Wed, 12 Feb 2020
The Bell Inn at Aldworth has been named Britain’s best pub by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).
The inn, which has been run by the same family for 250 years, beat off competition from around 47,500 other pubs from all over the UK.
Judges hailed The Bell for its “strong community focus, relaxed ambience and great beer”.
Today, a representative from CAMRA will visit the pub to present management with the National Pub of the Year award.
Owner Heather Macaulay is a well-known figure in Aldworth, as is her son, Hugh Macaulay.
Both can be found behind the bar, with other members of the Macaulay family employed in waiting and maintenance roles.
The Bell was last crowned National Pub of the Year 30 years ago, and Mr Macaulay said: “It was a wonderful time then, as it is now – you just can’t believe it.
"Going through from one round to next, to the next, not believing that you will get to the next round.
"And then, suddenly, somebody comes and says: 'you know you’re through to the last lot?'"
When asked what the secret was to running Britain’s best pub, Mr Macaulay said: "Good beer, good customers, community spirit to the whole thing – there are lots of little things.
"But a nice place to come and have a sit down, nice and simple – that's it."
CAMRA Pub of the Year organiser Ben Wilkinson said of The Bell: "The judges were impressed with how a stranger entering the pub was treated like a regular straight away.
"It’s clear that the local customers use the pub as a community centre as well as a place to drink, and the warm welcome and knowledgeable staff made us feel right at home.
"Nothing can beat the combination of good beer, great food and a warm heritage pub."
West Berkshire CAMRA chairman Andy Pinkard said: "It is great to see The Bell get national recognition as CAMRA’s Pub of the Year.
"The Bell follows a traditional recipe for success – always a great welcome, open to all, reliable quality beer and cider, and honest, wholesome food.
"Providing sustenance to locals and travellers alike within a wonderful listed building.
"It is a fitting tribute to the unstinting efforts of Hugh and his team. Go pay them a visit."
The Bell Inn has a long-standing relationship with CAMRA, winning numerous awards over the years.
It has featured in every edition of the campaign’s Good Beer Guide since 1979.