Pub of the Year Award 2016

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.

More about Poland – Krakow and Warszawa

A week off from work and the wife was working so another trip to Poland.  I visited a number of bars I’d been to before along with some new ones.

An earlier article – ‘The Polish beer explosion’ contains information about Multi Qlti and Grodzka 42 in Krakow which were visited again.  At the bottom of that page ‘Warsaw to follow’ didn’t materialise…

Pubs visited on this trip (some new, some visited on previous visits) included…

Tap House – Pracownia Piwa i Przyjaciele

Świętego Jana 30,  Kraków
Mon – Thu 14-01; Fri-Sat 14-02; Sun 14-01
Smaller measure pricing: Excellent

Brewery tap for the Pracownia brewery.  Around 20 beers featuring their own along with the likes of other Polish brewers and some of the big players from further afield.  Not a bad bar really.

Browar Lubicz

Lubicz 17J, 30-001 Kraków
Mon-Thu 12-00; Fri-Sun 13-01
Smaller measure pricing: Excellent.  Tasting tray available

On the site of an old brewery, this new brew restaurant has only fairly recently opened.  They seem happy enough to serve drinks only – the food looked quite tasty too.

Core range of beers – some better than others along with seasonals too.

Kufle i Kapsle

Nowogrodzka 25, Warszawa
Mon-Thu 14-02; Fri 14-04; Sat 12-04; Sun 12-00

Smaller measure pricing: Ok.  Tasting tray available which is good value

One of the small group of bars that are close by in this part of Warszawa.  Serving beer from 10 keg lines and 2 handpumps, there’s a good range and the staff are knowledgeable, as they tend to be in the ‘craft’ beer places.  The place can get very busy so get there early to get a good seat!

Piw Paw Parkingowa

Żurawia 32/34, Warszawa
Mon-Sun 24hrs
Smaller measure pricing: interesting

The first of the Piw Paws to open, with a range of 57 keg lines, 4 handpumps and a mere 200 bottles.  Fancy trying all the beers?  Well, they’re open 24 hours and sell three measures of beer – 1.5l bottles that are filled using an adaptor on the tap.  The more usual 1/2 litre glasses are available along with a tasting glass containing a mouthful for the princely sum of 1zl – about 20p!  Each time I’ve been, staff don’t seem to mind serving multiples of these tasting glasses.  Can get quite busy.

Piw Paw BeerHeaven

Foksal 16, Warszawa
Mon-Sun 24hrs
Smaller measure pricing: interesting

The second branch of Piw Paw to open, bigger than the original serving 95 taps. Similar formula to this branch but serve food too.  Staff seemed a little more hesitant serving the tasting thimbles but I had asked for quite a few!

Piw Paw Mazowiecka

Mazowiecka 9, Warszawa
Daily 10-02
Smaller measure pricing: interesting

The newest branch to open with around 65 taps and not open 24 hours.  By the time I’d visited this branch, there were some duplication between branches.

Jabeerwocky

Nowogrodzka 25, Warszawa
Mon-Thu 13-00; Fri-Sat 13-02; Sun 15-00
Smaller measure pricing: so-so.  Tasting tray good value

Another bar in the Piw Paw / Kufle i Kapsle area.  17 beers and fairly basic food.  Yet again, a good selection.  Lots of good information listing the beers and styles etc.

Cafe Bla Bla

Nowogrodzka 25, Warszawa
Mon-Thu 14-02; Fri 14-04; Sat – Sun 12-04
Smaller pricing measure:  better than good!

Yet another bar near the others in this area, but even though the address is Nowogrodska, it’s not actually on Nowogrodska – you’ll find it a few doors up on the pedestrianised area towards Aleje Jerozolimskie.  There’s only 10 beers and they don’t do tasting glasses like the others in the area.  However, they don’t seem to have caught on that with some of the beers, the price per ml for a smaller glass is cheaper than a bigger one, so if you prefer a pint, you’ll pay more!  Staff not as knowledgeable as other places but a nice little bar with a good vibe.

Beerokracja

Marszałkowska 99/101, Warszawa
Mon-Fri 16-00; Sat-Sun 16-??
Smaller pricing measure:  ok

An interesting place and only over the road from the Novogrodska crowd.  I arrived just before closing time but the guy serving was happy for me to score another couple of beers while he was tidying up, although he spent more time chatting and trying to improve his already excellent English!  Seemed quite a nice place.  Beer range seemed to feature some smaller, rarer Polish breweries.

