Discover Rutland member, The Olive Branch in Clipsham has been named as The Good Pub Guide’s Pub of the Year for 2021.
The Guide, which was published today, says: “In this most difficult of years, we are delighted to award Pub of the Year 2021 to The Olive Branch in Clipsham, Rutland. To compete in the Pub of the Year category a pub has to have unanimous enthusiasm from all readers on all aspects of its business – it has to be top of its game and The Olive Branch is most definitely that. It’s a really special place for a drink, a meal or an overnight stay. It’s a perennially successful inn which attracts a deservedly loyal following from both near and far, and will celebrate its 21st anniversary on December 12.”
It’s not the first time a Rutland pub has been awarded by the Guide, which rates pubs up and down the country every year. The Grainstore Brewery Tap in Oakham has been named Own Brew Pub of the Year five times.
The Olive Branch is a small village pub in England’s smallest county. Three friends bought it in 1999 and, with the help of family and villagers, rescued what was then a closed pub from an uncertain fate. Since then, The Olive Branch has achieved many accolades, including the same Pub of the Year title in 2014.
Co-founder and MD of The Olive Branch Ben Jones, who heads the marketing committee at Discover Rutland, said: “What brilliant news to receive on our 21st anniversary at the end of this incredibly challenging year. We first opened on December 12, 1999, with a village Christmas party.
“A pub is about the whole experience – the beer, the wine, the food and, above all, the atmosphere. Right now, due to Covid and these restrictions, we aren’t really a pub. We aren’t able to welcome all; we aren’t able to enjoy a drink and some local gossip at the bar. However, this award means so much to us because it rewards the whole team at the end of an unbelievably tough year. Every single one of them has played their part in this success.”
The team at The Olive Branch has been keeping busy in lockdown by clocking up 1000km which they documented through their Instagram account. Their accolades also include being named in the Top 50 Gastropubs of 2020 and being named Editor’s Choice 2019 in the Good Hotel Guide. It was one of the first pubs to win a Michelin Star in 2002.
Assessing where the pub industry finds itself at the end of 2020, Ben added: “We’ve been lucky. We are in a rural location near open fields. We have space to socially distance, we have an amazing team and wonderfully loyal and supportive customers. We were nearly full throughout the summer, yet 2020 has still been a battle for survival for us and December will be our worst in 21 years. Many others less fortunate than us will not make it. More help is needed. The £1,000 for wet-led pubs is pitiful and the government must find more support for our industry. Without it, the Good Pub Guide may well be half its size next year and the true local will be extinct.”
Will you be supporting our Rutland pubs in 2021 and beyond?