Rutland is officially the place to be for drinkers as two pubs in the county were today named the best in the UK.
The Olive Branch at Clipsham has been named UK Pub of the Year in the Good Pub Guide 2014 while The Grainstore Brewery in Oakham has been given the title of Own Brew Pub of the Year.
Both establishments have received a string of awards from the guide book in previous years and are thrilled with their new titles.
Ben Jones, joint owner of The Olive Branch, said: “When we took over in 1999 we wanted to move away from the pressure of Michelin stars and awards, so we don’t set out to win titles like this.
“We just want to serve good food and drink in a relaxed atmosphere, but to be recognised for something we enjoy doing is great.
“The most important thing about this award is the recognition it gives our staff. It motivates the whole team and makes them feel appreciated.
“We’re fortunate to have a very good team. We’ve got people who have worked here for years and know exactly what The Olive Branch is about and new staff who bring in fresh ideas for how to move forwards.”
Head chef Sean Hope added: “Over the past few years of recession we’ve had to focus hard on our primary target of being a great all-round pub. This award gives us confidence we’re doing the right things.”
The judges were particularly impressed by the pub’s upmarket but welcoming atmosphere.
Editor Fiona Stapley said: “The Olive Branch is a very special place and a first class all-rounder. It’s civilised but warmly friendly, has a carefully chosen range of drinks, offers exceptional food and lovely bedrooms.
“As one of our readers says it’s ‘the ultimate pub experience’. You can’t get better than that.”
The Grainstore Brewery is celebrating its title of Own Brew Pub of the Year for the third time. It also won in 2003 and 2011.
The guide celebrates the Grainstore’s “superb quality and value of the 10 beers it brews” and its “cheerful customers and pubby food”.
Licensee Peter Atkinson said: “We’re delighted to win this award for the third time. The Grainstore is a unique establishment and most importantly we brew cracking beer.
“These awards are voted by the public so it’s very much the sort of accolade we like to win.”