Silver Plough, Pitton bought by Chickpea Group

The team behind the Wiltshire based Chickpea Group are excited to have acquired a sixth pub this summer. The Silver Plough in the pretty village of Pitton near Salisbury will make a great addition to their collection of country boozers with rooms.

Sitting centrally in the South Wiltshire village of Pitton, the pub itself dates back to the 18th Century and is packed with charm and period features. Ethan, Jordan and Tommy have closed the site for initial refurbishment and will reopen in late August.  As part of a two-phase project, the plan is to then renovate the upstairs and the old skittle alley to form 7 bedrooms and work is set to start on these in Spring 2024.   

The Silver Plough’s spacious interiors boast beamed ceilings, wooden floors, and cosy fireplaces. There will be three large areas for dining inside with space for around 100 covers. The beer garden is situated at the front of the pub with plenty of space to enjoy a meal or drinks in the sunshine.

As with the groups’ existing sites, the food offering will be of great importance and the team are excited to work with the abundance of excellent local suppliers here in the South West. Diners can expect the usual ‘Pub Bangers’ menu of hearty fare as well as a wine list from Gardner and Beedle, and their own beers under the business’s new brewery in Wiltshire, Rude Giant Brew Co.

Their recent opening, The Queen’s Head in Broad Chalke, is also about to commence works to renovate the upstairs to create five more bedrooms, in addition to the existing four which are now open in an annexe building behind the pub. 

CAMRA Pub of the Year 2023

The top 16 pubs in the country have been announced by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) following a year of rigorous judging in its National Pub of the Year competition.

Covering the entire UK, the regional finalists battled it out with thousands of pubs across the country to be crowned the winner in their area.

The cream of the crop will now go forward to the grand final for the National Pub of the Year 2023 crown – the highest accolade afforded to British pubs. The final four will be announced in October, before the overall winner is announced early 2024.

Pubs in the competition are scored on their atmosphere, decor, welcome, service, inclusivity, overall impression, but most importantly – the quality of live beer, real cider and perry. Last year’s winner was the Tamworth Tap, Staffordshire which has once again reached the final 16.

In the wake of the demolition of the Crooked House, CAMRA recently declared the issue of unlawful conversion and demolition of pubs in England a ‘nationwide scandal’. In 2017 planning law was changed so that pubs in England could not be converted or demolished without planning permission, but shocking figures published by CAMRA last week show that over 30 pubs may have been demolished or converted without planning permission in the last six months. The recognition and celebration of top-quality pubs has never been more important in the fight to ensure that locals across the country are thriving and kept safe from demolitions such as these.

Andrea Briers, National Coordinator for the Pub of the Year competition says: “I am delighted to announce this year’s final 16 pubs. I would like to congratulate each and every one of them for their hard work against a difficult backdrop for the trade with increasing energy costs, business rates and the cost-of-living crisis impacting on people visiting pubs.

“It is testament to the winners that they are facing these challenges head on and they are a shining example to what can be done. I would also like to thank their loyal customers who continue to support them in these difficult times.

“There are thousands of amazing pubs across the country and I would encourage everyone to visit their local and seek out others where they live. Not only will that support local businesses, but pubs play a vital part in communities which we want to both protect, promote and see them thrive.”

The top 16 regional winners

Central Southern 

Butchers Arms, Balscote

Hook Norton beers and a monthly guest are served straight from the cask behind the bar in this cosy parlour pub. Owned by the brewery since 1878, the building was once an abattoir and still has an icehouse in the garden. A roaring fire in winter and a lovely beer garden make this an all-year destination. Open all day at weekends and from late afternoon Monday-Friday.

East Anglia

Endeavour, Chelmsford

Cosy and friendly community pub, not far from the city centre in the popular Springfield Road area. Three rooms offer a welcoming atmosphere in which to enjoy a selection of regularly changing casks ales. The pub hosts mini beer festivals, tap takeovers and regular charity events. There is a suntrap garden and the pub is dog friendly.

