A big welcome to the new Good Beer Guide , shown here alongside an ideal companion publication in Foyles of Cambridge.
First and foremost, the Guide is a tribute to Roger Protz’s expert editorial hand in his 24th and final year in the hallowed role. Mr Protz will be a tough act to follow.
And secondly thanks to all the hardworking CAMRA volunteers who score the beers on WhatPub, and then choose places for the Guide on the basis of beer quality. Hopefully.
The GBG has, as usual, been met with a mixture of joy and horror by a hardy band of noblemen determined to complete the whole current GBG before they die.
The definitive story of the horror is contained on the latest posts from fellow obsessives BRAPA and Pubmeister. wherein our heroes describe the task of making progress with the Quest, in the face of what we call “GBG churn“. That’s the number of pubs they’ve visited that aren’t in the Beer Guide any more, so making the task of completing the GBG even harder.
Simon will have to do a scary number of pubs annually, and the task gets harder when each year brings a new clutch of micro pubs with tiny hours and giant beer lists.
For me, this means I’ll need to visit 659 new pubs before the next GBG comes out to make meaningful progress. You can, I’m sure, see some of the issues that raises.
That’s only 12 a week, I hear you say, but there aren’t that many places left with 12 pubs easily reachable by public transport from a £30 B&B on a Tuesday night (if they’re even open).
For example, the areas not marked in pink below are the paltry seven Cheshire entries I need this year. It probably takes a week to get to Church Minshull by bus. From Nantwich. For a half of Tatton Best.
But I shan’t stop till the last suds in the last pint are sunk.
Well, clearly that’s micro pubs, whether they’re Martyn Hillier approved or the rebellious sort that sells Brew Dog and plays surf punk.
Close behind is Brewhouse and Kitchen, the sole new entry in a number of towns, and clearly the Firkins of their age.
A few towns have hit the GBG big time. Rumours of a Totnes revival have been circulating for a while; I’ll have four entries there if I can survive the incense assault.
Up the M5 in Stourbridge, that bastion of Bathams, we have three newbies with names like Badelynge, Barbridge and Boutique.
And a welcome back to the Guide for unheralded Chatteris and Flitwick. You can’t believe how pleased Mrs RM is to be making daytrips to those.
As Pub Curmudgeon notes here, the GBG is now as much a Guide to microbreweries as places to drink quality ale, and the book itself is now a virtual brick. Some of the counties are close to having more breweries than pubs in the Guide, which really mucks up the maps.
Visiting all the Beer Guide pubs is tough; actually finding a beer from each of the Guide’s breweries in a pub is probably impossible.
On a personal level I am devastated to see the return of Maidenhead Conservative Club to the Guide, but at least I’ve crossed that one off already.
This one is still in, one of only five Sam Smiths in the Guide.
I hear a lot of complaints about the Guide. I have to tell you that while a few good pubs might miss out, there are very few duffers. And most of the pubs I’ve had cause to whinge about (like this one) have dropped out of the new Guide.
You can trust the Good Beer Guide.