Pints mean points for Borders hotel given award for quality quaffing

Pat Hanson, chairman of Camra's Edinburgh and south east Scotland branch, presenting a beer quality certificate to Nick Henderson, owner of Burt's Hotel in Melrose.
Pat Hanson, chairman of Camra's Edinburgh and south east Scotland branch, presenting a beer quality certificate to Nick Henderson, owner of Burt's Hotel in Melrose.
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A Melrose hotel is celebrating after being judged the real deal, having been presented with an award for serving the best beer in the Lothians or Borders.

Burt’s Hotel has been assessed as serving the best pint in its patch by the Edinburgh and south east Scotland branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) branch, and its chairman, Pat Hanson, has now handed over its 2017 real ale quality award.

Pat Hanson, chairman of Camra's Edinburgh and south east Scotland branch, presenting a beer quality certificate to Nick Henderson, owner of Burt's Hotel in Melrose.

Pat Hanson, chairman of Camra's Edinburgh and south east Scotland branch, presenting a beer quality certificate to Nick Henderson, owner of Burt's Hotel in Melrose.

That accolade follows branch members testing tipples in 400 pubs far and wide – including Edinburgh, East Lothian and West Lothian as well as the Borders – and scoring them on the quality of quaffing available.

Following that year-long quest for quality quaffing, Burt’s Hotel came out on top for its average score not only for the Borders but for the branch’s entire patch.

Proprietor Nick Henderson said: “We are delighted with this recognition of our commitment to serving a range of quality real ales, which we have been doing now for 25 years.

“It’s quite an undertaking – it does take quite a bit of time and effort – so we’re really pleased to have got it just right.”

The bar at the Market Square hotel usually has two local ales on tap, from the likes of Tempest Brewing Co at Tweedbank or the Born in the Borders brewery at Lanton Mill, near Jedburgh, as well as an English bitter such as Timothy Taylor’s Landlord, from Keighley in West Yorkshire.

“We’re served very well by breweries in the Borders,” Nick said.

“There are six or seven local brewers now, and the local beers tend to be very popular.”

Recent favourites among Burt’s customers have included Foxy Blonde from Born in the Borders.

The hotel, formerly Anderson’s Temperance Hotel, was renamed in 1926 after being taken over by Frederick Burt.

It has been run by Mr Henderson’s family since 1971, originally by his parents Graham and Anne Henderson and latterly by him and his wife Trish.

Its 2017 real ale quality award is just the latest in a long lines of accolade to come its way, having been named by the Good Pub Guide as the best in Scotland for eating out for the last four years on the trot and five times overall.

“The cask ales go hand in hand with the food offering, the bar meals and pub food, so it is nice to have that side of it recognised too,” Nick added.

The Plough Inn at Leitholm, near Coldstream, was named as runner-up for the Camra quality award in the Borders for the second year running, having been pipped to the post last year by the Exchange Bar in Hawick, also known as Dalton’s.

It has two real ales on cask at any time, one also always being from Born in the Borders.

Co-proprietor David McLean is over the moon to have come second best in consecutive years despite only having been running for the pub for two years, saying: “We’re absolutely delighted.

“It’s all down to our customers voting for our beers.

“We’re amazed to have got this accolade twice in two years.”

The Roseburn Bar scored the highest for beer quality in Edinburgh this time round, and the Levenhall Arms at Musselburgh was judged to be the best in the Lothians.