THE ALFRED Free House in Upper Hale has for the first time in its long history been crowned pub of the year by the Surrey and Hants Borders branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).

The family-run local, tucked away in a leafy residential area in Bishops Road, was described by judges as “popular with locals and visitors”, where “good conversation is the order of the day”.

But what really caught CAMRA members’ eye was its “unusual” choice of real ales.

“With more than 200 pubs to choose from, it wasn’t an easy task to pick a winner, but Alfred Free House is a worthy winner,” said branch chairman Kevin Travers.

“The award isn’t just about the excellent range of beers, but also about their high quality as well as the warm and friendly atmosphere at the pub.”

The branch will be presenting a certificate to mark the success when the pub reopens.

The pub thanked the branch, the community and its wider customer base for their “amazing support” – adding: “Let’s get through this situation and have a big party!”