This weeks trip was to the Warwickshire CAMRA pub of the year for 2011. The Lord Nelson Inn is in the northern tip of the county situated in the village of Ansley about 10 miles north of Coventry. Last week I went to the far south of the county to visit the Warwickshire CAMRA pub of the year for 2012, the home of Patriot Ales as described in an earlier blog. If you read that article you will remember I was not impressed by the pub or the beer. So how does the Lord Nelson compare? Well, you could not find two pubs that are more different. From the outside you would probably not choose to enter the Lord Nelson whereas The Norman Knight appeared to be the perfect village pub. However, the warm welcome was totally missing last week. The Lord Nelson may look like a scruffy roadside pub with a door handle that was probably a toilet roll holder in a past life but it was a genuine friendly local selling beer brewed on the premises and an excellent family friendly menu. I do wonder though how the same group of people could choose such vastly different pubs as their favourite from one year to the next!!
Ansley has two breweries apparently and the Sperrin Brewery (also known as Victoria Beers) began brewing this year at the back of the Lord Nelson Inn. This evening the pub had two of the Sperrin beers available (Head Hunters at 3.8% ABV and Band of Brothers at 4.2% ABV). Also available was a beer from the nearby Church End Brewery, Wychwood's Hobgoblin and Hopnotch, a 3.6% ABV brew from the Hopping Mad brewery of Buckinghamshire. Sadly, nothing was available from the Tunnel Brewery, the second brewery in Ansley. I decided to sample the Head Hunters and it turned out to be a good choice. It was a classic traditional bitter. This very smooth session bitter had a lovely bitter finish.
To sum up, The Lord Nelson Inn is a pub I would visit again and the beers are worth seeking out too. It has a comfortable front bar with a noticeable nautical theme and the bar also serves the back dining area. It is a large pub and I'm sure it has more rooms hidden away. I may not return for the advertised 80s night (well actually I can guarantee I won't) but it is a pub serving a local close-knit community that is also welcoming to outsiders. Let's hope that the people who chose it as the Warkwickshire CAMRA pub of the year for 2011 get to choose the winner for 2013.