A HIGH flying hostelry established less than 18 months-ago has been named best pub in Westmorland, bucking serious national declines in the industry.

Real ale champions CAMRA hailed The Factory Tap in Kendal as a ‘hotshot innovation’ where old pub values meet the best in beer and bonhomie.

At a time when 27 pubs a week are closing across the country, the award is testimony to owner and creator Ronnie Mullin, who set out to deliver ‘an atmosphere not seen before in the town.’

“I wanted a cross between a country inn and city centre bar where customers would be comfortable by themselves, in couples, or groups,” he said. “There are no gimmicks here, no music or slot machines, just great beer in cosy, comfortable surroundings.”

Part of Kendal’s dynamic, creative Factory hub, it is housed in the old gatehouse to Goodacres’ former Aynam Road carpet works. The Tap employs two full-time staff, seven part-timers and is currently selling beer from nine cask ale hand-pulls and four lines of keg.

It is not unusual for Ronnie to travel the country collecting the finest brews from artisan producers. As co-founder and former partner in Bowness Bay Brewing, he knows what connoisseurs are looking for.

“We have a loyal following and new customers are finding us every week,” he said “It would be great if we could get through to the national CAMRA finals. I’m confident we’ve got what it takes.

“We’ve always got our eyes on the next step and are hopefully taking over the adjoining old weavers’ building, doubling our size and introducing speciality food in keeping with the beer.”

The Tap opened in October 2015 to long queues and enthusiastic support. When Storm Desmond hit seven weeks later the pub was under three feet of water. Three days later it was back in business.

Tables have been made from flood salvaged floorboards and bar stools were once old iron tractor seats. In the garden hops are growing for a second season for specially developed Swan Verdi, brewed 50 yards away by Bowness Bay Brewing.

Ronnie explained: “We went for a brew using green crops where hops were added to the copper at the end of the process. It’s very, very good.

“A big pull is Kendal landlord legend, Les Brown. Without him, The Tap wouldn’t be where it is today.”

Westmorland CAMRA vice chair, Marilyn Molloy, said The Tap deserved to be named area Pub of the Year, describing it as a ‘hot shot innovation’

She added: “We wish Ronnie and the team all the best as they go forward in the regional rounds.”