I recommend you start the day with Pub Curmudgeon’s new post on beer quality. It’s a great summary of a complex  issue, and a reminder of how easy it is for cask to lose ground on the bar, even when served competently. Mrs RM has converted to the higher strength KeyKeg and keg craft on our own crawls, and often I can’t blame her.

Beer quality over the last year has actually been very consistent in my experience around the country.  I’ve even had good beer (NBSS 3 or above) in London.  The number of very good pints, the sort where you go “ooh, that’s good” is probably 1 in 10 though.  And that’s exclusively Beer Guide pubs.

Over the next month or so CAMRA Branches will be selecting their pubs for the 2018 Beer Guide. This is a solemn task, to be undertaken over the last pint of Cloudwater. I commend them for picking on the basis of beer quality alone.  In contrast to Pete Brown’s considered piece yesterday, I’ve only had to take one pint back in the last year.

Now, folk don’t go in pubs just for the real ale, or any beer of course. It’s hard to see coachloads of beer tickers heading for Seven Red Roses in Lower Earley.

As I walked from Earley station in light drizzle, I had a sudden feeling of having been here before, and started to consult WhatPub under cover of bus stops to see if the Roses was just a rebranding of the Maiden Over, a very similar sounding estate pub.  But that was closed, which is sad but symptomatic.

The Roses doesn’t have the character that pub did, but does feature a unique upward method of dispense;


Only Doom Bar on tap then, and “Cash Only” signs aren’t normally indicators of good health, but at least the Magners sales were holding up on a Monday lunchtime.


And the Doom Bar was decent enough too. On Friday night it might have been even better.

I’ve had similar experiences of good beer in unlikely surroundings in nearby Theale and Tilehurst recently.

I always try to acknowledge CAMRA branches who pick unlikely looking basic pubs for the Guide. It takes good chairmanship to pick a Hungry Horse or one-bar local for GBG status over an inconsistent free house. Reading/Mid-Berks CAMRA are flagbearers for Quality First.


  1. Oh dear, that’s a bit of a sad picture. On a recent visit to Spoons I saw a bloke sitting on his own with no fewer than eight bottles of Becks in front of him – also a sad indictment of their table-clearing abilities.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A cash only sign should be superfluous – it should really be the only means of payment in any pub, or for that matter corner shop, market stall or omnibus amongst others. Other methods slow down service and create complications. The simpler the pricing, the better. Round figures, so £2 a pint of beer, any change is simple, job done.


      1. People who are confused by handling cash should not be in a job which requires them to handle cash. Everybody is good at something, everybody is bad at something.

        I dislike contactless as I am fearful of the potential for a person even less honest than myself getting hold of contactless bank cards that do not belong to them. I also regularly witness farces in which the contactless technology fails or even catches fire. Stick to cash, all that can go wrong then is the person.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I only use cash when out drinking or shopping,i have never had a credit card and have never used my speed bank card in a pub or shop,also never had a wallet it is crumpled up notes in my pocket apart from the new crap £5 note they should all be melted and bring back the proper old £5 notes which folded nice in my pockets.


  3. Milton Keynes and North Bucks CAMRA branch GBG entries are also picked solely on beer quality, so often include one bar pubs and chains (Slug and Lettuce a couple of years back). None of that asking members to nominate their favourites and then picking only from that list as seems to be prevalent in so many branches – judging by the articles they proudly write for their branch magazine.


      1. I presume MK (like Cambridge and Stockport) use NBSS scores as a starting point (they always need some moderation) for selection rather than just asking members for nominations ?


      2. Of course membership views should matter – they can put their scores in whatpub and/or nbss to make their views known. A pub shouldn’t be in the GBG just because Bob and Terry think it serves a good pint.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. It has to be recognised that, as with any set of statistics, NBSS scores have their inherent limitations. It’s fine to use them as a guide for GBG selection, and to set a minimum cut-off point, but I’d be very wary of any branch using them as the sole criterion.

    Fairly obviously, some people will score more generously than others, and might be more inclined to do so if they knew it could help their favourite pub get in the guide. And the size of the sample has to be taken into account – I’d be inclined to give a lot more weight to a pub with 35 scores from 8 different people and an average of 3.25, than one with 7 scores from 2 people and an average of 3.75.


    1. Agree with that, and both Stockport and Cambridge branch meetings I attended last year were models of how to mix stats with critical judgement. Stripping out the outlying scores and having a proper debate about pubs with low volumes of scores.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s