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2nd November 2023

It’s a family affair

Oldham pub crowned the best in Greater Manchester

A pub created during the pandemic has risen in just three years to beat the best pubs in the region and judged Greater Manchester’s Pub of the Year.

Oldham’s Fox and Pine’s first months of trading were disrupted by restrictions. Despite this short life, judges drawn from the membership of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) comprehensively voted the town centre venue as the region’s Pub of the Year.

Owner Chris Riley has an extensive history of running pubs across the area, including the Welcome Inn in Ordsall and the Apple and Pear, Middleton. His previous pub was the huge Regal Moon in Rochdale town centre before looking to create his own vision. Together with wife Michelle, he set up Oldham Beer Company and found the empty premises on Greaves Street. Remarkably, the Fox and Pine follows close on their other bar, the Cob & Coal inside Tommyfield Market Hall winning the same award in 2021!

Ten handpumps serve a rotating choice, with many drawn from breweries within a 25-mile radius. Recent weeks have seen beers from Pictish, Marble, Small World, We Are Wolf and Kirkby Lonsdale. One handpump is dedicated to Draught Bass, a particular favourite of Chris – and his dad! Cider lovers are well catered for with a choice from producers Hecks and Harry’s. Chris also offers craft beer lovers a choice of five keg fonts with the best of local and national brews and even an ABK lager from the 700 year-old Bavarian brewery.

But judges mark more than just the choice and quality of drinks on offer. Adjudicators are drawn from across the region, although the local branch are not involved at this level. They look for a commitment to the local community, and whether the venues reflect the wider aims of CAMRA. A friendly welcome and knowledgeable bar staff also feature highly in their assessments.

Judges praised the pub’s support of the local community with several local charities supported. The pub is the headquarters of Yeds, Oldham Rugby League Club’s supporter group. Comments included “warm welcome, interesting decor, and community focused”, “an inclusive, welcoming feel”, and “plenty of events in the pub – music, open mic, regular quiz, chess club”. One judge even remarked it was “probably the best bar I’ve ever been in!”

In front of a packed pub, Chris said: “We’ve come a long way in a short time, and we’ve been supported by great staff and lots of lovely customers. It’s humbling to receive this award from CAMRA. There’s a lot of competition out there – plenty of great pubs – but they all need your support. Get out and enjoy them, forget about buying beer from supermarkets!” He also teased the supporters of Oldham Rugby League and Oldham Athletic with future news about special beers soon to land at the Fox and Pine.

CAMRA’s Regional Director Ralph Warrington was pleased to present the award to Chris (yesterday, Tuesday 31st October) He said: “We are blessed to have many excellent pubs and breweries in Greater Manchester. To to be judged the best reflects the hard work of publicans. Chris and Michelle have clearly found a winning combination of real ale and a warm welcome, blending the traditional and modern. Cheers to the Fox and Pine!”


Further information

David Rigby, Press officer, Greater Manchester CAMRA

07538 702875

Notes for editors

  1. There are almost 9,000 members of CAMRA in Greater Manchester spread across nine branches.
  2. Each branch decides its pub of the year and the regional winner is drawn from these. Judges visit each pub nominated, apart from their own branch winner. The runner-up in 2023 was the Brewery Bar in Horwich run by Blackedge brewery.
  3. Attached image shows Chris Riley of the Fox and Pine (left) receiving the award from Ralph Warrington (Regional Director, CAMRA).

Further information

David Rigby, Press officer, Greater Manchester CAMRA

07538 702875

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