ALE November 1998 No. 292

Good Beer Guide 1999

The Good Beer Guide 1999 contains some 5,000 pubs selling top-notch beer, a full listing of real ale breweries and the beers they brew, together with various campaigning articles on all issues related to beer and pubs.

Unlike some other guides, the Good Beer Guide is surveyed by consumers, people who use the pubs regularly. Its key objective is to spread the word about great British beer and raise awareness of important threats to our pubs such as unfair licensing law, high beer tax and unsympathetic refurbishment.

Around a third of pub entries are new since the previous year's Guide. Pubs are checked regularly and if the beer quality falls the offending pub won't get in the Guide.

Facts and Figures

Circuit Pubs

Most pubs in the Good Beer Guide make a refreshing change to town centre circuit pubs and their only theme is that they are decent British locals. It seems that key pub operators like Wetherspoons, Bass, Whitbread and Greenalls are to pay less attention to prime town centre pubs. CAMRA has been warning these companies for months that the market for theme pubs is at saturation point and many of our town centres are fast becoming no-go areas for drinkers over 25. There are signs that they are listening and starting to invest in smaller pubs off the high street.
[See On The Circuit and Brewery News.]

Ruining the taste

Many pubs use a `tight sparkler' to serve all beers, giving them a large, tight, creamy head. For the first time ever the Good Beer Guide lists beers which CAMRA believes should be served through a `sparkler' and those which should not, based on what each brewery and its local drinkers say.

Some beers, particularly those from Northern counties, are brewed to be served in this way. The problem is that the marketing men have decided that we all like our beer served up like a Mr. Whippy. They are wrong. For beers brewed to be served with less froth, using a sparkler wrecks the flavour and aroma. In pubs without lined glasses, the thick head also ensures that short measure is likely, further ripping off the consumer.

Historic pubs

The 1999 Guide features a fully revised list of CAMRA's National Inventory of Pubs with interiors of outstanding historical importance. This acknowledges the plight of historic pubs and aims to protect them from the hands of short-sighted architects and brewery accountants. CAMRA is working with English Heritage to try to get important pubs listed for their interior features.


CAMRA is campaigning for big brewers to come clean over where `foreign' beer brands are brewed. The majority of the marketing spend in the industry goes on just five or six beers and most of these are pale imitations of foreign lagers, brewed under contract in this country. Using imagery of Danish Kings and French peasants to sell beers brewed in Northampton and South Wales is insulting to consumers.

The big brewers should be promoting British beer brands and be honest about the source of popular foreign-owned brands. In spite of British real ale's worldwide renown, they hardly promote it at all here or abroad.

Bottled Beer

In September CAMRA launched the Good Bottled Beer Guide to cater for the burgeoning market for UK and foreign bottled-conditioned beers in supermarkets and off-licences. Price 9.99. Available in bookshops or from CAMRA.

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