LEARNING TO LOVE THE NEW GOOD BEER GUIDE

 

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A big welcome to the new Good Beer Guide , shown here alongside an ideal companion publication in Foyles of Cambridge.

The Praise

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.

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The Horror

The definitive story of the horror is contained on the latest posts from fellow obsessives BRAPA and Pubmeisterwherein 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.

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The Stats

Simon saw 178 of his pubs drop out, while I lost a record 486 from my 2017 highpoint. I suspect Pubmeister, the man who’s done the Guide, has similar tales of woe.

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.

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But I shan’t stop till the last suds in the last pint are sunk.

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The Winners

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.

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The Losers

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. 

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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.

 

 

 

 

53 thoughts on “LEARNING TO LOVE THE NEW GOOD BEER GUIDE

  1. I suspect it’s irony, but the Murenger House certainly hasn’t dropped out. As far as I can see, one of only five Sam’s pubs in the Guide, and none in their home county of Yorkshire!

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      1. Ah, misled again by WordPress’s completely non-obvious links.

        Sometimes dropping pubs seems prescient – the Cocked Hat in Stockport fell off the bottom of the list (nothing wrong as such, just other pubs were better) but it and the whole Atwill Pub Company are now up for sale.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not that au fait with the GBG “ticking” process. Presumably those pubs visited in previous years/editions, can be carried across to the new guide? I also presume that those pubs which don’t make the guide have to be discarded; the “GBG churn” you refer to.

    What happens though if a pub reappears, in a year’s time, or indeed after a gap of several years? Do you have to go back and cross-reference entries from the last decade for example?

    It all sounds rather time consuming and more than a bit messy but, whilst remaining mildly curious, is not something for me to comment on further, apart from saying “happy ticking.”

    As you may or not know, the last GBG I bought was the 40th edition. I had a full set up until then (still have, somewhere up in the loft), but have not bought a copy since. You mention that the book is the size (and probably the weight of a brick), so surely the logical thing would be to drop the Breweries Section? Perhaps this will happen, now that Roger Protz is stepping down; it would certainly make sense.

    One way round the weight/size problem is to purchase the electronic version. I am not normally a fan of digital books, as I much prefer the printed “real thing.” However, as someone who is only likely to refer to the Guide on odd occasions, buying it in electronic form may be the best option for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The objective is to have completed all the pubs in the current Beer Guide; some of those will have been visited 20years ago. I was asked if I had to do all 4,500 in the same year once (that’s 13 a day !)..

      In seriousness, the travel aspect bit is as important as the pubbing. “Doing the GBG” is also “Doing the UK” with some structure.

      You can’t put pink highlighter on a digital book (yet !).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “Doing the GBG” is also “Doing the UK” with some structure. I really like that analogy, Martin. Have fun, and if you can spare an evening from your busy schedule, there’s still that meet-up to be arranged, in the new Tonbridge Fuggles. (Not in the 2018 Guide, but I would have thought already a firm contender for 2019.)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I like it too. I have used the GBG exclusively to plan trips over the last five years. The GBG has taken me to places I never would have thought to go. I have also met great people in the pubs. I do think CAMRA underestimates the power of the travel portion of their work. Most of us love the pub as much as the beer; the towns and villages also enhance the experience.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Keep the breweries, drop the pubs section. The Good Pub Guide is the definitive guide to UK pubs already, no need for an unnecessary addendum.

      Doing all the pubs in the Good Pub Guide would be a worthwhile achievement.

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  3. As I don’t live in the UK as shall have to do like Paul and say “happy ticking”.

    Plus this:

    “This one is till in, one of only five Sam Smiths in the Guide.”
    still, not till 😎

    Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nightmare journeys in rural Cheshire. I’d be tempted to get the train to Winsford, then the bus to Church Minshull, followed by a bus to Nantwich. From there get the train to Crewe (8 mins) then get a bus to Congleton. From Congleton return to Crewe and get the train to Runcorn (20 mins) stay in the Hotel Campanile (£35 a night) and box off any new additions in my home town (someone told me what they were and I forgot)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was with you all the way till the Campanile, Ms Walker.

      £35 ! I could buy Widnes for that. Must be some basic B&Bs in the shiny chemical glow of Weston Point. Royal Oak and Norton Arms are re-entries the Guide, so Runcorn has four GBG pubs now, which is good going.

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      1. The ‘only’ way to get to Church Minshull is – get to Middlewich, hire a narrowboat for the day, travel for 2 hours along the Middlewich Arm of the Shropshire Union Canal, moor in the middle of nowhere (seemingly!) and walk the half mile to The Badger! That’s the only way I’ve ever got to Church Minshull!!

