Great British Booze Off winners crowned as we toast best UK pubs

The results are in, Daily Star readers have spoken and at long last we are able to reveal the winners of our Great British Booze Off.

It's been three months since we asked you to help us crown the best boozers that Britain has to offer as a thank-you to one of our most important industries.

Pubs up and down the UK have suffered horribly at the hands of on-off lockdowns in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

But with Freedom Day imminent, we are thrilled to be able to announce winners across 10 categories as voted for by thousands of punters.

Winners will be receiving cash prizes and certification for the fabulous work they've done by helping us all get back to the Old Normal.

And if you're looking for a new haunt, be sure to check out some of these fine establishments.

Without further ado, we present the best pubs, landlords, pints and more that the country has to offer:

Best Pub (overall)

WINNER: Frosty's Bar, Kenton, North-West London

This Celtic gem in Harrow is about as Irish as a pub in England could get – and Philip Parson's punters love him for the "unbelievable atmosphere" he's fostered.

Frosty's Bar prides itself on catering for a tight-knit community and it's definitely paid off as its regulars have crowned this fine establishment as the best boozer in the UK.

Philip told the Daily Star that his focus at the pub has always been to make those who gravitate to Frosty's Bar his main priority.

2nd: The Bear's Paw, Wigan, Greater Manchester

Coming in second is The Bear's Paw, which has survived lockdown against the odds thanks to new landlords Nathan and Matty taking it over.

The pair have been described by their regulars as taking the pub from strength to strength and are a formidable asset to the venue and wider industry in uncertain times.

One punter told the Daily Star that the lads are absolutely loved by locals and that they're built a "fantastic" rapport despite their short time at the Wigan establishment.

3rd: Ye Olde Monken Holt, Barnet, North London

This beautiful pub is a blast from the past with its quaint frontage and provides a home away from home for regulars who've propped it up over the years.

It's kept going despite knock after knock during its history and the boozer has been standing in the northern reaches of the capital for more than 100 years.

Landlady Veronica McGowan is famed in the borough for her charity work, especially with the elderly who were one of the most vulnerable categories during the pandemic.

4th: The White Gates, Dunfermline, Fife

The White Gates is quite literally more than just a pub – it even has its own farm for customers to enjoy north of the border.

Described as a "community" more than a business to the Daily Star, it's beloved beloved by its Fife regulars and comes in third for our Great British Booze Off.

Its modest frontage hides ample space for live music, which is hosted on a regular basis.

5th: The Holmefield Arms, Whitwell, Nottinghamshire

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This East Midlands watering hole is celebrated not just for taking care of those who walk through its doors but the wider community too.

Its management proved versatile during the coronavirus lockdowns and when the Holmefield Arms wasn't able to do its ordinary job of serving drinks workers began taking cream teas to the most isolated people in Nottinghamshire, reminding them that they are not alone.

Best Landlord/Landlady

WINNER: Philip Parsons, Frosty's Bar, Kenton, North-West London

Frosty's has raised thousands of pounds for charity since opening in 2017 and the man who takes care of its day-to-day running, Philip Parsons, has looked after the community and NHS workers during the pandemic.

One nomination described Frosty's as a "fabulous community pub" and a "home from home".

Another regular said: "The pub where everybody knows your name. Always welcoming and wonderful staff."

2nd: Sid & Lisa, The Trumpet Inn, Evesham, Worcestershire

Landlords Sid and Lisa have raised money for charity before and during lockdown, including a 24-hour radio show in aid of an air ambulance charity and Cancer Research, in memory of a regular who lost their life to Covid.

They’ve kept the community engaged during lockdown with online discos and pub quizzes.

"They are friendly, helpful and liked by all that come to know them", said one pub-goer.

Sid, whose real name is Les Collins, told us: "Apparently a customer nominated us and I thought it was a joke – apparently not!

"Since taking over The Trumpet Inn we have made it into a family friendly pub, we are up for a laugh and we try to make everyone feel like they are sat at home.

"We have a town centre pub that is slightly hidden away – we call it a local village pub in a town.

"During lockdown we kept our customers entertained with online quizzes and even our own Saturday night radio show.

"We have had some amazing feedback on social media and have gained many followers from all across the country and even from countries abroad. What you see is what you get with us."