East Midlands

Horse & Jockey, Stapleford

Known locally as ‘The Jockey,’ this welcoming free house offers a choice of 13 real ales, including at least one mild or stout/porter, five of which are LocAle. A split-level pub with the main bar area featuring sofas and high tables and warmed by a wood burner, the upper seated area has tables and perimeter seating, a fish tank and sports TV. large gathering. The pub is dog friendly, with water and doggy treats being provided. Photographs of local landmarks and Stapleford from previous eras decorate, along with whisky water jugs hanging from the ceiling, a yard of ale (if you wish to attempt it) and many CAMRA publications and publicity material. Occasional brewery showcases highlight a range from a LocAle brewery along the bar while occasional beer festivals offer an extended range from temporary stillaging.

Greater London

Hope, Carshalton

Owned by its customers and totally free of tie, this community pub is ‘by beer enthusiasts for beer enthusiasts’. Two regular ales and five rapidly changing guest ales are supplemented by craft keg beers. There is a piano in the conservatory room but no fruit machines, TV or music. The pub has several times been either CAMRA’s Greater London Pub of the Year or the runner-up.

Greater Manchester

Fox & Pine, Oldham

A new and very valuable addition to the previously sparse Real Ale scene in Oldham Town Centre, the Fox and Pine is a real ale lovers delight. 10 hand pumps serving varied beer styles (there will always be at least one dark beer on) plus 6 Real Ciders. The pub also features 5 ABK fonts for those who like traditional Bavarian Beer. The Bar is downstairs with an open seating area, whilst upstairs are two linked rooms. It is all decorated with a Fox and Pine theme (The name referring to the origins of the owners from Leicester and Oldham).


Nelson Arms, Tonbridge

Situated in a quiet residential area within easy walking distance of the railway station and High Street. A range of six to eight beers across a range of styles representing national and local independent breweries is usually served. Up to 15 real ciders are also available along with craft keg beers.

Merseyside – Cheshire

Turks Head, St Helens

Attractive Tudor-style 1870s pub near the town centre. Real ales and real ciders are on 14 hand pulls, and there is a large whisky and gin selection. The upstairs Tower Lounge serves cocktails plus craft and continental beers and hosts live music on Saturday evening. There is a large beer garden to the side and rear with an outside bar and wood-fired pizza oven.

North East

Grey Horse, Consett

Traditional pub dating back to 1848, the oldest in Consett. The interior comprises a lounge and L-shaped bar, with a wood-beamed ceiling. Open log fires are welcoming in winter. Consett Ale Works Brewery is at the rear. Beer festivals are held twice a year, a quiz each Wednesday and open mic on Sunday. The Coast-to-Coast cycle route is close by. A repeat local CAMRA Town Pub of the Year, including in 2022.

Scotland & Northern Ireland

Hillend Tavern, Dalgety Bay, Fife

A community-focused village pub near Dalgety Bay, with cosy coal fires, a beer garden and real ales all adding to the friendly and welcoming atmosphere. The Tav, as it is known, has a traditional bar and a spacious area at the rear that is ideal for larger groups or functions and also hosts many village events

South West

Halfway House, Pitney, Somerset

An outstanding hostelry serving eight to 10 regional ales on gravity alongside many bottled beers and four real ciders. The inside is traditional with flagstone flooring, old solid wooden tables and benches, and three real fires. This rustic but busy pub deserves its many accolades and has been in this Guide for over 25 years, gaining the ultimate award of CAMRA National Pub of the Year in 1996.

Surrey & Sussex

Watchmaker’s Arms, Hove

This micropub has a small outside seating area on the pavement with two tables, which are well-used. The pub generally has four cask beers on sale, served from a cold room behind the bar, rotating fortnightly. Cask beers are almost always from small breweries, with many from Sussex, Hampshire, and Kent. Real cider is also always available, mainly sourced from local producers.


Magic Dragon Brewery Tap, Wrexham

Single-roomed pub that is the tap for the Magic Dragon Brewery, based just outside Wrexham. The pub is on the edge of what was known as the Beast Market, in a building that was originally the Elephant & Castle and after several changes of use is now pleasingly back as a pub. Its compact interior features bare brick walls and a wood-panelled bar. Six handpumps dispense at least three Magic Dragon beers including a dark ale.


