All recommendations by County:

Belfast North
Belfast South
County Antrim
County Armagh
County Down
County Fermanagh
County Londonderry
County Tyrone
Dumfries & Galloway

 

The Winner! 2000/1

"The Spinning Mill"
Ballymena

The Alehouse Award
Gail (CAMRA N.I.), myself, Lorraine & Mark (The Spinning Mill)

I travelled to Ballymena with Dave West, Wetherspoon's official photographer, who came all the way from Newcastle, Tyne & Wear for the photo shoot. Gail Kinner, Secretary of CAMRA N.I., accompanied us. 

I presented the award to Mark & Lorraine, the management team of the Spinning Mill and Dave took photographs for Wetherspoon's Newsletter (some 350,000 copies per issue!).

So what did Wetherspoon's think about all this? Well, it got on their web and newsletter at the time!


 

The Winner! 2002/3

LIZZIE DRAKE'S
The Maze
228 Moira Road, Lisburn

The Alehouse Award
Malachy & Veronica (Drake's) and myself

I had known of this pub for many years and had been in it in my youth. It has only been the last few years that I would go there on a regular basis for meals and a convivial pint. The atmosphere is relaxed, the food is good and the staff are friendly. Well worth checking out. They do not take bookings but you could phone ahead just in case.



 

The Winner! 2003/4

Q.U.B. STAFF COMMON ROOM
1 College Gardens
Belfast

The Alehouse Award
The Manager, Paddy, and myself

I first visited the S.C.R. in the early 1990's as CAMRA branch Chairman to sample the draught Theakston Bitter and started going back again a couple of years ago when they served Whitewater ales. The ale was always in fine fettle and the food was good and at a very reasonable price. The place was quiet and relaxing, somewhere to get away from the frenetic lifestyle of typical Belfast pubs and actually be able to talk without ripping out your vocal chords. sadly the QUB management made the regrettable decision to sell and it is now just yet another trendy place.




 

The Winner! 2004/5

THE WHITE HORSE
Main Street
Saintfield

The Alehouse Award
Kerry (with baby Kara May) & Bernard Sloan, with myself.

I have been going here for many years when it was run by the Spratt family. I was always impressed by the range and quality of the beers and the beer festivals were not to be missed. The ales were supplied by Whitewater Brewery who took over the premise a several years ago. Since then the downstairs restaurant has been totally refurbished and a new menu & wine list added. The upstairs has been totally redone, yet in a classic and tasteful way. Beer quality has not diminished and the bar staff are as friendly as ever. The bar is certainly becoming the hub of Saintfield's social life. Well worth seeking out.


 

The Winner! 2005/6

RYAN's WEE BAR & GRILL
Lisburn Road
Belfast

The Alehouse Award
Presentation at Ryan's Bar

This was a favourite of mine when it was "The Four in Hand". Indeed, a grandfather of mine imbibed here in his younger days as well. It was with some trepidation that I learned that it was to be renovated. However, Botinns did well to keep the old charm while modernising and it now has a quite eclectic clientele. It has now been bought over.

The staff are friendly, the music is not loud and it feels relaxed even when busy. Upstairs has a good restaurant with interesting offers. The spicy chicken wings are to die for and can be ordered as a carry out. They are quite addictive.


 

The Winner! 2006/7

THE MERMAID
5-7 Wilson's Court
(off High Street) Belfast

The Alehouse Award
Presentation to Vincent

This is one of the last of Belfast's famous street entry pubs and one of the last not to have changed its great atmosphere and customer base. The food is excellent, with a no nonsense menu, just good food the way it should be - without pretension.

The only change has been the cafe-bar style doors leading onto the entry patio. This was done to cater for the non smoking laws but it does add a certain something that somehow does not seem out of place.

Beloved of punters (with a "turf" just up the alley), shoppers in for a substantial meal, the office crowd or just the passer-by; I hope it stays the way it is to remind us of the lost pubs of Belfast.
 

 

The Winner! 2007/8

There was no award this year due to family ill health.

 

 

The Winner! 2008/9

THE BRIDGE BAR
Bedford Street
Belfast

The Alehouse Award
Presentation at The Bridge Bar with Barry the Manager.

I have been coming to this pub since it opened way back in 2000. I have seen staff come and go over the years but I have always found them friendly and willing to help. It says something these days when I do not have to shout my order against far too loud music. For me, the cask ales have been the big attraction. As the handling and serving experience of such ales has grown locally it has been a pleasure to taste such a wide variety every month. In a country where little cask ale has been readily available for many a year it is a greater pleasure to sample them at a less than ridiculous price.

While the food is standardised (across some 900+ premises) and is not of the nouvelle cuisine fad it certainly is wholesome and something that the ordinary person can appreciate, especially at the attractive prices and catering for children & vegetarians. The atmosphere of an establishment is what makes the customer think about returning. The atmosphere here has certainly changed over the years and while often young and vibrant it is still pulling in the older generation until, I believe, the word "eclectic" certainly suits a typical visit.

 

The Winner! 2009/10

There was no award this year due to family ill health.


 

The Winner! 200/11

THE OLD THATCH
116 Hillhead Rd
Castledawson
BT45 8ET

The Alehouse Award
Presentation to the staff of the Old Thatch Inn.

I have called in here for many a year on return from the old family grave not too many miles further down the road. What better way to shake of the cold, or the heat of summer, with a warm inviting fire, or the cool of a low ceilinged old fashioned bar? It is nice to relax and enjoy a well prepared meal served by friendly staff. Worth hunting out if you find yourself along the Toomebridge - Magherafelt road.

 

The Winner! 2011/12

There was no award this year due to family bereavement.

 

 

The Winner! 2013/14

THE CROWN LIQOUR SALOON
Great Victoria Street
Belfast

The Alehouse Award
Presentation at The Crown Bar with Manger WIll Elliott .

The Crown is an iconic landmark in the province. A prime example of a Victorian gin palace and a firm favourite of visitors, past and present. The Grade A listed building is from the 1840's and it was originally the Railway Tavern in 1849. The owner (Michael Flanagan) initiated the refurbishment in 1898 and (probably) changed the name to The Crown about 1885. Tiled outside ground floor walls and tiled mosaic entrance lead to a lush interior of rich woodwork, coloured glass. The bar is long with three dividers and a black & white tiled floor. Intimate snugs with bell pushes, mirrors and (surprisingly) doors, each guarded by a gryphon and a lion, a living picture of past glory. Busy during the day, it comes into its own at night when the gas lamps play their wan light over the wide cross section of regulars and visitors from all parts of the globe. It is now part of the Nicholson Group, known for their good food and cask ales, and is a worthy winner.

 

The Winner! 2014/15

HORATIO TODD'S
406 Upper Newtownards Road
Ballyhackamore
Belfast

The Alehouse Award
Presentation to Stephen Magorrian at Horatio Todd's .

A modern, large layout pub/restaurant with a car park to the rear via Eastleigh Drive. Large glassed frontage with french doors to the side, it is roomy and airy with some booths and restaurant to the rear which sports an impressive wall of wine. Cask ale is available. A good range of food and craft bottled beers. Attentive and pleasant staff.

PART OF THE HORATIO GROUP WITH BENEFITS FOR SPBW MEMBERS - SPBW NI


Search for recommended pubs, restaurants and places to visit:
Select type of attraction:
Select County: