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Follow The Sun
READERS with good memories will know I like a hearty walk between beers. It’s the perfect pre-pub work out if you ask me. Give me a map, some sandwiches and a nice rambling route, and I’ll be as happy as Larry when I pick up my pint a few hours later.
I’ve learned my lesson though, when it comes to this column. Our online readers took exception once last summer when I dwelled a bit too much on the walk instead of the pub, so today I’ll simply say this: Follow The Sun.
Don’t be fooled; that’s not meant as a philosophical message and it certainly doesn’t indicate my newspaper preferences. Nope, it’s simple and sound pub advice, which I hope you may take.
The Sun, you see, is a tremendous inn in Westgate in Pickering, just a short stroll from some brilliant countryside. And as if it weren’t good enough already, it’s about to get bigger and better still.
I stumbled upon this place last autumn, during that little Indian Summer we enjoyed at the start of October, and was thrilled by what I found.
The garden was huge and well-kept, the pub itself was homely and welcoming, and the bar was stocked with tremendous ales. The beer range here is Yorkshire through and through, and often includes some great unusual ales from the region’s micro-breweries, such as Brass Castle and Hambleton.
The Sun was named rural pub of 2011 by the Scarborough branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), and it’s easy to see why.
In fact, it’s been making a name for itself nationally too, courtesy of beer and bread expert Sue Nowak and local baker John Medd.
Inspired by Sue, John has been using the pub’s ullage (the last drops of beer in the barrels) to make bread, which is then made available behind the bar, prompting some mouth-watering coverage in Camra’s national magazine.
Martin and Penny Robertson bought the pub as a free-house around two years ago and – along with their managers Rob and Sharon Allanson – they’ve turned it into one of the best country pubs in North Yorkshire.
Indeed, so successful has it been that work is now underway on an expansion, with a new room being created in outbuildings to one side.
The pub currently seats only about 40 people but is increasingly popular, not only for its beer but also for its live music nights and charity evenings. The new room will allow the pub to continue to thrive, without feeling cramped, says Penny.
“The pub is currently tiny but live music is a big focus for us, and although we have the huge garden, we get crowded in winter,” she says.
As Sharon adds: “This is a lovely place and we have been doing really well but people come in and see there’s not enough space to sit or stand, and we do not want to lose those people.”
If all goes to plan, there’ll be no danger of that.
• Congratulations to the Three Tuns in Coppergate, which is in the regional finals for the Marstons cask ale pub of the year award. Landlord Jason Hawkins says they should hear next Friday whether they’ve made it to the national final.
• The Phoenix’s early Easter beer festival, which began last night, continues today and tomorrow.
• The award-winning team from Rudgate and Marston Moor Breweries are holding a special relaunch evening at The Volunteer Arms in Holgate next Friday. There will be a wide range of their beers available and live music.
Follow Gav on Twitter: @pintsofview