GBG 2014

So the new Good Beer Guide is out. That’s your drinking for 2014 sorted, right?  Last week’s launch was somewhat overshadowed by a spat with the editors of the Good Pub Guide over the future of the traditional boozer. It was something of a no-contest as CAMRA came over all positive and supportive, while the GPG came over all elitist with a rather hackneyed view of the situation. Not good for a publication supposedly extolling the virtues of the British pub. Of course the GPG is elitist and any credibility it may have aspired to went by the wayside when it started charging for entries.

But what about the GBG? Well as I sit here perusing it whilst supping my rather tired pint of Windermere Pale, a few points struck me. Yes, as usual, it does contain articles about beer and pubs and the 4500 pubs chosen by CAMRA members. It’s somewhat economic with the truth on that issue as it mentions the National Beer Scoring System as if that is the universal standard in the selection process. When, in reality, branches have been known to completely ignore it. But I won’t tell, if you don’t.

One interesting aspect is the ever-expanding breweries section. This is proving something of a headache, for the print edition anyway, as the growth in microbreweries tests the finite space that the guide can provide. This is being looked at but for the moment the only solution is to limit the amount of tasting notes. With that in mind, I doff my cap to Spire Brewery and their Brewery Liaison Officer who, by guile or serendipity, manage an impressive ten beers complete with notes.

Now CAMRA often finds itself accused-sometimes with just cause-of ignoring the craft beer scene. And when I say “craft” here, I am of course referring to the keg brewers. Well, in a move that began some editions ago, you will find plenty of these listed in the GBG. Some, like Kernel, can perhaps be justified on the grounds of having produced at least one cask beer. And perhaps some traditionalists can accept Partizan on the basis of bottle-conditioning. But the inclusion of others, with no pretence of being interested in cask brewing, has irked some members who complain it deprives more deserving entries of more space.

GBG 2014. Overall, still worth buying, IMO, but the digital version is cheaper and more portable. However, sad bibliophiles like me will continue to collect the print version.  


Barry said…
I've noticed the increasing number of keg breweries in the guide myself. It's probably a good idea for Camra not to be seen to be ignoring them, although I notice that the keg breweries don't have tasting notes.
RealAle UpNorth said…
Interesting blog, pal. Although some CAMRA members really do need to stop slagging off some craft keg beers.One member at the Burnley Beer Festival commented:"How does that keg rubbish get here." The beer in question was the flavoursome Radka, brewed by Copper Dragon. This tosser had not even tasted it!
This irksome group of blinkered members, do my head in !
Rant over! :-)
Anonymous said…
Kegged beer doesn't have any tasting notes becasue kegged beer doesn't have any taste!
Steve Bolton said…
Actually I don't see why these so called craft breweries are included in the GBG. Breweries such as Lovibonds are actively anti Camra and it seems ludicrous that we include them in what is supposed to be the Good Beer guide.
Curmudgeon said…
The GBG has always listed all breweries, whether or not they produce cask beer. In the old days, of course, that was a sign that you should avoid that brewery's pubs.
Paul Bailey said…
There is now surely an overwhelming case for splitting off the "Breweies Section" of the Good Beer Guide as a separate publication.

The guide as it stands is already unwieldy and is not the sort of publication you can carry around with you. Because of its size it is printed on the thinnest paper possible and quite frankly has all the charm and appeal of a telephone directory.

I said some time ago that the GBG has outlived its usefullness, but having the brewery information as a separate book would allow what in effect would be a "good pub guide" to be expanded, illustrated and brought more up to date.

I will probaly still buy a copy, but only because I have a complete set of guides going back to 1974. There's sad for you!
RedNev said…
I stopped buying them years ago after I bought a guide as usual and realised that I'd never actually used the previous two that I'd bought.
py0 said…
A guide to UK breweries and their regular and seasonal beers I would find useful and interesting.

The current inconsistent half-baked pub guide is not particularly helpful.
Lee said…
It's not quite true that the GBG has always listed all breweries. It's true that once-upon-a-time when only the big brewers produced keg, these breweries were listed and you drew your own conclusions. However, the GBG has always been incosistant and even that waned over time.

In the case of modern, so-called "craft" brewers, there are several of these that were running for years before appearing in print. The current position is to feature all breweries equally, but omit tasting notes for keg beers.
I appreciate your writing because you described really well about beer. Thanks for sharing such an informative post.

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