IT’S time to raise a glass and say cheers as a pub celebrates being crowned Camra South East Essex Pub of the Year.
The Mayflower, in High Street, Old Leigh, will pick up the accolade for 2014 at a ceremony tomorrow after judges were impressed with the selection of real ales on offer, the service and food – some of which comes from the pub’s own inhouse fish and chip shop.
Manager Shelley Howlett said she hopes the win puts the venue on the map. The 40-yearold said: “It feels absolutely brilliant to win.
“I was working at the Lamb and Lion pub, inWestcliff, a few years ago when it won the prize, so to win it at a different pub is great.
“Because we are a bit tucked away, not everybody knows we are here, so I hope this win gets more punters coming in. We have already had more people come along saying how wonderful the place is and I think this puts us in good stead for the national final we are now in, which I think we could also win.”
The pub, tucked away at the end of High Street, serves five guest ales, which change on an almost daily basis and with its low ceiling and wooden bar feels like a traditional old boozer.
Camra judges, known as tickers, visit each pub with points being awarded for their beer choice, staff service and food.
More visits from the tickers will now be conducted ahead of the national winner being announced.
Mrs Howlett added: “Everything really has to be in really top shape with more Camra guys coming to check us out.
“But we have a good package here with an excellent team, good proper ales with five always on offer from our pumps and lovely food, so we just have to keep going and keep our fingers crossed.”
THIS IS OUR TASTE TEST
Magical Mystery Mild (4.0 per cent) – Ramsgate Brewery: Described as dark, delicious, class, mysterious and smooth, it certainly lives up to its billing.
While some may consider mild an acquired taste, this seemed very smooth, even chocolatey, and eminently drinkable.
More of a winter warmer than summer refresher, though.
Shrimpers Ale (4.0 per cent) – George’s Brewery: Brewed in Great Wakering, this pale ale slipped down so easily it was hard to tell it was alcoholic at all.
This was light enough to imagine supping on a summer’s day as you watch the tide come in along the Leigh coastline.
Orange Wheat Beer (4.2 per cent) – Green Jack Brewing Company: Wheat beers may more commonly be associated with Germany, but this citrus twist comes from closer to home in Suffolk.
The subtle orange flavour was hard to pick on first taste, but would certainly be refreshing on a summer’s day.
Brewers Gold (4.0 per cent) – Crouch Vale Brewery: Another local ale that is described as a light, thirst-quenching brew and I would certainly agree.
It was the most lager-like of the five ales on offer and, as a result, this was probably my least favourite.
Cockleboats Best Bitter (4.0 per cent) George’s Brewery: A pub favourite and I can see why. This dark ale was very easy drinking and topped my list.
A bitter in the truest sense, but still smooth enough to slip down easily – I’ll certainly be going back for another pint soon.