3rd: Veronica McGowan, Ye Olde Monken Holt, Barnet, North London

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Ye Olde Monken Holt landlady Veronica McGowan is adored by regulars for her support of local charities.

Ably assisted by bar manager Gerry Cuniton, she organises fundraisers for the Puddenecks charity to help the elderly in Barnet, even providing hand delivered meals, and was described as "bringing the community closer together" in a nomination.

One said: "It's a friendly and welcoming pub where there's always a warm welcome from Gerry the head barman and, of course, Veronica the landlady herself."

4th: Kay Towers, Holmefield Arms, Whitwell, Nottinghamshire

Votes for landlady Kay Towers came in thick and fast when we launched the Great British Booze Off competition.

Tireless Kay has been described as "the heart of the community" who never stops fundraising.

During lockdown, she ran raffles and set up a food bank upstairs via a community unity project.

One nomination summed it up best: "She is one amazing lady and always makes me feel welcome."

5th: Janie Seaton, The Black Bull, Moffat, Dumfriesshire

Landlady Janie Seaton strives to create a unique environment and has been keeping everyone's spirits up throughout the pandemic by running a blog during lockdown.

It keeps people up to date with what's going on at the pub, including uplifting stories and comments.

A nomination read: "You always get a warm welcome at the Black Bull and during lockdown the landlady and staff have raised spirits….in a different way!"

Janie made her case to win, telling us: "The Black Bull Inn should win for many reasons but mainly because it’s heart is warm, it’s soul is kind, it brought something to many who needed it via words and thoughts inspired by this 453 year old hostelry – which was once loved by the great Bard Robert Burns.

"I always said that Covid was just one of many crises this pub has endured. Plagues, wars and battles and still it stands and thrives.

"The Black Bull Inn was never going to be defeated during a tough year because it had never been defeated by anything.

"It’s a haven, a palace of positivity and is loved with a passion not only by me, it’s landlady, but it’s staff and the customers who keep coming back over and over again and those who are part of it – in all corners of the world and needed it to soothe them in difficult times.

"There’s nowhere quite like The Black Bull Inn. It’s the very best without a doubt."

Toughest Pub

WINNER: The Mersey Clipper, Birkenhead, Merseyside

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The Mersey Clipper is a stronghold of Tranmere Rovers supporters, who were the focus of Kevin Sampson's novel Awaydays, which hit the silver screen back in 2008.

Starring Stephen Graham, it explored the antics of the club's fictional hooligan faction.

We aren't suggesting that visitors to this modest venue will experience scenes quite so troubling, but it must be a formidable site to have taken our top spot in the toughest pub category.

2nd: The Ramsgate, Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham

We'll leave it up to readers to decide whether two northern pubs taking the highest spots in this category settles an age old question about which half of the country is "harder".

Ramsgate owners Allan White and his wife, Katrina, have taken what they admitted wasn't a pleasant place and created something entirely new.

The couple told the Star: "When we took over the whole place was painted black – not a nice place to drink in. But since then the whole pub has had a refurb and looks totally different."

And though its tough reputation remains untainted, the Ramsgate has a softer side, too, and raised funds for two charities close to their hearts during the pandemic.

3rd: The Swan Inn, Little Chart, Kent

The toughest pub in the south as voted for by Daily Star readers is The Swan Inn down in Kent. It looks far too cosy for such an accolade to apply – but appearances can be deceptive.

One way in which the business side of things demonstrated its toughness was to adapt on a dime during lockdown and switch to an outdoor model.

And its quaint exterior might look like its straight out of Enid Blyton, but this country venue recently survived two separate car crashes and bounced back.

4th: The Carlisle, Hastings, East Sussex

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Britain's seaside venues have always been a magnet for leather-clad bikers and The Carlisle is no exception.

Harley Davidson and Triumph-riding regulars have ensured its formidable reputation among passers-by since the pub became central to the May Day rally back in the Sixties.

But anyone brave enough to breach the rockers' ranks nowadays will find that it's also a welcoming community.

5th: The Crown Inn, Chichester, West Sussex

The Crown Inn down in Chichester is a truly good news story according to voters in our Great British Booze Off.

