Worksop: Award winning pub owner talks real ale, local dialect and pork pies

Staff and customers celebrate The Grafton Hotel winning CAMRA Pub of the Season. Photos by Neal Newcombe

Staff and customers celebrate The Grafton Hotel winning CAMRA Pub of the Season. Photos by Neal Newcombe

It was bottoms up at The Grafton Hotel in Worksop as the popular pub was named Winter Pub of the Season by real ale fans.

Campaign For Real Ale members in the North Notts area voted the Gateford Road drinking hole their favourite pub of the season.

The award was presented to landlady Suzi Hale at a party held to mark the occasion.

Branch chairman Steve Bownes congratulated her and all her staff for working hard to highlight real ale in Worksop and for promoting CAMRA.

“The award is thoroughly deserved I wish them well for the future,” he added.

Suzi said she was over the moon with the award and thanked her staff for their efforts, her customers for their support and CAMRA members for voting for them.

“Next year will be the Grafton’s 150th birthday so it’s great that we’re still being supported by the community,” said Suzi, 38, who owns the pub with husband Richard.

Suzi has been in the pub trade for 20 years and comes from a family of brewers and publicans.

And, of course, the Grafton has continued that tradition by brewing its own award winning beers.

“We always have 12 hand pulls on the bar, six of our own and six guest ales,” said Suzi.

“We are a friendly pub and welcome anyone to come and have a drink with us. We’ve become a bit of a destination pub really, people come from all over the country, sometimes in coach loads.”

That is largely because for two years The Grafton has been named in beer drinkers’ bible, The Good Beer Guide.

Said Suzi: “There are quite a few real ale pubs in Worksop and I really hope people will continue to support them. The CAMRA branch is hoping to develop a real ale trail and we have a beer festival in July. It’s all about showing that Worksop is a good place to spend your time and money.”

“There’s a lot of good in the town. Yes, there used to be 42 pubs and now there are only about 10, but we are still going and have a loyal customer base.”

“Things have changed. Pubs have had to change. It’s about doing something different, doing something well, and offering people a safe environment in which to enjoy an afternoon or evening.”

“Looking back 18 months people were avoiding coming out for a drink in Worksop because it had a bad name. But that is changing.”

Suzi encouraged everyone to head down to their local pub during April which is Community Pubs Month.

“I hope people will pay us a visit during Community Pubs Month,” she said.

“I know some pubs have got special events happening, and things to tie in with St George’s Day.”

“We have a quiz on Sunday, quite a strong games league, chess club, darts and dominos teams.”

“But going to the pub is also about just being with people. We are beginning to lose the art of communication because people are too used to being entertained behind their TV, computer and phone screens.”

“In a pub you get great banter, a cracking atmosphere, you keep the local dialect alive - it’s a whole social experience.”

The Grafton Hotel even held its own Pork Pie Factor contest recently.

Suzi explained: “Some of our customers bring food into the pub. They buy snacks from local businesses, from butchers and farm shops, to eat with their beer.”

“We decided to hold a competition to see which pork pie was their favourite. We ended up with 29 pork pie entries - some people even made their own.”

“The winner was Pete Mellor’s pork pie from Mellor’s Butchers in Milton near Newark.”

“He was really chuffed and he even came in to give is a talk on pork pies.”

“It’s good that we can support other local business and keep local currency within the council.”

Find out more about the Campaign For Real Ale at and the Community Pubs Campaign at




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