The Winner! 2000/1

The Spinning Mill

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! Sadly, this is one of the pubs they decided to sell.

The Winner! 2002/3

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. Malachy & Veronica have now retired and leave it all to Connor.

The Winner! 2003/4

1 College Gardens

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. Worse, Paddy passed away.

The Winner! 2004/5

Main Street

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. It has now been sold by Whitewater.

The Winner! 2005/6

Lisburn Road

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. It is now a family owned pub and (at present) the cask ale is not available.

The Winner! 2006/7

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

Bedford Street

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! 2010/11

116 Hillhead Rd
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

Great Victoria Street

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

406 Upper Newtownards Road

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.

The Winner! 2015/16

There was no award this year. The premise failed to follow through so the award was withdrawn!.

The Winner! 2017

47 Derriaghy Rd
BT28 3SH

Alehouse WINNER - Martin and Webmaster

Martin and the Webmaster with the 2017 Award.

This is a place I was taken to when I was knee high to everything. Steeped in history: From a bare pounded soil floor back lounge with an ancient cut down oak tree stump as a table, to a modern relaxed restaurant pub. Filled with brewerania and memorabilia, including the original carved pub wood sign. A basic pub entrance with dining lounge to one side, it also has a restaurant at the back. Besides the great food, attentive & knowledgeable staff and the huge selection of bottled craft beers it also sports its own Black Mountain Brewery, serving small batch brews in the bar. A hidden gem. From the minute you walk in there is a relaxed feeling and the attentive and knowledgeable staff will take care of you, be it great food or drinks, including many craft beers and one of Black Mountain Brewery's own brews. Well worth seeking out.

The Winner! 2018

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

Alehouse WINNER - Vincent Mermaid Bar

Alehouse WINNER - Vincent, Mermaid Bar

This is the first place in twenty years to be given a second award. An old Belfast entries pub, still with a lot of decor from past decades, it sports new French windows and a covered smoking area which is great on a summers day. The pub is well used by shoppers, business folk who know it well for the excellent food it serves up (especially the daily specials on the chalk board), plus the punters from the bookies just down the entry, all enjoying the peace & quiet away from the busy shops and offices close by. Vincent keep a good house and the staff are great. Well deserved.

The Winner! 2019

51 Donegall Streett

Alehouse WINNER - The John Hewitt

Alehouse WINNER - David, The John Hewitt

Named after Belfast Poet, John Hewitt, and owned by The Belfast Unemployed Resource Centre. A mix of clientele and an ever changing selection of artwork A mixture of music at night; Good food during the day, with great staff led by a great manager, David, it is well worth seeking out. A worthy award.


The Alehouse Award

With the country and the hospitality industry in turmoil and being part of a severe lockdown the usual POTY award has been cancelled for 2020.

Hopefull 2021 will see us all come back to some sort of normality and there will be more support for the hospitaly trade in general.


The Alehouse Award

It would be so unfair to present an award while there is another lockdown and many businesses struggling to keep going.

The Winner! 2022

THE Errigle Inn, Belfast
312-320 Ormeau Rd

Alehouse WINNER - Paul, The Errigle Inn

Alehouse Winner - Paul, The Errigle Inn

The Errigle Inn on the Ormeau Road, Belfast, has long had a reputation for good food and ales plus a friendly and attentive staff. It has been good to see the Errigle come back from the problems of the last few years and do what they do best - keeping the customers happy. A local establishment ticking all the boxes.


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