Shakespeare

Campaign for Real Ale

Campaign for Real Ale

Pub of the Year

Each year CAMRA organises championship rounds to determine the best Pub of the Year. The rounds start with voting by branches for their nominations in each county they represent and these then go head to head with those pubs submitted by other CAMRA branches within that same county. These then go onto the regional finalists for West Midlands and then to the final Pub of the Year for the UK.

The Shakespeare Branch of CAMRA awards pubs the title of Branch Pub of the Year - one for Warwickshire branch area and one for the Worcestershire branch area.

Shakespeare Branch Pub of the Year 2022 (Warwickshire)

Shakespeare CAMRA Pub of the Year (Warwickshire) 2022 has been awarded to The Turks Head Alcester. A presentation was made by Lloyd Evans on 12th April 2022.


Competition to receive the POTY (Pub of the Year) award is quite fierce and as the name implies it is only awarded once a year and only then if the pub in question has made a significant contribution towards maintaining a high standard of selling real ale. It is also the first time that the award had been made for two years because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lloyd was also pleased to say that this is not the first time in recent years that he has had the pleasure of presenting awards to Carl and Karen as this year also marked their 20th year in charge of the Turks, who we understand decided to run the Turks Head in Alcester High Street… without any experience of catering or the hospitality industry.

When talking of significant dates then it would be worth noting that should the Turks appear in the GBG for 2023 then it will mark eleven years of continuous entry into the national GBG.

In winning this year’s award, we recognised the appreciation, beer knowledge and enthusiasm shown by everyone involved at the pub. Carl and Karen obviously have experience in appointing excellent friendly staff.

However, further to this branch members are regularly impressed with the quality and consistency of the four real ales that are always on offer in the pub.

Therefore, when it comes to the beers that are available at the Turks it is worth mentioning that they always kept in prime condition and cover a wide range of primarily golden styles which reflects the quality of cellarmanship which is evident at the pub.

Mentioning the beers, we have obviously noted what might be said to be the demise of the HPA but we are more than happy to see that Jimbo has probably taken a permanent place on the bar. Which for those of you who are not aware it has been brewed by Purity to celebrate the life of their co-founder James Minkin who sadly passed away in summer 2020. As a further way of continuing Jim’s legacy, the brewery is donating 5p for every can sold to the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund.

In summary, the Turks has wonderful friendly staff who are always attentive, a great offering of real ales and the food is always excellent.

We would like to ask Carl and Karen to accept the POTY award from the branch and to offer them all our best wishes in the next round of judging which will be against the other CAMRA county pubs of Warwickshire.

Shakespeare Branch Pub of the Year 2022 (Worcestershire)

Shakespeare CAMRA Pub of the Year (Worcestershire) 2022 has been awarded to the Fleece Inn Bretforton. A presentation was made by Rhys Williams on 20th April 2022.


Within the Worcestershire area of the branch there were a number of pubs worthy of being chosen this year as our POTY. It was therefore a pleasure to present the award to Nigel and the Fleece Inn.

When we made our decision there were three factors that influenced our decision with the first one being the Fleece itself. It is, in our opinion, a totally unique and historical multi award winning pub which is recognised by CAMRA as being one of Britain’s best Real Heritage pubs and it also houses a world-famous collection of 17th century pewter. It is a focus for the local community Morris dancers and regular entertainment evenings are organised in the adjacent medieval barn. With its own orchard garden, which is very popular with families in the summer, the food menu also comes highly recommended. Therefore, besides our POTY award the Fleece has also been voted Good Pub Guide Top Ten Country Pubs 2020 & 2021. Daily Telegraph / Sawdays Pub of the Year 2019. Visit Worcestershire Pub of the Year 2019.

From a CAMRA perspective the second and main factor are the quality, consistency, and range of beers available at the Fleece and as a result our branch records show that since 2008 it has been seven times winner of this award. Research also suggests that it first appeared in the GBG in 1074 and although I cannot confirm that entry, but my own library of these guides (1979 / 1980) indicates that it was included in 1981 when it was listed as selling Donnington SBA, Hook Norton Bitter, Marstons Pedigree, Brew X1 and Springfield Bitter.

The third factor in our decision has to be Nigel himself. Nigel took on the stewardship of the Fleece in 2002 and let’s just say that the first couple of years presented him with a number of hurdles – namely not being in the GBG 2003 and the fire of 2004 which we all remember. Recently it appears then that he may have been a bit lonely having the name of Nigel but who then would have thought that he received worldwide recognition when he organised his “Nigel” evening when 433 men gathered to celebrate Nigels being all together.

