First Team Star
Jun 26, 2012, 3:30 PM
Post #5 of 20
I'm sure if the moderators will move this if they think it necessary.
A few comments on the above from Main Drain Man and Wishmaster:
1. Charging a pub for inclusion in a local guide.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. Somebody should have got a rocket. If HQ found out this was going on it would (or ought to) do all it could within its constitution to bar the guilty.
I should have made it explicit that branches have a fixed allocation so sometimes there will be the consequences described. HQ and the editor decide the allocations so maybe some need to be changed to match quality available but I think that occasionally the desire to avoid large areas not having an entry leads to acceptance of pubs of less than top quality. Also, some branches have more active members than others and in some rural areas it can be quite difficult to perform regular quality checks on suggested entrants that are not well known to members. This is the biggest problem in compiling the GBG i.e. lack of volunteers to flog around pubs and check the quality on a regular basis.
Pubs are (or should be) chosen first and foremost for their beer quality. Considerations will be given to other factors but range or price take second place. A large range of beers is not necessarily a good thing and certainly not a major factor in inclusion. If turnover doesn't match availability, beers go off. I've been to too many pubs with two cracking beers and half-a-dozen stinkers. As I pointed out earlier, there will always be some on a branch committee who will have peculiar preferences and can bully their way to the inclusion of these. This might account for some of the apparently perverse inclusions.
However, the guide has changed because so has the pub scene, with so many closures and big changes to many of those that are left. Today's GBG has 4,500 entries rather than the 6,000 of the 70s and early 80s. Those were the days when splendidly seedy urban pubs found their way into the guide in considerable numbers. The brief one line descriptions of the time gave all the information you needed: 'Basic urban boozer', 'Back street local'. Today, people expect more when they go out and some rather swanky and pricy outfits now find their way in to the exclusion of the basic pub (of which there are hardly any left anyway).
Pubs are changing hands a lot at the moment and quality can decline rapidly under new management. CAMRA has a rule that a pub should be deleted if this happens (which can be a bit unfair sometimes) but unless you're in touch with update bulletins, you won't know this. A pub will fall out of the online lists and mobile apps but your £16 (and 2lb) GBG will be out of date.
Main Drain Man talks of Edinburgh and Lothian not including S&N beers. AFAIK there is no national policy on this but some branches will exclude certain pubs because they have nationally available beers from the big producers. Parts of the country are awash with Marston's, Young's, Wells, Greene King, Fuller's and however well they are kept (and Fuller's are in my top 10), some will go for pubs with rarer beers (though this might sometimes compromise the 'quality is all' policy).
NB There are no true S&N beers left. Wells & Young's now brew the last brands acquired by S&N (Courage). S&N is now Heineken, which has a 30% stake in Caledonian, producers of Deuchars IPA.
Some are very good but a lot of CAMRA members are unhappy about their inclusion, ditto some pubs from big chains like Punch Taverns. Sadly, there are many towns that don't have many, if any, decent real ale pubs and a Wetherspoon finds it way in often because it has local beers.
The general debate about Wetherspoons is elsewhere on the forum!
No excuse for the behaviour you describe. I could understand this happening at big regional festivals and the GBBF where goons can get into positions where they shouldn't be – staff often come from all over the country and quite clearly are not vetted in the same way as at smaller local festivals. The latter are much better at managing this because the committee will know all the local volunteers and will keep away from the public those lacking PR skills! However, as in everything in life there will always be some branches who fail in this. If you have a complaint, find the organiser/chairman. Every festival should have some sort of enquiry point in the hall.
(This post was edited by Jamesie on Jun 27, 2012, 9:34 AM)