Success! Southsea pub reigns again as it’s crowned CAMRA pub of the year

Stuart Ainsworth, landlord of The Leopold Tavern
Stuart Ainsworth, landlord of The Leopold Tavern

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It boasts a huge selection of beer and cider that goes down a treat.

Now The Leopold Tavern, in Southsea, has been crowned the best pub in the region by campaigners.

It’s always great to win any award, it’s recognition of what the staff do here, not just me. It’s thanks to the workers who run the place and keep the beer in the condition it should be.

Stuart Ainsworth, landlord of The Leopold Tavern

The Albert Road boozer is the proud holder of the pub of the year prize issued by the Portsmouth and south-east branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra).

It’s the first time since 2011 the venue has bagged the award, knocking The Hole In The Wall, in Great Southsea Street, off the top spot.

Stuart Ainsworth, landlord of The Leopold Tavern, says his success is all thanks to the hard work of his team, who have helped ensure the pub remains relevant and keeps up with current drink trends.

The 46-year-old said: ‘It’s always great to win any award, it’s recognition of what the staff do here, not just me.

‘It’s thanks to the workers who run the place and keep the beer in the condition it should be in.

‘Since I last won the award, the beer has progressed – there are more styles and we do a lot of bottled and can beers now.

‘It’s not just about focusing on the traditional, cask style.

‘You have to move along with the times.’

The pub offers 10 cask ales, as well as a whopping 150 different bottles and 50 different varieties in cans.

Stuart said: ‘You have to be progressive in the trade.

‘It’s no good just selling any old London Pride or Doom Bar; that won’t cut the mustard with some customers.

‘They will want more progressive styles and beers that use different dispensing methods.’

Stuart says he’s proud to be part of a thriving pub scene in Portsmouth – and insists there’s no rivalry with other venues.

He said: ‘Portsmouth needs a good beer scene.

‘You can’t just rely on one good pub bringing people to drink in the city.

‘The more you have of places like The Hole In The Wall, The Wave Maiden, The Meat and Barrel, and The Lawrence Arms, which is doing really well at the moment, the better.’

The Leopold is also the proud holder of the local Camra group’s cider pub of the year title, which it claimed last year.

Camra activist and cider promoter, Nigel Firth-Penney, said: ‘Stuart has shown great commitment to selling cider and perry over a number of years.

‘Most pubs don’t sell real cider, as Camra would define it

‘But The Leopold Tavern sells real, traditional cider and perry.

‘They have run cider festivals in the pub,. They are also involved in the beer festival at the Wedgewood Rooms and have a great cider bar there.’