Ever since I visited The Rat Race Ale House on the platform of Hartlepool Railway Station I have been enamoured with micropubs. I find that, by consequence of their size, people end up enjoying an evening with folks that they would never have encountered had the building afforded them the luxury of space to sit several tables apart. They therefore make for convivial places, and our November 2018 POTM winner is, as a micropub itself, no exception. The Autumn of 2016 saw long-time friends, Al and Charlie, open The Bar Stewards as a ‘pop-up pub’ in the already beer-dense area of Kelham Island. Temporary events licenses meant they could open on a limited number of weekends while they awaited the paperwork that would transform their enterprise into a permanent addition to the area’s public houses; a noble aim that was to become a reality in July 2017. The idea was always simple. Serve excellent beer and, in the words of Bill and Ted while on their trans-dimensional peregrinations, be excellent to each other. The popularity of this approach has seen a provision of four hand-pulls plus cider boxes expand to include six keg beer lines, and more recently, voluminous fridge space for on/off-sale cans and bottles. It is far from uncommon to see cask appearances made by the likes of Arbor, Tiny Rebel, Bristol Beer Factory, Great Heck, Abbeydale and North Riding, while keg beers are frequently seen from, inter alia, Verdant, Cloudwater, Northern Monk, Deya, Garage, Unity, Loka Polly, Magic Rock and Howling Hops. It is also clear that so much more lies in store for this successful micro. Indeed, just this summer saw the opening up of their outdoor space at the rear of the pub, an area which has been used to provide yet more sumptuous beers by setting up their mobile bar for special events. So here’s to another thoroughly deserving POTM winner. I have been an ardent supporter of this pub from day one and eagerly look forward to seeing The Bar Stewards continue to grow from strength to strength. Truly, these are fine years for a beer enthusiast to be alive. Patrick Johnson Join us at the Bar Stewards on Tuesday 13 November for the presentation of the award (and, of course, to enjoy a fine ale or two). We will be arriving from around 8pm onwards for a presentation at 9pm.