The Yorkshire Grey - Town Pub of the Season

The Yorkshire Grey has been nominated for Pub of the Season several times without gaining enough votes, but this time it’s a winner! It was originally known as “The Hogshead”up until l 9 years ago when the name was changed. The premises was once a shoe shop before being granted a licence for a change of use to pub and restaurant. I remember a branch social earlier this year, when we paid the Yorkshire Grey a visit. Several members were already inside enjoying a pint. One, a person who is not a regular on our social events, said to me “I really like this place, they let me sample all the beers before I have to buy one”. This is a true observation ; the staff here are really friendly and helpful.

All the beers, 4 usually, have a small sample bottle on display to allow you to have a good look at them before you choose . Wychwood Hobgoblin is a regular, but by no means permanent as we shall see. Neil, the manager, is a keen real ale drinker himself, though not on duty of course, and comes from Sheffield where he is familiar with all the best pubs.

The Yorkshire Grey has always given cardcarrying members of CAMRA a discount of 20p making the price of a pint here a real bargain. The “Grey” is one of two pubs in Hallgate which are owned by the same pubco – Stonegate. Sport, on large screen TVs, is very popular here, so don’t expect a quiet time if there is an important Football or Rugby match on when you visit! Daytime, though, is a different matter during the working week. then you will find a quiet corner to sit in and enjoy a well-kept pint of real ale. The manager is very keen to promote local breweries and has on occasion had four different beers on from a single brewery such as Stancill. On one magic visit I found they had four beers of my preferred type, blonde, including Hobgoblin Gold, and Acorn Blonde, plus Moorhouse White Witch, definitely three of my favourites. The other one has slipped my mind but it was another excellent golden ale.

Outside at the back there is a decked area with tables (and TV screen) where smoking is permitted. There are no tables outside at the front. In the summer, if there is hot weather, the front windows are opened, allowing a cool breeze to blow through the bar. The Yorkshire Grey has participated in The Doncaster CAMRA beer festival for several years now. I am, of course, referring to #DN1BeerFest in which town centre pubs become a network of real ale outlets. The idea being that those taking part put on something special e.g. an unusual range of real ales, maybe with free snacks or hot food. In return we supply window posters and banners plus a web presence on our website, advertising the various venues and encouraging drinkers to visit during the festival, hopefully trying pubs that they wouldn’t normally go to. Recent beers have included Thwaites Wainwright, Stancill Barnsley Bitter, Lancaster Bomber and Bosun’s Maiden Voyage. 

The Crown, Belton - District Pub of the Season

“Difficult to find but well worth the effort”
“A haven for the discerning drinker”

These are just two descriptions applied to the Crown at Belton in editions of CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide over the years. Now another one can be used as it has been named our Doncaster District Pub of the Season for Winter 2016-17.

This is by no means the first CAMRA award this excellent rural pub has won. Its reputation for consistently good cask ales goes back many years. Since current owners John and Lynn Green took over in 2008 the pub has maintained those standards. The Crown was our District Pub of the Season in Autumn 2010 and Pub of the Year in 2013. This latest title is a fitting reward for a pub which shows what can be achieved despite being off the beaten track.

Situated behind All Saints Church, the Crown can’t be seen from the main road through the village and there’s little to suggest that there’s a thriving pub close by. Closer investigation finds a large car park and an attractive village local with a lively atmosphere. Even more surprising is that the pub is open from 1:00 pm on weekdays. These days many rural pubs, even ones situated on main roads, don’t bother to open until evening during the week. Some don’t even open every day. Yet the Crown thrives: I visited the pub to research this article on a Monday afternoon and there were 15-20 customers.

Under John and Lynn the Crown has become a real part of the community, offering a variety of events to attract a whole range of customers. These include live music, a tapas night, a cheese and wine evening, karaoke and twice – yearly beer festivals.

Of course, it’s the beer which has won the Crown its CAMRA awards. The pub is a genuine freehouse. Six cask ales are always available, from larger breweries such as Jennings, Bradfield, Thwaites as well as local ones such as Tom Wood and Glentworth. In fact, this pub has always been a strong supporter of Glentworth ales, which are featured on a rotating basis. When I visited the ales on offer were Thwaites Wainwright, Jennings Cocker Hoop, Glentworth Wishing Tree, Ringwood Boondoggle, Bradfield Farmers Blonde and Brakspear Bitter. The usual beer range tends towards lighter, hoppy ales but during the pub’s beer festivals there’s a wide choice of beer styles. This really is a cracking pub which is well worth a visit.