The annual Pub of the Year (“PotY”) award is probably the most well known CAMRA pub accolade. The award progresses through 4 levels; from branch area, to county, to regional and finally to national. We take this selection rather seriously, as there are nearly 200 pubs in North Hertfordshire serving real ale the competition is high. You can search the WhatPub? for information on any of our pubs, the database is maintained by CAMRA volunteers – please inform us if you spot anything that is incorrect or out of date!
Current Pub of the Year – 2019
- Pub of the Year: Red Lion, Preston. It also went on to win Hertfordshire Pub of the Year, Regional Pub of the Year and was one of four finalists in the national competition.
We also choose a North Herts Cider & Perry PotY, and for 2018 that was the Garden City Brewery, Letchworth Garden City.
Summary of selection criteria
Obviously, the most important factor is that the pub serves consistently good beer. It is therefore, the norm that our branch selects its POTY from among the shortlist of Good Beer Guide entries. So it is rather important that members submit beer scores.
Obviously, the most important factor is that the pub serves consistently good beer. It is therefore, the norm that our branch selects its POTY from among the shortlist of Good Beer Guide entries. Again, members’ beer scores count.
For a pub to be awarded POTY status, it needs to go beyond just serving good beer. A POTY pub also has to be welcoming to all customers, not only to particular sections of society. Naturally, it needs to be sympathetic to CAMRA aims and campaigns. They will know and communicate with the local branch, and be happy to publicise their activities. The POTY must also be a place that is pleasant for anyone to visit, including things such as the decor, the state of the toilets, the general ambience, etc. Value for money is also a factor, this doesn’t only the beer is cheap , but whether the overall experience has been worth the effort and cost of going there.
The POTY contenders are selected at the February branch meeting following the Good Beer Guide selection, and a list is circulated to branch members (along with selection guidelines and a voting form). Members are encouraged to visit as many of the POTY shortlisted pubs as possible, and are invited to submit votes for each pub, based on the criteria mentioned above. Votes can be submitted via mail or e-mail or directly by attending the March branch meeting. At the March branch meeting, the votes are counted, and a winner is declared. Should there be a tie at the end of the process a show of hands would determine the winner.
Beyond the branch
Our North Herts branch winner progresses to the Hertfordshire county round of voting, to compete against the branch winners from South Herts, Herts-Essex Borders and Watford & District. As above, when the branch winners are known a list of them is sent to members (with guidelines and a voting form). At this level, and above, members are required to visit and submit votes for all contenders if they wish for their votes to count. Members are also encouraged to visit the pubs as often as possible, so that votes can be based on a variety of inspections. However, to ensure that members can see them all and so qualify to vote, we run a minibus trip around all of the county POTY candidates. Votes have to be submitted either to our branch Pubs Officer or directly to the Herts county co-ordinator, usually by the middle of May.
The Hertfordshire county winner goes forward into the East Anglia regional round, which must be decided by the middle of August.
The East Anglia winner then advances into the National round.
The full history of North Hertfordshire PotY winners, note of course that the relevance of the award lessens the longer ago it was. Pubs change hands, change management, and sadly also sometimes close for good. That said, most of the pubs that have won in the last decade are still under the same management.