A Bargate pub has taken the coveted title of Pub of the Year in a coveted regional competition decided by a judging panel of expert beer drinkers.
The White Hart, on Sandbed Lane, won first place in the awards run by the Amber Valley branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).
Landlord Sean Brentnall, 34, said: “I was really pleased just to reach the last eight but to win is absolutely amazing.
“Ever since I took over the pub in October 2015, this is what I’ve been aiming for, but I really didn’t expect to reach it so quickly.”
Sean thinks the key to the pub’s success has been refocusing it around the quality and range of the beers on offer.
He said: “The previous owner had looked to build the business around food, but beer is what I know best. I’ve worked really hard to bring in some unusual varieties from across the country, and the response has been great.
“We’re still a traditional pub, but with more modern ales, and I want to thank all our wonderful customers who have supported us along the way.”
CAMRA branch chairman Chris Rogers presented the award, and said: “There are many factors involved, but the White Hart was commended for its choice of well kept beers, friendly and knowledgeable staff complemented with a clean and stylish decor.
“Sean has transformed the pub, it’s great to see a young landlord in touch with both real ales and his clientele.”
The comments were particularly pleasing for Sean as recognition of his influence on the pub’s atmosphere.
He said: “It is obviously a team effort and has been achieved not only because of the beer but also the lovely staff who work with me.
“We try to make sure everyone gets the same welcome, whether they’re a local or a visitor, and that all our staff know the beers inside out.”
Judging began in November, when CAMRA members nominated their favourite pubs from a selection of more than 100. A shortlist of eight was drawn up, and then 29 judges carried out visits.
Second place went to the Holly Bush in Makeney, while third place went to 2016 winner, The Old Oak at Horsley Woodhouse.
The White Hart will now compete for the Derbyshire county title, to be announced later this spring.