The owner of an Alfriston free house says her team is ‘completely flabbergasted’ it has been crowned rural pub of the year in a consumer organisation’s competition.
Ye Olde Smugglers Inne, in Waterloo Square, has been awarded the title from the South East Sussex branch of Campaign for Real Ale.
Speaking of the news Lisa Thompson, who has owned the pub for about four years, said: “We were over the moon actually, completely flabbergasted and surprised because it’s not something you can put yourself forward for.”
She added: “We feel it’s quite an achievement and we are really proud of it.”
At the start of the year, the South East Sussex CAMRA selected 26 pubs in its area for the organisation’s national Good Beer Guide.
From those 26, a shortlist was drawn up for its Pub of the Year competition.
The town pub The Tower, in St Leonards, won, with Eastbourne’s The Hurst Arms crowned runner-up and Ye Olde Smugglers Inne named best country pub.
Members are said to have taken into account the pub’s beer, food on offer, ambience and community work.
Chairman of the CAMRA branch Peter Adams presented the pub with the award on October 29.
Lisa, who runs the free house with a ‘small team’, including head chef Darren Sandalls, barman Barry Flannegan and with help from her mum and dad, says the framed certificate is ‘in pride of place’ behind the bar.
“We try to keep it very, very local,” Lisa added on the ales available.
Among others, there is beer from Harvey’s Brewery, in Lewes, Firle’s Burning Sky Brewery and the Long Man Brewery, in Polegate. SeaCider Sussex, produced in Ditchling, is also served.
Mr Flannegan, who has worked at the pub for about three-and-a-half years, said that he was ‘really, really delighted’ with the news.
He said: “It’s come as a complete surprise.”
Independent organisation CAMRA was founded in 1971 and promotes real ale and cider and traditional pubs.
The South East Sussex branch covers the area of the coastal strip from the Cuckmere River to the Kent border beyond Camber, in the Rother district, up to a line including Hailsham and Robertsbridge to the north.