Drinks award on the cards for Cheltenham's only independent ale shop
ALE shop owners have the Champagne on ice ahead of a prestigious national awards ceremony today.
Bosses of Fairview-based Favourite Beers are heading to London for the Drinks Retailing Awards.
The Hewlett Road business is down to the last three in the Independent Beer Retailer of the Year category.
Owner Leigh Norwood said: "We are just chuffed to be there because, when we were nominated, we had only been open eight months.
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"Just getting there is great for us at this stage. Anything extra is a bonus.
"Business has been very difficult and last summer we were at the point of thinking 'have we got a business here'.
"But when something like this comes along it makes you realise you're doing OK."
The shop's nomination came after a first year of success as the only independent off-licence in town.
Mr Norwood set up the business in October 2010 after deciding to pursue his passion for ale as a career. Since opening, the shop has hosted several popular events, including a tasting with renowned ale expert Roger Protz.
And it was honoured by Cheltenham-based Festival Brewery, which made a special edition called Ruby after Mr Norwood's dog.
As part of the day out, Mr Norwood and his staff will visit Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood for tea in the House of Commons. Real ale fans in the town wished the shop well ahead of the trip.
Gloucestershire Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) chairman Andrew Frape said: "They certainly have a lot of fans and I know quite a few Camra members go there on a regular basis.
"They have done a good job selling different beers and having tasting evenings.
"He knows his beer and has good contacts in the industry.
"A lot of hard work has gone into the shop so he's done a good trade and I can see why the shop has been noticed."
The shop boasts more than 500 varieties of drink, including ales from across the world and a selection of Belgian beers.
Regular customer Oli Burroughs, of Battledown, said: "It's a great shop that sells excellent ale and fully deserves to win this title."