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18th April 2023

Bristol & District CAMRA Pub Of The Year 2023 results

Winner: The Siren’s Calling, Portishead

Runner-up: The Merchants Arms, Hotwells

Each year the Bristol & District branch of CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) invites local members to nominate pubs for consideration in the branch Pub Of The Year competition. The finalist from this nomination stage are then judged against various official CAMRA criteria (so considering additional factors than just the beer) to decide the result. For 2023 this is that the Siren’s Calling, Portishead is our branch Pub Of The Year and the Merchants Arms (Hotwells) is the runner-up.

Bristol & District CAMRA branch chair Richard Brooks said:

“It is quite something to be judged by local CAMRA members as being the best pubs in our branch area, so very well done to both the Siren’s Calling and to the Merchants Arms. The Sirens Calling is a comparatively new pub that first opened in 2018 and since then has really established itself on the real ale scene. In their feedback the pub of the year judges praised the range and quality of the beer at the Siren’s Calling. They were also impressed by the community focus of the pub and that it shows initiative in holding a range of beer related events. The general view was that it is a clean, well run, real ale focused independent pub in a prime location right on Portishead Marina.”

Andy Holian (owner of the Siren’s Calling) said:

“This is an incredible achievement for us, a small unassuming bar, operating in a local community and representing all the regulars that support us. Without their ongoing support of the work we do and the events we offer, making it to our five anniversary with everything thrown at us including residents’ revolts, collapsing ceilings, flooding toilets and of course Covid, would never have been possible. We have enjoyed offering different experiences and events including the cask focused Bristol Brewery Challenge, Blind Beer tastings, winter and summer beer festivals and our ever popular Oktoberfest weekend, not to mention the ongoing promotion of Belgian beers and brasseries.

I would like to thank CAMRA for their support and their recognition of the hard work we do, and I would like to make special reference to our local rep Neil Ravenscroft who has spread our name since the day we opened. We have an idyllic setting and we hope that more people will now stop by when walking around the Marina and enjoy a beer or two!”

Bristol & District CAMRA branch chair Richard Brooks said:

“This is not the first CAMRA award won by the Merchants Arms. Back in 2001 it was awarded what was then the national CAMRA Joe Goodwin Award (now called the Community Local Award) which is given to ‘outstanding refurbished street-corner locals’. This year the pub of the year judges considered the Merchants Arms to be a great community local. A welcoming pub with a nice cosy interior and excellent real ale.”

Mike Wilkins (owner of the Merchants Arms) said:

“It is a great honour to accept the Runner Up Award for the 2023 Bristol and District Pub of the Year Award from CAMRA members, I feel it demonstrates that there is still a place in this fantastic industry for a Traditional Real Ale Pub, no frills, no machines, no juke box but a selection of excellent, mainly, local cask ales, an eclectic mix of background music and great conversation, oh and a roaring log fire in the winter. However, that is only half the story of the Merchants. I have the best team I have worked with in my very long career in this trade, brilliant customers and the best local Breweries we could hope for. Thank you all for making the Merchants Arms the great pub it is.”

Presentation Date

The branch will be presenting certificates to the two pubs on the evening of Thursday 27 April at the Siren’s Calling at 7:30pm and the Merchants Arms at 9:30pm. All are welcome to attend! Anyone wishing to travel between the two pubs that evening by public transport can do so on the X4 excel bus service.

Contact: Richard Brooks, Chair, CAMRA Bristol,