Well the new Beer Guide arrived on Monday, only a week after folk in Wimbledon and Essex were tweeting about their local pub being in it. Unlike the Southerners, I won’t be breaking the embargo by revealing entries before 15 September.
Whatever my irritation with the postal system, the Guide itself is a wonderful thing, and a real bargain for a tenner on Direct Debit.
An increasingly heavy tome too, as the number of micro-breweries rapidly catches up with the number of pubs in the Guide. I support Colleague Everitt’s proposal for a leaner book. Alternatively, I might support the closure of all breweries except Marston/Bass, Sam Smiths and Cloudwater.
Sorry. And Joules.
I’m at the start of a week of cross-checking the new Guide against my spreadsheet of nearly 10,000 pubs visited, which is the most fun you can have with a pink pen and a laptop.
All I can say at the moment is that micro-pubs are entering the Guide even faster than Wetherspoons were a decade ago, all over the country. I’m almost tempted to get my Man Cave licensed and stick a polypin of Milton on my shelf. Add a few posing stools, salted nuts and my Bass mirror, I should be in for GBG18.
Luckily, I know local CAMRA branches are more discerning than that. I can already see that a few pubs I found duff beer in are out of this year’s Guide, and my experience at a few CAMRA selection meetings shows they put quality at the heart of selection.
There’s often a negative view of the GBG expressed by bloggers, “Why would you rely on that, we don’t ?”. Bluntly, it’s the best Guide we’ve got to beer quality, and it gets it right most of the time. I suspect the folk who open these micropubs do care more about beer quality (if not pub quality) than the average PubCo tenant.
It’s another thankless CAMRA task, keeping a record of pub changes, hoping a few visitors leave NBSS scores rather than whining on Trip Advisor. But unless folk get directed to the very best cask, it’ll lose its appeal.
Lose the Beer Guide, lose the heart of CAMRA.