RON Stephenson’s words will be music to the ears of real ale lovers across Essex.

Ron, landlord of the Old Lifeboat House, in Clacton, says: “Real ales are not that fattening.

“There is not a lot of sugar in them and it is a much more healthier option than other alcohol – real ales are pure.”

Saying that it is hard to imagine that is the reason more drinkers have been turning to traditional real ales in the last few years.

He says: “A lot of women are trying real ales, and young men too. It is traditionally an older person’s drink but new people are warming to it and discovering it again so it is becoming popular again.

“It’s like fine wines. Real ales taste different depending on which part of the country they come from.”

Ron admits he is a fan of real ales too and is passionate about what he serves and how he serves it.

“Real ales are alive, just about. When you get them in from the brewery you have to let it breathe for a day.

“Then you tap it up with a rubber hammer and leave it another five or six hours before you attach the pumping system.

“If the ale runs clear we will serve it. But it has to be served at between 10 to 14 degrees, much warmer than lagers,” explains Ron, 60, who is originally from Glasgow.

He laughs when talk of the weather comes up.

He says: “It’s not cold here. It’s cold where I am from and when my mother visits she thinks it is paradise, even in the winter.

“The snow up there might look nice but it’s not when there’s a blizzard – and up there they don’t close the schools like they do here.

“You still have to go otherwise the schools would be closed most of the winter!”

Ron has been in catering all of his working life, starting in Scotland as a youngster and becoming head chef for an insurance firm.

He bought his first pub in Lincolnshire but gave it up as his children were still too young.

He moved to Clacton in 1987, working at the catering college that is now part of Colchester Institute, then moved onto Clacton County High School as catering manager for ten years where he cooked up 1,000 meals a day.

His wife ran the Stoner Hotel in Clacton for ten years before the couple bought the Old Lifeboat House five years ago.

Since then Ron has worked with Camra (Campaign for Real Ale) in developing its range of real ales and has also appeared in its book, which has increased custom.

Ron, who runs the pub with his son, Noel, 30, says: “It’s taken a lot of experience to understand what I do now.

“We decided we wanted to be a real ale pub.”

As well as good quality, wellkept real ales Ron says the welcoming atmosphere also keeps people loyal to the pub.

He says: “We make people feel at home when they come here.

“This is just a little tiny pub but the nicer you are to people, the more likely it is they will visit you again.”

But while the pub is doing well, it is not easy.

Ron says: “I am conscious of costs these days. While we do have occasional staff, the days where the publican is sitting at the bar chatting to customers and having a drink with them, are gone. I remember those days.”

Despite coming from a catering background, Ron only serves food one day a week. It was a conscious decision made to ensure they get the pub and drinks part right before venturing onto food.

He explains: “We are having a £15,000 refurbishment next year and we will probably start doing food a lot more then.”