For the first time in the history of the competition, a Manx pub is a finalist in the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) National Pub of the Year.

After winning CAMRA’s local 2023 pub of the year, and the regional pub of the year for Cumbria, Lancashire and the Isle of Man, the Trafalgar Hotel was entered in to the top 16 finalist pubs in the National Pub of the Year competition.

CAMRA is a voluntary consumer organisation that promotes real ale, cider, perry and traditional British pubs and clubs.

The finalists have now been whittled down to four, with the Ramsey pub believed to have become the first Manx pub to get this far in the competition.

The judging will be undertaken by four CAMRA members who haven’t been part of any voting thus far, and who will anonymously visit all four pubs individually at random periods over the next two months, with the winner expected to be announced in January.

The ‘Traf’, run by Steph Tiesteel, is competing against The Nelson, in Tonbridge, Kent, The Tamworth Tap, in Tamworth, Staffordshire, and Beer Engine, in Skipton, North Yorkshire.

The Tamworth Tap is the current holder of the CAMRA national pub of the year.

The categories that they judge the pubs on are: Quality and condition of beer/cider/perry, promotion and knowledge of product, cleanliness and staff hygiene, community focus and atmosphere, welcome and offering, style and decor, sympathy with CAMRA’s aims and overall impression and value.

Steph Tiesteel, landlady of The Trafalgar Hotel

Kevin Keaveny, interim regional director for West Pennines CAMRA branch and regional director for Yorkshire CAMRA branch was on the island last week to take a look at The Trafalgar as well as supporting the Isle of Man CAMRA annual general meeting. He explained the judging process and why the presentation is held in January.

He said: ‘The two people who have judged it so far have said it ticks every box in the judging form, which is community, support for real ale, support for CAMRA, and it’s a really pleasant and lively local pub.

‘The Trafalgar will get another certificate, which is being issued on the 17th, and then finally everyone will be on tenterhooks until January.

‘We try to do this presentation in January to simply get more footfall for the pubs, get people interested in their local pubs and telling people that even though people are staying sober that month you can still support your pubs, by drinking a soft drink or having a game of pool. You might even play better.’

Graeme Jones, chair of the local branch, added: ‘We get constant feedback from people about The Traf, saying they had a “perfect pint”, and they’re constantly recommending the pub to their friends but also to people coming to visit. You only recommend a pub if you know it’s going to be consistently good.’

During TT week this year we spoke to landlady of The Trafalgar Hotel, Steph Tiesteel, as well as some of the locals, after it was confirmed the northern pub had won CAMRA Isle of Man Pub of the Year for the second year in a row.