This year’s South Herts Branch Pub of the Year is the Old Cross Tavern, in St. Andrew Street, Hertford. The selection process took place in early in 2020 – how strange, then, that celebrations would soon have to be put on hold as Britain’s pubs faced an indeterminate closure period under government Coronavirus lockdown measures.
The Tavern is a serial winner of the Branch Pub of the Year award – Gold, six times; Silver three times and bronze three times – not at all bad for a pub that only opened in 1999.
The pub has always remained close to its founding principles – a community Free House with beer quality at the fore – the provision of a great selection of cask ales including a mild, stout or porter and allowing good conversation, banter and laughter to emerge unhindered by piped music or gaming machines – fully justifying the Tavern motto “A Pub The Way They Used To Be”. A winning formula indeed.
Our picture shows joint-owner Mary Gianoli with the South Herts Pub of the Year shield along with members of staff (l-r) Graeme McKendry – with plaque, David Kirby and Joe Leggett.
Mary says “It’s been a strange year for pubs and I must thank our staff, customers and CAMRA for their commitment, help and support”.
During lockdown Mary and the team operated a weekend take-away service for beer, cider and snacks which soon became a hit with regulars and passers-by. She is keen to thank Tring, Mighty Oak and Redemption breweries who particularly helped the pub provide a strong range of cask ales during the period. And, of course, there was the pub’s ever-present beer – Timothy Taylor Landlord. The team are using July to carefully assess and implement the pub’s re-opening plan and regulars can be assured of the pub’s future, it will be opening again soon, if with a few changes to reflect the changing times.
‘Bev’ Beviss, joint-owner of the Tavern, said “We are committed to the future. Over the past 21 years the Tavern has thrived and grown with the support of the people who have worked here, our customers from near and far and CAMRA. I would like to say a special thank you to all the staff past and present. Our ideals remain the same. The heart of the Tavern will continue to be a commitment to British Real Ales. Our beers come from an amazing range of British breweries of an exceptional quality and diversity of styles. The Tavern is sticking to the founding principles of conviviality, choice and quality. It has been our ethos and will continue to be, to support small and artisanal brewers as well as family brewers. The upcoming period will possibly bring in a new era in the pub trade as the nature of pubs continue to evolve as they have over the past two to three decades. The Tavern, as a pub, will retain a traditional community spirit and carry on promoting excellent ales. To CAMRA and South Herts Branch in particular, we’d like to say thank you very much for your support over 21 years starting from our very first year, 1999, when we were awarded the Branch Pub of the Year title”.
Customers, as always, can look forward to a warm and friendly welcome, an admirable range of British and Belgian beers and tasty pies and scotch eggs at the bar. To keep abreast of news, consult the pub’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/oldcrosstavern/