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EATING & DRINKING

Salutes to the Salutation

By chief hack Ignatius Rake

Posted February 17, 2015
the salutation
Britain's best boozer: The Salutation in Ham. © CAMRA

CAMRA crowns Salutation best boozer in Blighty and Elland 1872 Porter best winter beer; LSL slams decision to name Griffiths Pub Parliamentarian of the Year.


The Salutation Inn, a rural freehouse in the small Gloucestershire village of Ham, has been named National Pub of the Year by the UK's Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).

In landing the gong, the pub, affectionately known as the Sally, beat off stiff competition from three other finalists, viz the Freshfield in Formby, Merseyside; the Harewood Arms in Broadbottom, Greater Manchester; and the Windmill in Sevenoaks Weald, Kent.


PASSIONATE AND DEDICATED
As noted in a CAMRA press release, the Sally's victory was "even more impressive" given that it is the first pub that landlord Peter Tiley has ever run.

Indeed, the former business analyst "had never even pulled a pint" when he jacked in his job in London to "follow his love of beer" and take over the Sally with his wife Claire.

Eleven months later, CAMRA continues, "the pub had won its local branch competition, then the whole region, finally making it through to the final four" before ultimately grabbing gold yesterday (16/2/15).

"For the Sally to have won National Pub of the Year is beyond our wildest dreams – we're totally shell-shocked," Tiley says.

"Pubs are so important to me that to have our own one recognised in this way is just amazing."

"We count ourselves so unbelievably lucky to have a brilliant team of staff who are so passionate and dedicated as well as a community of locals who have given so much to support and contribute towards the pub."

"It is these people that have made the pub what it is today and for that we are incredibly grateful."


A REAL LOVE OF BEER
CAMRA, so the press release states, judges pubs on a variety of criteria that includes atmosphere, service, value for money, community focus and, of course, the quality of the real ale, cider and perry sold, with the Sally winning favour thanks to "its fantastic beer selection and welcoming, homely feel".

Indeed, one judge is quoted as stating that "what struck [them] most was the welcome", likening it to "being invited into a private house as a friend".

"What Peter and Claire have done in the short time they have been running the pub is nothing short of staggering and goes to show that passion, enthusiasm and a real love of beer are hugely important when running a pub," says CAMRA director Abigail Newton.

"They have hit the ground running and taken what was already a great pub and made it truly exceptional – beating off over 50,000 other landlords from across the UK."

Described in CAMRA's Good Beer Guide 2015 as a "rural gem in the Severn Valley", the Sally commands "an inspired selection of ales and eight real ciders and perries", all kept by an "enthusiastic landlord".

The pub, it continues, "has two cosy bars with a log fire and a skittles alley" and hosts regular live folk music and piano sing-alongs, with drinkers there also able to enjoy shove-ha'penny and table skittles.

The presentation of the National Pub of the Year award will take place at the Salutation at 13:00 local time today (full address here).



1872 porter
Winter winner: Elland grabs gold in Derby. © Elland Brewery

ELLAND LANDS LAURELS AGAIN
The news of the award comes shortly after Elland 1872 Porter was crowned Champion Winter Beer of Britain for second time in three years at the CAMRA National Winter Ales Festival in Derby this past Wednesday (11/2/15)1.

Noted in the aforementioned Good Beer Guide as a "creamy, full-flavoured porter with rich liquorice flavours and a hint of chocolate from the roasted malt", this 6.5% tipple also boasts "a soft but satisfying aftertaste of bittersweet roast and malt".

"Elland 1872," says Champion Winter Beer of Britain director Nik Antona, "is a fantastic example of what a traditional porter should taste like and has been hugely popular for many years, particularly it seems with competition judges, who have named it Champion Winter Beer of Britain twice and overall Champion Beer of Britain once in the last three years – a huge achievement."

"It's absolutely fabulous to win the Champion Winter Beer of Britain," states Elland Brewery manager Mike Hiscock.

"Though we certainly weren't expecting this, it is amazing to get the hat trick and win this award for the third time."

"We know it is independently judged so for it to keep coming out on top is testament to the depth of flavour and complexity that we get into the beer."

