THE SPYWAY INN at Askerswell near Bridport has been named as the Campaign for Real Ale’s West Dorset Pub of the Year.
The free house has been owned for the last eight years by Kevin, Tim and Vivien Wilkes.
It’s now reckoned by local real ale drinkers to be the best of West Dorset’s 263 pubs. The Spyway is one of the very few pubs in Dorset to serve real ale by gravity – direct from the cask.
The West Dorset 2011 Pub of the Year certificate was presented to the Wilkes by CAMRA’s Rich Gabe at the Dorchester Beer Festival.
The Spyway now goes into CAMRA’s Regional Pub of the Year competition, against ten other pubs from East Dorset, Hampshire, Wiltshire, the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands.
Vivien and Kevin Wilkes briefly ran a pub in Worcestershire; son Tim was a newspaper advert designer. Looking for a new career and a move south, they saw an advert for The Spyway and were charmed.
“We love living here, the Dorset people are great and it’s a splendid place to live,” said Tim.
The building dates from at least 1705, when it was a house with a blacksmith’s shop next door. It became a pub in 1745 and when the forge closed in 1905, that was incorporated into the public house. Some original flagstones are still in the entrance lobby and behind the bar.
The name of Spyway is attributed to the 18th century smuggler Isaac Gulliver, who would watch for revenue men coming up the road towards his farm further up Eggardon Hill.
Otter Brewery’s Otter Bitter and Otter Ale are served at The Spyway.
Patrick McCaig of Otter Brewery said: “We are delighted for Tim and his family at The Spyway for winning the CAMRA West Dorset Pub of the Year.
“The attention that Tim has paid to the quality of cask ale dispense is commendable and a great example to others who pride themselves on their beer quality.
“Otter are delighted to have been part of that process and wish them all the best in the Regional finals.”
“The Spyway Inn is in an idyllic country location,” said West Dorset CAMRA Chairman Dave Harris.
“It’s not on any main road, nor is it very close to town.
“Visitors are made to feel very welcome and given clear information on which gravity dispensed ales are available. On all our visits during the year we have been impressed with the consistent quality and condition of the real ale being served.”
“We were overwhelmed when we heard about our winning the Pub of the Year award,” said the Wilkes family. “We always strived to win the top pub award and now need to maintain the consistency. It’s good for our customers too, they give us tremendous support.”