A WINCHESTER pub is redoubling its efforts to be named the best in the country after narrowly missing out on the top three this year.

Just a few years ago, the Wonston Arms looked set to call time at the bar and close its doors for good.

But since then it has been named as the best pub in the region and narrowly missed out on a spot among the top three in the country.

It was also named as the winner in the Mountain Warehouse’s post-walk pint competition.

The Winchester watering hole had been set to close in 2015, with developers eyeing the land, but after more than a decade as a regular, current landlord Matt Todd dropped his life in the world of corporate marketing and stepped up to buy the pub.

"I believed I could make a go of it," said Matt.

As previously reported, the Campaign for Real Ale recognised the landlord's efforts to turn the pub around and named the Wonston Arms as the best pub in the Wessex region in September last year, with the 15 regional winners competing for the national title.

Speaking at the time, Winchester MP Steve Brine said: "What Matt has achieved at the Wonston Arms is nothing short of incredible.

"He has turned a rather tired pub into a must stop for anyone who understands good beer and good atmosphere are first on the team-sheet in this business.”

But now Matt has revealed that the Wonston Arms fell just two points short of making the top three nationally, something he described as an incredible achievement, and efforts have already been poured into the 2018 competition.

One of the unique selling points of the pub is that it doesn't do food, instead a fish and chip van stops outside on a Tuesday evening so regulars can have a pint of bitter with their battered cod. There is also a curry night on Friday, and this, coupled with shorter opening hours, means there is always a buzz, according to Matt.

He added: "My biggest asset is my customers; no one is ever turned away."

At the bar the Wonston Arms serves four cask ales from local Hampshire Brewers, as well as national award-winning craft beer, and more than 50 Artesian Gins from around the world in its 'Gin Corner'.