However, we really wish to applaud Nigel for the incredible support he offered the Fleece community during both lock down periods which included on-line weekly quizzes, special take away menus, take-home beer options and of course “Fleece TV”! This is in addition to the support that Nigel offers the branch in terms of hospitality at our meetings, sponsorship of the beer festival itself along with the provision of free storage for our equipment.

In summary, the Fleece is the quintessential English pub, totally unspoilt, run by a very enthusiastic and knowledgeable landlord which offers excellent real ales together with a very good food offering for its customers. This really is a pub not to be missed if you are ever in the area.

Shakespeare Branch Pub of the Year 2021

The Pub of the Year competition was cancelled due to the impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Shakespeare Branch Pub of the Year 2020

Shakespeare CAMRA Pub of the Year (Warwickshire) 2020 has been awarded to The Three Tuns Alcester.

Shakespeare CAMRA Pub of the Year (Worcestershire) 2020 has been awarded to The Fleece Inn Bretforton.


Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, formal presentations could not take place. The photo shows the branch Chairman, Lloyd Evans, with a delighted Mandy and Andy outside The Three Tuns Alcester.

The Regional and National Pub of the Year Awards were subsequently cancelled.

Shakespeare Branch Pub of the Year 2019 (Warwickshire)

Shakespeare CAMRA Pub of the Year (Warwickshire) 2019 has been awarded to The Turks Head Alcester. Lloyd opened his presentation speech by explaining that it was a pleasure to be at the Turks again having been there before, and not that long ago, in making last year’s POTY award. It was suggested that it was a bit like the old saying you wait for a bus and two turn up together. Therefore, in winning the award, we recognised the appreciation and enthusiasm shown by everyone at the pub as we noted the special glasses that were produced for the occasion and the new signage at the front of the pub. On the previous Saturday, we were shown the latest glasses whilst drinking one of the three Black Iris beers that were on offer at the front of the pub. And whilst talking about the Food Festivals I would also like to thank Carl for previously sourcing Siren Breakfast Stout, which at the time was the Champion beer of Britain, for us all to enjoy.

When it comes to the beers that are always available at the Turks it is worth mentioning that, they always endeavour to showcase a breadth of styles across English pale, bitter and golden ales plus usually a juicy hopped special. Included then in this range is one of their permanent offerings from Wye Valley, Hereford Pale Ale, which has been present on the bar for 16 years and it still displays one of the original ceramic pump clips.

As well the as the beers, which are clearly the main reasons for us making this award, it would be unfair for us not to mention the quality of the food at the Turks served under the motto ‘keep it simple but do it well”. Home cooked using the very best ingredients it is testament to the pub that they have also achieved a gold award from Stratford Council for their consistent commitment to the food hygiene standards.

Knowing what we feel about the pub Lloyd also decided to look at what other people were saying about the Turks on social media and he came across the following two statements which we think sum up the thoughts of many people - “My Favourite pub ever - What a find - this pub had the most amazing and welcoming staff with wonderful food”. “Wonderful friendly staff who are always attentive, great real ales and the food is excellent”.

It is a real accolade for any pub to be awarded the branch pub of the year for two years running and in the case of the Turks we recognise the friendly welcome, open fires, good food and the excellent quality of real ales that are always on offer.

Owned and run by Carl and Karen Buxton, who left London and careers in recruitment and marketing to run the Turks Head; this pub is at the heart of Alcester town life and we had great pleasure in making this our Pub of the Year award for our Warwickshire branch area.

Shakespeare Branch Pub of the Year 2019 (Worcestershire)

Shakespeare CAMRA Pub of the Year (Worcestershire) 2019 has been awarded to The Coach & Horses Harvington. Many of you will probably know there has been a pub on this spot in the village of Harvington since 1718 and those of you that are good at maths will have worked out that last year was the 300th known anniversary of the Coach. With Landlords having been traced back to 1718 Lloyd in the first instance took this opportunity to thank Steve and Di for recognising this landmark and for organising a number of different events to celebrate this involving the people in the village and the wider drinking public. The community involvement in these activities was particularly strong in raising money for their charities of the year which were Crohn's, Colitis and the Alzheimer's society. Where in May, Nick Dore and Andy Lane both cycled over 300 miles in a week to carry on with the 300 theme which helped to support a total of £2.300 being raised for both the Crohn's and the Alzheimer’s charities over the year. They also continued to Support the Midlands Air Ambulance which including the famous Christmas raffle just under £2.500 raised and further to this over £300 was raised through the poppy appeal collection.

