Seeing as it’s that time of the year for my local CAMRA branch to award their Pub of the Year 2017, I thought I’d look back over the pubs I’ve visited over the last year and choose my favourites.
I’m a beer ticker – I like to try as many different beers as possible and as such I’ve ranked my top ten pubs in order of the number of ticks that I’ve had there. I’ve not included beer festivals. Ticking isn’t the be all and end all of pub life, but it just so happens that I rather do like the pubs I’ve visited.
1. Tapped, Leeds
Since it opened, Tapped has been in my top ten ticking pubs but has never made number 1. Knowledgeable staff, good range of beers – some brewed on site, excellent home made ‘real’ pizzas and a clean and bright environment. What more could you ask for?
2. Friends of Ham, Leeds
Since they opened, FoH has been my top ticking pub each year but sadly, pipped to second place by their friends round the corner. What have they got going for them? Again, knowledgeable staff, brilliant beers and perhaps the big selling point for me – they do a taster tray of 3 or 6 beers for a set price, and that can prove quite economical for the dearer beers.
3. Piw Paw Parkingowa and Piw Paw – Foksal – Warszawa – Top non-UK pub
Both these branches of Piw Paw are entitled to their own place in my beery top ten, but as they are very similar, I’ve included them as one. If I were to combine the number of ticks from both then they would have smashed number one place.
Both have a really good selection of beers (Parkingowa have 64 and Foksal have 90-odd). Staff can be a bit surly at times but the absolute best thing they do is tasting glasses – just a mouthful – for 1zl – about 20p!
4. Cask Corner, Doncaster – top Doncaster pub
Often features in my top ten and usually have a good range of beers. Only thing that lets them down in my opinion is the loos and the music. They have a lot of live rock which really isn’t my cup of tea but there’s nowhere to get out of the way of the bands and because of the layout of the pub, the bar gets crowded when a band is on and it can be difficult to get served. One big plus point is the staff (there seems to be a theme here…)
5. Brunswick, Derby
Great brew pub – ever changing range of beers and convenient for Derby station.
6. Sportsman, Huddersfield
I really enjoy coming to the Sportsman. Usually the first port of call in Huddersfield, a nice spot to drown my sorrows after not managing to meet Felix the Huddersfield Station Cat. Great beers, third pints, brilliant staff and has this strange sort of atmosphere. It’s a traditional pub, but doesn’t seem to attract the sort daytime drinkers that a lot of pubs do. It’s a bit like the Belgian vibe where couples, friends and folk on their own pop in to try great beers, have a couple and then move on.
7. Red Lion, Doncaster
JDW spent a fortune refurbishing this pub and I like it. One of the only decent outside drinking areas in Doncaster and used to have a really nice, warm indoor fire pit until some idiot decided to wreak it. Only downside is that the fairly narrow channel between the front of the pub and the main area at the back is where a lot of drinkers congregate.
8. Sheffield Tap
Very convenient stopping off point between trains. Took a long time to convince the wife that we did actually have to change at Sheffield! Sister pub of the number one place, it too has good beers and staff.
9. Marketplace Alehouse & Deli
Quirky little place in Doncaster Market place and yes, you’ve guessed it, great beer, great staff and brilliant food. Only a small range of beers compared to some others in the top ten but a constantly changing selection.
10. Gatehouse, Doncaster
I suprised myself at Gatehouse featuring, but it does. I dont seem to frequent as often as I used but but clearly do. As with all JDW branches, quality seems to depend on the latest manager. There’s been a change here at Gatehouse but still seems to be up and down.
11.Doncaster Brewery Tap
I decided to also include the 11th place pub as I thought it was worth a special mention. For a while, they’ve only served their own beer but now do have one guest on the bar. They don’t produce a different beer every week (much to my dismay!) like some places do, but concentrate on brewing the beers they do really well. It’s probably one of the only pubs in Doncaster that I will call in when I know there isn’t a tick – why? I don’t know – just a good blend of ambience with good cheer thrown in from customer and manager / brewer alike.