FIVE county pubs are in the running to be pick of the hop.

The shortlist for Oxford Camra’s County Pub of the Year award includes taverns as far afield as Bampton, Littleworth and Abingdon.

Each has bucked the trend of closing pubs by proving it is possible to be successful.

Among the shortlisted pubs is Witney’s New Inn, in Corn Street, and landlord Martin Cornish credits his success with his focus on real ales.

He said: “I am absolutely delighted to have been shortlisted. It is nice to be recognised.

“We have simply stayed as we always have been. We are a real ale pub so it is difficult for us to respond to the latest trends. We have looked into serving food but my pub doesn’t lend itself to that.

“The competition is fierce and they are all extremely good pubs.”

Other shortlisted pubs are the Eagle Tavern, also in Witney, the Morris Clown in Bampton, The Brewery Tap in Abingdon and The Cricketers Arms in Littleworth.

Tony Goulding, of Oxford Camra, said: “These five pubs are all equal in quality. I’ve given up predicting it.

“It will be interesting to see who wins it this year because it is a strong field.”

Last month the Oxford Mail reported that 50 pubs have closed down in the last five years, with drinkers blaming rises in beer taxes.

The Cricketers Arms is the reigning pub of the year.

Landlord Stuart Bull said: “This is the third year in a row we have been nominated so we are very pleased.

“It is always nice to stay at the top.

“We only serve local real ales and we have two beer festivals a year. Real ale is one area which is in growth because you cannot get it from a supermarket.”

The winner will be chosen by Oxford Camra members who travel to each of the pubs and fill out a voting card.

Members will meet at the beginning of October to decide the winner.

The 15th Oxford Beer Festival takes place between Thursday, October 11, and Sunday, October 13, at the Town Hall in St Aldate’s