Some really great writing about pubs on the blog recently.  Mudgie (here) explored the falsehood that one buzzy new micro can be compensation for losing a handful of proper locals, while BRAPA (here) is drinking 30 pints on the Isle of Man and no doubt flies home to a hero’s welcome from Public Health England.

Best of all is Kirsty Walker‘s take on Bradley Cumming’s pitch for (yawn) CAMRA revitalisation (here), which is all you really need to read on the subject.

Amongst Kirsty’s issues, she highlights this gem in Bradley’s manifesto,

We should stop supporting pubs selling poor quality (or no) real ale, a result of our determination to halt the closure of pubs

noting that a lot of pubs serving beer below Beer Guide standard would still get scored as NBSS 2 (beer served competently kept and drinkable). Drinkable, but hardly likely to inspire conversion to real ale, if that matters.

Of course, there are plenty of pubs with no real ale at all that are still valuable to their communities, as Kirsty found out on her Runcorn stagger and any trip to Levenshulme would confirm.

The Anchor

Most beer I drink in Guide pubs is NBSS 3 or better, demonstrating the reliability of the GBG. And many times when I step outside the Guide, the scores drop too.

On the second of three visits in a week to Little Downham in the Fens, I found the archetypal NBSS 2 pint.

A pleasingly flat hour’s walk from Ely, Fen fans.


A look back to the Cathedral for you flat Fens fans

I’d wanted to visit the GBG Plough that I missed on my Pymoor Plod, but it was closed.  Clearly it was, the GBG said it would be open (shut at 2).

The Anchor was defiantly open all day, providing accommodation for sadists, and cake and coffee for seniors.

A few village highlights for you first, from what is a typical medium-sized Fen village with a pleasing church and the cheapest tourist board in Christendom.

Little Downham
That’s your info.  Corkers Crisps not shown !

An eerily quiet High Street has the usual solid architecture and what looks like a Hipster Chippy but is nothing of the sort.

What is it ?

As always, there are lovingly maintained signs of the pubs that were murdered to accommodate increasing numbers of residents over the last century.

Fox & Hounds RIP

But at least there’s some great entertainment if you get here in March.

Now in its 43rd year !

Anyway, the Anchor.  At least I can now say I’ve visited and scored it on WhatPub, and no pub visit is without merit, even if you don’t like Robbie Williams on Smooth Radio.


Some of the local banter was clearly a warm-up for the “Are You Being Served” production. “Dear oh dear” (repeat) being the only one that would comply with current publication standards.

The Anchor is cheery, the hand pumps sparkle, and it offers four beers you’ve heard of.  Most locals, and a few came in at 3pm, were drinking Doom and a Rose (not in the same glass, yet).

Proper beer range

I worked on the assumption that you don’t stock Landlord lazily, in the way you do Doom or IPA, and the pint was well presented by Fen standards. Branded glasses too.

Looks good

But as the head died it became a bit thin and dull, and the scum on the top of the pint wasn’t nice scum, if you know what I mean. With only Doom Bar selling these days, I wondered how much Landlord they’d be throwing away; then realised that they wouldn’t throw it away.

NBSS 2.  You’d never take it back.  You’d never have it again.

I felt a little short-changed at spending £4.20 for a dull pint of a great beer; the Italian or German tourist visiting Ely who dropped in would vow never to try our national beer again.

But is the answer really for CAMRA to encourage the many thousands of pubs serving NBSS 2 beer to drop cask ? 

The sensible man sticks to Carlsberg





  1. The answer is for CAMRA to stop encouraging pubs to have wide cask beer ranges where limited turnover leads to such poor beer quality, and worse. It looks like one pump would do here.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. The only problem I have with that is it would end up with pubs having 1 beer that will be almost interchangeable with what is on offer next door.
        In a previous existence looking after the beer in a bar, I managed to have Harvieston Bitter &Twisted, Skye Red Cuillin and Orkney Dark Island as the permanent ales. A range of strengths and styles, which complemented each other. The jam jars wouldn’t have been identical.


      2. Agree if it’s a busy bar in a town, but this is a village with a Beer Guide place offering two relatively interesting beers, so the Anchor doesn’t need to it certainly doesn’t attract the village ale drinkers.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Communist Party surely? Given the Pravda-esque statements coming out of St. Albans. BTW, I think I’ve been responding to you too much, I just got a spam e-mail trying to sell me a mobility scooter…..


  2. When are we going to see some live blogging from Malta instead of some dismal pub in the Fens ?
    Surely you and the missus have run out of things to say by now and are caning the drink big time ?
    Asking for a friend.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. “were drinking Doom and a Rose ”

    I drink in Rose every day; by sight that is. 🙂

    From what I’ve read on other blogs it sounds like CAMRA’s at a crossroads. I only hope it works out well for the PUBers.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. CAMRA makes very little difference to the majority of pubs. There were more pubs selling more real ale before CAMRA started, even if some of it was dishwater.

      I worry there’ll be enough benevolent folk like Mudgie left to help prepare a Beer Guide each year, though.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Doom Bar and St Austell is NOT fine – they are shite (apart from St Austell Proper Job (if kept right). Landlord is an excellent beer, nay brilliant, but you have to know what you are doing to keep it. There’s a bit of mysticism to cellarman(woman)ship, but it’s not difficult. If they can’t keep their beers right then they don’t deserve to keep going. There’s only the licensee knows how much ale they’re selling and how much to order, what to put on and when. I’ve no sympathy for shit pubs that end up closing.


  5. I love the idea of a Hipster Chippy. “Would you care to try our artisanal mushy peas?”

    From my vantage point (of complete ignorance) I do feel like CAMRA is consistently criticized by its members and non-members alike, and not much praised, ever, by anyone. I feel a bit sorry for them!

    Liked by 1 person

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