March 2, 2017 by Kay Byrne
The Queens Hotel in Swansea’s maritime quarter has been announced Swansea Camra’s Pub of the Year 2017.
The corner pub that’s famous for its warm welcome, notorious past and perfect pint of Old Peculier, has been run by Gary Owen and his staff for the past 15 years.
It has fans all over the world, who were delighted to hear of the pub’s success. Musician Cerys Matthews tweeted: “Swansea Camra, well-chosen and deserved. Congratulations all round. Best Guinness for miles.”
Gary said: “I’m delighted to think that Camra members consider us worthy of this accolade. It’s a real boost to us.”
With four hand pumps – two of them permanently occupied by Theakston’s best bitter and Old Peculier, the other two given over to constantly changing guest beers – there is always a wide choice of ale styles at the pub.
Said Gary: “I’m not an advocate of craft ale. To me real ale is cask ale. Craft beers can be interesting but at the end of the day they are still keg beers.”
Gary says he has seen a decline in lager sales over the past few months but Old Peculier – a strong, rich, dark ale – is becoming more and more popular.
“The amount we sell has doubled over the last five or six years,” he said.
That’s good news for fans of traditional cask ales.
Swansea Camra chairman Paul James said: “The Queens Hotel fully deserves this award. In a changing world, the Queens is a constant – unpretentious, with a warm welcome from Gary and the staff, traditional home-cooked lunches and, importantly, guaranteed top quality ales. My personal favourite tipple is Theakston’s Old Peculier, which is always available. I am aware that visitors enjoy seeking out the pub and invariably return when in Swansea.”
Visitors to the Queens always enjoy hearing about its colourful past. The 1892 pub, which was once in the heart of Swansea’s docklands, was a notorious brothel where ladies of the night were said to display their fees on the soles of their shoes!
Until a few years ago one entrance to the pub was guarded by a 9ft stuffed bear for more than a hundred years. That has now sadly met its demise.
Events officer Sara Morgan said: “The pub is a true local, situated close to the city centre, and is popular with locals and visitors alike. It is testimony of its high rating by branch members that The Queens Hotel has been a regular contender for the pub of the year award and is a previous winner.
“Not only does the pub serve consistently good quality ales and food, but it has a strong community focus. The landlord was instrumental in setting up the city’s annual charity fund-raising boules tournament in the nearby marina area, which is attended by the Lord Mayor, and the pub is also one of the venues for the fringe festival of the Swansea International Jazz Festival.”
In a separate vote, members of the Neath Port Talbot sub branch chose The Pontardawe Inn as their Pub of the Year, with runners up The Ancient Briton at Pen y Cae and The Wern Fawr at Ystalyfera. They also named the Ancient Briton their cider pub of the year.
Congratulations to all.