Barking Cat Alehouse, Poole

Popular, vibrant two-roomed alehouse serving an interesting choice of beers, mainly from small breweries around the UK. There are eight real ales and six traditional ciders or perries on handpump alongside 10 craft keg beers.

West Midlands

Tamworth Tap, Tamworth

An elegant building, home to Tamworth Brewing Company and its tap. The cosy upstairs rooms have Tudor features, the historic courtyard beer terrace to the rear offers striking views of Tamworth Castle, and there is café-style seating to the front. Eight hand pulls usually feature one Tamworth ale, the rest from near and far. Various snacks are offered, plus a wide range of ciders, gins, wines and bottled beers. There is a ‘CAMRA corner’ at the bottom of the stairs which includes a rare, complete set of Good Beer Guides. The courtyard features regular live music with local performers, bat watch evenings, and the occasional screening of cult films on a large screen.

West Pennines

Trafalgar Hotel, Ramsey, Isle of Man

A long-standing real ale pub on the harbour, now owned by Odin and usually serving four of the brewery’s beers plus two guests. There are unobtrusive TVs showing sport. Outside is a small area of wooden bench seating that overlooks the harbour.


Beer Engine, Skipton

A well-established micropub in a tiny street between the town centre and the canal, with a friendly and welcoming ambience. Six handpumps 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.

See all the winners on a map here

Weekly Newsletter from PROOF Insight

PROOF’s Craft Beer Report; Women’s World Cup brings boost to pubs; Cocktail drinkers and ABV

Research news

Craft breweries suffer in cost-of-living crisis

Craft breweries are among the worst affected by record inflation rates, with many independents struggling to keep afloat. According to international consultancy Mazars, 45 craft breweries went insolvent in the 12 months to the end of March 2023, compared to just 15 in the previous year. The rapid rise of craft beers led to an oversaturation of the market and fierce competition for spend from the price-conscious consumer. In addition, PROOF research has shown that 92% of brewers have witnessed a change in the cost of raw materials.

PROOF’s Craft Beer report found that craft drinkers are naturally experimental and eager to try new beers. Therefore, the craft beer consumer can be considered particularly disloyal to brands, with just 8% exhibiting brand loyalty to 1 or 2 brands. In light of the cost-of-living crisis, when driving repeat purchase is as important as ever, brewers find themselves with consumers that are disloyal to brands and are reducing their spend on ‘luxury’ items. Moreover, brewers are not only competing within their category: 72% of craft drinkers also regularly consume mainstream lager. With consumers being more risk-averse in times of economic hardship, they are turning to the familiar staples instead of trying new, small-batched and often more premium-priced craft beer.

Sources: PROOF’s “Craft Beer” Intelligence report, Drinks Business

Get your copy: PROOF Intelligence: The Craft Beer Report

Industry news

Women’s World Cup final provides a boost to pubs

Early signs suggest that pubs saw trading increases of between 14% and 28% due to the Women’s World Cup final on 20th August. Furthermore, the online booking service DesignMyNight reported a 138% increase in bookings compared to the previous Sunday. The boost may have been hampered by restrictions on licensing hours in many pubs as calls to alter licensing laws for special events are refreshed.

Sources: Morning Advertiser, DesignMyNight, British Beer & Pub Association

Cocktail drinkers want to know more about ABV

52% of cocktail drinkers see ABV as an important consideration, vs. 43% of all alcohol drinkers, according to PROOF’s latest Intelligence report. Drinkers failed to realise the variation in ABV between serves – underestimating the strength of Margaritas whilst overestimating the strength of Pina Coladas. Displaying ABV on menus is not common, although 45% would like to see it – this could help inform consumer choice, whether their motivation is indulgence or moderation.

Sources: PROOF Intelligence – The Future of Cocktails

Strange brews & news

What to pair with fast food…

Wine expert, Chris Cassell, believes that high-end alcohol isn’t just for fine dining, stating that a Big Mac goes perfectly with a red Burgundy and McChicken Nuggets pair with a Veuve Clicquot Champagne. Dead Man’s Finger has taken it to the next level by releasing the ‘finger liquor good’ rum blend inspired by KFC’s 11 secret herbs and spices. The rum is designed to be drunk with a splash of cola alongside a bucket of KFC.

