The branch Pub of the Year (PoTY) competition is held in conjunction with all other CAMRA branches. Winners of the branch PoTY are put forward to the Regional competition. We are in the South West region. This region is quite large so we have two regional pubs of the year one in the North of the region and one in the South. All regional winners are put forward to the National Pub of the Year voting and from this list four are chosen as finalists. One of these becomes CAMRA National Pub of The Year.
At our local branch it is deemed that the Branch Pub of The Year should be one of our local Good Beer Guide (GBG) entries and to this end once the voting forms for the GBG vote have been returned the twelve pubs getting the most votes plus one from the Gloucester pubs in our area are listed.
We are aware that the branch membership is grouped in three major areas of population, Chippenham, Calne and Melksham. In 2010 we started to arrange 'campaigning' mini bus trips to areas of the branch members wouldn't normally get the chance to visit. We hope that these trips will encourage branch members to revisit certain areas and expand the range of pubs voted for in the GBG voting process.
In the past branch members attending a specific meeting had the final say on what was our Branch Pub of the Year. After much discussion the committee decided that this vote could sway the overall members vote and propsed some changes, that were agreed. From 2011 the committee scrutinise the list of pubs, and having consulted the national guidelines, decide which one of the branch GBG entries became Branch Pub of the Year. A Pub can only be PoTY in two consecutive years. Those pubs been deemed excellent enough to qualify for this rule will not be considered for the following years vote.
Whilst there is an embargo on naming GBG entries until much closer to the GBG publication date, The Branch Pub of the Year is generally announced at the next Branch meeting following the committee meeting which decided our PoTY.
Pub of the Year 2015
There are over 130 pubs in the North West Wiltshire Branch of CAMRA’s area
and each year branch members (650+ at the time of writing) are given the
opportunity to vote for pubs they feel are good enough to be in CAMRA’s
Good Beer Guide. From the list of worthy winners 12 are selected for possible
inclusion in the GBG.
We chose our branch Pub of The Year from the top 6 of these top 12 pubs.
The Bell at Lacock gained the most votes from branch members who awarded
points for six different categories including quality of ale, good value and
community focus. However were they good enough to become our PoTY?
Committee members visit each one of the top 6 pubs and carry out a detailed
survey which includes quality of beer, focus on CAMRA issues, Community focus,
value for money, atmosphere/style/décor, service & welcome.
Although quality of ale is very important, being N.W.Wilts PoTY is about more
than just the ale. It’s about the pub; it’s about how people feel about its
atmosphere, what welcome they receive, and also whether having spent their
hard earned cash they have enjoyed the whole experience of their visit.
To these questions, and others, the Bell came out on top. Couple that with
the community feel and the wonderful work Alan, Heather and Paul,
the staff team, and customers have done to raise over £65,000 for the
RUH over the years and I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a worthy winner.
This is the 10th time in 15 years that the Bell has been our PoTY and
they have been in the Good Beer Guide since 2001.
The Bell at Lacock is well known for the excellent quality of its ale
and with four on the bar, plus a real cider, there is a choice for most palettes.
Their range is also enhanced with two beer festivals a year.
Oh and the food is very good as well J
Pub of the Year 2014
Chair of CAMRA North West Wiltshire(Dave Maloney) presents Steve Jenner with the PoTY award for 2014
CAMRA branches have many different ways of choosing their Pub of The Year (PoTY).
In NWWilts it starts with voting pubs into the GBG (Good Beer Guide). All branch members are asked to vote for pubs that sell top quality real ale such that they would recommend that pub to a friend to visit.
We have 131 real ale establishments in our branch area,and once votes are in we send out teams to survey the top 15.
Out of these only 13 go forward for possible inclusion into the GBG...it's a pretty tough competition.
Not as tough as our PoTY selection though…of the top 13 pubs put forward for possible GBG entry the top 6 are surveyed by members of the branch committee and after due consideration a pub worthy of our Pub of The Year award is chosen.
This year it was the Three Crowns in Chippenham.
Steve and his team have a range of 7 ales on (all are guests and he supports local breweries where he can) two are always dark one is always 6%+. The pub is an accredited member of the LocAle scheme.
3 Farmhouse ciders and a perry are also available and examples of Wiltshire cider are available when possible.
Get more info from their website www.threecrownschippenham.co.uk
Pub of The Year 2013
Gareth MacDonald (Vice Chair North West Wilts CAMRA) congratulated
Steve Jenner on the magnificent transformation made to the pub since
taking it over in May 2010. Not only a Chippenham favourite for local
CAMRA members but also now a well-established community pub with
numerous events hosted throughout the year offering a broad appeal
to real ale and cider drinkers from further afield.
Pub of The Year 2012
How does a pub become Pub of The Year? Each CAMRA Branch has its own system. Here in NW Wilts the branch membership vote for the pubs they deem good enough to be in the Good Beer Guide. The twelve getting the most votes are surveyed for possible inclusion into the GBG. The first stage of our Pub of The Year voting is for a committee to survey again the top six pubs using strict CAMRA guidelines: Quality of beer, Atmosphere/style/décor, Service and welcome, Community focus, Sympathy with CAMRA aims and Good value. The pub with the highest score after surveying is deemed to be our Pub of the Year
The quality of the Bells beer is legendary, correct cellar temperature and a strict cleaning regime ensure beer served at the pump is second to none. Five ales including one dark are also a bonus. What’s at the pumps can be checked out on the Bells website
Atmosphere/style/décor. Anyone who has visited the Bell will no doubt agree the congenial atmosphere with families eating meals mixing with those who are just enjoying the ales works well. Not everyone agrees that ‘restaurant’ food in a real ale pub is a good mixture but if children enjoy such atmosphere and come back as ale drinkers then that’s a bonus, for the pub and CAMRA.The mixture of old floor boards and modern paint scheme works well at the Bell
The welcome and service is second to none with many first timers and regulars being greeted with equally warm enthusiasm
Community Focus. Many local charities benefit from the pubs fund raising activities. There are leaflets and posters advertising local events and anyone who visited for the Queens Jubilee celebrations would have seen a community and visitors joined as one so to speak
Sympathy with CAMRA aims The Bell celebrated the recent Community Pubs Month and are actively promoting the ‘Save Your Pint’ campaign. They also promote Mild and real Cider in line with CAMRA polices
Good Value – from the CAMRA guidelines “ Is not just how cheap the ale is – having made the effort to come here, having devoted some of my valuable time to the journey, having spent my hard-earned dosh, how good a pub experience have I had?” Judging by the number of regulars I presume they feel they have get good value.The Bell gained the highest score and is therefore our branch PoTY for 2012. This is the ninth time they have won the award and they have been in the GBG since 2000.
Co-owner Heather Shepherd and manager Paul Maloney
Pub of The Year 2011
Is the Bell, Bowden Hill, Lacock. Six times winner of the North West Wilts Pub of The Year the Bell is famed for its welcome and outstanding service. The ale is of excellent quality, it can be tiring just watching the staff clean a line before a new ale comes on! With two regulars (Palmers Best and Bath Gem) and two changing guest ales plus a traditional cider its certainly worth making the trip to The Bell. These points, an extensive menu and wonderful ethos ensure the Bell maintains its allround outstanding reputation and is a worthy winner of our Pub of The year award.
Branch Chair Dave Maloney awards Alan & Heather Shepherd
the 2011 North West Wilts Pub of The Year Award