The Corner Pin - Town Pub of the Season

The beer – what other reason can there be for The Corner Pin gaining the Summer 2016 Pub of the Season award. Consistently good, a wide variety and happy faces both sides of the bar. Dave and Ruth put their heart and soul into keeping the pub at its peak and that’s no easy task considering it’s just outside the main centre of town.

Doncaster CAMRA’s Pub of the Year in 2011, 2014 and 2015 is something of a statement when it comes to the appreciation of our members for this gem of a pub. 5 hand pumps that are usually in full use with an array of beers that are ever-changing to tempt you to try something different or go for an old favourite.

In April 2015 it was named as one of CAMRA’s top 200 pubs nationwide and one of the top 16 in Yorkshire as part of the Community Pubs Month campaign, highlighting the important role pubs play in community life. There’s certainly a diverse mix of customers who add character to the pub. There’s a darts team led by landlord Dave who do battle weekly, a fun quiz every Sunday evening but with a lot of very serious contestants, and that’s not to mention the food…

OK then, I will mention the food as Ruth’s chip butties have become a thing of legend with visiting CAMRA branches writing about them, community groups who meet there insisting on them, and that’s only one item on the menu. I’m one who actually prefers eating here to many of the other pubs around. Everything is prepared on the premises. No reheated freezer mush or skinny fries.

A very popular Sunday lunch venue too. It’s all freshly made and it’s wise to book in advance or you’ll probably not get a place. During the rest of the week Ruth does an excellent fry-up, amongst other things, but check that the kitchen is open before you visit mid-week as she does need some time off to go get the shopping.

Another tick on the CAMRA great pub list is gained by the use of lined glasses, pints and halves, for the real ale on offer. For those who insist on the fizzy cold stuff there’s also a range of lagers and keg beers to be had. It’s a traditional bar with a wooden floor and has loads of character.

At the time of writing, Leeds Pale and Stancill Barnsley Bitter were the regular real ales, leaving three pumps to be filled by guests. If you find a guest beer you like then make the best of it as once it’s gone it could be some time before it appears here again, unlike some pubs whose ‘guest’ beers stay the same week after week.

I travel to many places for beer festivals or just a day with friends but always enjoy coming back to the Corner Pin.

Shoulder of Mutton, Kirk Smeaton - District Pub of the Season

Not for the first time has the Shoulder of Mutton been awarded the District Pub of the Season following a popular vote by members of Doncaster and District CAMRA. It has previously won the award in Autumn 2011 and prior to that in Winter 2005/06. Also in 2007 it was voted District Pub of the Year. Congratulations are therefore in order, again, to Christine Sanderson, the longserving manager and her staff for continuing to serve quality real ale. Two real ales are always available on the bar. The first, the regular beer for many years, is Black Sheep Best Bitter delivered direct from the brewery. A fact that no doubt contributes to the excellent condition in which the beer is always to be found. The second, a guest beer, currently Theakston Best Bitter, has over the years been provided by breweries as varied as Old Mill, Wharfe Bank and Dark Horse from Hetton in North Yorkshire.

At one time a Whitbread house, the pub was purchased free of tie many years ago by two local businessman who wanted to ensure that the village retained a working pub at the heart of the community. Located in the centre of the village, the pub comprises a small oakpanelled lounge and a somewhat larger and more popular public bar area, both served from a single central bar. It has a large car park and a substantial beer garden in which is to be found a covered and heated smoking shelter. An additional outside seating area is also available. Although no hot food service is provided a range of freshly-made sandwiches are available at the bar.

In addition to the quality ale, what really makes this pub stand out is that it offers a fine example of what a good traditional village pub should be. It serves as a hub for the community that is the village of Kirk Smeaton. It's a very friendly pub. Whether you're eighteen or eighty, a local born and bred or an incomer to the village or indeed just passing through the village, the pub is very welcoming. As in any good pub there's usually a conversation to be had with someone from among the diverse group of drinkers to be found at the bar. Walkers are also welcome, with the pub offering an ideal start and end point for several circular walks of varying length in and around the area of the Went Valley and Brockadale Nature Reserve. A quiz is held every Tuesday evening.

Essentially the Shoulder of Mutton is what I and, I suspect, many other drinkers think of, as a great example of what a good local pub should be. It's also, regrettably, an example of a type and style of pub that is slowly disappearing from national life