"This really is fantastic news."

Elland 1872 Porter will now go forward to compete in the overall Champion Beer of Britain competition at the Great British Beer Festival this coming August.



andrew griffiths mp
Gong of contention: Andrew Griffiths MP. Public domain

LSL SLAMS GRIFFITHS GONG
Sadly, not every recent CAMRA award has gone down quite so well, with Licensees Supporting Licensees (LSL) unequivocally blasting CAMRA's decision to name Andrew Griffiths, Conservative MP for Burton and Uttoxeter and chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Beer, as its Pub Parliamentarian of the Year this past February 4.

In fact, in a powerfully worded press release, the LSL reports that it "objects in the strongest possible terms, even with disgust," to the award, describing Griffiths as "the man widely known in the pub sector as the MP for Punch and Marston's for his consistent support of big business over the interests of small independent businesses and the consumer".

"That our partner in the Fair Deal for Your Local campaign could do this is beyond our comprehension and quite frankly an insult to many of our hard working members who include many CAMRA award-winning licensees," it continues.

Griffiths, LSL asserts, "is the antithesis" of a pub supporter.

"He has consistently argued against the very urgent need for pubco reform and changes to Permitted Development of Pubs in planning yet these are campaigns which CAMRA have energetically and actively supported at all levels."

"His consistent track record of voting against the aims of CAMRA campaigns for the last four years make it impossible to understand his being even a remote contender for Pub Parliamentarian of the Year, let alone winner in what seems to have been a field of one."


ONLINE PETITION
The MP, the LSL continues, "has proven a reliable defender and supporter of large debt-laden corporations and developers responsible for the permanent closure and change of use to thousands of pubs up and down the country".

"His consistent support for big business and blatant disregard for small businesses is legendary in the publican community and nobody but nobody who cares for the pub sector and knows anything of his track record could be anything other than dumbfounded and sickened by CAMRA awarding an award to this friend of Big Business."

"It is astounding that CAMRA appears to have made the award without consultation with its grass roots."

"LSL, CAMRA members, local CAMRA branches, licensees of CAMRA award-winning pubs and publicans everywhere are sickened and disgusted by CAMRA head office awarding Griffiths this honour, which we believe illustrates graphically how out of touch CAMRA has become with its membership."

"LSL calls on CAMRA to recall Griffiths' award with immediate effect and urges grass roots CAMRA members to ask their local branches to support this."

Indeed, 'angry members of CAMRA' have started an online petition to do just that.


See also Swan with Two Necks top UK pub, posted 12/2/14; Elland 1872 wins gold again, posted 14/8/13; and Defuse the pubco "time bomb"!, posted 15/5/14.


Ignatius Rake
is a freelance journalist and geographer who has visited more than 70 countries on six continents. A published lyricist and founder of the Naked Trouser DJ collective, he has fronted punk bands in both the UK and Poland, including the only band ever to be kicked off BBC Radio Cornwall. In 2013, he represented the UK at the Fourth Annual Smoke's Poutinerie World Poutine Eating Championship in Toronto, getting his arse royally whipped by Rake & Herald reader and Major League Eating speedscarfing supremo Joey 'Jaws' Chestnut. He has been known to like a pint.


Footnote

1) The full Champion Winter Beer of Britain results were as follows:

Overall Champion: Elland 1872 Porter; Silver: Purple Moose Darkside of the Moose; Bronze: Dancing Duck Dark Drake.

Barley Wine and Strong Old Ales: Gold: Lees Moonraker; Silver: Orkney Skullsplitter; Bronze: Darwin Extinction Ale.

Old Ale/Strong Milds: Gold: Purple Moose Darkside of the Moose; Silver: Ulverston Fra diavolio; Bronze: Castle Rock Midnight Owl.

Stout: Gold: Dancing Duck Dark Drake; Silver: Plain Ales Incognito; Bronze: Highland Sneeky Wee Orkney Stout.

Porter: Gold: Elland 1872 Porter; Silver (joint): Bath Ales Festivities and Fuller's London Porter; Bronze: Blakemere Deep Dark Secret.




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