BUSTLING BURSCOUGH

This has been a tiring week of travel, and it’s not often I say that.

Two trips to Manchester, a dozen journeys taking Matt and his precious possessions between Salford, a storage depot on Ashton Old Road, and his new house in Ancoats. He’s looking worse for wear too.

But he’s moved now, so no more exploring Ordsall and the Hungry Horses on the Quays. I assume the one below is a Brunning & Price;

Not only have I returned to train journeys this month (no fun), I’ve also stayed in 3 hotels, averaging £30 a night.

Between being a delivery driver, I popped out to finish the Beer Guide entries for Lancashire in the overtime (Sep to early Oct) granted by CAMRA due to Covid. They’re all heart, are CAMRA.

Burscough is a pleasant large village on the vast Lancashire farming plain between the sand dune of Southport and the pies of Wigan.

It looked quite bustling, and a friendly new bar called the Thirsty Duck gave me an almost certain pre-emptive tick if GBG22 ever gets published.

You’re not allowed to see the bar these days, of course, so I don’t know what I had and can’t score it NBSS 3.5 on What Pub but I read that CAMRA branches won’t be bothering with NBSS anyway so who cares about beer quality ?

Away from the cobbles I ventured down Mart Lane (no relation) to an abandoned Victoria Park, once home to the mercurial midfield maestro Alex Russell.

A rare new GBG entry, the waterside Old Packet House whose lone outside table had been snaffled.

At the door you’re met by the now familiar table of organic hand sanitiser and notice forbidding your march to the bar.

But the smiley barmaid DOES let me approach the pumps, once she’s checked me in, and I remember this is even less fun for pub staff than for me and stop whining.

Oh, Landlord then.

I nod to the Old Boy on the next table who’s spending more time doing the one way circuit to the smokers corner than drinking, and remember that West Lancashire pubs are required by law to play 2020 pop (in this case Baby Come Home by Olivia Dean), putting them about 35 years ahead of Lincolnshire musically.

It’s a decent Landlord (NBSS 3), decent being the word I use to describe a pint that is enjoyable but not memorable. That’s enough 2 months after the Return of Pubs, isn’t it ?

Across the road, I could have had another Landlord in the town’s second Guide pub, but I’d probably have been killed by the cyclists imitating local legend Bradley Wiggins.

Of whom more shortly.

9 thoughts on “BUSTLING BURSCOUGH

  1. When I was a bit more interested in beer geekery I got to see beer scoring in action at a few beard branches and the importance placed on it. How people do it, how it is collected, how the stats are compiled. To some it is a holy grail. However, many branches don’t collect enough scores to give it any more meaning than the view of a few local activists. It isn’t a tool to see the opinions of a wider group, it is the view of all present written down and agreed. Some branches view it as the defining ranking just as some seek to use it as informative though not definitive. Others are so concerned with what they see an anomalies or others manipulating the averages they go to great lengths to adjust the score to “correct” them and find a justification for doing so. They are often used as many statistics are to win arguments. An anecdotal view of a member in a meeting of the beer quality on a wet Tuesday afternoon can be ignored as the beer scores for that pub say different. How your scores will be treated will be interesting. Some branches will role your number into their average without question. Some branches will see a score from someone outside the branch and if the score moves their average in a way they dislike they can ignore your score as being that of a know nothing from outside the branch. They haven’t seen your wider national input. This is also despite the usefulness of your tendency to score pubs on days the throng may not be ensuring turnover.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ooh, you do write lovely, Cookie.

      Yes, it’s all pretence and pseudo science. But I like to believe that in the more enlightened branches like Stockport and Reading it is still possible for a plain pub just selling a lot of Unicorn, or Doom Bar, or IPA into the Guide.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It comes down to whether a stat is used to inform or support decisions and whether an inner group really want to be directed by a less committed and involved outer group.

        Most inner groups (committee positions + active members) want control and therefore do not want to be informed that their opinions are not shared. They want to make the decision and want statistics that support whatever that is.

        Therefore a lot of effort is put into making sure the scores reflect what they think they should be rather than accepting whatever they turn out to be.

        A lot submit scores thinking they are just contributing to an average and helping a cause, and never know how much is filtered, ignored or adjusted.

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      2. 90% of beer in GBG pubs tends towards NBSS 3 anyway. Enough to retain the Guide entry, not good enough to get a 19 year old lad off Beavertown or Punk, even if it is a quid cheaper. Cask is dying fast, pub less so.

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      3. Then you get plonkers like me who only submit a score if it’s really good, really bad, or the Doombar is drinking well

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      4. Cookie,
        Yes, I very much recognise what you’re describing.
        It’s of little concern that there’s not enough scores from the very reliable ‘one or two beers is plenty’ pubs for them to be considered.
        What a well-known beer writer describes as a “beautifully delicate session pale ale” served in perfect condition surely deserves an NBSS score of 4 but a member not appreciating the beer for what it is is likely to just give it a 2 based on the “Bland, uninspiring beers score a 2” rule.
        Many members aren’t objective in their scoring, especially with chains they either love or loathe. I remember a member describing a decent pint he had but his score for it that I saw a month later reflected his prejudice more than the actual beer quality.
        And then there’s pub managers that enrol their staff as members and encourage them to regularly keep scoring 4 for the pub.
        Scores can be useful if enough are submitted, which tends to be only for the “beer range varies” favourites, but the system is far from perfect.

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  2. “They’re all heart, are CAMRA.”

    And obviously no brains.

    “so who cares about beer quality ?”

    Certainly not the Thirsty Duck. Their outdoor sign only mentions wines, gins and whiskeys.

    “once home to the mercurial midfield maestro Alex Russell.”

    No relation… to me. 😉

    “whose lone outside table had been snaffled.”

    Fer fook’s sake.

    “But the smiley barmaid DOES let me approach the pumps,”

    Lucky you! Oh, wait; you’re talking about the cask pumps on the bar.

    “Of whom more shortly.”

    Oooooohhh!

    Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

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