        By the way, I believe that the Wild Cat Tap in Stirchley has made it into the Guide – that is but a stone’s throw from me and, if you’re headed this way I’d be happy to have a half (or three) with you!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Funnily enough, I was looking at the East Cheshire council bus information pages with a view to making a semi satirical post, but as others have suggestions I’ll be more serious. Church Minshull is served by the Arriva 31/31A Crewe – Northwich via Winsford ‘bus, giving a roughly half hourly service and that seems to be it. Nantwich is easy by train from Crewe; there is the two hourly Crewe – Salop stopper and also some Manchester – Cardiffs stop, Congleton is served by the Stoke – Manc stoppers and also the odd longer distance train. The rest I can’t make out on the map.

      I agree that the GBG is a way of doing the UK. Everybody should have some similar hobby to see the country.

      Mark Noble played for City on loan. He hurt his back on the journey to sign, then generally acted as a feeble dweeb on the pitch. I recall no positives.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve escaped relatively unscathed – down from 956 to 915. I’m glad it’s noted above that it’s just as much about visiting parts of the UK you wouldn’t normally get to, that really is the beauty of it. Most of my pub visits are combined with something else I’m doing but I’m still at the stage where this normally gives new pubs to go to.

    Am I making it up or did I read somewhere the Yorkshire branches had a ban on Sam Smiths making it into the guide? Excepting the tenanted one in Bishopthorpe?

    The brewery section should definitely go, or at the very least just be a list of breweries and core beers without descriptions.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Ban or no ban, in practice that appears to be the only one in Yorkshire. That makes a total of six that I’ve counted – also in Durham, Glossop, Newport (Mon), Scunthorpe and Stockport.

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  6. Playing devils advocate here.
    If i got a new 2018 GBG and started to mark off pubs i have been in,would all count,
    I did the Prince Rupert when it was called The Woolpack and was a keg John Smiths tied house,so would that count.
    I also can not get my head round this pre emptive ticking of pubs that may be in the GBG in the future,so if i went in the Cat & Dog which was a keg only pub when i did it this year and it then gets into the 2019 GBG does that count as a tick even if i have not had a drink in it when it was in the GBG.
    I am just trying to understand the world of GBG ticking.
    My preference is Estate pub ticking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alan raises some interesting questions…and as I enjoy being devil’s advocate as much as the next personl…how long since your last visit and how many changes (name, management, gastro-ification, etc) are allowed before you’d have to revisit a pub that had reappeared in the guide?

      Methinks that there should be a ‘pub ticker’s charter’ where the rules are laid out for all to see…otherwise we might just think that you’re just out on a semi-random, never-ending, pub crawl.rather than the ‘higher calling’ you’d all have us believe it is.

      Which leaves us with one final question – GBG Ticking vs Estate Pub Ticking; which is a nobler pursuit? (Personally, I think they’re both fine occupations and I don’t know how you keep up the pace!)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Only in early September ! More often it’s the new micropubs winning Pub of the Month awards in Stockport or shiny craft places near the railways stations (right this time) we see on our journeys !

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      1. Not many left in GBG because they’re often run by big breweries or don’t serve real ale.Wythenshawe hasn’t had a Guide pub in my memory. GBG would refer to it, as much as a warning as a recommendation !

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  7. An estate pub is a pub that was built to serve the estate it is on,they are usually 50s 60s 70s and 80s built.
    All pubs i did in Wythenshawe qualify as being proper estate pubs.
    Pubs built in the same decades that look similar to proper estate pubs but not on one are not estate pubs.
    So the Pavilion in Stapleford which was built in the early 80s and looked like an estate pub was not one because it was situated in the Middle of Stapleford.
    Sadly it had such a bad reputation which did not bother us,but it was pulled down not even lasting 30 years.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No i do not mind at all Dave.
        I have always had a great buzz when seeing a really dire looking estate pub on an equally dire estate.
        I did every estate pub in Nottingham and Scum and virtually all in Manchester,Salford,Stockport and the Thameside towns.
        Me and the wife had to wait outside the Welcome Inn on Salfords notorious Ordsall estate while a fight went on inside,it was a friendly local who advised us to wait until someone got his head kicked in.
        Manchester,Salford and Nottingham had some pretty rough estate pubs that i really enjoyed doing.
        I also have photos of most i have done over the years,and most have now closed down which is a shame.

        Liked by 1 person

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