Well the Beer Guide is out now so there won’t be any knocks on the door from CAMRA Books if I tell you that the Tandle Hill Tavern is back in the Guide. Hurrah for that.
Astonishingly, that Marstons 2-for-1 pub I wrote about yesterday is in, proving that its not all Taps and tasters in the GBG. No Hungry Horses or Toby Carveries found yet though.
Now I’ve done my bookwork and highlighting (see top) I can announce I’ve visited 3,372 of the new Guides 4,534 pubs. I’m never going to visit 1,200 pubs in a year, even with Mrs RM’s best efforts, so I’m targeting just under half that amount again.
A year ago I made a list of about 50 Wetherspoons around the country that I needed to visit, several of them new to the Guide. Whatever their perceived faults, Spoons give you decent beer, unique carpets and a guarantee that they’ll open very early.
This year is all about the micros, more than 80 Guide newbies in England alone. All with idiosyncratic opening hours much more affected by personal circumstance than Wetherspoons or Punch.
I’m not anti-micro, though they often seem to me to be a middle-aged beer shed. Beer quality is generally good (if rarely great), and they have expanded choice in some unlikely places such as Middlesbrough. How long they’ll last with only ale and peanut sales is another matter.
As well as proper, Herne-approved micros ,there’s a lot of new café bars (Knutsford), brewery bars (Dronfield) and bottle shops (Southport) too, and the variety of drinking places has probably never been wider.
Incidentally, a frequent criticism of the Guide is that it’s already out of date. I’ve never agreed with that. The GBG released today includes micropubs that only opened in November and December 2015. There’s an interesting point about how long it takes to prove a new pub can demonstrate consistency, as opposed to breadth of range.
No doubt I will have gripes to share before long about opening times being wrong already, and pubs with too many pumps, but for now I’m full of optimism.
Not least because there are at least two new pubs with Draught Bass, and one of them on gravity. Brentwood here we come.