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Bronze for The Old Cross

(L-R) Graham McKendry, Mary Gianoli, Will Butcher, Jeremy Bartlett and South Herts Branch Chairman, Les Middlewood
Written by Les Middlewood

Congratulations to the Old Cross Tavern, Hertford who have picked up the Bronze award in South Hertfordshire Branch’s 2017 Pub of the Year competition. It was presented in May. No stranger to featuring highly in the awards since the Free House opened in 1999 – with four Gold awards to date to its credit – the pub continues to impress with its motto “The Way Pubs Used to Be” and the simple philosophy of providing a great selection of well-kept real ales and an atmosphere that allows for conversation, bonhomie and fun without the noise of gaming machines or music to interrupt the flow. Owners “Bev” Beviss and Mary Gianoli have continued to keep a straight course and where changes have been introduced they have always been within the spirit of the pub’s founding principles – principles that have gained much favour with regular customers and visitors alike.

In 2008 the pub’s kitchen was converted into a micro-brewery producing a range of beers which one after another have comfortably sat alongside Timothy Taylor’s Landlord and five or so beers from breweries in Hertfordshire and around the country – always including a dark mild, porter or stout. Much of the brewing at the pub is now in the safe hands of Jeremy Bartlett who has been receiving the thumbs up for his brews, including Cascade and Brewer’s Gold – light-coloured session beers. Along with senior barman Graham McKendry there is a consistent trend at the pub. People often start as bar staff but then become more involved in the beer keeping and brewing side – giving the Old Cross Tavern the staff continuity from which the best of our pubs often benefit. Many of the more part-time bar staff have also worked at the pub for years. Barman Will Butcher will even draw a sketch of you if sit still for long enough!

Customers have arranged day trips to the pubs of towns across England and a trip to Tring Brewery earlier this year is still talked about as a yardstick for further trips. Crib features on Mondays and the pub supports charities during the year with auctions and fund-raising. Mary said “We are very appreciative of CAMRA’s support and I would like to dedicate this award to the people of the pub, both sides of the bar, who make it a special place – and have done for many years. People are the heartbeat of our pub.” Jeremy added “I’m so proud to be brewing here and working with such an excellent team”. The Old Cross Tavern continues to shine brightly among the county’s real ale pubs.

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