Pub of the Year

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our pubs, the database is maintained by CAMRA volunteers – please inform us if you spot anything that is incorrect or out of date!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 – 2018

There is a list showing the history of North Hertfordshire PotY winners at the bottom of this page.

We also choose a North Herts Cider & Perry PotY, and for 2018 that is the Garden City Brewery, Letchworth Garden City.

Summary of selection criteria

Pub of the Year Award Trophy
A mark of outstanding quality: the Pub of the Year Award Trophy

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.

Selection process

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.

Historic North Hertfordshire “Pub of the Year” Winners

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.

Year Pub, Location Notes
2017 Red Lion, Preston
2016 Half Moon, Hitchin   Hertfordshire PotY 2016
2015 Orange Tree, Baldock  Hertfordshire PotY 2015
2014 Half Moon, Hitchin
2013 Orange Tree, Baldock
2012 Red Lion, Preston Under different management than 2005 win.
2011 Half Moon, Hitchin
2010 Half Moon, Hitchin
2009 Half Moon, Hitchin Hertfordshire PotY 2009
2008 Our Mutual Friend, Stevenage
2007 Our Mutual Friend, Stevenage
2006 Our Mutual Friend, Stevenage
2005 Red Lion, Preston Hertfordshire PotY 2005
2004 The Strathmore Arms, St. Paul’s Walden
2003 Maiden’s Head, Whitwell                  Closed
2002 The Lordship Arms, Benington
2001 Red Lion, Preston
2000 Red Lion, Preston
1999 The Lordship Arms, Benington
1998 The Rising Sun, Hall’s Green
1997 The Lordship Arms, Benington
1996 Maiden’s Head, Whitwell                  Closed
1995 The Tilbury, Datchworth
1994 The Cricketers, Ickleford
1993 The Plough, Datchworth
1992 The Lytton Arms, Old Knebworth
1991 The Crown, Buntingford
1990 The Windmill, Charlton       Currently closed, future uncertain @ Jul 2016.
1989 The Two Diamonds, Stevenage Now called “Old Town Bar”.
1988 The Fox and Hounds, Barley
1987 The Star, Furneux Pelham Closed
1986 Maiden’s Head, Whitwell                  Closed
1985 The Rest and Welcome, Haultwick Closed
1984 The Fox, Aspenden
1983 The Red Lion, Stevenage
1982 The George IV, Baldock
1981 The Cricketers, Ickleford
1980 The Plough, Ley Green
1979 The Windmill, Charlton      Currently closed, future uncertain @ Jul 2016.
1978 The Cabinet, Reed Closed

3 thoughts on “Pub of the Year

  1. Pub of the Year:
    Great bit of theory, but…
    How about some practise/results to personalise it to north herts?
    Could you not add a section on which pub is the 2013 North Herts pub of the year (yes I know but punters may not)?
    Even better, could say who was the top 3 this year.
    Even better, which pubs were poty (plus 2nd/3rd?)over the last say 10 years (longer would not help as pubs change).
    Also we could add which north herts poty pubs became herts poty??
    Just some thoughts.
    What about the other “competitions – community pub etc?

    1. Hi Frank,

      Yes, we could do all of that. We do publish the pub of the year in a news item – but you’re right, the information could be on this page too.

      The “theory” is personal to North Herts, which is why we explain it here – because branches are permitted to run their GBG selection and PotY competition however they see fit. We use NBSS scores as the backbone of GBG selection (several branches do not) and try to be as democratic as possible with PotY (this doesn’t even seem to be common amongst other branches). The information is here in the name of transparency.

      To add to it requires time however – writing, proofing, and reviewing the content isn’t instantaneous (it takes a lot longer than writing this response) and if we commit to doing it now then we commit to maintaining it for the future.

      I’ll admit that in general this website lacks a huge amount of information really. I’m working on a LocAle section – for example, but this time to do it properly keeps escaping me (any day… week… month… now.)

      I will, however, email the committee to put forward this suggestion 🙂 and will add it to my TODO list.


  2. Pingback:2014 Pub Of The Year: Half Moon in Hitchin : CAMRA North Herts

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