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Great Northern, St Albans, is the most improved pub!

Written by Tom Blakemore

Our congratulations go out Dan Gibney and his team at the Great Northern on London Road, St Albans, who won this year’s South Herts Most Improved Pub award.

Following our AGM and branch meeting at the Robin Hood a large number of those present then moved to the Great Northern in London Road for the presentation of the award.

The pub was nominated by branch member Tom Savoury, who said: “For those that don’t know how the Great Northern was prior to the takeover I offer my limited experience and knowledge of it. When I moved to St Albans in 2000 I wandered in to the Great Northern with a colleague. We were both wearing suits and shirts and ties and were given quite a hostile reception, and I thought that the barman wasn’t going to serve us. I broke the ice by asking him what night the quiz was on. He thought about it and then laughed saying “What? With this lot! You’re all right! What do you want?”. An awful pint of Guinness was the best option. I went in again about six years later, when a colleague had foolishly arranged for a group of us to meet there for drinks whilst waiting for a table at the Mumtaj. When the bill arrived at the Mumtaj a colleague realised that she had left her bag at the pub. When she went back the bag was there, minus her purse and passport! Until it closed in 2014 it was often in the local Herts Advertiser, but never for anything good!”

The pub is now independently run, under a long leasehold, and not tied to a brewery. The refurbishment included the installation of a new kitchen and improvements to the beer garden. They have preserved the building and Victorian heritage of the pub.

The Great Northern carries a good range of cask ales, including Black Sheep and seasonal Tring beers (e.g. Fanny Ebbs in Summer), with the popular Moongazing as a fallback in between, as regulars. They then have a further one or two guest ales on, aiming for a total of three ales midweek and four at weekends. They support local breweries like Mad Squirrel and have recently had Farr Golden on, after its success at the St Albans Beer & Cider Festival additionally, they choose other CAMRA award winning beers.

In July 2016 they held a three day beer festival, offering 16 different beers and two real ciders. We are hoping the festival will be a regular event in the calendar for the pub as it offers very good value to real ale and cider drinkers.

A gastro pub, it has a regularly changing interesting menu, using seasonal and local ingredients. Popular with cinema goers, it is building up quite a local following and has a weekly quiz on Tuesday nights.

Give the Great Northern a visit you’ll be given a warm welcome and, if you’re a card carrying CAMRA member, a 10% discount on their real ales and ciders!

We congratulate all the staff at the Great Northern on their award.

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