THE best pubs and beers found in Oxford have been crowned for another year.

The city’s branch of the Campaign for Real Ale toasted its award winners at a ceremony at the St Aldates Tavern yesterday evening.

Naming the Mason's Arms in Headington the best pub within the city boundaries and the Brewery Tap in Abingdon the best town and village pub, the group said the occasion celebrated the most friendly, hospitable and good value drinking spots in Oxfordshire.

Oxford Mail:

Pete Flynn (L) with Chris Meeson, landlord of the Mason's Arms

Yabba Dabba Doo, brewed by Freeland-based Little Ox Brewery, was also recognised, being given the ‘beer of the festival’ award after coming top in a blind tasting test at last year’s Oxford Beer Festival.

Founder Ian Hemingway said it was the first time the tiny brewer’s ale has won any sort of recognition and he hoped it would help boost its profile.

PICTURES: Oxford beer festival 2018

He said: “It’s been a guest beer at the White Rabbit and the Gardeners Arms in Jericho and it’s served at the Oxbrew micro pub in Witney.

“It is a very hard market and we’ve struggled to get it in anywhere long term. There’s a lot of brewers for what is quite a small market, given the amount of tied houses where they are limited in what they can offer.

“This should help us get our name out there, it’ll open a few doors.”

Mr Hemingway said the brewery is planning to join forces with Oxbrew, based in Witney, to help share costs and resources, given the tough nature of the business.

For the Brewery Tap in Abingdon the award marked a second year at the top, having been named best in the towns and villages for 2018 as well.

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Landlord Matt Heritage, who has run the pub with his wife Jacquiline since 1998, said the pub was always trying to offer something different to stay ahead of the competition.

Despite being a tied house, he has negotiated a deal to allow it to only offer locally brewed ales and also offers American-style smokehouse food and live music events.

He said: “It is what the customers want to see. They live in Oxfordshire so want to see things made in Oxfordshire.

“The aim of the game is to get repeat customers and you have got to have the complete package to keep everyone happy. We feel we are offering things that no one else is doing.”

Despite being much-decorated already, the landlord of the Mason’s Arms in Headington, Chris Meeson, said he was ‘always surprised and delighted’ to be recognised by beer connoisseurs.

He said: “It is just fantastic. The competition gets stronger every year, there are so many brilliant pubs around.

“With the amount of pubs that have been lost, we are really lucky in Headington to have so many to choose from.

“When you get recognised by CAMRA, you get all the other local branches turning up from all over the country. Sometimes whole coach loads in the summer, it’s a really great community.”

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CAMRA chair Pete Flynn said a rigorous process is used to choose the winners with each pub’s ratings on the WhatPub app used to whittle down a shortlist before representatives from the group attend every pub to judge them against a set of criteria.

He said: “We do have a lot of fun doing it but it’s also an interesting process.

“To make it as one of the winners, you need to have a good mix of great beer first and foremost but also align with our values and cater for the needs of all pub goers.”