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Baum best boozer in Blighty

By thirsty hack Ignatius Rake

Posted February 23, 2013
rochdale, home of the Baum the best pub in britain
Rochdale: Somewhere down there you'll find the Baum. (Check bottom for credit)

The Baum in Rochdale has been crowned CAMRA National Pub of the Year while Elland Brewery 1872 Porter has been named best winter ale.

The Baum in Rochdale, Lancashire has landed top gong in the Campaign for Real Ale's (CAMRA) National Pub of the Year competition, which, so a CAMRA press release explains, "recognises all the criteria that make a great pub, including atmosphere, decor, welcome, service, value for money, customer mix but most importantly the quality of the beer."

Located on Toad Lane next to the Pioneers Museum, the Baum (pronounced ‘bome’ as in ‘home’, apparently) occupies what was previously Morris’s Hardware Store until it was converted into a boozer in the 1980s.

Since 2005, the Baum has been owned by former manager Simon Crompton and his wife Heidi.

While it is not clear from the press release when exactly they took over the pub, Heidi will probably find it hard to forget given that just two days before they picked up the keys she gave birth to their first child.

"We were ecstatic to hear that we had been voted CAMRA's National Pub of the Year," she says.

"We are very proud of the team that have played an important role in the Baum's success and it is a testament to their hard work that the consumers have recognised our pub with this prestigious award."

"We are a family-run pub with our values influencing every aspect of the business in relationships with our staff and suppliers."

"We are dedicated to the 'buy local, shop local' initiative, always willing to support independent businesses."

"The support from the regular customers and local CAMRA members is valued and we would like to thank everyone for their continued support."

Described by CAMRA's Good Beer Guide 2013 as "a split-level hostelry with old world charm next door to the world's first co-operative store", the Baum "has eight handpumps, one dedicated to cider, and a large variety of continental bottled beers".

The pub's "excellent food", it continues, "includes vegetarian dishes, with a tapas menu available throughout the week".

Meanwhile, its "large rear garden, overlooked by a conservatory, contains two full-size pétanque pistes".

So if you fancy necking some decent pints and then getting your boules out, you now know where to go.

"I would like to congratulate Simon, Heidi and all of the staff at the Baum on winning CAMRA's national award," says CAMRA pubs director Julian Hough.

"This close-to-town pub has a winning formula which is well supported by customers."

"The range of quality products and their fresh modern approach means I'm delighted to crown the Baum our National Pub of the Year."

"Go and see it for yourself and experience what a brilliant pub it is."

"Clearly we are absolutely thrilled that the Baum has been chosen as CAMRA's National Pub of the Year," adds Peter Alexander, chairman of Rochdale, Oldham and Bury CAMRA.

"While we locally know how good a pub the Baum is, it is fantastic to have this confirmed by senior judges who have never visited it before."

"Given that the Baum was up against some tremendously fierce competition, Simon and Heidi have done a tremendous job."

"There is no higher accolade in pub awards and we in the local CAMRA branch are very proud to have Britain's best pub in our area."

The Baum, CAMRA reports, beat off three other finalists to land the title, viz last year's winner the Bridge End Inn in Ruabon, Wales, which sells five different ales and which has been in the hands of the McGivern family since 2009; the Conqueror Alehouse in Ramsgate, Kent, the town's "smallest free house, where ale and cider are served straight from barrels" amid "a quiet, music- and TV-free atmosphere"; and the Tom Cobley Tavern in Spreyton, Devon, which won the award in 2006 and which "sells 14 different real ales every week plus 20 ciders in a pub that is 'part of community life'".

All four pubs sound pretty damn good to us, so don't be surprised if Rake & Herald booze editor Dr Miltov Lamprey (struck off) turns up in his dishevelled coat demanding free crisps and dribbling a lot.

You have been warned.

Meanwhile, in other news we would have run last month had our bloody interweb connection been working, Elland Brewery 1872 Porter has now been named CAMRA's Supreme Champion Winter Beer of Britain for a second time, having previously won the accolade in 2010.

