I was trying to come up with a witty title but gave up and called this what it was. It’s time to reveal the most bizarre Opening Times in the new Beer Guide.


To be clear, there’s two very different issues here;


Pubs that say they’ll be open and then aren’t, like this one. And don’t let the world know about the changes.  That’s just bad business practice, if not downright bad manners.  But then many micro pubs aren’t businesses, are they ?  They’re hobbies.

I look forward to this year’s crop of “Shut for private parties”  and “Moved opening till 4pm” stories from Duncan and Simon.  And no, I don’t hold CAMRA volunteers responsible for keeping WhatPub up to date.  It’s a thankless task.

Especially for those of us who like a midday rather than a midnight drink.




My bigger gripe is the presence in the Good Beer Guide of places that are never open. Last year we saw a wave of Brewery Taps in the Midlands only open a few hours a week,  Mansfield Woodhouse and Birmingham being the highlights.

Those now seem like Wetherspoons compared to the Connoisseur Tasting Rooms in St Helens, open eleven Saturdays a year.  Anyone visiting St Helens and its two marvellous National pubs of the Year might be a bit disappointed to come on one of the wrong 354 days.

One of St Helens’ many great pubs that are open

Now the Connoisseur can open whenever it likes, but having a place in the GBG open 11 out of 365 days is just daft. Yes, the Guide is about beer quality, but as David Thomas Broughton sang;

“The strategy is theoretically correct, but is it right ?  Is it balls”

As a key campaigning tool, the Beer Guide is a, er, guide to the places where you can drink real ale at its best.  What would those CAMRA pioneers who trundled along the A14 finding Huntingdonshire pubs back in the ’70s have thought if they’d only been open next March ?

But potentially even tougher than the Connoisseur is this gem;

These are the WhatPub details for Empingham Cricket club in Rutland.


Ouch !  But look at the Club website for the even harsher reality.


Yep.  Now cricket is over, your window of opportunity is 9pm-11pm on A Friday.  Good luck with the public transport Si.


  1. I’m thinking about opening a micropub. The planned hours are that it will be open between 14.45 and 15.15 every 29th of February. What are my chances of getting in the GBG?

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Everyone will have to be out by 3.15, so I’ll call time at 2.55 and last orders as I open the door at 2.45. The beer will of course be of the finest quality, ensuring my place in the GBG (which will be completely out of date the moment it’s printed).


  2. “But then many micro pubs aren’t businesses, are they ? They’re hobbies”. Yes, indeed, micropubs are often opened ‘on the cheap’ with a “vision of low rent, low or no business rates, VAT free and less than 500 sq ft.” and then continue with limited opening hours, “random furniture” and a unisex toilet – and that’s not a proper pub.

    “Especially for those of us who like a midday rather than a midnight drink” and you can most certainly count me as one of them.

    And in that Cricket Club any beer left in the cask at 11pm on Friday is hardly going to be GBG quality when the club reopens 166 hours later.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Could they be using bright beer racked into polypins? Bright has been used for emergency resupplies at CAMRA festivals. Members could take the leftovers home.

    Village population c800 – where do they drink the rest of the time?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I wouldn’t dare criticise the Cricket Club but I would question their choice of sport.
        Why choose an activity with opposing teams only coming out to play on occasional days during the summer when instead you could play darts or dominoes which is suitable for just about any evening, or lunchtime, of the year ?

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Dave’s comment about the freshness of the beer in these places is spot on – how can they possibly keep GBG-Standard quality beer with stupid opening hours. Ian, I know of pubs in the north east that use racked bag in box beer with a proper tap connector as they only have enough custom to sell cask at weekends. This is emphatically not cask-conditioned as it’s racked from the same conditioning tanks the breweries use to condition keg versions of the beers, although it isn’t filtered and needs a few hours to settle what little lees are left.