Bierhalle

Nowy Świat 64, Warsazawa
Mon-Thu 12-23; Fri-Sat 12-23:30; Sun 12-22
Smaller pricing measure:  ok

Part of a chain of identikit brew pubs.  Shiny brew kit, female waitresses in Bavarian style outfits…  When I arrived, they’d already stopped doing food but it looked at.  Beers very average.  Not a lot to say really!

Beer from Poland – Krakow

My first trip to Poland since the beer revolution started.

Grodzka 42

Ul. Grodzka 42, Kraków
Mon-Sun 17-??
Smaller measure pricing: not known
Arrived just as the member of staff was opening the doors to be met by a waft of stale smoke and damp. Dark and dingy, this rock bar may appeal to some but wasn’t quite my cup of hertbata. They’ve got a reasonable selection of beers though at competitive prices.

BeerGallery – Dominikańska

Dominikańska 3, Kraków
Mon-Fri 14-00; Sat-Sun 14-02
Smaller measure pricing: daft
Visited here last year as well as this and on the face of it seems to be a reasonable bar. This year though, the staff were a bit surly – very old school Polish and when I tried ratebeer.com’s current number one Polish beer, it was just thrown into the glass and the all important sediment left in the bottom. They’ve got a great range of bottled beers but for some reason they wouldn’t tell me who brewed the house beer, apart from it was a brewery near Poznan.

Would I visit again? Last year I would have said yes (and I did!) but now? I’m not so sure. It’s easy to be overtaken in a fast moving world such as this.

Multi Qlti Tap Bar

Szewska 21, Kraków
Mon – Thu 14-02; Fri-Sat 14-03; Sun 14-02
Smaller measure pricing: between so-so and fab
Wow. This place is great. Knowledgeable staff (inlcuding Gosia from Krakowbeertour) and a superb range of 20 draught beers and lots of bottles. They give a 10% discount before 20:00 if you ‘Like’ them on Facebook and as I only spotted this at 19:52, I took advantaged and lined a few up! I went back on my second night and found four or five new additions to the menu. Great location

Tap House Pracownia Piwa i Przyjaciele

św. Jana 30, Kraków
Mon-Thu 14-01; Fri-Sat 14-02; Sun 14-01
Smaller measure pricing: so-so
Another reasonable bar just a few steps from the main square with a good range of beers, With most (if not all?) from the Pracownia brewery. The reviews on beerpubs.pl (to me) don’t seem fair. The decor was minimalist, but that’s the nature of the place

TEA Time

Smaller measure pricing: fab
ul. Dietla 1, Kraków
Mon-Fri 12-23; Sat-Sun 12-01

See separate post

Strefa Piwa

Smaller measure pricing: daft
Józefa 6, Kraków
Mon-Thu 16-23; Sat-Sun 16-02; Sun 16-23
One of the older, more established bars over in Kazimerz. I’ve been in twice and always seems so quiet. Staff seemed a bit surly but again the beer selection was good.

Omerta

Smaller measure pricing: so-so
ul. Kupa, Kraków
Mon-Wed 16-00; Thu 16-01; Fri-Sat 16-02; Sun 16-00
Another of the bars that have been at the craft beer game for a bit longer. A nice bar, seems quite quirky with great staff and once again a good selection of beer. Running out of things to type now! Only thing to let it down is once again the pricing for smaller measures.

Chmiel Beer Pub

Smaller measure pricing: bottles
Stradomska 15, Kraków
Mon-Sun 16-??
Difficult to find – through an archway, round a corner and down some stairs. Apart from a couple of ‘fizzes’, all exciting beers are bottles. A fairly reasonable selection but nothing that couldn’t be found elsewhere. There’s supposedly a large selection of pinball machines to play on but I didn’t see them. I don’t know why, but there was just something about this place that I didn’t connect with.

Viva la Pinta

Smaller measure pricing: daft
ul. Floriańska 13, Kraków
Mon-Sun 12-??
Outlet for Pinta beers along with beers from other breweries great food. I had the bigos and it was excellent. Nice modern interior, good beers but yet another let down by silly pricing.

Warsaw to follow…