However, what else would you do to celebrate 300 years of being a pub in the village? Some might think that you would have a party to celebrate on a particular day, others might propose that you have a banner made to display on the outside of the pub but no, Steve and Di Salter of the Coach and Horses in Harvington came up with the unique idea of selling three hundred beers over the year. Now just to be clear this was three hundred different beers over a twelve-month period and not just three hundred casks from a repeated limited range. Chalk boards were then made above the bar to record each of the beers and the drinkers from both bars were encouraged to keep their individual totals by completing personal record cards which were kept behind the bar in the lounge. January the 1st 2018 was the agreed start date and not long after Kinver Black Ram Stout at 5.2% was seen as being the first beer to be written on this “wall of fame”. Di in particular remained positive about achieving this objective (as she always does!) and as the year moved on the target remained in sight and was boosted by the excellent annual beer festival organised through a lot of very hard work by everyone at the Coach. December showed that they were getting very close and as the chalk boards filled extra ones were made around the door in the lounge area. On December 13th the magic total was reached with Gloucester Dockside Dark at 5.2% being the beer which allowed Steve and Di to achieve their target. The overall figures proved to be really astounding and by the end of December they showed that 314 unique and different casks of beer had been consumed with 396 casks overall being sold in the twelve-month period. With regards to the record cards Les Hancock’s showed that he had drunk 311 of the 314 with James Pickard on 296 and his sister Lorna close by on 283.

What a way to celebrate three hundred years of the pub. This will remain as a unique achievement which could only have been achieved through the hard work of Steve and Di in sourcing such a wide variety of beers, especially for a tied house, and the dedication they have shown throughout this period in maintaining the quality of beers that have been on offer. We therefore wished to take the opportunity to thank Steve and Di for all that they have done for this pub and the village over their nine years of their tenancy. With the help and support of their staff they have brought this pub back from what were some very dark years to what is now recognised as a multi award winning pub. We thank them both for what they have achieved through very hard work and would like to offer them all our best wishes for whatever they decide to do in the future. We shall certainly miss them both at the Coach.

Shakespeare Branch Pub of the Year 2018 (Warwickshire)


Shakespeare CAMRA Pub of the Year (Warwickshire) 2019 has been awarded to The Turks Head Alcester. The Turks Head was converted back to a pub in 1999 after many years as Turks Head Antiques. With bare wooden floors, old furniture, wattle n daub walls and a brick chimney breast they have all combined to give this 17th century town house a rustic atmosphere which is further complimented an adventurous range of meals and bar snacks featuring locally sourced ingredients. During the presentation Lloyd explained that he first had contact with Carl when the branch started to receive emails asking why the Turks had not yet appeared in the GBG and we in turn tried to explain the process involved in the selection process. However, in 2013 the branch decided that on merit it should receive this due recognition and we are pleased to say that it has appeared in every edition since which is quite an achievement in the ever changing brewing and pubs industry Throughout this period the quality and range of beers on offer through the four hand pumps has been excellent and Lloyd made reference that on a personal note he only had one complaint and that is the Butty Bach sells so quickly he always seem to miss out on drinking it. Further to this the Wye Valley HPA, which is regularly available in the Holly Bush, is considered by many in the branch as being consistently the best served beer in our area.

Shakespeare Branch Pub of the Year 2018 (Worcestershire)


Shakespeare CAMRA Pub of the Year (Worcestershire) 2018 has been awarded to the Fleece Inn Bretforton. In recommending the Fleece for POTY award our members firstly acknowledged that this is one of Britain’s best Real heritage pubs which we are very fortunate in having within the CAMRA Shakespeare Branch area. Having started life as a farmhouse, originally built in the early 15th century by a farmer named Byrd, the pub remained in the ownership of the same family until 1977 when the last of the descendants a Miss Lola Taplin bequeathed the pub to the National Trust when she passed away in front of the fire in the snug. As a branch we are pleased to say that it has remained largely unchanged, although it now serves delicious pub grub and most famously pays homage to the locally grown vegetable Asparagus during May and June. Nigel Smith has been the landlord of this famous pub since 2002 although in 2004 (27th feb.) the Fleece itself nearly passed into history when a spark from a chimney set fire to its thatch and aged timbers. Such was the help from the local community that many of the precious antiques, including the world renowned pewter collection, were rescued and are still on display today around the pub. Recognition of the quality and choice of real ale offered at the Fleece is however the main reason that we made this award and with two regular beers in Wye Valley Bitter and Uley Pigs Ear and three guests there is usually at least one beer which would suit everyone’s taste. In making the presentation Lloyd offered his personal appreciation for serving two of his favourite beers during the winter months in Uley Pigor Mortis and Marston’s Owd Roger and extended his thanks to Julian, one of the main bar staff at the Fleece, for being kind enough to have told him as to when these beers were being served. We therefore had great delight in asking Nigel to accept the POTY award on behalf of everyone at the pub with all our best wishes for the next round of judging for the Worcestershire County POTY.

