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29-03-2013, 18:03
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Boak & Bailey recently published a list of their ten favourite UK pubs (http://boakandbailey.com/about-2/ten-of-our-favourite-uk-pubs/) (in fact nine), which led me to mull over a similar personal list. This is essentially places where I have had a truly memorable pub experience over the past ten or so years. I don’t claim that it is any sense a list of the best pubs in Britain.
As you might expect, it is much more biased towards the traditional and olde-worlde, with five currently on CAMRA’s National Inventory (http://www.heritagepubs.org.uk/home/home.asp) of historic pub interiors and another – the Black Horse – having been excluded due to a bit of knocking-through, but still very old-school in its atmosphere. All of them, though, are still places that function as real, vibrant pubs rather than just museum pieces. As I have said in the past, at heart I have to conclude I’m more fascinated by pubs than beer (http://pubcurmudgeon.blogspot.co.uk/2010/04/wooden-wombs.html).
Most of these I’ve been to more than once, although the Red Lion and Star have only seen single visits, but have really stuck in my mind.
There are plenty of cracking traditional pubs in Stockport but, on consideration, the Nursery must be the cream of the crop. Maybe a forthcoming blogpost could cover my ten favourite Stockport pubs. I’d also like to acknowledge the number of excellent, unspoilt Sam Smith’s pubs in Cheshire, none of which quite made it to this list, although a couple would get on the second twenty. There are also some architecturally superb pubs in Edinburgh such as Bennet’s Bar and the Guildford Arms that I don’t really feel I know well enough.

Barrels, Hereford – a busy, lively multi-roomed pub tied to Wye Valley brewery, with a mixed clientele and a proper pub atmosphere
Black Horse, Clapton-in-Gordano, Somerset – an ancient pub, allegedly dating back to the 14th century, with stone-flagged floors, old wooden settles, brasses, real fires and gravity-served beer
Blue Bell, York – a tiny two-roomer just off the city centre, with front vault, rear snug, central server and side corridor, described as “a symphony in brown”
Digby Tap, Sherborne, Dorset – a small, cosy, cottage-style pub in a back street near the Abbey, with stone-flagged floors, plain food and local real ales
Dolphin, Derby – a magnificent 16th century half-timbered pub with a warren of cosy, atmospheric rooms
Loggerheads, Shrewsbury (pictured) – a rare survivor of the unassuming town pubs of a bygone era, with four small rooms including a wonderful snug with scrubbed-top tables which was men-only until the 1970s
Nursery, Stockport – my local pub, a largely untouched building dating from 1939 with a classic three-roomed interior which in recent years has been much more enterprising on the beer front. CAMRA National Pub of the Year 2002
Red Lion, Dayhills, Staffordshire – a basic, cottage-style country pub, just one stone-flagged room dominated by a massive inglenook fireplace
Royal Oak, Eccleshall, Staffordshire – an impressive pub with an arcaded facade in the centre of this small town which has recently been brought back to life with a stylish and sympathetic renovation by Joules BreweryStar, Bath – a surprisingly shallow pub in a Georgian terrace, with a quirky multi-roomed interior featuring extensive wood panelling and traditional West Country flat Bass on sale

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