Friday, 25 October 2013


Can I just say at the outset, the CAMRA Good Beer Guide is an informative and well written publication - but, firkin hell, it really gets me frustrated by some of its entries - and even more so by the non-entries.

OK, it relies on the dedication of its members to go out in an allocated area and vote for 2,3, maybe 4 or 5 boozers. But the problem is, in my opinion, is that favouritism must be rife in some areas.

I constantly hear about some entries having a 'favourite' tag. "It's his or her local boozer," some say. Or, " they favour certain areas, and totally neglect others."

I used to pass all this off as sour grapes - but of late, certainly in the last two or three issues - I am beginning to think, that there is a modicum of truth, in all of this.

Let's first deal with the ones that are submitted. One or two have surprised me, to say the least. Pubs where beer quality is inconsistent. And where choice is restricted. E.g. eight pumps, three with  their clips turned round - and two that are coming soon!  

Ooops! I may have given you a clue there.

Am I being fair here? Do you agree about the favouritism? Are you of the opinion that some pubs are unjustly omitted ?

I strive to promote beer and boozers - but some appear as surprising entries over others.

 One classic example was a pub I visited on four occasions, over a twelve month period. First visit fine. Second visit, beer was on the turn and should have been chucked. Third visit, beer in good nick. Last visit, it was shite! Landlady replaced it - but she never turned the firkin clip round - what does that tell you about the place?

This pub had been in the 2012 GBG and had been run by the same tenants for some time. I can only assume that the submissions were made by a regular/regulars.  

Another entry, that is in the 2014 GBG - and not in my area, raised an eyebrow. Nice, historical boozer - shame about the beer quality - and how they kept it.

Beer was sour and I took it back. I am always polite, and explained to the staff member, that the ale was off. He replied: " Oh, it was the first one out of the barrel." 

They may have been relatively new tenants. But the guide is based on pubs offering good quality beer. Isn't it?        

Perhaps you can understand now, how some entries frustrate me. The system must be flawed in certain areas. What's your view? 

Even more galling are the non-entries. I am sure you have heard it many times, after the guide is published, about the boozers that have been omitted.

There are two pubs in my area East Lancs, that are prime examples of a mystifying non-entry!

They tick all the boxes. Beer quality, taste and flavour guaranteed. Nice atmosphere, polite staff - and always a warm,welcoming experience on every visit .

I can only think of two reasons why these two pubs have not been entered. One, the area has been neglected by members who compile the short list - and had only made an odd visit. And two, one of the pubs has live football and a gaming machine. And that may have influenced their non-appearance in the guide !

OK, I am making assumptions in some areas - but I wanted to get this prickly issue off my chest. I have been bombarded with questions about some of the entries - and more so, the non-entries - and it had knawed away at me, mentally, for some time!

So, what do you think? Are the comments fair? 

In conclusion, the CAMRA Good Beer Guide is almost entirely made up of fine, well run establishments, where customers can enjoy exceptional beers in tip-top condition - and in a good social environment.

It's just a few of the entries and omissions, in the guide, seem to have lit the blue touch paper in these parts. 

Perhaps, there have been similar opinions and rumblings in your area? 






  1. I agree selections sometimes seem perverse, but at the end of the day much of what makes a good pub is a matter of personal taste, and there may be factors behind the scenes debarring particular pubs that you're not aware of.

    Surely the best response is that, if you are a member of CAMRA, to make an effort to submit NBSS scores and get involved in the selection process in your local branch.

    I have criticised the selection from a different perspective here, suggesting there is a deliberate bias in many areas towards quantity over quality.

    Wow, the word verification text was "pubbarr" ;-)

  2. Favouritism and bias are inevitable in a publication of this nature, however the real flaw lies in the timing.

    Pubs that will appear in the 2015 GBG (published in September 2014) will be were chosen by CAMRA members by the end of December 2013 based on beer sampling throughout the year. Each of the 6 boroughs in East Lancs have already chosen 4 pubs and a list of up to 4 reserves. The 4 already chosen for each of the boroughs were decided upon by members in the borough, ie Pendle pubs decided by Pendle people, there is a clear possibility of bias with these pubs. Than accounts for 24 pubs so far out of an allocation of 33 that will be in the GBG. The remaining 9 will be chosen from the list of reserves. Members have been asked to rate the pubs in the other 5 boroughs but not their own. ie Pendle people do not score the Pendle pubs on the list. No element of bias here.

    The process as you can see is somewhat cumbersome but the essential point is that the decision to put a pub into the GBG is taken some 10 - 12 months in advance of publication. In some cases, and I know of two in Pendle, the landlord/lady who was responsible for the quality of the beer warranting an entry has left before the publication date and the new people are not maintaining the high standards previously met. This is likely to happen more and more in an industry with such a high turnover of licencees.

    I for one have never bought the GBG, I prefer to look on the local CAMRA website to get an idea of where to go, and now with the excellent "WHAT PUB" website I can look up details of every pub in the country and plan my visits around that. I can also "score" each pub that I visit on the national beer scoring website.

    That perhaps is how GBG entries should be decided upon. Those pubs with the highest average scores made by CAMRA members from outside of the local branch. That really would get rid of favouritism.

    1. Well said that man. There are pubs in the East Lancs area that don't appear to have been surveyed for years! I have updated a couple

  3. I only hope the excellent Hare and Hounds has been considered for the 2015 guide. Six casks ales now on - and always in great condition.The Padiham boozer is a fine example of a pub that deserves entry. However, as I mentioned in the blog, areas are perhaps neglected. I hope this boozer has been considered - but I fear it will be omitted. Hope I am wrong.