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Published on May 29th, 2013 | by Nottingham Drinker

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‘So which is the best pub in Nottingham?’- Nottingham CAMRA attempts to answer the question

Once again your intrepid band of judges for the Pub of the Year competition has been out and about over the last few months visiting hostelries across the Nottingham area. This year we had eight nominations and as you would expect just to make the job that bit more interesting, they were to all points of the compass. So out came the bus maps and timetables, and a plan was hatched. Even for the hardened souls who had volunteered, eight pubs in one night was a bit much so the first round was split over two evenings. Normally the top three scoring pubs go through to round two – however this year the top four were so close it seemed only fair for them all to go forward.

Round two, out came the bus timetables again, can you get to West Bridgford, Stapleford, Beeston and Nottingham in one evening. It transpired that you could and all the journeys could be completed using a Trent Barton ZigZag Play ticket at £4.50 to CAMRA members. Just to make it look like I could organise a pub crawl all the buses turned up on time! After a total of seven bus journeys and a few pints we had completed our task and it was just a question of adding up the scores.

Last years winner, the Hand and Heart on Derby Road, was the runner up this year. It was certainly a popular choice with plenty of customers on our visits. The winner of the Nottingham Pub of the Year 2013 is the Horse and Jockey at 20 Derby Road Stapleford. The pub reopened last October after a refurbishment that not only saw an improvement in the decor, a repaint outside but also the installation of several more handpumps and the addition of real cider and perry on the bar.

I suspect that the Hand and Heart is known to most Nottingham drinkers being so close to the town centre however it is always worth a visit, whether it be for the beer, including LocAle, the ciders, the very tasty food or for the entertainment. The new addition of the outside area upstairs is very convenient for those who like to accompany their drinking with some fresh air and of course you can always sit in a cave.

Although the Horse and Jockey has been a part of Stapleford for years the recent refurbishment has changed the character of the place. As you walk to the bar you are greeted by ten handpumps, many serving LocAle and one with a beer brewed especially for the pub just round the corner by Full Mash. There is also a good selection of real ciders and perries. At the time of writing there had been one hundred and eighty nine different beers and eighteen different ciders and perries sold. The pub has been tastefully renovated; the main area in front of the bar has a real fire – and as I look out onto the snow that promises to be a warming treat. There is a large raised area at the rear opened up when the pub is busier. There is plenty of wooden furniture and some settees to sink into. There are several pictures of Stapleford past on the walls. Paul Guilford aka ‘Gilly’ has been running the place since the renovation and will give you a warm welcome and if you are feeling peckish there are some interesting snacks available. As one of the judges said: “A nice friendly local pub.”

The pub is very easy to get to, hop on a Trent Barton i4 from Friar Lane and get off at the stop before the Roach, the local name for the crossroads in the centre of the town. Now I have often thought instructions like that are rather silly, get off before, well how do you know where before is? The stop you want is the Albert Street stop, just past the Nagshead and Plough, or better still get off there and have a pint of Full Mash and walk the short distance to the Horse and Jockey. If all goes wrong and you pass the crossroads all is not lost, you will be outside the Admiral Sir John Borlase Warren, the relatively new Wetherspoon pub; you can always retrace your steps after a pint.

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The Horse and Jockey now goes through to the Nottinghamshire round where it will be up against the current East Midlands Pub of the Year, Just Beer, amongst others. If you want to keep us busy next year then you can nominate a pub for the 2014 competition at any time, send your nomination to: poty@nottinghamcamra.org. If you wish to join us on our arduous task of judging then send a line to the same address.



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