Bar owner cries as he retains best pub award after two ‘horrendous’ years


The Ayrshire pub owner is proud to have won an award that is close to his heart, for the fourth year in a row.

Weston Tavern boss John Cairns admits he cried when he found out his local scooped East Ayrshire Pub of the Year in the Campaign for Real Ale Awards (CAMRA).

John says his passion for real beer comes from his father, who loves to drink it, and he thinks that’s why he goes the extra mile to compete for these awards.

He considers his pub to be the only one north of Dumfries that sells the popular Theakston English ale on tap, and drives himself to his Yorkshire brewery to pick it up.

John told the Kilmarnock Standard: “It’s four years in a row now that I’ve won the award, the first year was with the Braehead Bar with the Weston the second, and now the Weston has won it the last three.

John Cairns, owner of The Weston Tavern, receives the award from Alex Burt of A&W CAMRA
John Cairns, owner of The Weston Tavern, receives the award from Alex Burt of A&W CAMRA

“It’s good to be in and around these awards again, it’s a great feeling and it brings tears to my eyes.

“I don’t cry much, but the amount of discomfort and pain we’ve had to go through during the pandemic, winning these awards makes it all worth it.

“It’s a huge relief, the last two years have been horrible.

“As I have said before, at one point my business was a step forward and now we are starting to get back on track.

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“On Monday it was great to be able to see people in the bar again, it was a good feeling, we are finally getting somewhere.

Weston Tavern, Kilmaurs
Weston Tavern, Kilmaurs

“There are no words to describe what it is like when you are behind the bar and the regulars are sitting there again.

“Now it’s back like this, you get all the banter and friendship, instead of sitting six feet apart at tables.”

He added: “I am passionate about real beers, it all comes from my dad, he loves real beer.

“It is different from everything else, you have to take care of it.

“You have to take care of the barrel in the basement, make sure it doesn’t get bumped or bumped.

“Once the keg is on, you have to maintain it, you only have five to seven days once it is connected because it is a live fermentation beer and it does not use gases.

“My customers like a good beer and they like to know that they are drinking a good beer.

“We use many Scottish suppliers for one-hand-pump beers, and our second-hand-pump is picked up by us in England.

“We are the only pub north of Dumfries that stocks product from Theakston, who is one of the main real ale brewers there, he is a family owned brewer.

“When we went we bought a wooden keg and from what I’m told it’s the first time a wooden keg has been sold in Ayrshire in over 50 years.”

The Weston Tavern will now go toe-to-toe for Ayrshire & Wigtown’s coveted CAMRA gong.

They will face the winners from South Ayrshire, Glen Park Hotel in Ayr, the winners from North Ayrshire, Twa Dugs in West Kilbride and The Grapes Inn in Wigtown, with the winner to be announced in April.

John acknowledges that the popularity of real beer is on the rise, and says that the food his bar sells complements the drink.

He said: “Now it’s more popular on the bar side, a lot of the regulars have switched to draft beers.

“A lot of that is down to price points, since Brexit a lot of draft prices have gone up because of their foreign hops and the gases that are used.

“But with draft beers it’s UK hops and you don’t have the cost of petrol.

“But most of our draft beer is sold with food, it goes very well with the meals we serve.

“That went into the prize, the food complements the beers, so it increases the number of people enjoying them.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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