What do you do when you are really hankering for a great ale but are in an unfamiliar area? CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide (GBG) acts as your locals’ guide for such occasions, recommending the best pubs for a decent pint in each CAMRA branch area.
As this is a national publication, if it included every good real ale pub in the country, it would be impractically thick and too heavy to lift. We cannot possibly include all of the wonderful drinking holes that our branch area boasts – with about 200 pubs in North Herts serving real ale, and limited space in the GBG, the competition is quite tough. Any pub that makes it into the GBG can be justly proud.
Our GBG list is influenced by all CAMRA members. The National Beer Scoring Scheme (NBSS) system data is fundamental to our branch’s GBG selection process; any CAMRA member, whether from North Herts or elsewhere may enter a beer score for any pub in our branch area.
At our October branch meeting we start reviewing the NBSS scores for our branch pubs, based of all scores submitted in the current year. A shortlist of the top performing pubs gives us a good starting point which allows us to focus on the pubs that require more scores and check them out. At each subsequent monthly branch meeting through to February, we continue to calculate every pub’s average score based on updated NBSS data, which may affect the original shortlist.
At the February meeting, we make the final selection after reviewing the totals. Given that there is approval from members involved in the discussion at this time, generally the top scoring pubs are submitted for inclusion in the Good Beer Guide.
Having a restricted number of GBG places means that many good pubs don’t get in. Just because a pub is not in the GBG doesn’t mean the beer is not good – it unfortunately may have not made it into the final shortlist.
The NBSS scores create a standard for us to check the beer quality and consistency throughout the year at our branch pubs, and any CAMRA member can be involved. We strongly encourage you to submit scores as promptly as you can, as often as you can. There are exceptions of course: a pub can only be considered if it has been serving consistently good real ale by gravity or hand-pump (not using cask breathers) for at least six months, under the control of the same licensee(s).
Scoring your beer is particularly important for rural pubs as they lack the regular footfall of town pubs. So we particularly encourage members either to make the trip themselves or to join us on our minibus rambles (which are marked in advance on the diary (usually the 3rd Saturday of each month).
So please remember to get involved!