The pubs will now have a chance to compete for the National Pub of the Year title.
The top four pubs are the Nelson Arms in Tonbridge, Kent, the Tamworth Tap in Tamworth, West Midlands, the Trafalgar Hotel, Ramsey, Isle of Man, and the Beer Engine in Skipton, Yorkshire.
All the pubs in the competition are selected by CAMRA volunteers and judged on their atmosphere, décor, welcome, service, value for money, customer mix and most importantly – quality of beer. The overall winner will be announced in January 2024.
National Pub of the Year coordinator Andrea Briers said each pub held a “special place” in their communities and offered something unique to customers.
She added: It was a very difficult job this year to whittle entries down to our fabulous four. 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.”
The Tonbridge Arms has a range of six to eight beers across a range of styles representing national and local independent breweries, as well as up to 15 real ciders and craft key beers.
The site’s owner Matthew Rudd said: “Naturally we’re delighted to reach the final of CAMRA’s 2023 Pub of the Year competition.
He added that it was great for the pub's customers, the team and the community as a whole, but most importantly, he said it was 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.”
Tony Shea, West Kent CAMRA branch chair, added: “It is such a welcoming pub with fantastic staff and a superb range of ales and ciders. It is an important part of the local community with something to offer for everyone.”
The Tamworth Tap includes upstairs rooms with Tudor features, as well as a historic courtyard beer terrace with views of Tamworth Castle, and café-style seating to the front.
Eight hand pulls usually feature one Tamworth ale, and various snacks, ciders, gins, wines and bottled beers are also available.
George and Louise Greenaway, owners of the Tamworth Tap, said: “We're overwhelmed to have progressed to the final stages of this year's CAMRA Pub of the Year competition. Achieving this for the second year running makes it all the more special.”
John Rowling, Pubs Officer 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 show in making their pub such a fantastic, community-centred place.”
The Trafalgar Hotel is a real ale pub, located in a harbour. It is owned by Odin Brewery, and usually serves four of the brewery’s beers plus two guest ales.
Owners Rob Storey and Andy Pegge 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. It’s a real community pub and we do raise a lot for local charities!”
The Beer Engine is a micropub with six handpumps that dispense varying beers, always including one blonde or pale ale and one dark brew, plus a character beer.
Extended in 2022, the bar now includes craft keg fonts. A still cider and a fruit cider are also on tap alongside a selection of bottled beers, cans and wines.
Adam Davies and Steven Gregory, Directors at The Beer Engine, said: “When we were voted Branch Pub of the Year for our area, 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.”