Pubs still bring plenty of cheer in tough times
THE results of judging for Derby Camra's 2013 city and country pubs of the year are due imminently.
I don't know the results as yet but what I found interesting about the nominations is that they demonstrate the fact that it is still perfectly possible to run a good pub in these trying economic times.
It is possible to sustain excellence and to take a pub that accountant-led large companies could do little with and turn it around.
All of the seven nominated pubs demonstrate this in one way or another.
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Nominated in the city are the Alexandra Hotel, the Exeter Arms, the Furnace and the Five Lamps: three of the four spent some time closed within the last five years, the other – the Exeter – was very much down on its luck.
It is a little over two years since Ralf Edge and Anna Dyson took on the Alexandra and they have revived its fortunes in no uncertain style. More recently, Martin Roper has done the same with the Exeter and Pedro Menon with the Furnace; they are both high on any sensible drinker's list now in the city.
The Five Lamps is the holder of Camra's city pub of the year award and its continued excellence under Graham Browett justifies its selection. I have an inkling which the winner city pub might be and, if I'm right, it's one I came very close to naming this column's pub of 2012. Either way, you could hand the award to any one of these superb hostelries.
For the country pub of the year award, the Royal Oak at Ockbrook is up for a hat-trick, having won for the last two years. In the year of landlady Olive Wilson's 60th anniversary at the Oak, which has been in the Good Beer Guide for 36 years straight, it would be an easy choice for it to win again.
But also nominated are the very fine Patten Makers at Duffield and the Royal Oak, at Wirksworth, the latter being justifiably nominated for a second successive year.
Winners of the Derby award will go forward to the Derbyshire-wide judging in June and the East Midlands awards beyond that.