It gives me no pleasure to bring you diary extracts recording my adventures in dull or undrinkable beer this summer. Not much pleasure, anyway.

Better news is on the way; everything I drank in Blackpool last night was cool and tasty last night, even in the recently maligned Pump & Truncheon. High turnover is (nearly) everything.

What should have been my last Gloucestershire tick came in Brislington, which makes Kingswood look posh.



I didn’t notice any Brislington recommendations in Boak & Bailey’s marvellous pub guide to Bristol, and the sign outside the Kings Arms (apostrophe meltdown for Russ !) tells us this is the place folk drive past en-route to the giant trading and retail estates along Bath Road.

Don’t drive past a Proper Pub

It looks a cracker.

“Ale & Cider House” signage a shame

And inside it’s everything a card-carrying member of the esteemed “Beer & Pubs Forum” could hope for. Spacious, quirky, comfortable. A winner, surely ?

Bench seating
Rambling rooms
Sound advice

But on a Friday afternoon there were five bikers on Heineken getting ready for their big trip to Keynsham, and no-one drinking the Courage or Dawkins, which was suffering in the heat but would otherwise have been “a nice drink” (NBSS 2). A bored barman with giant headphones on (not Dr Dre, at least) said neither “please” or “thank you.


I couldn’t finish my “Resoloution” (which might be an alternative title for this blog) and considered a use for this mini-toilet on the floor of  the bar,

What is this ?

Before finding the much more suitable repository in the Gents (top).  Goal !!!*

If you want to see the video footage of the drain pour, look at my Instagram Account here.

*That’s a football reference.



    1. The GBG is suffering from an identity crisis – is it a guide to well-kept beer, or is it a guide to pubs that make an effort to sell “interesting” beer? The two are often contradictory objectives. See Cheshire dining pubs.

      Liked by 3 people

  1. I’ve been served the odd undrinkable pint, which I now almost always return, but never in a GBG pub. I think the real issue is the “more is better” thinking that CAMRA has slipped into, both in the number of pubs the GBG now lists and the number of cask beer those pubs think they have to have on the bar to get in it. I’d be happy for the GBG to be half the size it is now, with only the top “destination” pubs in it, rather than branches making up the numbers for their quota of entries with the average ones like those you seem to have been visiting of late. If that means whole swathes of counties, or even countries, being left blank, so be it. As it is, the GBG is no longer a reliable guide to good beer, but rather a a collection of good and average pubs. If I’m going to a town whose pubs I don’t know, I’ll look at the GBG as a starting point, but then dig deeper online to sort the really good from the average, a job which should have been done by the local branches, and is by some, including my own, where there are enough good pubs to fill our quota.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Matthew,
      Yes, and it has been suggested the GBG becomes “half the size it is now” by dropping the Breweries section.
      I’m not quite sure what you mean by “destination pubs” and think we need that properly
      All too often we get “branches making up the numbers” with the Wetherspoons, or next year probably the micropub, rather than the ever reliable proper pub that has its own Bass beermats.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The breweries section is probably the one I look at most often, and the one which has most long-term value as it gives an overview of the whole brewing industry for that particular year.


      2. I’ve been suggesting for years that the Breweries Section be dropped from the guide, as anyone that interested in who brews what can find that type of information on line.

        Now that Roger Protz has hung up his pen, perhaps CAMRA will see sense and drop this superfluous section (which I’m sure few people even look at), from the guide.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. To be honest, Matthew, not all these beers I tipped were undrinkable. If I’d been with a group of topers I’d have struggled through. They just weren’t enjoyable, with that taste of honey you get a lot of this time of years.

      And I know I often say that virtually ALL beer (except Donnington) is capable of greatness, I’m less sure. I think there’s some very dull beer on the market these days, and I’m not talking Doom Bar/Otter/Butcombe.


  2. Serious Post – Martin, can you confirm that you are submitting your NBSS scores on WhatPub app for all these pubs? These scores (bad or good) must be submitted so that the local branch can act appropriately. Some branch areas are so large and spread out that I suspect branch members will not get to some of the pubs very often so travelling members scores have to be relied upon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree about making use of the NBSS to score pubs either good or bad, though I dont think you can judge a pubs beer quality on a one off single visit, there are too many variables in play. Even in the best GBG pubs, actually in an overall POTY winner once I visited Sunday lunchtime session, first pint had to be exchanged as theyd basically served the dregs of the cask, and the replacement pint wasnt much better condition but I drank it and then left with a very low opinion of the place. And I do think you have to consider the time lines of getting pubs into the GBG,the pubs in the 2018 version you are using today, we’d have collected winter of 2016, alot can happen in nearly 2years in a pub even if the landlord stays the same.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Which is why it is important that as many scores as possible are submitted, covering a variety of times. Having said that, I submit scores for some pubs where I know the local branch will never consider them for inclusion because they have too few beers and/or belong to unfashionable breweries.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I agree. Pubs do have good and bad days, Even my local, remarkably consistent but still get beer varying between NBSS 2,.5 and 4, one of which would impress the visitor a lot or not. Let the local CAMRA branch give a measured view, but take account visitors’ views.


    2. In addition, in terms of your mission, does it really count as a successful ‘tick’ of the pub, if all you do is amble about taking a few photos, a sip of beer, then dispose of the revolting beverage after a single sip???

      Liked by 2 people

      1. But life would be very tedious for Martin if it was good beer, good beer, good beer, pub after pub all day long.
        That’s why he drops in on places like the Rifle Drum and that’s why rather than just drinking with fellow Fenlanders he gets us from all over England to join his Proper Days Out.

        Liked by 4 people

  3. I’m thinking of necking more real ale in pubs and what not.

    Which is the more important skill to master do you reckon?

    Secretly pouring it away in a plant or urinal?
    Making an effective and polite complaint about the muck?
    Learning not to wince, spit and shout “jesus wept” ?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “Not much pleasure, anyway.”

    I’m beginning to think you’re jinxed. 😦

    “What should have been my last Gloucestershire tick came in Brislington, ”

    Judging from all of the ‘hill’ names on the OS map I take it Bristol is quite hilly?*
    *- and yes, you can take that as a double entendre. 🙂

    “(apostrophe meltdown for Russ !)”

    Commercial signage gets a pass. 🙂

    “Sound advice”

    They should also post that in the loos for any (wicked) witches who may drop in.

    “What is this ?”

    A funny water bowl for dogs?

    “If you want to see the video footage of the drain pour, look at my Instagram Account here.”

    I shall have to attempt that later. I’ve just been summoned for a walk by my better half (gulps down rest of beer).



  5. Martin,
    Never mind,
    Next time the flowers or the urinal gets your beer just remember that “the reliability of cask beer is now far better than it was back in the 1950s and 60s” and that’s from someone who can boast “around 60 years” of “drinking time”.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Er, no, probably not.
        That comment was from one who was once said to “pontificate on all beer and pub matters from a position of profound ignorance”.
        I remember, when nearly all Greene King was on top pressure, having an NBSS 4 pint of Abbot in Cambridge’s Cambridge Arms back in 1972.

        Liked by 1 person

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