  5. Imagine you run a pub and are on the go from early morning until gone midnight seven days a week all year, amongst your other tasks is to keep no more than three handpumps pouring forth their top quality beery goodness, a session bitter or perhaps something a fair bit stronger, pump two could be Bathams, Draught Bass or similar, whilst the third is for a rotating mild/porter/stout, meanwhile a bloke down the road takes a lease on a greengrocers shop that has stood empty for years, he refits it cheaply and starts selling one beer brewed in his mate’s kitchen but only opens when his career in digital marketing allows, withing a few months he’s made the GBG, what a kick in the gonads.
    Incidently I shall be making my biannual visit to Ludlow Racecourse in just over three weeks, in the centre of the course is the golf club and it’s newish but attractive clubhouse serving Ludlow Gold supplimented by Hobson’s Best in Summer, WhatPub says that it opening hours are 11am-3pm with the caveat that “clubhouse only remains open while there are potential customers (i.e. golfers) around” and consequently doesn’t open on race days, good luck BRAPA indeed!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. WB,
      Yes, and the proper pub inevitably has quite considerable overheads while the new GBG entry, little more than a hobby, is opened on the cheap with a “vision of low rent, low or no business rates, VAT free and less than 500 sq ft.”*

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree with your DIY pub points but I’ve no problem with these places sprouting up, in fact taking over a vacant unit in a struggling row of shops can only be viewed as a good thing, but to promote them in the GBG above a boozer that can be open for nearly eighty hours a week is frankly taking the rise, as others have pointed out in this thread I’d be sceptical about the quality of the ale(s) on offer with such limited hours, after all that’s what the GBG is supposed to be about, you only have to see the work that goes into a three day beer fest, there is a “parlour pub” in Ludlow that only opens 5pm-9pm Thursday to Saturday, I might play Devil’s Advocate and phone them to see if they’d take 40 odd thirsty racegoers at midday for 90 minutes! 😉
        BTW is the golf club actually in the GBG?


      2. Yes, that club (cricket) is the only new entry for Rutland in GBG.

        Like you, I don’t mind them springing up. It’s just their presence in a Guide to good beer guide that makes no sense.

        I need to do the Joules pub in Ludlow so might well bump into you !


      3. Now, I have done the Joules pub in Ludlow back in the days when it was a Wem pub, so would that count as a tick from your point of view?


  6. We’re at cross purposes here, I meant the Ludlow Golf Club.

    Yes that’s the Rose & Crown, I’m quite a fan of Joule’s pubs and especially their Mumbling Skunk, it’s an 11am opener which is always a bonus!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. DHW gets an eight on BITE, but with only three reviews, the first being the owner! (and editor of the Doghouse Magazine), between 22/12/15 & 26/2/17 probably best taken with a hefty pinch of salt, unless you know better.
    Rose & Crown gets some decent, and recent, reviews on Trip advisor though!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. As I mentioned on another blog*. The GBG website states:

    “Packed with 4,500 of the best real ale pubs in the UK and information on every real ale brewery currently operating and their key beers.”

    Their main page also has this from an *cough* Independent review:

    “From country inns to urban style bars and backstreet boozers, all selected and reviewed by over 170,000 CAMRA members, this is your definitive guide to finding the perfect pint.”

    How in God’s name can they call clubs, micros and whatnot bloody pubs?


    * –

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You were spot on with that comment on Duncan’s blog (apart from calling St Helens ******). The word is “Guide”. Otherwise, you might as well just have a list of the Beer Festivals, which are supposed to have the best beer (they don’t).


      1. Yes, it is the Good BEER Guide and NOT the Good Pub Guide. I get what people are saying, but after much thought, I think we are all guilty of looking at the guide through our own eyes and not taking a 360′ view.

        The entries are selected by a group of (loosely) like minded people who live and drink in a particular area and through various methods of selection believe the entries put forward are those providing the best cask ales in their area – we don’t necessarily have to agree with them, but we should respect their viewpoint. Certainly until there is some consistency in the selection process. There is an excellent CAMRA scoring system which is used for POTY and cider POTY there are 7 categories to be considered. I doubt whether there are more than a handful of branches who utilise this approach in selecting GBG pubs.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Rubbish, man. The best cask ale in “Leeds” is the stuff served at Clifford Beer Festival at the end of June. Should that, then, be in the Guide ? Or the GBBF ?


      3. There can though be a tendency for those “like minded people” to make it more of a Guest Beer Guide by selecting the venues with the most and/or the ‘interesting’ beers rather than the best kept cask ales in their area.
        The beer scoring system can be useful but it’s far from “excellent” as it’s not always used objectively and, inevitably, only those pubs used by the active members, the ‘beer range varies’ free houses and micropubs, get scored.


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