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Hornchurch pub named best in London by CAMRA

The Hop Inn is one of more than 3,500 pubs across London (Credit: Andrew Conway)

A micropub in Hornchurch has been crowned the best pub in all of London. 

The Hop Inn, in North Street, was presented with the London Pub of the Year award by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) in December. 

They were put forward for the title after also winning the London Cider Pub of the Year award.

More than 50 undercover inspectors visited the establishment and judged them based on the quality of the beer and the range of drinks available. 

They also examined the warmth of the welcome they received, the knowledgeability of the staff and how clean and hygienic the pub was.

Co-owners Alison Taffs and Phil Cooke being presented with the award by Geoff Strawbridge (Credit: Andrew Conway)

Co-owners Alison Taffs and Phil Cooke launched The Hop Inn back in December 2019. 

They were inspired by Martin Hillier who was the first person to convert a very small shop in Kent into a micropub when licensing laws changed in the early 2000s.

Alison said they wanted to open a pub that “focused on getting back to conversation and really good drinks that people were going to enjoy”. 

She explained they don’t play loud music and discourage the use of phones to try and encourage people to talk to each other.

Phil said building the pub from scratch gave them complete control over the layout and design so they could make customers as comfortable as possible.

“When you sit in The Hop Inn you have fabulous drinks but also you have an environment that is comfortable, how you are seated is comfortable, it’s table service,” he added. 

“It is engineered to be a nice place to come have a nice drink and chat with friends and family.” 

The Hop Inn team (Credit: Andrew Conway)

Both owners praised their staff for impressing the inspectors whenever they could not be at the pub themselves. 

Alison said at the beginning of every shift their team taste all the drinks they have not already tried. 

“The first thing they’re doing is thinking about the drinks, how does it compare to this, how can I describe that to the customer, how can I make the customer feel really comfortable about what they are going to be drinking,” she explained. 

“It’s a formidable range of drinks to get their heads around from cider to beer to 70 plus gins to whiskeys to Belgium beers. They have to really want to do it.”  

Phil said the team “have won it for us effectively… we love them, they’re great”.  

The Hop Inn is officially the best pub in London (Credit: Andrew Conway)

Alison and Phil also thanked their regulars who have helped them stay open during the Covid pandemic. 

Phil said: “It is very hard to say how much we appreciate what our locals have done for us. 

“We have one lady who came every Sunday to buy a bottle of rosé. She could have bought that at Sainsbury’s or Co-op but what she wanted to do is come spend her money with us. 

“We have a lot of people like that who want to put money back into our business to keep us going.”

Alison and Phil live in Upminster Bridge and first met blending wine in France and Italy.

They were “thrilled” to win the award and to be recognised for their hard work. 

For more on this story, and the latest on our other local and national news, listen to Time 107.5FM

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