That's because for years it was infamous for a bad reputation and it wasn't the sort of place you'd elect to go to for a pleasant pint on a Friday night.

But it's broken that mould and though it's still seen as a tough old boozer by those familiar with its history, it's also incredibly family-friendly.

It's not just a great place to enjoy a beverage, but has brought both live music and children's activities to the fore.

Best Beer Selection

WINNER: The Black Horse, Preston, Lancashire

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With a CAMRA award under its belt, it's no surprise that our readers reckon this Grade II-listed building has the best beers in Britain today.

One of the oldest buildings in the town, the Black Horse boasts one of the country's best preserved Victorian interiors and is a treat for anybody who wants to explore a truly traditional English establishment.

2nd: The Beaufort Arms, Stoke Gifford, Bristol

Bristol is famed for its scrumpy ciders and many pubs in the city are loyal to this, offering a wide variety of apple-based alcoholic drinks brewed in the local area.

But the Beaufort Arms has also looked farther afield for its inspiration and hosts a huge range of lagers from Italy, Spain and Ireland.

With eight real ale pumps it's easy to see how the Arms have become a magnet for beer aficionados in the area.

3rd: The Black Swan, Ashover, Derbyshire

If you have special requirements for your beers then fear not, The Black Swan in Derbyshire caters for just about anything.

Not only does it host a vast enough selection of ales to finish third in our beer selection line-up, it is also mindful of people who can't drink certain ingredients.

For that reason, it offers gluten-free and wheat-free alternatives and also has non-alcoholic beers for those who don't drink.

4th: The Garrison Saloon Bar, Brierley Hill, West Midlands

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Being the new kid on the block hasn't stopped the Garrison Saloon Bar impressing punters.

It's been listed in the Good Pub Guide for each of the two years that it has been serving locals.

Following a Peaky Blinders theme, the pub boasts several of its own, original ales, including the hilariously named Horny Tingler and the less risque Garrison Pale Ale.

5th: Devonshire Arms, Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire

The Devonshire Arms is famous in the local area for its great selection of lagers and ales and this was officially recognised last year.

It was crowned the CAMRA pub of the year in Burton and South Derbyshire as the country got to grips with lockdowns and the coronavirus pandemic.

Daily Star readers evidently agree with CAMRA, and who are we to argue?

Best Beer Garden

WINNER: The Faltering Fullback, Finsbury Park, North London

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This charmingly named establishment offers more than the usual delights of your standard Irish pub.

Nestled in the borough of Islington, its garden is festooned in a rich array of plants offering the perfect escape from the bustling city life that surrounds it.

Something of a hidden gem in the capital, this venue is a must-visit and takes the top spot for its beautiful beer garden.

2nd: Red Lion, Hunningham, Warwickshire

One thing that you just don't get in a densely packed city is pubs like this! The Red Lion's countryside charm only gets greater when you step outside of the building's stunning period features.

Its Hunningham beer garden is truly sprawling so there's plenty of space to unwind and enjoy a calm pint after a long hard week at work.

3rd: Gibraltar Gardens, Norwich

This outdoor drinking area is another perfect example of countryside delights but isn't too far away from the vibrant city centre of Norwich.

So once you've finished checking out both of the city's magnificent cathedrals, or shopping in its quaint boutiques, you can check into this beer garden to see the night out.

You'll find calming greenery and space with a beautiful pub building to boot.

4th: Frog & Bucket, South Petherwin, Cornwall

Sweeping rural views mean you'll feel anything but boxed in if you visit the Frog & Bucket's beer garden in Cornwall.

Less a beer garden than a beer field, you soak up the coastal weather at one of England's favourite seaside resorts.

It's easy to see why Daily Star readers included this venue in the top five best beer gardens in the country.

5th: Kirkstile Inn, Loweswater, Cumbria

When most people think of north-west England, they probably think of drizzle.

But that seems a far cry from the experience on offer at Cumbria's Kirkstile Inn.

Visitors to its Loweswater beer garden can take in the stunning sight of some of the finest countryside that England has to offer, complete with rolling hills under a (hopefully!) bright blue sky.

