Ye Olde Mitre named SPBW London Pub of the Year
One of London’s oldest pubs, Ye Olde Mitre in Holborn, has been named London Pub of the Year for 2019 by the Society for the Preservation of Beers from the Wood (SPBW) – the oldest consumer-based group that encourages the brewing and consumption of traditional cask ale, and the use of wooden casks.
The annual award recognises the best traditional pub in London for its cask ale quality, service and atmosphere, and is open to all traditional pubs, not just those that sell beer from the wood. Pubs are nominated by members of SPBW.
Judith Norman, Manager of Ye Olde Mitre since 2014, said: “We’re a real ale pub and we specialise in beer and service, so it was lovely to be acknowledged as London’s Pub of the Year. It adds to our credibility as a real ale pub, and it’s a credit to my amazing team and especially assistant managers, Giovanni Villaraut and Eva Rauch, for all their hard work.”
Selling beers from the wood
Ye Olde Mitre, which also won Pub of the Year in 2014, has Cask Marque and Master Cellarman accreditation and has seven hand pulls at the bar. In addition to its cask offering, the pub, built in 1546, started selling traditional beers from the wood 18 months ago.
Every first and second Monday evening of the month from 6pm, Ye Olde Mitre has a different beer served from wooden casks available. Ale fans need to be quick though, as the casks only last for a few hours before selling out.
Judith said obtaining beers from the wood isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.
“Cask ale comes in steel casks nowadays, instead of wooden barrels, so the barrels are very difficult to get hold of. There’s only one Cooper up north who makes and refurbishes them, and you need to condition them before they can be used for ale. Once you have the barrels, you need to find breweries that are able to fill them, and the barrels are very delicate so they’re also quite difficult to store safely.
“There’s a lot of nostalgia involved with drinking beer from the wood, and there’s something special about a traditional ale house that’s more than 400 years old serving cask ale from traditional wooden barrels. It’s quite an experience, and something we would like to do more of.”
Breweries that have filled the wooden casks have included Windsor & Eton Brewery, Wimbledon Brewery, The Five Points Brewing Company, The Park Brewery, The Beerblefish Brewing Company and Twickenham Fine Ales.
Ye Olde Mitre Assistant Manager Giovanni Villaraut and General Manager Judith Norman.
How does beer form the wood taste?
Judith said wooden casks enhance the taste of the beer – so much so, that when beer from the wood is available the pub tries to put the same beer on steel cask so people can try and compare both.
“We’ve tried light and dark, weak and strong. The strong, dark ales have been the most popular and suit the wooden casks the best. A golden ale put in wood can take on a creamy, vanilla flavour, while porters get more of a spicy flavour to them. The wood enhances the characteristics of flavours, and the beer takes on a slight woody taste.”
Try Beers from the Wood at London’s Pub of the Year
Ye Olde Mitre sells a different beer from the wood every first and second Monday of the month from 6pm. As stock is limited, make sure you get there early so you don’t miss out.
Located at 1 Ely Court, Ely Place, Holborn, London [EC1N 6SJ], call the pub on 020 7405 4751 or visit www.yeoldemitreholborn.co.uk to find out more.
Another Fuller’s pub nearby, The Harp in Covent Garden, also sells beers from the wood. Visit The Harp’s website for more information.
WoodFest 2020 at The Turk’s Head, Twickenham
WoodFest is the only beer festival in the country that serves real ale from the wood exclusively, and this year’s festival will be held at The Turk’s Head in Twickenham from Thursday 28 May to Saturday 30 May 2020.
Visit The Society for the Preservation of Beers from the Wood for more information: www.spbw.beer