Beer columnist GAVIN AITCHISON introduces our champion pubs.

“THERE is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.”

Dr Samuel Johnson wrote that, way back in 1776. And it’s as true today as it was then. The British pub remains one of the great mainstays of society, one of the most enjoyable places you can imagine.

So at a time when many are struggling against crippling taxation and legislation, it’s important that we celebrate the best of the best. That’s what The Press Pub Awards have allowed us to do, thanks to the loyal pub-goers and Press readers who have stood up for their locals.

The number of nominations was up on last year, with 48 places drawing at least one nomination. Last year’s pub awards were the first we have run since the 1990s, and it has been pleasing to see their revival generating interest.

It has been a clear testament to the importance and affection which pubs still hold. Thanks to all who took part, but in the end there could be only eight winners. Here they are. Cheers!

RAISE your glasses, and toast the champions!

Today, the waiting is over, as we name the best pubs in our region.

Hundreds of nominations flooded in from across York, North Yorkshire and East Yorkshire and after some enjoyable and rigorous judging, the results are in.

Thanks go to Rudgate Brewery in Tockwith, who are donating a barrel of beer to the overall winning pub, The Swan on the corner of Clementhorpe and Bishopthorpe Road in York. That, and the winners’ certificates, will be presented later this month.

Paul Crossman, landlord of The Swan, said last night: “I am absolutely over the moon.”

The award for Best Real Ale pub goes to BRIGANTES in Micklegate, an increasingly impressive venue in the heart of York. There is always an impressive variety of beers and a rapid turnover, helped no doubt by its wide popularity. Staff are always informed and helpful and serve as great advocates for real ale.

Winner of the Best Food Pub award is a place that serves restaurant-quality food but in an authentic pub setting. THE CROWN at Great Ouseburn has an impressive menu and exceptional quality food, and at a fair price.

Community Pub of the Year goes to THE BLACK SWAN in Wistow, near Selby. When the village post office closed a few years ago, the pub stepped in and re-opened it in the same building, meaning the pub is now unmistakeably the heart of the village. First class work!

Our Best Landlord award goes to a man who has run his city-centre pub for almost two decades. The Maltings in Tanner Row is often busy with regulars and visitors, but landlord SHAUN COLLINGE ensures it is always well run and with well-kept beer.

Best for Entertainment is THE WAGGON AND HORSES in Lawrence Street. In a tough category, it stood out for the quality, variety and frequency of its events.

The Best Outdoor Area is somewhere with a view hard to beat anywhere in England. The garden behind the THE LAMB AND LION faces the Bar Walls on one side and the majestic York Minster on the other, making it a jaw-dropping place to spend a summer’s day.

Our Best Overall Pub award goes to a historic pub a stone’s throw from York’s Bar Walls, with excellent beer, a good ambience, friendly staff and a pleasant garden. THE SWAN is a vibrant, friendly, distinctive pub that epitomises what’s best about the industry.

Finally, this year we invited you to vote in our new category, the Readers’ Choice award, and more than 1,000 of you did so. The winner, by a landslide, was THE TANGLEWOOD on the A64, which is reaping rewards after an impressive refurbishment a few months ago.

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Cheers to them all

A DECENT local pub is many things. It’s a place to meet your mates, or down a consoling pint after a tough day at work, or enjoy a decent meal at a reasonable price, or simply watch a game of football with friends.

Today, we celebrate the best of the region’s pubs in our annual Press Pub Awards. Lifting the crown for best overall pub of the year is The Swan, a stone’s throw from York’s Bar Walls. Best landlord is the larger-than-life Shaun Collinge, of The Maltings, in Tanner Row.

But this isn’t really about celebrating individual winners: it’s about something much more than that.

So raise a glass to the wonderful institution that is the great British boozer. It’s unique.

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