Shakespeare Branch Pub of the Year 2017 (Warwickshire)


The Norman Knight, Whichford this year has obtained the prestigious award of Warwickshire branch Pub of the Year.

The Norman Knight is owned by our one of our newest branch breweries The Stratford Brewery and is always a good place to sample their beers. It is run by Amber and a dedicated team who do a great job of keeping the ale in tip top condition. The pub has good history of being a CAMRA award winning venue and meets this high accolade having achieved this twice before and winning CAMRA West Midlands regional pub of the year in 2006 under different ownership.
It has recently undergone some sympathetic updating and introduced glamping pods to its small campsite. You will also find great food here and many groups choosing it as a meeting place especially during the summer months with a vintage car evening.

Presentation on 26th April 2017.

Shakespeare Branch Pub of the Year 2017 (Worcestershire)


The Coach and Horses, Harvington were this year awarded the Shakespeare Branch Worcestershire Pub of the Year - again. This is the fourth year running that Steve and Di have received this award.

They hold numerous awards:
• CAMRA Shakespeare Branch Spring Pub of the Season 2013
• CAMRA Shakespeare Branch Pub of the Year 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017
• Worcestershire County, Pub of the Year runner up 2014 and 2015
• Worcestershire County, Pub of the Year winners 2016

The quality of their ale is outstanding and they always have four rotating beers available with a mixture of local and national beers which are extremely well kept. The Coach and Horses is approaching a milestone and will have been a pub for 300 years in 2018. To celebrate Steve and Di plan to offer 300 different ales throughout 2018 and we look forward to trying as many as possible!

Presentation on 4th April 2017.

Shakespeare Branch Roll of Honour

Regional Champion Pub of the Year (West Midlands)

2006 The Norman Knight, Whichford

County Champion Pub of the Year (Warwickshire)

2012 The Norman Knight, Whichford
2010 Boars Head, Hampton Lucy
2008 Plough Inn, Stretton on Fosse
2006 The Norman Knight, Whichford

County Champion Pub of the Year (Worcestershire)

2016 The Coach & Horses, Harvington
2015 The Coach & Horses, Harvington - Runner up
2014 The Coach & Horses, Harvington - Runner up
2006 The Fleece Inn, Bretforton

Shakespeare Branch Pub of the Year

YearWarwickshireWorcestershire
2022The Turks Head, AlcesterThe Fleece Inn, Bretforton
2021Award cancelledAward cancelled
2020The Three Tuns, AlcesterThe Fleece Inn, Bretforton
2019The Turks Head, AlcesterThe Coach & Horses, Harvington
2018The Turks Head, AlcesterThe Fleece Inn, Bretforton
2017The Norman Knight, WhichfordThe Coach & Horses, Harvington
2016Stratford Alehouse, Stratford-upon-AvonThe Coach & Horses, Harvington
2015The Bear, Stratford-upon-AvonThe Coach & Horses, Harvington
2014Holly Bush, AlcesterThe Coach & Horses, Harvington
2013The Bear, Stratford-upon-Avon The Fleece Inn, Bretforton
2012The Norman Knight, Whichford Crown & Trumpet Inn, Broadway
2011Holly Bush, AlcesterThe Fleece Inn, Bretforton
2010Boars Head, Hampton LucyThe Fleece Inn, Bretforton
2009Boars Head, Hampton LucyThe Fleece Inn, Bretforton
2008Plough Inn, Stretton on Fosse Crown & Trumpet Inn, Broadway
2007The Holly Bush, Alcester
2006The Norman Knight, Whichford
2005Three Tuns, Alcester
2004Three Tuns, Alcester
2003George Hotel, Lower Brailes
2002The Holly Bush, Alcester
2001The Holly Bush, Alcester
2000(joint award) The Holly Bush, Alcester; The Fleece Inn, Bretforton; Queens Head, Iron Cross
1999Queens Head, Iron Cross