Best Live Sport Pub

WINNER: The Beehive, Whitefield, Manchester

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In a city known for its fierce football division between red and blue, its a testament to The Beehive's friendliness that it has become renowned for hosting both City and Utd fans without trouble.

Rather than becoming a centre for booze-filled scraps, this pub has established itself as a place of friendly banter welcoming to both sides of Manchester.

Visitors will immediately recognise just how proud of the city it is, with the symbolic worker bee adorning the exterior.

The symbol came to particular prominence as a sign of solidarity after the Manchester Arena terror attack, and the Beehive's garden pays tribute to the 22 victims who lost their lives.

2nd: Bristol County Sports Club, Bristol

Bristol County Sports Club has been serving fans of all types in the city since it first opened its doors in 1892.

One the city's oldest establishments, it's lived through many changes. But one thing that hasn't changed is its love of games.

This isn't your standard sports bar and isn't content with simply showing fixtures – punters can watch sport being played right in from of them too.

Despite being located nowhere near Liverpool, it's also an Everton hub and is home to the Bristol Toffees fan group.

3rd: The Park View, Burnley, Lancashire

The Park View was always destined for sporting greatness and it's little wonder that it made the Great British Booze Off's top five for best sport pub.

Football is in its DNA, being located right next to Burnley's Turf Moor stadium and its Navy veteran landlord has created a hub for supporters of the claret and blues.

And although its moved somewhat with the times through refurbishments, it retains its reputation as an old school boozer for fans of the beautiful game.

4th: The Turf, Wrexham

You can't look at The Turf without thinking of football – chiefly because the Racecourse Ground looms over it.

The two buildings are slap-bang next to each other and the pub's punters are so loyal that some of them have been propping up the bar for more than 50 years.

The pub is steeped in history, being next door to the stadium that has served as Wrexham AFC's home since they were founded in that very boozer back in 1864.

5th: The Orb, Bellshill, North Lanarkshire

This football pub wears its love of the beautiful game proudly by draping flags over its bar so that newcomers know exactly what to expect.

Its exterior appears humble enough but it's what's inside that counts at this particular venue – namely loads of screens for big games!

And it's no stranger to a touch of glamour as it was the setting for filming during the Trainspotting sequel T2.

A truly traditional pub that fully deserves its place on our list.

Best Pub Pet

WINNER: Alfie, Duke of York/Angel Inn, Lichfield, Staffordshire c/b

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Nine-year-old Alfie has been charming customers since he was just eight weeks old!

Now he is the proud winner of Britain's best pub pet, in part due to his exceptionally dapper outfits!

We're worried he might have had a few two many sherbets, though, judging by the direction that bottle of whiskey seems to be heading.

2nd: Shadow, The White Swan, Sandhurst, Berkshire

Black labrador Shadow is about as chilled out as most of us might be if we spent the day lounging in a lovely beer garden.

Shadow is a mainstay at The White Swan and as much a reason to visit the pub as any other.

There aren't many things more welcoming that a friendly dog and Shadow seems content to mingle with punters – when not sprawling out on a table, of course.

3rd: Aston, The Lyon, Westbury-on-Severn, Gloucestershire

Aston is about as well-known in Gloucestershire as the pub itself! Boss Bryannah Collins told the Daily Star that there have even been occasions that he's the sole reason people come to the boozer.

One couple was half-way through enjoying a pub lunch when they noticed someone was missing, and asked Bryannah: "Is the dog not here?"

It takes some going to be a central attraction at the ripe age of 13, but Aston has more than managed it!

4th: Danielle, East Cliff Tavern, Folkestone, Kent

Petite pooch Danielle is so beloved by the East Cliff Tavern regulars that they ensure they are armed with snacks when the visit the pub.

And even those that don't will find themselves caving in after meeting little Danielle, who has become well-versed at convincing people to turn over a little of whatever it is they are munching on.

Best Live Music Pub

WINNER: The Snug, Atherton, Greater Manchester

The Snug is a truly resilient venue. Pubs that rely in part or entirely on live music arguably had the most to fear from stay-at-home orders during the pandemic.

But this establishment rolled with every punch and simply took its gigs online with its much-loved Snug Sessions.

Landlady Rachel told the Daily Star that it's been a "tough few months" during lockdown but the struggle was worth it because "it's a great little community".

