Flying Horse gallops to double glory

A Rochdale pub has romped away with the Greater Manchester Pub of the Year for the second year running.

The Flying Horse adjacent to Rochdale’s magnificent Town Hall was in need of Ben Boothman’s vision when he took it over. Trade at the site started in 1691, but it endured a spell renamed as The Sports before he took the reins.  Ben could see the potential to transform the town centre building to provide a destination for drinkers, diners and overnight visitors, as well as an ambition to become the town’s premier free live music establishment. But a long-term commitment to providing the very best real ales underscored his efforts.

Ben is well-known in amateur rugby league circles as he combined turning out in the green and gold colours of Rochdale Cobras alongside his work at the Flying Horse. It’s a real family success as mum Pat has supported Ben throughout, taking charge of functions as well as finding time to run a popular outside catering business, Quirky Catering. The pub is also a vital supporter of town centre initiatives including Rochdale Food and Drink Festival and the Feel Good Festival.   

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Regional Club Of The Year Presentation

On Friday 27th September, the region presented the Greater Manchester Club of The Year award to Flixton Conservative Club, Urmston.

Deputy Regional Director Beverley Gobbett presented the award to stewards Andrea and Pat Doherty.

The stewards who took over in March dedicated the award to the team who run the bar and cellar at the club who have ensured that the club retained the Greater Manchester title for an unprecedented fifth year.

Left to right: Cellar and bar team members Chas & Hayley, Stewards Andrea and Pat, deputy Regional Director Beverley Gobbet and bar / cellarman Tom.

The award was presented during the club’s monthly brewery night in their function room which was hosted by Brightside Brewery’s Carley Friedrich. A second presentation was then made in front of the club’s regular attendees in the downstairs bar.

Manchester’s beer scene booming, according to the Good Beer Guide

The local brewing and pub scene in Greater Manchester is booming, according to the Good Beer Guide 2020, CAMRA’s premier publication featuring the very best pubs to find a great pint in the UK.

It reports that across Greater Manchester there are:

  • 33 newly featured pubs, bringing the total of surveyed pubs in the area to 159
  • Five new breweries, including the Cheadle Brew House, Howfen Brew Co, Manchester Union Brewery Ltd, Made of Stone Brewery and Tin Head

In addition, the Flying Horse Hotel in Rochdale has been named one of the best pubs in the UK, having made its way to the next stage of the competition in the nationwide search for CAMRA’s Pub of the Year.

First built in 1691 and re-built in 1926, this is an impressive Edwardian stone-built free house with many original architectural features situated in the Town Hall Square. Ten cask ales and two traditional ciders are available as is live sports and music. The hotel features log fires and provides accommodation and a function room is available for hire.

It will now compete in the next round of the competition, hoping to be named one of the four super-regional finalists – and stay in with a chance of becoming the overall winner, to be revealed in February 2020.

The Good Beer Guide, which reviews over 4,500 pubs across the UK, is the definitive beer drinkers’ guide to the very best pints in the most picturesque and friendly pubs. Compiled by thousands of independent volunteers, it helps identify significant trends and themes locally and nationally.

Tom Stainer, CAMRA’s Chief Executive said: “For nearly five decades, the Good Beer Guide has been a comprehensive guide to the UK’s breweries, their ales, and the best outlets to find them in across the country. 

“What makes the Guide unique is that all the entries are compiled and vetted by a huge volunteer team, based around the country. We work hard to ensure that all areas of the country are covered and, unlike some competitor titles, inclusion in this book is dependent on merit, not on payment.

“The Good Beer Guide has therefore always played an important role in acting as a barometer of the beer and pub industry. We believe information gleaned from the Guide is absolutely vital in the drive to save our pubs from closure and campaign for policies that better support the pub and beer industry.”

