The Good Beer Guide
Every year, CAMRA publishes the Good Beer Guide, listing the top Real Ale pubs in the country. The Guide also lists all Real Ale breweries. Many people have asked how the Guide is compiled so here's a brief explanation.
Most CAMRA branches (including ours) base pub selection on beer scores. Any CAMRA member can score the beer they drink in any pub - in fact the more scores the better. Beer scoring is done in WhatPub (CAMRA's online national pub guide). You must be logged in to WhatPub to enter a score. Just go to the pub's entry and fill in the form. If you aren't logged in, you will be asked to. Scores range from 0 (no Real Ale) to 5 (perfect). A score of 3 or more is considered to be Good Beer Guide quality. Most people will very rarely (if ever) give a score of 5 as you never know if you will get a better pint. The score should reflect how well the beer is presented, not whether it is a nationally available beer or from a small, independant brewery or if it is a favourite beer of yours or not.It is how the pub keeps beer, not what beers they sell. Many pubs sadly have little choice on what they can sell but still deserve recognition if they do it well. As a rule of thumb, if you are served a beer that is below par but is changed withouth any problem, the original beer is not scored. Pubs can't always keep track of how beers are selling, especially if they are busy, and you may get the last pint out of the cask. Similarly, if there is no Real Ale just becaus a cask is being changed or has gone and the next one is not yet ready, this probably doesn't warrant a score of 0.
Branch officials can download the scores for all the pubs in their branch area and use this data to base their selection on. There is no national standard method of doing this, each branch will use a method most suited to it. For example, a branch that covers a large, mainly rural area could use a different method to a smaller urban branch. Once the survey period has closed (our survey period is from 1 January to 31 December), the branch will pick their selections. We hold our selection meeting in January or early February. The general rule is that as well as the average score being 3 or more, there must have been surveys from at least 5 people and surveys on at least 5 dates. We do take into account the pub's location as a rural pub with little or no public transport may fall just short bit may still be worth considering. If a pub has changed hands during the survey period, it is usually only considered if whoever is responsible for looking after the beer has been there for at least 6 months or has moved from another Good Beer Guide pub. Once the selection is finalised, each pub is surveyed again by a branch member to get all the information needed for the Guide. This does mean that pubs selected atre based on information from the previous year but that is largely due to the time needed to get a good feel of the pub and to produce a printed book.
As can be seen, the main thing is to get beer scores for pubs. It you run a pub, please encourage CAMRA members to score your beers. As a CAMRA member, this is an easy way to get involved with CAMRA - and the chance to see how more of this works.
Every brewery should have a CAMRA Brewery Liaison Officer (BLO). This person is our official link to the brewery and passes on any news relevant to CAMRA. That person also compiles the brewery's entry in the Good Beer Guide. As BLOs (like all local CAMRA positions) are held by volunteers, there are some breweries without a BLO. If you are a branch member and would be interested in this, please get in touch. Similarly, of you run a brewery and don't have a BLO, you can always email us any news.
This page last updated: 4 Feb 2023
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