What makes the venue even more special is the fact that it's somewhat hidden, as one TripAdvisor reviewer found when he stumbled upon the place and was very pleased with what he found.

Hindleylad wrote: "Great little place hidden away down an alley off market street. Charming look and feel. Helpful genuine staff. Good coffee – and I’m fussy- fresh cooked food and homemade cakes. Recommend."

2nd: The Boulevard, Wigan, Greater Manchester

This brilliant music venue has live acts at its heart and at the same time as being a "second home" to its many patrons is heavily involved in the grassroots of the local scene.

It's only fitting that the town that birthed iconic punk band The Buzzcocks should make it onto our Great British Booze Off list of definitive music venues.

3rd: The Bull Inn, Dover, Kent

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Some pubs are content to squeeze a band into the corner while locals watch uninterested – not so at The Bull Inn.

This is a music venue through-and-through complete with its professional stage area and impressive PA system.

But it doesn't lose the feel of a traditional pub and is a highly welcoming place whoever stumbles through its doors.

Truly deserving of its place in the top three, the pub also makes the most of summer months with a seasonal stage that welcomes the best of local talent.

4th: Hardy’s, Dorchester, Dorset

Hardy's combines the best of a traditional pub aesthetic with some music that you might not necessarily think you'd find in a quintessential British boozer.

Not only does it provide a space for local ska bands, it even has a musical comedy night that's sure to please stars of the craft such as Bill Bailey.

5th: The Walnut Tree Shades, Norwich

The Walnut Tree Shades is the go-to meeting spot for the city's thriving grassroots music community despite looking more like a small village pub than anything else.

Its involvement with music doesn't end with putting on live acts for its punters, it also helps people breaking into the scene in other ways.

Like many of our nation's best-loved boozers, this is a hidden gem and is tucked in an ally. Blink and you'd miss it – and you don't want to do that!

Most Unusual Pub

WINNER: Why Not? Cafe-bar, Worsley, Greater Manchester

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One look at Why Not? Cafe-bar shows just how unique this boozer is and it thoroughly deserves the top spot in our Great British Booze Off.

The building looks more like a terraced house than anything else but the owners have decked it out in fair lights and booze memorabilia.

Located in the Worsley area of Salford, it is a wonderful alternative to city-centre bars of Manchester.

2nd: Pit & Pendulum, Nottingham

This stunning gothic bar is a must-visit for fans of heavy metal. If you've ever wondered what it'd be like to have a glass of wine in Dracula's lair, this is probably the closest you'll come in the real world!

It's only fitting that such a venue would be found in Nottingham, which is famed for its alternative music scene.

3rd: The Garrison Saloon Bar, Brierley Hill, West Midlands

Looking more like a Wild West hideout than a West Midlands pub, the Garrison Saloon Bar truly is something different.

It's spacious beer garden offers a relaxed atmosphere and, as previously mentioned, it's famous for its inhouse brewery and original ales.

This is definitely one to add to your to-do list if you're the sort of customer who isn't satisfied with your average beer.

4th: The Carlisle, Hastings, East Sussex

The Carlisle's biker identity earns it a place on the list of most unusual pubs in the UK. Its hometown of Hastings is famous for its eccentricities, including an annual Pirate Day on which locals dress as pirates for a day of drinking outside.

The pub also doubles-up as a music hub, with live acts performing every year as the May Day rally comes to town.

5th: East Cliff Tavern, Folkestone, Kent

Another pub wedged into a housing development makes our top five most unusual boozers.

In fact, this watering-hole is regularly missed even by passers-by whose eyes skim over it in the mistaken belief that it's just another residential terraced home.

But for those who don't miss it, they're in for a treat when they step inside and find a world all its own that appears untouched by time.

Most Dedicated Regular

WINNER: 'Mackem' Keith, The Bridge, South Shields, Tyne and Wear

For our most dedicated regular category, we decided to do something different and Daily Star editors picked the winner ourselves.

We chose Mackem Keith from a shortlist selected by our readers because we think his dedication makes him stand out from your average pub-goer.

Hailed as a "legend" by fellow punters, this Sunderland fanatic rarely goes a day without popping into The Bridge. Keith, we salute you!

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