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.
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)
DIARY DATE: Presentation at Petersgate Tap SK1 1EB, 2.30pm, Sunday 5th August
Stockport’s modern take on a pub has scooped the title of Greater Manchester’s Cider Pub of the Year.
Opened in September 2016 on the site of a former betting shop, the Petersgate Tap has attracted rave reviews for its innovative range of traditionally-produced ciders alongside a stunning selection of beers and speciality gins. It was nominated by the local Stockport and South Manchester Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) branch for the first time. But despite a challenge from six of the best cider outlets across the region, an expert team of judges marked Petersgate Tap the Greater Manchester winner.
Although real ale takes pride of place on the bar with six handpumps, father and son Alan and Chris Gent were also determined to provide cider and perry drinkers with an excellent choice from the off. They dispense traditional favourites from award-winning producers with a choice of cellar or fridge cooling. Recent offerings include a pair of national gold medal winners from Somerset, Scrummage Cider from Harry’s and Nempnett’s Piglets Perry.
Alan, a long-time CAMRA member said: “Although we’ve won a couple of awards from the local branch, this is our first regional recognition. As well as national winning ciders and perrys from traditional orchards, we’re keen to champion local producers such as Dunham Press and have its organic Dabinett available at present.
“We’ve worked hard to gain a reputation for our ciders and perrys, and are proud to win this title.”
The Petersgate Tap has an active programme of events with accoustic bands, poetry evenings and takes part in Stockport’s Foodie Friday each month. Its commitment to cider is next on show as part of the forthcoming Stockport Beer Week. Charlotte Bulmer will be leading a tutored tasting of nine ciders and perrys on Sunday 30th September.
CAMRA’s regional cider coordinator Mike Gilroy said: “I’m delighted to see a new winner. This award recognises and rewards excellence in promoting and serving our traditional drinks, and encourages others to aim for high standards.
“Our judges were impressed with the welcoming environment, value for money and the quality of the cider on offer. Many mentioned the knowledge of bar staff about the ciders and perrys sold at the Tap, and the encouragement to try unfamiliar products.”
Mike and CAMRA stalwart Phil Moss will present Alan and Chris with the award at the Tap at 2.30pm on Sunday 5th August 2018.
The pub now goes forward to the next round of the competition, with the national Cider Pub of the Year expected to be announced in early October.
In 2018 the finalists were:
Petersgate Tap, Stockport (Stockport and South Manchester branch)
Tap ‘N’ Barrel, Wigan (Wigan branch)
The Font, Chorlton (Trafford and Hulme branch)
New Oxford, Salford ( Salford branch)
Blackedge Brewery Tap, Horwich (Bolton branch)
Samuel Oldknow, Marple (High Peak, Tameside and NE Cheshire branch)
The Flixton Conservative Club in Manchester has won the prestigious Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) Club of the Year award after a recent transformation has seen an even wider range of real ales and ciders brought in.
On top of a friendly atmosphere and good beer selection, the well maintained club runs a number of social events for the local community including brewery nights, quiz events and sports teams including snooker. There is even a walking group and a popular chess club that meets once a week in the club’s function room. Regular entertainment takes place over the weekend with music, bingo and Open the Box with the chance to win up to £1,000.
The club previously won the local CAMRA Club of the Year award but this is the first time it has made it through to the national round. It will be presented with a plaque to commemorate the award at an event open to the media on the 28th February 2018 at 6pm.
A Conservative club has achieved a remarkable hat trick as it is judged Greater Manchester’s Club of the Year.
Flixton Conservative club at the corner of Chassen Road and Flixton Road is no stranger to awards, having been named top club by the local Trafford and Hulme Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) branch for a staggering five successive years. But despite a challenge from six of the best clubs across the region, an expert team of judges marked Flixton the Greater Manchester winner for the third year running.
Real Ale takes pride of place on the bar, with six handpumps dispensing a choice of beers. There are also two ciders or perry available. Stewards Nigel and Sharon Porter have been encouraged by the club committee to promote beers from popular Greater Manchester breweries alongside beers from further afield. This spirit of adventure culminates on the last Friday of each month with a ‘Meet the Brewer’ event featuring ales from a specially-selected brewer. Continue reading “Top Tory club makes Manchester great again”
A Wigan pub opened less than three years ago has been crowned Greater Manchester’s Pub of the Year.
Wigan Central, the brainchild of the town’s Prospect Brewery has been impressing visitors since opening in the railway arch on Queen Street adjacent to Wigan North Western station in December 2014. Owners Patsy and John Slevin saw the opportunity to provide drinkers with a rail-themed watering hole. Its success has seen a doubling in size as well as increasing its offer to include seven real ales, four craft ciders and an astonishing selection of beers from the UK, Europe and beyond.
Recognised by the Wigan branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) as its pub of the year, Wigan Central was pitted against eight other exceptional pubs nominated by other Greater Manchester branches. An expert team of volunteer judges drawn from the 9,000 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. Continue reading “Wigan Central leaves the rest in its tracks”