REAL ale is proving the real deal for New Mill publicans Phillip and Susan Craner.

It is helping to increase trade - and it has won them an award for business excellence.

The couple took over the Sycamore on New Mill Road seven years ago, introducing a wider selection of cask ales to whet the appetite of customers.

Their efforts to serve the perfect pint have been rewarded after the pub won a regional prize for cask excellence in a scheme organised by national pub operating company Avebury Taverns.

"The secret to our success is simple," said Phillip, who has 17 years' experience in the pub industry.

"You need to keep a close eye on your pipes, ensuring they are clear so the beer runs smoothly from barrel to pump. And you have to offer a variety of ales."

Six cask ales are on sale at any one time and are constantly swapped around.

Phillip added: "This helps our food trade, because people come in for a drink and order something to eat to go with it.

"It's proving a good way of building business."

John Lynsdale, business development manager for Avebury Taverns, said: "Phillip and Susan are doing a fantastic job at the Sycamore.

"They have unrivalled experience in serving quality cask ale and are worthy winners of Avebury Taverns' regional cask excellence title."