank holiday ensured a busy first day, and in the following days the pub has continued to attract a near full house of customers. With regards to beer, the micropub has four handpumps, and already many local breweries have had their beers on sale, these including Bowland, Lancaster, Moorhouses, and Rivington during the first week of business.
March also saw the opening of the Orchard, Preston, a new bar within the long anticipated Preston Market re-development. The Orchard is a sister micropub to the nearby Guild Ale House on Lancaster Road, both being run by Gary Quinn and his partner Jane Briscoe. Initially the availability of real ale was not a priority, with the handpumps being put in use to dispense real cider. However it was not long before cask lines were in place, with Wily Fox being one of the first breweries to have their beers on sale. By the way, if you are visiting Preston Market also look out for the stall being run by Preston's Priest Town Brewing brewery.
Other micropubs definitely (or possibly) on the way include - two new bars in Bamber Bridge, two new bars in Preston, one new bar in Leyland, one new bar in Longton, plus another new bar in Penwortham. It is certainly looking like 2018 will be another bumper year for micropubs in the CAMRA Central Lancashire branch area.
The second half of April sees the start of a series of presentations being made by CAMRA Central Lancashire branch. First up, on Monday April 16th was a presentation for the branch's Club of the Year for 2018. The winning club was the Trades Hall Club & Institute, Bamber Bridge, and above is a photograph of branch chairman Dave Bell (wearing his Monday t-shirt) handing over the Club of the Year 2018 certificate to club steward Mat Bickerton. The Trades Hall becomes only the fourth winner of this award which is decided by the CAMRA Central Lancashire branch committee.
Next up, and just three days later, it was time for local CAMRA members to re-congregate for the Pub of the Year 2018 presentation. The winning pub was the Guild Ale House, Preston, the first pub to have won this award through a vote which took place over two months and which was open to all local CAMRA members. Pictured above (right, and wearing his Thursday t-shirt) is branch chairman Dave Bell, with pub owner Gary Quinn, who is holding both the brand new Pub of the Year shield plus the Pub of the Year 2018 certificate.
A third presentation took place exactly one week later at the Masons Arms, Chorley, the pub chosen as the CAMRA Central Lancashire Pub of the Season for Spring 2018. On the night the pub was packed to the rafters, with live music also being provided for the pub regulars and local CAMRA members in attendance. This time the presentation duties were carried out by branch vice-chairman Adrian Smith, and pictured above following the presentation are pub owners Cheryl Folan and Nicky Reid together with the Spring 2018 Pub of the Season certificate.
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Into May and it was time for another CAMRA Central Lancashire branch presentation. On Thursday May 10th a mini-bus was arranged to transport a baker's dozen of local CAMRA members to the Haighton Manor, Haighton, the Brunning & Price pub that had been selected as the winner of the branch's Cider Pub of the Year award for 2018. Cider may not be to everyone's taste, but for those giving it a go there was an excellent choice available on the night, with 13 different ciders being on sale (all at £2.25 a pint, half their normal price). Pictured above, and about to receive the Cider Pub of the Year certificate is Haighton Manor manager Chris Humphries, along with the branch's Cider Co-ordinator Luke Harrison (centre), and Branch Chairman Dave Bell. After an enjoyable stay at Haighton Manor, the evening was completed with a stop-off at Tap & T'ales, Goosnargh, the new micropub in the area which many of those present were visiting for the first time.
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June 1st saw the opening of the Brig 'n' Barrel, Bamber Bridge, the latest micropub to appear in the CAMRA Central Lancashire branch area. Housed in the former BBTV Television and Video shop premises on Station Road, the micropub has six handpumps and from the start has been selling beers from many local breweries, including Beer Brothers, Farm Yard Ales, Lancaster, Wily Fox, and Withnells. Certainly an interesting addition to the Bamber Bridge beer drinking scene, and indications are that there is more to come!
**Micropub Update - June 21st saw the opening of the Plug & Taps, Preston, yet another micropub in the branch area. Housed at 32 Lune Street in former beauty salon premises, it is owned by the same people who have the highly successful Market Ale House, Leyland. It is selling four handpumped cask ales, with beers from Blackjack, Brass Castle, Dark Revolution and Seven Bro7hers initially being available.
The first week of June saw the publication of Ale Cry 119, the Summer 2018 edition of the CAMRA Central Lancashire branch quarterly magazine. Once more a 32 page issue, it is as usual crammed full of interesting articles and important news items from the branch area as well as from further afield. This time round there are articles on the branch's recent trips to Lytham and to the Farm Yard Ales Brewery, while the Plungington, Fulwood is revealed as the branch's latest Pub of the Season winner. The highly popular My Pint Of View article features Gary Quinn, the owner of the Guild Ale House, Preston and the Orchard, Preston, and also included in the magazine is Part 2 of the Historic Preston Pubs series. Copies of Ale Cry 119 should start appearing in pubs and clubs throughout the branch area in the coming weeks.
