GOOD BEER GUIDE ’21 – A TRIUMPH IN ADVERSITY

Greetings to the new brunette” sang Billy Bragg in 1986, before he got woke and left his pap pop behind on Workers Playtime, the best LP of ’88.

Today I say Greetings to the new Good Beer Guide 2021, the book we once thought might never happen as pubs closed in March, preventing the vital work of ticking pubs for nearly 4 months.

Frankly, this post should just say a huge THANK YOU to CAMRA members and staff for scoring beers, picking their favourite free houses, checking pubs were open, and getting the GBG out against the odds.

It’s still our top campaigning tool, directing folk to places with the best kept beer more often its critics would have you believe.

The new Guide was released to Privilege members 10 days ago (10 hours in Scotland) so that we could finish Essex before it goes into Tier 3.75 b+ lockdown.

Frankly, for the stats, you’re best off reading BRAPA’s blog, or Duncan’s when he stops ticking non-league grounds for a minute.

This year I’d have to visit another 720 new pubs (16%) to complete the Guide and emulate Pubmeister, which sounds a lot but is only two a day, every day.

We’re still poring over the pages and going “What ! Really ? None in Carluke ?”, but the highlights seem to be 2 new pubs in Grimsby and an estimated 377 new micropubs. One of those figures is made up.

Most generous opening hours award goes to FireRock Brewing of Sutton-in-Ashfield, open 17:00 to 21:00 on Friday and 14:00 to 21:00 on Saturday, a grand total of 13 hours a week. It’s following in the footsteps of Notts legends like Robin Hood and the Prior’s Well in Mansfield Woodhouse.

Of course, those opening hours are a bit pointless when you can’t visit pubs in Tier 3 for a beer because the Government doesn’t think you can be trusted unless you’re drinking it with sea bass and samphire.

And that’s going to be the biggest challenge for tickers this year, actually finding pubs open at all. Which might, if I’m honest, actually be a bigger hardship for the pubs and their staff than me. We shall do our bit to keep our pubs afloat while beer tickers sit watching Netflix sipping bottled murk.

I’ll do a separate post on the noble art of Good Beer Guide cross-checking this week, so you can appreciate the effort involved, but in the meantime I’d like to support this initiative by Cooking Lager to get CAMRA to see pre-coloured GBGs, complete with a certificate to say you’ve been to all 4,531 pubs.

For an extra fiver you can get the book presented by Duncan McKay.

16 thoughts on “GOOD BEER GUIDE ’21 – A TRIUMPH IN ADVERSITY

  1. Sea bass and samphire…the patron saint of fishermen is Saint Peter, and from the French, Saint Pierre, samphire does take its name, growing in rocky, salt-sprayed cliffs, and in salty marshes…sapphire is a blue variety of corundum, a mineral of mainly aluminium oxide, and of remarkable hardness, being third only to diamond…

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  2. It’s a very fine acheivment, but I’m still not buying one (12 years, a new personal best!).

    As an inveterate worrier, I do wonder who the hell, outside of your good tickin’ selves, is actually going to buy a GBG this year! Perhaps the CAMRAs have missed a trick here, a slimmer tome detailing all the breweries, pubs, and Bargain Booze emporiums doing Winter takeaway could have been a best seller at similar price.

    Might I suggest a new extra-wide highlighter for counties no longer open to the casual Ticker & Toper (© M.Shirley)

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  3. More tension…waiting for your accompanying (delayed) statistical report. Classic line re sea bass and samphire. Haven’t had time to do a post on this yet – but will have plenty of time when everything shuts down again everywhere.

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  4. I’m not sure about “getting the GBG out against the odds” as pubs had been surveyed by January or February and entries submitted in March with “checking pubs were open” done remotely during lockdown.
    It remains to be seen how many pubs in the guide survive the next fourteen months, and it’s surveying for and putting together a possible 2022 GBG that will be problematic.

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    1. I was thinking more of the effort involved in re-surveying pubs since July to confirm they were still open, Paul, and the work involved in getting it printed etc. By contrast, I understand the Good Pub Guide, which relies on funding from the “pubs” themselves, is delayed till the new year.

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      1. Having done much of it myself from 1974 to 2006 I don’t underestimate the work active members in branches do in putting the GBG together but, at least as far as my branch is concerned, much of the “re-surveying pubs since July to confirm they were still open” has been done remotely which is a fraction of the time and effort and none of the expense of properly visiting and drinking in pubs to survey them.
        With branches submitting ALL the details for their entries online more or less in the order it appears on the page I’ve been surprised in recent years that “the work involved in getting it printed” takes from March to October.
        If the Good Beer Guide still is CAMRA’s “top campaigning tool” I hope not too many of the non members buying it are disappointed by opening hours not being shown and, unavoidable, by the number of entries that have closed over the next fourteen months.

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    2. Never mind surveying trips, how many people have been in pubs to make voting anything but a statistical lottery? Especially for rural pubs, I believe most visits are in tourist season, much of which was lost this year. Barring branches imposing their own geographical biases, GBG 2022 may well end up with some very intriguing choices.

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  5. “Frankly, this post should just say a huge THANK YOU to CAMRA members and staff”

    Even from far across the sea I say… agreed.

    “and emulate Pubmeister,”

    Sorry Martin but, no one can emulate Duncan. 😉

    “and an estimated 377 new micropubs.”

    Probably with a combined opening hours of 12. 😉

    “a grand total of 13 hours a week”

    See? 🙂

    “when you can’t visit pubs in Tier 3 for a beer because the Government doesn’t think you can be trusted unless you’re drinking it with sea bass and samphire.”

    Simples! Have a ‘true’ Bass with it! 🙂

    “while beer tickers sit watching Netflix sipping bottled murk.”

    I’ve cancelled Netflix and haven’t had a hazy IPA for a few days now. Plus, I don’t live over there. 😉

    “but in the meantime I’d like to support this initiative by Cooking Lager to get CAMRA to see pre-coloured GBGs, complete with a certificate to say you’ve been to all 4,531 pubs.”

    Blimey! That’s actually a good idea!

    “For an extra fiver you can get the book presented by Duncan McKay.”

    Too rich for my blood. 😉

    Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

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