Raise a glass to our outstanding pub of the year
AT this time of year, I always have a look back and pick out what – in my humble opinion – have been the best pub, beer and brewery over the past 12 months.
I'm looking for something a bit different, for someone going the extra mile – and I'm looking to avoid repeating myself because, to be honest, some of those beers and pubs I've picked out in the last seven years of this column are still among the best around.
This year, a dilemma. Could I justify picking the most obviously outstanding pub in the city as my Pub of the Year, given that it only opens four days a week, closes at 10pm and has been in business for less than three months?
In the end, to hell with all the arguments against. The Little Chester Ale House is this column's Pub of the Year.
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Walter Scott has lovingly crafted something very special indeed in Derby's first micropub at Chester Green.
The décor is tasteful, the beer choice varied and the atmosphere simply a delight.
Just as Walter planned, the Ale House has quickly become a place for a sensible drink and good conversation; not remotely the noisy bar envisaged by people in the area who objected to it.
My Beer of the Year is a tougher choice because few beers locally have leapt out as notably brilliant in 2012.
But there is one beer I will often choose because its consistency is virtually guaranteed, so Blue Monkey's BG Sips is my choice.
Strikingly hoppy, it has so much more flavour than most pale bitters, yet, at 4%, it's not going to knock you over.
While I'm at it, consistency has been a bit of an issue for some local breweries, big and small, in 2012 but it never seems to be an issue for Blue Monkey, also the column's Brewery of the Year.
Giltbrook-based Blue Monkey has pubs now in Loughborough and Nottingham and it will be interesting to see if it fulfils its plans to have one in Derby in 2013.