Real ale campaign group CAMRA has named a West Midlands pub as one of the best in the country.

The Jolly Crispin in Upper Gornal, near Dudley, is one of only 16 public houses singled out by the organisation today for the quality of its ale and its ambience.

But while praising the pub, CAMRA seized the opportunity to criticise regional brewing giants Greene King and Wolverhampton & Dudley as a "threat to drinkers' choice".

The 2006 edition of CAMRA's Good Beer Guide launched today says of The Jolly Crispin: "In the beer heaven of Lower and Upper Gornal and Sedgley, this is the brightest star".

It praises the nine constantly changing ales and "friendly staff" while highlighting the pub's "cosy front bar", tiny snug and " comfortable lounge".

The guide also approvingly notes that dogs are allowed throughout.

Owner Julie Rowe, aged 48, who took over the pub a couple of years ago with her partner Stuart Griffiths, aged 55, said she was delighted with the accolade.

"It means we have beaten Birmingham, Coventry, Stourbridge, Shropshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire," she said.

"I am hoping it will be good for business." Ms Rowe said the secret to success was in knowing your ales. It is all about the choice of beer. You have to have a good beer to start with. All we can do is deal with it when it arrives by affecting the temperature we store it and serve it.

"We have nine real ales on at any one time and they are constantly changing.

"If one goes we don't put the same one back, we put another one on."

The Jolly Crispin will now be entered into the final of the National Pub of the Year competition along with the other 15 pubs.

They include winners from Dorset, Kent, the West Pennines, Yorkshire and Essex.

Those in the know will not be so surprised to find a pub in Gornal area of the West Midlands praised in this way.

"In Gornal we have six pubs in the Good Pub Guide," said Ms Rowe.

"Within one mile of here you have eight pubs in the guide - six of them in Gornal. CAMRA describes it as a beer Mecca.

"You only have to look back the last few of years and a pub in this area has got in the top 16 quite frequently."

CAMRA members judge pubs throughout the year. As well as the quality of beer, they also look at architecture, history, food and facilities.

The organisation, started 34 years ago to preserve traditional pubs and small breweries, claimed Britons were rediscovering their taste for real ale with the variety of beers on sale at a 30-year high.

About 80 new breweries are listed in the 33rd edition of the beer guide, twice as many as last year.

It also lists about 500 "micro breweries" across the country producing up to 25,000 barrels of real ale per year.

Editor Roger Protz said: "The giant national breweries will tell you that people only want to drink lager but we know there are people who don't want to drink heavily hyped, over-promoted lager brands. They want beer with flavour and character." However, big brewers such as Greene King and Wolverhampton & Dudley, came under scathing attack.

"They run massive factories dedicated to producing plastic beer. Volumes and profits, rather than consumer choice and quality, are their watchwords," it said.

Greene King has recently closed the Ridley's brewery and bought Belhaven in Dunbar while W&D has acquired leading Cumbrian brewer Jennings of Cockermouth.

The overall winner of the competition will be announced during National Pubs Week in February.