While on the subject of Ale Cry it would be remiss of the branch not to let it be known that the magazine has recently been on the receiving end of a number of regional and national awards. First, Ale Cry was chosen as 'Magazine of the Year' in the CAMRA West Pennines Regional awards. This was great news, but next came the even better news that Ale Cry had been recognised in the CAMRA national awards. At the 2018 CAMRA Members Weekend in Coventry it was revealed that Ale Cry had been chosen as the runner-up in CAMRA's overall 'Magazine of the Year' award, and had also been named as CAMRA's 'Most Improved Magazine' of the year. Pictured above at the branch's recent AGM at the Black Horse, Preston, Ale Cry Editor Adrian Smith holds the 'Most Improved Magazine' certificate, West Pennines Regional Director Angela Aspin holds the Regional 'Magazine of the Year' certificate, while West Pennines Newsletter Chief Judge Ray Jackson holds the remains of his pint of beer.
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July 14th was the date for the annual CAMRA Lancashire Branches Social, and this year it was hosted by CAMRA Central Lancashire branch in Leyland. On what was yet another sunny day there was a good turnout of Lancashire based CAMRA members who had travelled from all four corners of the county to socialise and sample the many beers on offer. Pictured outside the Market Ale House, Leyland, with hosts CAMRA Central Lancashire committee members Dave Bell, Adrian Smith, and John Singleton, are some of the many CAMRA members who turned out on the day.
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August 6th saw the opening of a new restaurant, the Bistrot Pierre, Preston, in the former Baptist Church premises on Fishergate. However this is not just a restaurant, it is a restaurant with a bar that non-dining customers are able to frequent when wanting to go there just for a drink. The bar has two handpumps, and we have been told it is the intention that it will be selling beers predominantly from local breweries. Initially there were beers from Moorhouses on offer, while Beer Brothers beers are also likely to be appearing in the near future. Once again one of Preston's more impressive old buildings has been kept in use by being restored and being converted into a pub or a restaurant (and thankfully it is also selling real ale).
August 16th was the date for a CAMRA Central Lancashire branch social at the Black Bull, Penwortham. A good number of local CAMRA members were present to recognise that the Black Bull had been chosen as the branch's first ever Community Pub of the Year winner. An enjoyable night was had by all, with several members taking part in the highly popular Pub Quiz which is held there every Thursday. Before the quiz started there was a presentation, and pictured above is CAMRA Central Lancashire Vice-Chairman Adrian Smith, with Black Bull General Manager Ian Robinson (holding the certificate) and Black Bull Manager Carol Millen.
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A few days later than planned, but we are now pleased to announce the publication of Ale Cry 120, the Autumn 2018 edition of the CAMRA Central Lancashire branch quarterly magazine. Once again it is a 32 page issue which we hope you will find to be full of interesting news items and beer related articles. The Continental, Preston is revealed as the branch's Autumn 2018 Pub of the Season winner, while other branch awards described are the 2018 Community Pub of the Year (the Black Bull, Penwortham), and the 2018 Most Improved Pub of the Year (the Masons Arms, Chorley). Other articles in the magazine include a write-up on a recent 'Ale Cry Visits' trip to Garstang, a retrospective on '40 Years of Ale Cry', while we also reach Part 3 in the 'Historic Preston Pubs' series. Copies of Ale Cry 120 should start appearing in pubs and clubs throughout the branch area in the coming weeks.
September 13th was the official publication date for the 2019 Good Beer Guide. Unfortunately this year there have been delays in distribution from the Printers meaning that copies have not been available to CAMRA members by this date as has usually been the case. CAMRA Central Lancashire branch did eventually receive their supply of GBGs about a week late, and hopefully it will not be too long before GBGs are got to those people who have asked that we get them copies. As usual the Good Beer Guide is an essential purchase for those wanting to discover the very best of real ale pubs in all parts of the country. This year's edition features 34 pubs from the CAMRA Central Lancashire branch area as chosen by local members.
September 20th was certainly a day in the Preston area with more than its fair share of rain. However despite the adverse conditions, local CAMRA members were out in force in the evening for a branch social at the Continental, Preston. The prime reason for this social was a presentation, with the Continental having been chosen as the CAMRA Central Lancashire branch Pub of the Season for Autumn 2018. As readers of Ale Cry will know, this was great timing for the Continental to win a CAMRA award as it is exactly 10 years since the pub had a renaissance coming under the ownership of Jeremy Rowlands and Ruth Heritage. Pictured above, left to right, are Jeremy Rowlands (the Pub Owner), Lisa Rowlands (the Pub Manager), Gary Culshaw (the Cellarman, holding the certificate), and Adrian Smith (the CAMRA Central Lancashire branch Vice-Chairman).
