The presentation of the Silver award at the Crooked Billet was arranged for 14th April but the lockdown on 20th March stopped that happening. The 2020 CAMRA Pub Of The Year Competition has now been brought to a close for this year and as the regulations stop organised gatherings in pubs we felt it only fair to make the presentations and give the winners the credit and publicity they rightly deserve.
In 2018 the Billet received an award for being in 25 consecutive editions of the CAMRA Good Beer Guide. Wally and Julie Kasprak bought the pub in 1992 when it was in a very dilapidated state and undertook a major clean-up and redecoration. There was a vast improvement in the beer which won them a place in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide which they hold to this day (they have now raised that figure to 27 as they are also in the 2020 edition).
When you visit the pub today you could be excused for thinking nothing had changed for hundreds of years but this is not the case. The bar has been moved and proper cellar facilities provided, plus an extension on the rear of the pub allowed for new toilets to be provided. In 1993 there were four pubs in Colney Heath, the demise of the other three was covered in my article “Last Pub in the Village” in Pints Of View No 290 and 297.
There are some pubs (well not many) that have had twenty-seven entries in the guide but what is exceptional is that at the Crooked Billet they have all been under the same licensee.
CAMRA’s POTY competition in South Herts is fierce with three hundred pubs to be considered and the search is for the best of the best, looking at hospitality, facilities, support for the campaigns ideals as well as excellent beer. The Crooked Billet for as long as I can remember has always been in the last eight, and they have previously received a “Highly Recommended” award. This year Wally Julie and their team have improved their position again and received our “Silver” award.
For those of you who don’t know the Crooked Billet it has been a pub for over 200 years with low ceilings, genuine oak beams and three different drinking and eating areas. Good pub meals are available and at present they are offering hot and cold snacks lunchtimes. Sunday roasts start again on 26th July booking essential. It is a genuine free house stocking three cask beers from national, regional and micro-breweries. The Billet is a favourite stop-off for walkers on the many local footpaths. Families are welcome in the large garden where there is play equipment this area has been a bonus with social distancing in place.
Wally is an incurable Arsenal supporter and there are many old photos of the team around the walls. The pub has a good local following and before the lockdown supported traditional pub games with darts and cards played.
Can I congratulate Julie and Wally again on their award and good stewardship the Billet is a genuine British country pub.