“The Awards evening is a Celebration of all our Real Ale Pubs and an opportunity to recognise and reward pubs and people that have made a significant contribution to real ale in Liverpool.” With these words Sonia James-Henry, the Chair of Liverpool CAMRA Branch, introduced the 2015 Awards Night.
Best Newcomer Award – the Pen Factory, Hope Street Sonia commented that since opening in December 2015, the Pen Factory had rapidly set high standards for its real ale and for its quality food. The Award was collected by proprietor Paddy Byrne, who after over forty years running the Everyman Bistro and having won a shed load of awards in the process, found it rather touching to now be described as the Best Newcomer ! Sonia also highlighted the loss of a good real ale pub, the James Munroe on Tithbarn Street, which had been in contention for the Best Newcomer Award, but had closed some weeks earlier due, it was reported, to difficulty in making the pub viable given high levels of rent for the building – an all too common story in a climate where pubs nationally are closing at the rate of 29 a week.
Community Pub Award – the Scotch Piper, Lydiate, Lancashire The Award was introduced by Liverpool CAMRA Committee member Sue Daniels, who described how the licensees Phil and Julie had taken on the thatched roofed Piper, the oldest pub in Lancashire, and had not only developed a reputation for the quality of the real ale, but had also enhanced the pub’s contribution to the community. They organised a series of charitable events, gave support to local organisations and continued to host the weekly gathering of motor bikers and the local scouts who ran a burger stall to feed the Hungry Bikers. She commented that when the pub was burgled with major damage done by a major water leak caused by the forced entry, the thieves had left a note apologising for the damage to the pub ! Accepting the Award, Phil and Julie said that the CAMRA Award meant, “a hell of a lot to us.” They were new to the pub business and had set out to put new life into the pub and the Award was a great encouragement to them.
Renaissance Pub - the Pumphouse, Albert Dock. Sonia explained that the Renaissance Award was for a pub that had either introduced real ale in a pub where it was not previously sold, or had greatly improved the quality or the range of the real ales already on offer. The Pumphouse is a Greene King pub which is in a prime location on the Albert Dock, but had been offering only a very limited range of real ales. The pub managers had decided to greatly expand the range of real ales from 3 to 10 hand pumps and to offer beers from breweries beyond the Greene King group, with beers from the likes of Liverpool Organic Brewery, Skinners and Robinsons now appearing regularly. Tracey, Clare, Ryan and Bill from the Pumphouse were in attendance to receive the Award.
LocAle Pub of the Year – Stamps Too, Crosby Liverpool CAMRA LocAle officer Andre Fu, announced the Locale Award, commenting that it was awarded to the pub that had been the first winner of the Award when it was introduced. Since then Stamps Too had consistently promoted LocAles (those brewed within 30 miles of the pub), with LocAles being in the majority of beers on the bar. Licensee Frank received the Award and thanked CAMRA for the hard work they did in promoting pubs and real ale.
Bar Person of the Year Award Kim Broughton, the Baltic Fleet, Wapping This was introduced by CAMRA member Dave Jones and was awarded to Kim Broughton of the Baltic Fleet, Wapping. Dave commended Kim’s personality, attitude and customer service in a role that is the essential interface between the customer and the beers. This is a role which can make or break a pub and the customer experience, leading either to the loss of a customer or a satisfied customer who returns again. The bar person was central to the success of a pub.
Brewer of the Year - Angus Morrison, Wapping Brewery. Angus Morrison had taken over from long time Wapping brewer, the legendary Stan Shaw. This was some challenge, but Angus had risen to it and had also put his own stamp and personality on the Wapping beers. Introducing the Award, Sonia described the Baltic Fleet as a great pub with great Wapping beers which were brewed beneath your feet in the cellar brewery. Accepting the Award, Angus described how it had been a big challenge taking over from Stan, but hoped he had justified the faith placed in him and that customers enjoyed his beers. Angus commented that he loved making beer and that his message was; ‘Drink Beer, Be Happy’.
Real Cider Pub of the Year - the Augustus John, Peach Street off Brownlow Hill, Liverpool University Liverpool CAMRA Cider Officer Steve Berks introduced the Award, which for the fifth time was being awarded to the Augustus John, known to many as the AJ. In addition the AJ had also twice won the CAMRA Regional Cider pub of the year Award, demonstrating the excellent range and quality of the real ciders and perries sold there. The AJ had also worked closely with Liverpool CAMRA in promoting real cider to customers and especially students. The Award was collected by Jim Townson from the AJ.
The Four Liverpool CAMRA Pubs of Excellence 2015 Sonia introduced the four Pubs of Excellence, explaining that these had been the finalists for the Liverpool CAMRA Pub of the Year 2015. They were;
The Dispensary, Renshaw Street – “always offering excellent beer quality”
The Ship and Mitre, Dale Street, “a pub on many people’s itinerary when visiting Liverpool”
The Lime Kiln, Concert Square “a Wetherspoon pub with a range of 12 real ales”
The Pi Bar, Rose Lane, Mossley Hill. A small neighbourhood bar which has been so successful it has had to expand into the shop next door.
The Liverpool Pigeon, Endbutt Lane, Crosby Sonia introduced the Award with the words, “a great little pub with a fantastic atmosphere, excellent beer quality, a varied clientele and also dog friendly. A deserved winner for the second year running” Accepting the Award, licensee Pat Moore said, “it is an honour to win this award for the second year running. It has been an exciting time opening, running and developing the pub. We want to showcase beer and serve it in top condition. We are looking to offer more beers including those from two new local micro breweries. I would also like to thank our staff, Ian and Geoff, for the great contribution they make to the pub.”
This article first appeared in Merseyale Autumn 2015