Lostock Ale in Hope Terrace has been named Best Pub of the Season 2021 in the North-West after being visited by a CAMRA judge last year. Adrian Smith, regional chairman, presented the award to Preston landlord Ray McLaughlin on Thursday.
Commenting on the moment he discovered he had landed the prize, Ray (55) said: "The CAMRA secretary approached me in October and we talked about the history of the pub. A month later, he came back and said he had some good news. We'd been put down for Best Pub of the Season.
"I was elated. It was unexpected - out-of-the-blue. There are lots of micropubs so we had a lot of competition. Everyone is doing something a bit different and I didn't think I was doing anything special.
"The award is not just about real ale but the venue's surroundings, how you interact with the public, decoration, range of beers. It has to have the complete package. It's a good award to have as it's good recognition for what I set out to do."
Ray said: "When I opened up I thought there was an opportunity for a micropub in the area as no pub specifically sells cask ale as its main line. We have no music, no games, but we cater to a wide range of people. It was a risk because there was no blueprint.
"It's been a tough time but we're still here and if we can survive the pandemic then we can survive anything. Not many businesses have survived as many have been shut down."
Commenting on the popularity of micropubs, he added: "They are a growing trend. For every micropub, there is a new microbrewery. It's a good time for real ale. Even if we were to close, there will always be a need for a micropub in Lostock Hall. The demand's there."
And Ray refuses to rest on his laurels, having updated the venue with new carpets, pictures and beer lines, and saying: "We're keeping it fresh. You have to stay ahead of the game and put money back into it."
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