In the words of the aforementioned British beer bible, this 6.5% real ale is a "creamy, full flavoured porter, with rich liquorice flavours and more than a hint of chocolate".

"Porters should not be regarded as endangered beers, they are beers for today’s discerning drinkers," the accompanying press release quotes CAMRA director Nik Antona as saying.

"And on a cold day, 1872 Porter is a perfect winter warming beer."

"Elland Brewery 1872 Porter is a fine example of a modern day interpretation of one of this country's classic beer styles."

"It's gorgeous, drinkable, likeable and is highly recommended."

According to the press release, Elland Brewery owner Martin Ogley was somehwat surprised to once more win gold when the news was announced at the National Winter Ales Festival in Manchester this past January 23-26.

In fact, he declared himself "gobsmacked", stating: "There are so many great beers at the festival that it is remarkable for the judges to choose us again."

"1872 Porter is our most award-winning beer and I will now have to be ready to brew more of it."

This West Yorkshire-brewed winter warmer will now go through to the final of the Champion Beer of Britain competition to be staged at the Great British Beer Festival in Olympia, London this coming August 13-17.

However, given the ever broadening banquet of top-bollock beers being brewed in Britain right now, as reported here for example, 1872 Porter was unsurprisingly not the only tasty tipple to tickle the fancy of the judges in Manchester.

Indeed, as selected by a panel of beer writers, members of the licensed trade and CAMRA members, here are the full winter beer battle results with definitions based on those supplied by CAMRA (all errors our own):

Gold: Elland Brewery (West Yorkshire), 1872 Porter

Silver: Bartrams Brewery (Suffolk), Comrade Bill Bartram’s EAISS (Egalitarian Anti-Imperialist Soviet Stout)

Bronze: Kelburn Brewing (East Renfrewshire), Dark Moor


Now virtually synonymous with winter ale, most old ales are produced and sold for a limited time, usually between November and the end of February. They are typically a rich, dark, high-gravity draught ale of considerable body.

Gold: Kelburn Brewing (East Renfrewshire), Dark Moor

Silver: Jennings (Cumbria), Sneck Lifter

Bronze: Purple Moose (Gwynedd), Dark Side of the Moose


Dark, slightly sweetish but hoppy, these ales are made with roasted barley and are the successor of entire and the predecessor of stout. Porter originated in London around 1730 and by the end of the 18th century was probably the most popular beer in England.

Gold: Elland Brewery (West Yorkshire), 1872 Porter

Silver: Blythe Brewery (Staffordshire), Johnson's

Bronze: Derby Brewery (Derbyshire), Penny's Porter


One of the classic types of ale and a successor in fashion to porter, stouts are usually a very dark, heavy, well-hopped, thick and creamy bitter ale with a dry palate and a good grainy taste.

Gold: Bartrams Brewery (Suffolk), Comrade Bill Bartram's EAISS (Egalitarian Anti-Imperialist Soviet Stout)

Silver: Marble Beers (Greater Manchester), Stouter Stout

Bronze: Hop Back Brewery (Wiltshire), Entire Stout


A strong, rich and sweetish ale, barley wines normally have an original gravity (OG) of over 1060 and tend to be dark in colour with high condition and hop rate.

Gold: Hogs Back Brewery (Surrey), A Over T (Aromas Over Tongham)

Silver: Heart of Wales Brewing (Powys), High as a Kite

Bronze: Kinver Brewery (Staffordshire), Over The Edge

The Rake & Herald would love to report that we have tried all the above ales but sadly we haven't.

However, we have certainly sampled a fair few Sneck Lifters and we can confirm that it is indeed a superb brew.

Drink some today.

It lifts yer sneck!

See also CAMRA's British beer bible out now, posted 19/9/12.


Top and thumb: A view over Rochdale by Kram4.

For licensing information click the above link.

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