These awards are declared at festivals but often there is little or no explanation of how the award is given. So here is an explanation:
Stage 1 – Getting started: During October/November of each year members of the branch are asked to nominate their Pub of the Year. Nominations take the form of one member, one vote. Nominations are counted and all nominated pubs go forward to Stage 2.
Stage 2 – Branch winner: Working individually, branch members who volunteer as judges survey the nominated pubs. They use a standard assessment form to help them do this. Each pub is surveyed by a minimum of three judges (more if more volunteers are available). Quality of beer is the most important factor in selecting our Pub(s) of the Year, but other factors including service, atmosphere, welcome and value are also considered. This stage is completed in January and the winner is normally announced during Dorchester Beerex.
Stage 3 – Wessex regional winner: Our POTY and Club of the Year, along with all the other Wessex region CAMRA branch POTY’s and COTY’s go forward. Three experienced judges visit every nominated pub and club. The result is announced in late August.
Stage 4 – The Super Regional and CAMRA POTY: The sixteen CAMRA regions are divided into 4 “super regions”, Wessex along with South and Mid-Wales, South West and Central Southern makes up our “super region”. This time the judges are the Regional Directors and members from CAMRA HQ. Again the pubs are judged using the standard forms, but the winners are not revealed. The winners of the 4 Super Regional finals go forward to the final stage. The 4 pubs are surveyed by Regional Directors and staff from HQ. From this survey we get one overall winner and 3 runners up.
So for a pub to win the national award it must go through an ever rising set of hurdles over a period of some 15 months, and before that there must also be a tremendous amount of work put in by the landlord/landlady. I hope that makes things a bit more clear …
Dave Harris, Webmaster
(Thanks to our colleagues in Exeter & East Devon Branch for developing this explanation)