Members of Chester and South Clwyd CAMRA branch nominated their favourite watering holes to create a short-list with each pub then visited by anonymous ‘mystery shoppers’ who assessed venues according to community focus, beer quality, style and decor plus the friendliness of the welcome.
Explaining why Telford’s is so special, branch spokesman Craig Papworth, from Hoole, said: “I think it’s the ambience, whatever the time of day. If you go during the day it’s a really relaxed atmosphere and in the evening, if you want something livelier, it’s got that as well.
“It seems to have something for everybody,” added Craig, who is pleased owner Jez Horrill bought the freehold last year after his former landlords, the Canal and River Trust, put the place on the market.
Craig added: “I guess there will come a time when he thinks it’s time to sell but for the time-being it would appear he’s here for the long haul. The award is certainly well deserved.”
There will be challenges because the venue, known for its live music, is now surrounded by student accommodation blocks which are nearing completion but Jez recently told The Chronicle his mantra was ‘business as usual’ with no prospect of cheap student deals.
Jez said of the award: “I’m absolutely made up and I think CAMRA recognised we’ve had a tough year being in the middle of a building site and we do keep good beers!”
He said Telford’s had previously been named joint winners with The Brewery Tap but this was the first time the venue, which was established in 1993, had won the prestigious award outright.
“There’s stiff competition out there with venues that sell really good real ales and cask ales so to win outright is incredibly special,” added Jez.
He expects some of his potential student customers will like what Telford’s offers and others won’t, commenting: “I think it’s an opportunity now to embrace potential new business.”
CAMRA’s winner for the Clwyd area was the Bridge End Inn at Ruabon which reclaims the crown last won some years ago, on a journey which ended with it winning the UK national award.
Presentations will be made to the pubs over coming weeks.
Both will now go forward to represent the Chester and South Clwyd Branch of CAMRA in their respective county-wide competitions.
This year’s Branch Pub of the Year runner-up for Cheshire was The Cellar Bar in City Road, Chester, a former winner in 2014 and 2015. Craig praised the ‘choice and quality of beer’ as well as the product knowledge of staff.