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CAMRA reveals 2023 National Pub of the Year finalists

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has revealed the four finalists for its National Pub of the Year competition, with last year’s winner in the running to retain the title.

National Pub of the Year coordinator Andrea Briers said: “I am delighted to announce the finalists in our National Pub of the Year competition. Each pub holds a special place in their communities and all offer something unique to their customers. Pubs across the UK have faced many challenges, so it is wonderful to be able to recognise and celebrate the amazing pubs we have and to see them thrive.”

“It was a very difficult job this year to whittle entries down to our fabulous four,” Briers continued. “Each finalist was scored against a range of criteria with all strongly demonstrating what a good pub should be; warm, welcoming, amazing service – and all serving a fantastic range of beers. I look forward to the next phase as they enter the final stage of their journey and compete to be crowned the best pub in the UK.”

The four pubs up for the title are:

Nelson Arms, Tonbridge, Kent

Situated near the railway station, this pub’s range of six to eight beers and 15 real ciders is certain to provide some much-needed motivation for the commute home. Landlord Matthew Rudd shared how it nearly became another pub casualty: “Naturally we’re delighted to reach the final of CAMRA’s 2023 Pub of the Year competition. It’s great for our customers, the team and the community as a whole. But most importantly it’s great for the Barden Residents Association, who in 2018 after a year of closure put an Asset of Community Value (ACV) on the pub and fought off the threat of redevelopment.”

Trafalgar Hotel, Ramsey, Isle of Man

The only non-English finalist (but the second named in honour of Lord Nelson), Trafalgar Hotel overlooks the harbour and is a popular spot during the TT motorbike race. Rob Storey and Andy Pegge, of owner Odin Brewery, said: “With Steph the landlady and Nikki her daughter, who together run the Traf, we put a lot of effort into the cellar and beer management. They run a great team, and we have very little staff turnover.”

The Beer Engine, Skipton, Yorkshire

Powering into the final four, this micro pub continues to punch above its weight, having expanded its drinks offering slightly last year with the addition of craft keg fonts. Adam Davies and Steven Gregory, directors at The Beer Engine, said: “When we were voted Branch Pub of the Year for our area [in August], we were so happy to get that accolade, and it had never even crossed our minds that we might get further in the competition. We just do what we do: serve a range of beer from breweries that we’d love to see if we walked into a pub! That combined with a lovely crowd, our fabulous staff, great conversation and a fantastic atmosphere makes The Beer Engine what it is.”

Tamworth Tap, Tamworth, West Midlands

The outright winner of the 2022 contest, Tamworth Tap has a shot at doing it twice in a row. With eight hand pulls and a range of snacks, it certainly has two of the ingredients of a great boozer. John Rowling, pubs officer of the Lichfield Sutton & Tamworth CAMRA Branch,  said: “It’s obviously wonderful news that the Tap is once again in the final four – it will be a nail-biting time while we wait to see who comes out on top! Last year’s top spot was a marvellous tribute to the passion and effort that owners George and Louise [Greenaway, owners] show in making their pub such a fantastic, community-centred place.”

Rowling previously described it as the “jewel in Tamworth’s crown,” but heavy is the head that wears that crown.

The overall winner will be announced in January 2024.

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