Discover all of the pubs listed, and more, with CAMRA’s new Good Beer Guide app, available on both iOS and Android device or visit the CAMRA shop for your copy: shop.camra.org.uk 

Pub Of The Year 2019

Rochdale’s Flying Horse Hotel has retained its title of Greater Manchester Pub Of The Year for a second year.

First built in 1691 and re-built in 1926, this is an impressive Edwardian stone-built free house with many original architectural features situated in the Town Hall Square.

Judges praised the quality of the pub’s ten cask ales and two traditional ciders available as well as the welcome offered by knowledgeable staff.

The hotel features log fires, provides accommodation and is well known for its regular live music events.

The runner up was The Brewery Bar, Horwich situated on the first floor of Blackedge Brewery with Stalybridge Buffet Bar taking third place in the voting.

Club Of The Year 2019

Greater Manchester CAMRA is pleased to announce the result of the 2019 Regional Club Of The Year Competition.

The Greater Manchester Club Of The Year 2019 is the Flixton Conservative Club on Flixton Road between Urmston and Flixton in Trafford.

Although this is the fifth consecutive year that the club has won the Greater Manchester title, it is the first under new Stewards Pat and Andrea Doherty who took over in March and have maintained the high standards set by their predecessors Nigel and Sharon Porter.

Flixton Conservative Club Team
Pat and Andrea (centre) flanked by Flixton Conservative Club cellar team Chaz and Tom receiving their Trafford & Hulme Branch Club Of The Year award

Nigel and Sharon left the club in November 2018 after six years at the helm but left behind a team passionate about serving high quality cask ale. Cellar team Tom, Chas and Hayley kept the beer flowing while the club recruited new stewards.

Pat and Andrea have reinstated the club’s successful “Brewery Nights” (monthly tap takeover and meet the brewer nights which pack out the club’s function room) as well as introducing a range of new events including a fortnightly Open Mic night, curry nights and expanding the live music offering.

Runner up in the Greater Manchester competition was Dobcross Band Social Club in Dobcross, Saddleworth.

Six of the nine branches of CAMRA in Greater Manchester selected a Club Of The Year each of which were visited by a team of judges from across the region.

The finalists were:

  • Ukrainian Club (Bolton Branch)
  • Dobcross Band Club (Rochdale, Oldham and Bury Branch)
  • Boothstown Royal British Legion (Salford & District Branch)
  • Moor Club (Stockport and South Manchester Branch)
  • Flixton Conservative Club (Trafford & Hulme Branch)
  • Standish Unity Club (Wigan Branch)

Flixton Conservative Club will now go forward into the 2020 National Club of The Year competition, seeking to reclaim the National Club Of The Year title they won in 2018.

New Regional Director for Greater Manchester

At the Greater Manchester Region Annual General Meeting on 13th April, the regions branches voted in our new Regional Director, Phil Moss.

Phil is a former chairman of High Peak, Tameside and North East Cheshire branch. He takes over from Graham Donning who has held the post for three years.

New RD Phil Moss (left) with retiring RD Graham Donning

Phil will report to the National Executive and will represent the region on the national branchester committee.

Manchester Brewer’s Challenge Winners 2019

Champion Beer of Manchester 2019.

Congratulations to the winners of the Brewer’s challenge held at MBCF 2019.

Bronze: Bank Top Brewery, Herkules White Walker.

Silver:Hophurst Brewery,Porteresque.

Gold:Pomona Island Brewery,Love Buzz DDH Table Beer.

Champion Keg Beer 2019.

Pomona Island Brewery,Love Buzz DDH Table beer.

Champion Cask Beer 2019.

Hophurst Brewery,Porteresque.


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Flying Horse first past the post

(L to R) Landlord Ben Boothman, bar manager Jon Hudson and assistant bar manager Lucy Jones.

Twenty years of building a business has put a Rochdale pub in the winners’ enclosure as it is judged Greater Manchester’s Pub of the Year.

