Throughout the year CAMRA members assess the pubs across Gloucester (defined as those in postcode GL1-4), with the primary consideration being the quality of their cask ales. At the end of the year, those pubs whose ale has been of a consistently high quality get considered for entry into CAMRA’s bible: The Good Beer Guide.
As this process progresses, members consider which of the shortlisted pubs should take the accolade of Gloucester’s Pub of the Year and, after much deliberation, this year, for the third year running, it was decided that it should go to The Pelican, sandwiched between the Cathedral and St Oswald’s Priory in St Mary’s Street, Gloucester.
The Pelican was a run-down, unloved, back street pub until it was taken over by Wye Valley in June 2012. They installed landlord Michael Hall: Lego enthusiast, wearer of flamboyant shirts and purveyor of excellent beers. Against expectation (well, against my expectations anyway) the pub thrived as an old fashioned, friendly, traditional pub. It immediately found favour with the city’s discerning drinkers, winning Gloucester Pub of the year in 2014, the first year it was eligible to do so. Holding onto the accolade for a third consecutive year is quite an achievement, and comes just days after receiving another award: this one for its pickled eggs.
This year the Pub of the Year competition was the toughest yet. There were a number of pubs who were serious contenders for the award: old favourites like the Fountain and Dick Whittington in Westgate Street continue to provide superb ales, and then there are the newcomers such as Gloucester Brewery’s craft ale bar, TANK, and the Brewhouse and Kitchen, both in the Docks.
Other criteria get taken into account when contemplating the Pub of the Year Award as well as beer quality. This is generally summed up in the term ‘ambience’: are the surroundings pleasant? Do you get a warm greeting from the bar staff? Are you made to feel welcome and comfortable? Another thing that never hurts is when the pub showcases its talents and enthusiasm for beer by staging beer festivals.
The Pelican is about to stage its sixth beer festival in the three and a half years that it has been under the current management, so if you want to try out the quality of the beers for yourself when better to do it: the festival runs from Thursday 18th to Saturday 20th February. It will offer 30 different beers with at least 15 available at any given time throughout the festival period. Tasting cards will be available for £14 and offer you 15 third-pints plus a pint of your favourite – although you have to be fast as beers turn over very quickly.