Well, I’m up-to-date with the blog, for the first time in 37 years. Just in time for a trip to Newcastle tomorrow.

So I can now give you my considered views on the new Good Beer Guide.

1. The micropub craze is dead.

Only joking. Seven new ones in Tyne & Wear alone, nine in Lancashire, etc etc

Old Dylan LPs are now available in 23% of the Guide’s pubs.

Preston. Of course.

Plenty of taprooms too, which are arguably even less likely to provide you with a couple having an argument over a ferret.

As Duncan notes, newer micros like the Police-themed Message In A Bottle are dispensing with walls altogether (as well as weekday opening).

2. Opening hours remain 100% reliable.

Except on Thursdays.


3. The correlation between questionable new entries and CAMRA discount remains a complete coincidence.


Despite Timbo’s retrenchment, loads of new Spoons in the Guide, oddly.  Their beer has been good lately.

4. Soft toy grabbers are now more likely than dartboards in GBG pubs. 

“It’s for the kiddies”  Yeah, sure

5. North Notts declared a “No Go Zone“, which if you’ve been to Retford you already knew.

Surveyors have been unable to enter the northern part of Notts to visit pubs and hence there are no new entries this year. Access to Sundown Adventure Land remains possible for under 10s, with a police escort.


6. Weird place names remain de rigeur in Durham.

Durham names

7. Many exciting new places for tickers to visit.


Top of the tree is north Rotherham, of course. Having survived that, I have Maidenhead to come, possibly this week.

Elsewhere, a first GBG entry since the internet for Crewe, two on Holy Island, and yet another newbie on the Isle of Portland, which now has more ex-GBG pubs than residents.

On other islands, the good folk of Hayling are celebrating their GBG renaissance by dancing round the Maypole.

Sadly, the Isle of Wight seems to have survived to the 2020 edition.


8. Completely made-up places introduced to confuse GBG fans.


After two decades happily in Bristol : Central, the Old Fish Market has been moved this year to a new location called Bristol : Old City, where it is very lonely.

Even more inexplicably, the Twice Brewed Inn moves from Twice Brewed to Once Brewed, in an unsuccessful attempt to foil BRAPA, who remains convinced that Hadrian’s Wall is the border with Scotland (it’s not, it’s the border between CAMRA branches).

9.  Where’s the Dyffryn Arms gone ?

Sadly the Pontfaen wonder recovered from its fire just too late (I guess). Still great.

The ‘meister

10. A Pub of the Year but not in the Good Beer Guide ?

Where’s the wonderful  Wylam Boathouse ? One of the most famous beer houses in the country, the 2019 local pub of the year, the Nags Head or Wellington of the North.

Its absence from GBG 20 has created the biggest debate on CAMRA social media since the great undercooked broccoli crisis of 2018.

How can that happen.  Here’s a clue;


Superb two roomed pub with FIFTEEN handpulls

Less is more folks.


  1. Congratulations on catching up! With all the travel and so forth, it’s amazing you’re able to manage as much writing as you do– and with YouTube links added in, no less. 🙂

    Are you seeing a lot of micros that are open only on weekends? I’d have thought that wouldn’t work business-wise, but as you’ve said, some of these places seem to be hobbies more than profitable enterprises.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The ones with particularly restrictive opening tend to be the brewery taps (like Connoisseur in St Helens just open once a month) where the bar is a supplement to the brewing business.

      But a lot don’t open Monday or Tuesday and not till 4pm thereafter. I suppose they don’t employ staff.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Tuesday is usually the worst day for beer quality or choice. In many pubs the weekly demand cycle means it’s not worth putting new beer on to sit deteriorating for days undrunk and everything else is already tired from the weekend. Beer just isn’t an everyday thing for most of us any more.

        Not opening is understandable.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Of course my local branch once made the Railway on Wellington Road North its Pub of the Year, but the following month didn’t put it in the Guide. However, IMV it was the latter decision that was correct 😛


    1. GBG should solely be about beer quality while Pub of the Month / Season / Year is also about several other things so they’re definitely not one and the same thing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No they’re definitely not the same, but I can see how a pub, its customers and local press would be bemused that a pub voted the best is judged to have insufficient beer quality to make the Good Beer Guide.

        We know it can mean there’s a wealth of good beer and too few places, but in my experience Northumberland can be hit and miss for beer quality.

        If you tip up by train, try 6 of their 15 beers and mark half of them as dull, that’s what you get. Serve one beer well.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. What I mean is that a pub’s NBSS scores might not quite get it in the GBG but its pickled eggs, weekly meat raffle, proper outside toilets and pub cat ensure that it’s Pub of the Season every couple of years.

        I’ve not been to Northumberland for many years and I doubt if I’ll get there next year.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s a Pity Me Inn – pretty average – near Wadebridge in Cornwall. I often wondered if the title arose for similar reasons to the place name in the north east.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Surprised to see Wylam’s Boathouse out of the Guide – My North East England correspondent, who was most recently there on Friday, hasn’t noted any deterioration in beer quality. Then again she’s drinking the cider as often as not. It certainly won’t stop me from paying a visit in a few weeks time, and then I can judge for myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve not been to the Boathouse for years but it wasn’t even nominated for the 2020 GBG so I suspect it’s had a change of owner/manager which would disqualify it. What are your Newcastle tick targets Martin?


    1. As far as I know, it is still owned and run by Mark Weatherburn, son of the late Norman Weatherburn. I have to say I personally haven’t had a great beer in there since Norman died: some passable ones and a fair few duffers, as one would expect from the number of ‘wickets’. I’ve not been in for over 6 months, but I’m not entirely surprised it’s dropped out of the Guide. Back in the day we missed several trains drinking very good beer – but at that time the pubs in the Toon weren’t as good so more people used to go out to drink there, I suspect.

      As for place names, I quite like the Dragonville area in Durham, although it’s basically an industrial estate.


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