It's not, for example, like choosing socks, which is one of the simplest decisions facing mankind. You can't just pick pubs out of the sock drawer and say 'yep, these'll do', or chuck it back in on the basis that a vibrantly-coloured Pac-Man design might not be the most appropriate internal footwear for your grandfather's funeral.
This is the fourth BV Pub of the Year contest, and one thing I learned pretty quickly is that it's difficult. Your brain becomes the battlefield for endless power-struggles over which pubs to exclude, why one pub worth seven points is not quite as good than other with the same score, or why that might be unfair on the first pub. You've never had a bad pint at Pub X, but in your heart of hearts, you know that the atmosphere doesn't live up to Pub Y, but your head of heads can't qualify exactly why not...
It's like having a massive fuck-off draw full of flawless, fragrant-smelling pairs of socks, none of which could possibly cause offence to anybody at any time.
But you've been kept waiting long enoughSo, here we go.
|Craft Clapham takes third...|
Fourth place may come as a surprise to many, but there is a place in the PotY for a scruffy corner local in New Cross. Yep, it's the Royal Albert - South London's flagship Antic pub where you can enjoy beers from some of London's more obscure breweries and snack on the greatest sausage rolls in the known universe.
Heading back into rather more familiar territory, last year's runner-up - the Craft Beer Co. Clapham - takes third spot this time. They might not be that bothered however, because the top two pubs this year are its brother and sister.
Yep, it's a 1-2-3 podium sweep for the Craft Beer Co. The hugely impressive Covent Garden branch takes second place, and for the third time in four years, the Ben Viveur London Pub of the Year is the Craft Beer Co. Clerkenwell. The original and still - just - the best.
|...but Clerkenwell wins again!|
Thornbridge 'Baize' - a chocolate mint stout, Hopcraft 'Midnight in Antarctica' (a 'white porter' with coffee, vanilla and coconut!) and the 12% imperial stout Evil Twin 'Even More Jesus: Hazelnut edition'.
All were truly fucking awesome; definitely my favourite Craft Beer Co. beers during the year. I drank one of the three at Covent Garden, and the other two at Clerkenwell, and so by this tiny but significant margin it's a win for Clerkenwell.
Congratulations to Francesco, Mark and all the guys - you've done it again!!!