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Four clubs go head to head

By editorial assistant Sandi Toxic

Posted December 08, 2015
CAMRA announces its 2016 Club of the Year shortlist.
In the running: The Kinver Constitutional Club in Kinver. © CAMRA

CAMRA announces its 2016 Club of the Year shortlist.

Four clubs "catering to members with interests as far ranging as motoring, the RAF and politics but sharing a love of real ale" have made it into the final round of the Campaign for Real Ale's (CAMRA) Club of the Year competition.

In alphabetical order, these clubs are the Albatross RAFA Club (Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex); the Cheltenham Motor Club (Cheltenham, Gloucestershire); the Kinver Constitutional Club (Kinver, Staffordshire); and the Orpington Liberal Club (Orpington, Greater London).

All four, a press release says, "are award-winning CAMRA clubs from the across the country" that "between them have won almost 30 accolades".

Organised in conjunction with Club Mirror magazine, the competition seeks "to find the best clubs serving real ale – those which offer a fantastic atmosphere, welcoming surroundings and most importantly, top quality real ale served in great condition".

"CAMRA's Club of the Year competition continues to go from strength to strength as more and more clubs show great commitment to quality real ale," says John Holland, chairman of CAMRA's Clubs Advisory Group and one of the judges to determine the finalists.

"This has made it increasingly difficult to become a CAMRA Regional Club of the Year and then get through to the final."

"Therefore, I anticipate an extremely close fight to become CAMRA's Club of the Year 2016."

In which case, our money's on the RAF one, given that they've got a shedtonne of bombs, missiles and even nuclear warheads at their disposal.

Anyway, so the press release continues, "clubs are nominated by CAMRA branches across the country and judged by a panel of volunteer CAMRA members throughout the year".

The four finalists will now have to wait until the spring to find out which will ultimately land top gong and follow in the footsteps of last year's winner, Wortley Men's Club in, er, Wortley, South Yorkshire.

the albatross rafa club
Arabesque bird's nest: The Albatross RAFA Club. © CAMRA

According to the press release, "this friendly club welcomes CAMRA members" and has been the local Club of the Year since 2012 and was regional Club of the Year in 2013.

It hosts popular beer festivals in April and September in its large function room and has a full diary of regular social events, including jazz, folk and quiz nights.

The club stock beers from local brewers, such as Rother Valley, Welton's and Dark Star, and features a "comprehensive range of upcoming beers" listed on a blackboard behind the bar.

As might be expected, it also boasts "an interesting collection of RAF memorabilia".

Established in 1906, "this friendly and welcoming club" is open to all, "including CAMRA members that have their membership cards with them".

It usually has five ales on tap as well as Thatcher's Heritage cider.

The club is divided into a bar/TV room and a games room, with the bar "decorated with motoring paraphernalia and an extensive collection of pump clips".

Just forget the car if you go for a jar, right?

Built in 1902 on the site of an old pub, this converted hotel has three main areas, viz a smart restaurant, a large snooker room and a bar always dispensing 8 to 10 real ales (and as many as 18 for special events) "at reasonable prices".

The club enjoys "an enviable sporting reputation and hosts regular quiz and music nights".

Card-carrying CAMRA members are welcome but must be signed in, with groups encouraged to book ahead.

The club has won the local branch Club of the Year gong every year since 2007 and was named National Club of the Year in 2011.

This "superb" club was a runner-up in last year's national competition having won the Greater London Club of the Year in 2013.

Furthermore, it has won the Bromley branch Club of the Year title for the past three.

"The refurbished club is free of tie and is run by a real ale enthusiast who doesn't serve regular beers, but purely guests with particular focus on local beers and micro breweries," CAMRA says.

Indeed, "nearly 200 different real ales were served" there last year and "prices are extremely competitive."

The club has regular live music, runs occasional beer festivals, and has a large rear garden.

But does it have nuclear weapons?

See also Wortley wins club crown, posted 17/3/15.

Sandi Toxic
was raised by wolves inside a disused clay pit near Lanjeth. You can befriend her on FaceBook here. She is still quite feral.

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