The Salutation- Town Centre Pub of the Season
“Without the cask there’s no pub” is a message all CAMRA members will agree with. It’s also the rule Sue Bee, licensee of the Salutation, applies to running her pub. So it’s no surprise that her pub, the Salutation, has once again won our Doncaster Pub of the Season award.
In winning this award, Sue is following a family tradition. The Salutation last won it three years ago when Sue’s daughter Gayle was the licensee and Sue was working for her. Now the roles have been reversed by what Sue calls the “mother-daughter tag team”.
The Salutation is one of Doncaster’s oldest and most popular pubs. Situated on South Parade, it has been in its present location since 1778, and was at one time a coaching inn when the Great North Road passed through the centre of town. The pub has a long and varied history which will merit an article of its own in a future issue of Donny Drinker. Sue hopes to one day research it in detail when she finally has the time.
In the meantime though, Sue is fully occupied running the pub, and the first thing which comes across on meeting her is her absolute belief in cask ale and its role in pubs. Sue describes the Salutation as “a constant beer festival” and no wonder. Six cask beers are available at all times in a pub which turns over 20 barrels in a typical week. Black Sheep Bitter is the one constant beer in a range which usually features two dark beers, two light or pale ones and one session ale.
A wide range of breweries are featured too. When I visited the pub to research this article, I was given a tour of the cellar where ales from smaller breweries such as Titanic were ranged alongside more established names such as Adnams and Everards. “Our most popular beers are those from bigger breweries like Adnams and Everards,” says Sue. “Our customers have confidence in them. But some of the local micros like Thorne are proving popular too”.
I can’t mention the cellar without congratulating Sue and her staff on their recent success in winning the Innserve Regional Cellar of the Year Award. CAMRA also chose the Salutation’s function room as the venue for this summer’s Yorkshire Regional Meeting. And of course, it’s the traditional venue for our branch’s Annual General Meeting.
Sue believes in running a traditional pub without gimmicks. Food is served all day every day and sometimes there’s live music. One of her regular features over the past couple of years has been a succession of 'Meet the Brewer' evenings at which customers learned about the brewing process from a whole range of familiar names. Now renamed “An Evening With…” breweries such as Saltaire and Fuller’s are lined up to come and explain the stories behind their products. As Sue explains “Our customers have now heard about how beer is brewed many times. We thought they might like to hear the stories behind the breweries instead”.
Haxey Gate Inn - District Pub of the Season
It’s a mile from the nearest village and no buses stop there. There isn’t even a footpath along the road leading to it. Despite all these obstacles, it’s a successful pub which has just won our Doncaster District Pub of the Season Winter award. Congratulations to the Haxey Gate Inn and its licensees, Mark and Lynne Mason.
For those who don’t know it, the Haxey Gate Inn is situated on the A161 between Graizelound and Misterton, just inside Nottinghamshire and about 200 metres outside Doncaster and District CAMRA’s branch area. It’s only the second time an ‘out of area’ pub has won one of our awards. However, we felt this pub is a neglected gem which deserves recognition.
Although it isn’t easy to get there, the Haxey Gate has a lot going for it. Situated by the River Idle and the nearby Misterton Golf Course, it’s popular with anglers and golfers alike. “We serve as the unofficial club house for the golf course and Haxey Quays Caravan Park” says Mark. The pub has an excellent reputation for good quality meals which are served all day. Among other things, it provides breakfast for the Boggins on Haxey Hood Day. The pub also offers accommodation in the form of eight en-suite letting bedrooms.
Of course, the reason for our award is the beer and this is something Mark and Lynne have promoted solidly ever since they took over in 2007. Four cask ales are always available, with at least one from Bateman’s of Wainfleet, Lincolnshire always on offer. Mark gives two reasons for this: “When we first arrived, Bateman’s really looked after us as lease holders at our first pub, the Crooked Billet at Owston Ferry. They gave us a lot of help with pumps and other equipment. I also think it’s important that a pub should have one regular beer”.
Over the last four years the Haxey Gate Inn has been a showcase for Bateman’s ales. At various times the entire range has featured – and always in good condition. There has also been an interesting range of ales from micro breweries, thanks in part to Idle Brewery’s Brian Cooper and his extensive contacts. It’s a good advert for CAMRA’s LocAle policy, too, as local micros are often featured. Mark and Lynne’s policy is to cater for all tastes so the beer range always includes one dark beer, one light one and a seasonal ale.
The Haxey Gate has held successful beer festivals over the last two August Bank Holidays. The pub’s location proved no barrier to drinkers who made sure all the featured ales sold out. In fact, at the time of writing, 315 different cask ales have been available at the Haxey Gate Inn since Mark and Lynne arrived. It’s surprising that this pub hasn’t yet featured in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide but we hope that this award will make up for that.