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Good Beer Guide 2011
Edited by Roger Protz‘Why buy the Good Beer Guide every year?’. That was a common question asked when I was editor of CAMRA’s flagship publication.
For eight years I was responsible for piecing together the guide from survey forms completed by CAMRA branches up and down the land.
It was a long and laborious process, barely aided by computer software and co-ordinated only by myself and my long-serving, part-time number two, Jill Adam.
But those weeks and months of collation and editing at least made it easy for me to answer that leading question. The reason you should buy the book every year is because so much changes.
Even in my day, around one-third of all the pubs featured changed from edition to edition.
On the one hand, pubs closed, landlords moved on and beer quality dropped; on the other, new licensees arrived bringing new enthusiasm for cask ale, or pubs changed hands between breweries, leading to a greater commitment to quality.
That was the scenario during the 1990s. If anything, the pub world is even more turbulent today, so, if you are an itinerant beer lover, then it’s even more important that you carry the very latest edition with you.
Mind you, it’s quite a tome these days. The format has been made slightly wider in the last two years, and the page count now extends to 888.
Articles in the latest edition cover the major expansion plans of numerous ‘small’ breweries, such as Meantime, Acorn, Thornbridge and Dark Star; the opening of the National Brewery Centre in Burton; CAMRA in its 40th year; and a pub crawl of Derby, of all places.
Regular features also hold their place: the beer festival calendar; the latest on heritage pub preservation; beers of the year; the styles of beer you can expect to find in British pubs.
But what most people buy the book for is the comprehensive breweries section at the back, complete with tasting notes for hundreds, if not thousands, of beers, and the all-important pubs section, where, county by county, the best real ale pubs in the UK are highlighted.
The format remains the same: all the vital information – addresses, telephone numbers, websites, symbols for facilities and meals service, etc. – plus a compact précis of the pub’s individual merits. Yes, it all looks much the same as before. But don’t let that fool you: remember one-third of this section is likely to be new.
And with the price of a pint these days, it only takes a couple of wasted visits based on outdated information to make you wish you’d bought the latest version after all.