The last few weeks has been a busy time for new micropub openings in the South Ribble area, with three new establishments opening on successive Fridays. The first to appear was the Bar 47, Higher Walton, which opened on August 31st. Owned by Haydn and Angela Williams of the Crankshaft Brewery, this is effectively the brewery tap, although it has also been selling beers from other breweries such as Cross Bay, Rock The Boat, and Farmyard Ales. Exactly a week later and it was the opening day for Wilkins & Pye, Longton, a micropub named after the two rival breweries which were at one time located in the village. This is a micropub that is also a sports bar, and most notably it has been selling a house beer brewed by Beer Brothers Brewery. Completing this spate of micropub openings on September 14th was the Beer Box, Bamber Bridge, the second micropub to open in Bamber Bridge this year. Of the three this micropub probably offers the widest range of cask ales, with beers from Beer Brothers, Bowland, Lancaster, and 3 Piers all being available in the opening weeks.
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October 25th and CAMRA Central Lancashire branch members were once again at the Masons Arms, Chorley for a social and presentation. The last occasion that the branch was at the Masons was in April when local CAMRA members had gathered for the Spring 2018 Pub of the Season presentation. This time the presentation was for Most Improved Pub of the Year 2018, this being the first time that such an award had been made. As in April there was a good turnout of pub regulars and CAMRA members, and again there was live entertainment on the night (this time solo artist Jon Brindley). The Masons Arms was a great choice for Most Improved Pub - and it continues to improve, with a small microbrewery recently having been installed at the pub (unfortunately the latest batch of this home brewed beer was not yet ready for consumption). Pictured above following the presentation are CAMRA Central Lancashire Vice-Chairman Adrian Smith and Masons Arms pub landlord Nick Reid.
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Two new pubs have opened in Preston this month. First to appear was the long-awaited Plau, Preston, which opened its doors to the public on November 16th. Then just a couple of days later the Otters Pocket, Preston opened on November 19th. The Plau has been almost four years in the making, with restoration work going on to create a 'gin and beer house' in a building that had been a pub over 100 years ago, but which had most recently housed a retro clothes and body modification shop. Located on Friargate, and an establishment with a fascinating history, it is selling four changing cask ales, and in particular has been featuring beers that are unusual for the area. In contrast the Otter's Pocket has opened within weeks of it first being announced to the public. Located on Winckley Street, it is a 'pie and ale house', which as the billing suggests has been created to provide good quality pies as well as good quality beer. The Otters Pocket has three changing cask ales on sale.
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Coming out in the first week of December was Ale Cry 121, the Winter 2018 edition of the CAMRA Central Lancashire branch quarterly magazine. Once again we have produced a 32 page issue which it is hoped that you will find to be full of interesting news items and beer related articles. The Dog Inn, Longridge is revealed as the branch's Winter 2018 Pub of the Season winner, and looking ahead there is information about the branch's Pub of the Year 2019 candidates and voting arrangements. Other articles in the magazine include a write-up on the recent 'Ale Cry Visits' trip to Longton, a retrospective on the branch's 'Defunct Microbreweries', while we also reach Part 4 in the 'Historic Preston Pubs' series. Copies of Ale Cry 121 can now be found in pubs and clubs throughout the branch area.
Pub of the Year is an award (won last year by the Guild Ale House, Preston) that is open to be voted on by all local CAMRA members. Recipients of the branch's emAle newsletter, will be aware that the CAMRA Central Lancashire branch committee have now come up with a shortlist of six candidates which are to go forward for consideration for the 2019 Pub of the Year award.
The time has now come for the voting to commence, and the six competitors for the award are:-
Mad Hatters, Preston
Voting ends on February 28th 2019. For more information about the award, and how to submit your vote, go to the Pub of the Year 2019 webpage.
**December 2018 Update - A decision has been made that the Mad Hatters should be withdrawn from the branch's Pub of the Year 2019 voting. This decision was made due to the pub's uncertain future, and its consequent questionability on whether it would be able to fulfil the requirements of the award. The Mad Hatters (now re-named the Speakeasy, Preston) remains an excellent pub, and this decision is not a reflection on the current ownership. If any votes are received for the Mad Hatters, then the CAMRA member making the vote will be informed of the situation, and they will be allowed to re-submit their vote.
On December 13th CAMRA Central Lancashire Branch held its Christmas Meeting at the PR1 Bar in Preston. This Christmas Meeting had originally been planned to take place at the Black Horse (later having to be moved due to a double booking), and was then to take place at the Mad Hatters (a pub which has recently been closed before re-opening as the PR1 Bar). On the night it was pleasing that 20 local CAMRA members were able to attend, and as is traditional the meeting was essentially a social occasion. One of the most important items on the agenda was the voting for the 2018-19 George Lee Memorial Trophy winner. This is the branch's premier award which is made to the pub, organisation, or person that branch members consider to have done the most for real ale locally during the previous year. There were five nominations this time round, and the winners were Haydn and Angela Williams (pictured above, the owners of Crankshaft Brewery and the recently opened Bar 47, Higher Walton). The other nominations were the Old Vic, Preston; Jeremy Rowlands (the owner of the Continental, Preston, etc); Gary Quinn and Jane Briscoe (the owners of the Guild Ale House, Preston, etc); and Nick Reid (the owner of the Masons Arms, Chorley). All five nominations were well supported on the night, with votes being well spread across the selection. The George Lee Memorial Trophy shield will be presented at a social to be held at the Cann Bridge Ale House early in 2019.
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