ALE Spring 2005 No. 317 : Next section

[Campaign for Real Ale logo © CAMRA]

The Brown Stuff: Pub Guides

I am amazed how gullible the Great British public is when it comes to beer guides. A guide is basically true so long as there are no changes in personnel or management. There are occasions when the continuity of a pub is maintained by the incoming landlord deciding that if you have a winning formula, you don't change it. My main problem with beer guides is that unless you know the publication well, you are in danger of being hoodwinked into going to a substandard pub.

You may well ask the question as to why put a substandard pub in a guide? The answer is revenue. There are many publishers out there who will publish a guide with the hope of making money from the sale of the book but also from persuading a pub to advertise in exchange for a favourable review. Now for Brownie Boy this is a load of tosh, and I deplore these actions. The Queens Head at Newton has been in every issue of the Good Beer Guide but don't even want to be considered for a guide that is only interested in selling space. The answer is to go for genuine guides that don't have advertising space.

There are a few of them out there, but for me there are two guides nationally that stand head and shoulders above the rest. The first of course is the Good Beer Guide published by CAMRA and though it sounds like nepotism with me promoting a CAMRA product, the truth has to be told. The other one is the Good Pub Guide and whilst being a brilliant pub guide, for me it is the bible for finding inns with accommodation, and many a Mrs Brown has enjoyed a night chosen from this particular guide. The other local guide I always recommend is the Cambridge Secrets guide, and you can also page them up on the internet for weekly reviews of deals and offers from pubs restaurants and festivals.

Local guests

My appeal to the trade this month concerns guest beers in our pubs. Many years ago when we had only two breweries on our patch, my next idea would never have been possible. There are many free-houses out there with more than four pumps dedicated to God's own beverage. My request is, dear landlord, that you declare a pump "the local pump" and have a constantly changing beer from one of our local breweries. The choice is fantastic, we have Buntingford, Cambridge City, Cambridge Moonshine, Fenland, Milton, Nethergate and Wissey Valley to name but a few. I am sure we all welcome our new flourishing industry and if the dedicated pump idea worked out well we could be pioneering yet another new CAMRA idea that may well spread across the length and breadth of the country of thinking global but drinking local!

Jerry Brown


[Ed: sadly the Government and the Trade and Industry Select Committee (as described in the previous ALE) see no need to break the current stranglehold the big pubcos operate, severely limiting access to guest beer pumps for small breweries.]

If you have any views or comments on The Brown Stuff, then email them to: jerry.brown1@ntlworld.com


ALE Spring 2005 No. 317 : Next section
Cambridge & District CAMRA