A POPULAR inn nestled in the heart of the Staffordshire Moorlands countryside alongside a heritage railway line has been revealed as Pub of the Season.
The Black Lion at Consall Forge has been named as Staffordshire Moorlands Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) Sub-Branch Winter Pub of the Season.
The pub is well known for being out-of-the-way and getting to and from it is generally agreed to be something of an adventure, whether you travel on foot, by car, cruising down the Caldon Canal, or chugging along the Churnet Valley Railway.
Licensees Mark Mellor and Jason Purcell provide a homely atmosphere and serve a range of seven cask ales and 11 ciders.
The landlords maintain at all times a Locale (local ale), and whenever possible both a dark and light bitter to suit all tastes.
They have also established two beer festivals in the five years; the 'Real Rail Ale Trail' in July and 'Winter Fest' from Boxing Day to New Year.
The pub also hosts regular steam gala and beer festival events with Churnet Valley Railway – the next one is on February 22 to 23.
At weekends, particularly during the summer months, the pub is often at its busiest, with queues of customers from the steam trains that run the three miles along the valley from Cheddleton, as well as walkers looking for respite and a refreshing pint.
CAMRA accolades are nothing new to the pub as it has been in CAMRA's Good Beer Guide for the past four years, and has been entered again for this year's and next year's editions. The pub also came third in the Potteries CAMRA Branch Best Pub in the Staffordshire Moorlands awards at the Stoke Beer Festival in October. It has also been nominated for the regional CAMRA cider pub of the year.
Jason said: "Thank you for the support from our customers, especially the CAMRA members who voted for us.
"We couldn't do it without them, or the many local breweries and suppliers who we work with, such as Peakstones Brewery in Alton and Duke's Ales and Ciders from Cheddleton.
"We offer a 20p discount for real ale and ciders for CAMRA membership card holders, which we will be continuing. We are also part of the DES scheme for designated drivers, who drink for free if a party of four books for food."
Graham Brown, chairman of the Staffordshire Moorlands CAMRA Sub-Branch, said: "The Staffordshire Moorlands CAMRA Sub-Branch unanimously congratulate and commend all those who have contributed towards wining the Winter Pub of the Season and making this venue a 'must go' highlight for any tour around this part of the country."