Ale’s well that ends well for award-winning Peebles pub

Customers at the Bridge Inn in Peebles can be confident of having a barrel of fun once it rolls out its casks as it’s been given a prize in recognition of the quality of its beer.

Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 5:10 pm
Bridge Inn boss Nikki Cassidy and barman Hamish Crawford.

The Port Brae pub has won one of three real ale quality handed out annually by the Campaign for Real Ale’s Edinburgh and south-east Scotland branch.

It came out on top in the Borders, with the Exchange bar, alias Dalton’s, in Hawick as runner-up.

It missed out on the overall branch prize, however, as that went to its winner for Edinburgh, the Cask and Barrel (Southside) in the city’s West Preston Street.

The Exchange Bar in Hawick.

This year’s other winner, for Lothian, was the Ducks Inn at Aberlady in East Lothian.

This is the first time the Bridge Inn has won the branch’s beer quality award in the five years it’s been going so manager Nikki Cassidy is delighted to have added a new trophy to its ever-expanding array of accolades.

“It’s the first time we’ve won the beer quality award, and we feel great about that as it’s decided by customers and it’s the customers that are most important,” said the 41-year-old, boss of the pub for the last seven years.

The Bridge Inn has four beers on at any given time, the only ever-present being Jarl, brewed by Fyne Ales in Argyll and Bute.

Nikki Cassidy, fourth from left, with regulars at the Bridge Inn in Peebles.

Regional breweries such as Broughton Ales and Born in the Borders near Ancrum are regularly represented too.

“We go through 12 to 20 casks a week and that’s important for quality as if we’re always selling them, they’re always getting changed,” said Nikki.

“Another point is that if we’re always selling them, that must mean they’re good as people obviously like them.”

According to Nikki, credit for the quality of the pub’s beer goes to all its seven staff as well as her – the others being Peter Orr, Hamish Crawford, Robbie Renwick, Rachael Tatler, Carla Ramsay, Reuben Burgess and Emily Dodds – as they all take turns looking after its cellar.

“All our staff are trained in looking after the cellar, so they all know what to do,” she said.

“All of our staff are really knowledgeable.”

The previous winners of the quality award for the Borders – judged on the basis of scores submitted by the branch’s 1,200 members for the 370 pubs in their patch selling real ale – were the Plough Inn in Leitholm, Burt’s Hotel in Melrose, Rutherfords in Kelso and the Exchange Bar.

Though this is the first time the Bridge Inn, owned by Fife-based Kingdom Taverns, has won that particular award, it’s no stranger to accolades.

The pub, also known as the Trust and previously called the Tweedside Arms, was named by the branch as its pub of 2018 for the Borders in February, that being the third time in four years it had taken that title.

It went on to be named for the second time as Camra’s pub of the year for Scotland and Northern Ireland in September, having previously claimed that honour for 2017.

It’s one of 18 pubs in the Borders featured in Camra’s 2020 Good Beer Guide, the others including St Ronan’s Hotel and the Traquair Arms at Innerleithen, the Cobbles and Rutherfords in Kelso, Earlston’s Red Lion, the Horseshoe Inn at Eddleston, the Ladhope Inn in Galashiels, Morebattle’s Templehall Hotel, the Craw at Auchencrow, the Border at Kirk Yetholm and Mountbenger’s Gordon Arms, as well as the Exchange Bar and Burt’s Hotel.