Sources: Daily Mail, The Spirits Business

Investments, acquisition & openings

  • Star Pubs & Bars to add another 100 pubs to the Just Add Talent managed operator business by 2026
  • Delivery app Getir is to cut over a tenth of its global workforce
  • 42 Holborn, a Mediterranean all-day dining concept, is to open up in London later this year
  • Tom Kerridge announces plans to open a second Butcher’s Tap & Grill
  • The Ainsty, York, has reopened as a Hive Pub after £500,000 investment from Greene King
  • The Keel Tavern, Sunderland, will be opened in November by Vaulkhard Group
  • Sonas Capital have acquired The Acorn Brewery in South Yorkshire
  • Lima Group will relaunch it’s Covent Garden restaurant as Lima Cantina next month
  • Wine Valley has opened a cocktail bar and wine shop in Bicester in collaboration with Diageo

Sources: Propel,, Morning Advertiser

Product launches & campaigns

  • Hofmeister gains distribution in Loungers six years after being brought back to the market
  • Soho House is to open its first Scotland site in Glasgow
  • Brown-Forman’s El Jimador launches an inclusivity campaign, Reserved for Everyone, which aims to democratise high-end tequila
  • McGuigan announces plans to launch mid-strength wine at 7% abv
  • Union XV has launched its first gin, using ingredients from every continent
  • BrewDog has launched a scheme entitled “Beerometer”, which will see prices of lager in its bars drop in line with the outside temperature

Sources: Propel, Spirits Business, Langton Capital

Follow PROOF Insight for the latest drinks industry research and news on LinkedIn.

Free Beer!

BrewDog are offering a free pint of Hazy Jane in their bars if you bring them their glasses back.

That’s right, James Watt, BrewDog’s CEO and Co-Founder took to social media today, to say. “This Hazy Jane glass is officially our most stolen glass ever. Now, we don’t really mind our customers stealing the occasional glass from our bars. In fact, if you are going to have a beer glass in your kitchen, we would actually rather it was a glass which you plundered from a BrewDog bar versus a Carling, Stella or Foster’s glass.
“However, perhaps down to the fact that our Hazy Jane is so beautiful so many have been stolen that we are now running perilously low! So, we are introducing the Great BrewDog Glass Amnesty.
“Over the next week, simply visit any BrewDog bar, return a Hazy Jane glass which perhaps one of your friends maybe accidentally took home with them and we will fill up the glass with a delicious pint of Hazy Jane, for free. Or more precisely, in exchange for bringing the glass back.
“Who says that crime doesn’t pay?”

Find a BrewDog bar here.

Brits are happiest in pub gardens

Despite recent rainstorms across the UK, Brits say they’re at their happiest when relaxing in a pub garden, and this Bank Holiday weekend is the perfect time to pay them a visit.

Millions of Brits say they are at their happiest when relaxing in a pub garden over the summer, after 40% named it as their ultimate happy place, according to new national research. 

The nationwide survey from Chef and Brewer Collection found the average UK pubgoer will visit a pub garden between four and five times throughout August.

Country pubs are by far the nation’s favourite type of pub to visit at this time of year, with nearly half of UK adults (48%) selecting them as the best place to enjoy food and drink over summer.

Chef & Brewer Collection, a collection of unique pubs in idyllic countryside locations, has partnered with Warner’s Distillery and TV presenter and wildlife enthusiast, Jules Hudson, this summer to celebrate the nation’s love of pub gardens and the Great British countryside.

Jules said: “The atmosphere that you find in a country pub is like nothing else, with them often acting as a hub for generations of rural communities.

“So often located in quaint villages or idyllic countryside surroundings, country pubs are made extra special by their connection to the great outdoors.”

As part of the partnership, the pub brand is serving up two limited edition summer drinks from Warner’s Distillery, the Rhubarb Crumble and Raspberry Collins – with 50p from every sale going to The Wildlife Trust BCN.

So what are you waiting for? Go make yourself happy!

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