The Flying Horse adjacent to Rochdale’s magnificent Town Hall was in need of Ben Boothman’s vision when he took it over. Trade at the site started in 1691, but it endured a spell renamed as The Sports before he took the reins. Ben could see the potential to transform the town centre building to provide a destination for drinkers, diners and overnight visitors, as well as an ambition to become the town’s premier free live music establishment. But a long-term commitment to providing the very best real ales underscored his efforts.

Ben is well-known in amateur rugby league circles as he combined turning out in the green and gold colours of Rochdale Cobras alongside his work at the Flying Horse. It’s a real family success as mum Pat has supported Ben throughout, taking charge of the functions as well as finding time to run a popular outside catering business, Quirky Catering. The pub is also a vital supporter of town centre initiatives including Rochdale in Bloom and the recent Feel Good Festival.

Recognised by the Rochdale, Oldham & Bury branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) as its pub of the year for the last two years, the Flying Horse first made the Good Beer Guide in 2002. The pub’s growing success saw a doubling in size of its real ales to twelve handpumps, with traditional ciders, craft keg and a selection of foreign beers making it a drinkers’ delight.

CAMRA’s regional director Graham Donning said: “The Flying Horse represents all that a well-loved pub should be. It is supported by its regulars, and attracts visitors for its beer, food and accommodation offers. It has adapted to changing social patterns, but at its heart is a landlord whose commitment to real ale makes the Flying Horse a worthy winner.

“Last year, our regional winner was just pipped at the post, gaining runner-up in the national Pub of the Year. I’m not a betting man but I’m confident this pub will be neck and neck in the final strides!”

The Flyer, as locals call it, lined up against seven other exceptional pubs nominated by the Greater Manchester branches of CAMRA. An expert team of volunteer judges drawn from the 9,400 members in the region visited unannounced and evaluated the qualities of each. They scored the pubs on a variety of weighted features including quality of welcome, value for money, community focus and – most importantly – the quality of beers and ciders.

Regional judging coordinator for CAMRA, Caroline O’Donnell added: “Our judges gave points for the knowledgeable and welcoming service, condition of real ales and ciders, and the innovative use of a digital display board showing beers and tasting notes. Most commented on the building’s interesting features and the lively and friendly atmosphere. It’s great that The Flying Horse champions local breweries, especially the excellent brewers in Rochdale.”

Ben Boothman is thrilled with the award. He said: “This success is down to a fantastic team, headed by my bar manager Jon Hudson. We all share a belief that happy customers will tell everyone about their good experiences. And I’ve been helped by our suppliers and breweries who consistently provide customers with the best food and drink.

“I’m proud of our welcoming atmosphere and delighted the judges mentioned this in their assessments. Keeping and serving our traditional beers and cider in tip-top condition is a matter of personal pride, so it’s fantastic to be recognised as the regional winner.

“I’ve wanted to see Rochdale recognised as a great town for beer choice, and I’ve enjoyed strong support from the local CAMRA branch. There’s a lot of history associated with Rochdale but it has a great future too.”

CAMRA will be presenting the award to Ben at The Flying Horse on Thursday 23rd August at 7.30pm.

Notes

1. Each branch decides its pub of the year, and the regional winner is drawn from these. In 2018 the finalists were:

  • Wigan Central WN3 4DY (Wigan branch)
  • Blue Bell Inn, Levenshulme M19 3HF (Stockport & South Manchester branch)
  • The Brink M3 3BQ (Central Manchester branch)
  • The Flying Horse, Rochdale OL16 1NJ (Rochdale, Oldham & Bury branch)
  • Old Packet House, Altrincham WA14 1LW (Trafford & Hulme branch)
  • New Oxford M3 6DB (Salford branch)
  • The Beer School, Westhoughton BL5 3AZ (Bolton branch)
  • Queen Anne, Golbourne WA3 3PZ (South East Lancs branch)
    The High Peak, Tameside & NE Cheshire branch selected its pub of the year outside Greater Manchester.