THE evidence has been growing steadily before our eyes for years. Now it’s official: York and Yorkshire are well and truly at the forefront of the country’s beer scene.

It’s not blinkered local pride nor bar-room braggadocio that makes me say that. No, the experts have spoken.

The shortlist for the 2017 SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers) business awards, published this week, celebrates the crème de la crème of the brewing, pub and bar industries and, when it comes to where to drink, Yorkshire quite simply dominates the list.

There are five finalists up for the title of best independent craft beer retailer and of those, three are from Yorkshire: Beer Ritz in Leeds, Hop Hideout in Sheffield, and the tremendous House of Trembling Madness here in York.

Of the six venues vying to be named best craft beer restaurant, three are in Yorkshire: Friends of Ham in Leeds, Headrow House in Leeds, and Pavement Vaults on the corner of Piccadilly and Coppergate in York.

And in the category for best independent craft beer bar or pub in a city, Yorkshire accounts for four of the five finalists, with North Bar in Leeds, Sheffield Tap, Tapped Leeds and York Tap. The Pelican Inn in Gloucester is the solitary southerner in the field.

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Some of you will have noticed there that one firm has more reason than most to boast. Pivovar, based in Elvington, just east of York, is represented by York Tap, Sheffield Tap, Tapped Leeds and Pavement Vaults, a superb endorsement of a pioneering business that has done so much to introduce British drinkers to new tastes.

Jamie Hawksworth, founder and owner of Pivovar, is obviously thrilled and says he will be delighted if any of their venues wins. But he also says: “We cannot take away from the fact that it’s a great privilege to be alongside a business like North Bar, which is a great place to drink. There was nobody in York doing wheat beer or Sierra Nevada Pale Ale when they were first doing that; they were pioneering.”

So are we right to uphold Yorkshire as the heartbeat of the British beer scene? Jamie believes so, at least.

“When you look at Yorkshire and the breweries we have, it’s no wonder the bars are doing so well. You cannot get away with selling bad beer in Yorkshire - maybe in London, but here the standard is so high.

“Yorkshire is leading the way, and that does not surprise me one bit.”

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Mike Benner, managing director of SIBA, is impressed with the quality of entries for the venue-focused categories.

“When you look at the amount of fantastic independent craft beer bars that have opened over the last twelve months, or the restaurants who are making beer central to what they do, it is clear to see how far the UK has come.”

SIBA will reveal the winners at the BeerX event in Sheffield next Thursday evening.

As well as the shortlistings for various bars, York is also represented by Brew York in Walmgate in two design categories. Good luck to all the local finalists.

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On that note, I shall leave you.

It has been a highly-enjoyable privilege to write these weekly articles for the past eight years, meeting many fantastic people along the way, but an imminent change of job means this week’s Pints of View is also our last.

Thank you to all of you who became regular readers, for your tip-offs and feedback over the years, and very best wishes to all the fantastic landlords and brilliant brewers who continue to excel in a tough industry. Cheers.