The 50th Good Beer Guide

The 50th CAMRA Good Beer Guide was published last week with a special hardback edition promised for avid collectors.

When the first edition was published in 1974 few would have foreseen its success and longevity. The Traveller’s Rest in Meltham, West Yorkshire, which took its place among the debutants, may also have been surprised not to reappear until now.

In 1974 (so long ago it was the last time a British Prime Minister elected at a general election lost their position through a general election) pubs were listed in a somewhat haphazard north to south sequence. For the intervening 48 years counties were listed alphabetical. But now they are grouped by regions, disorientating for us tickers and not especially helpful for anyone in my opinion. Just wait till the people of Oxford find out they are in the South-East.

There is an introduction by the Prince of Wales, though there are apparently well-founded rumours he has since been promoted. Perhaps his influence ensured Lincolnshire – by no stretch of the imagination beer heaven – gained an extra 7 entries, including this community owned local in Hainton (my opening tick).

The brewery section is now integrated into their counties, which I think works well. It lists over 1,800, reflecting, probably for the first time, a reduction since the last edition (but still a huge number compared to the early years). It was interesting to read Tim Webb’s article in CAMRA’s recent Beer magazine that said France now had the most breweries in Europe (2,400).

There will be plenty of pubs worried about making ends meet in the coming months. Barnsley’s Maison du Biere closed before publication, citing high energy costs. The Constellation Brewery Tap also fell by the wayside as has Nomadic Brewing in Leeds and Westerham’s Real Ale Way. You have to be quick to keep up with the Thames Side Brewery and Taproom, listed under a different location to last year but already closed and seeking new premises.

Like good darts players, pub tickers like grouping. This year affords opportunities to visit four new ones in Plymouth and Bristol; and three in Chesterfield, Blackpool and Prestwich. Diaries are being co-ordinated. My opening foray landed upon an absolute gem in Middlesbrough, the Chapel at Whitehouse Street.

A church since 1890, the pub enjoys use of an events hall that was added in 1960. James gave me a quick tour and very impressive it was too, not least the quality of the Settle Brewery Epic IPA.

There are plenty of pews left from the church and a generous cheeseboard invited donations for the Cystic Fibrosis Society. This one comes highly recommended.

I didn’t make it to 11 pubs in the 2022 Guide so clearly must try harder in 2023. My opening position leaves 365 to visit. Only one a day but I still can’t see myself going to the Isle of Man just to go to a bottle shop, the only brand new entry there. If that’s a sign of getting older (not wiser for sure) then so is reflecting that I have been actively ticking the Good Beer Guide for 43 of those editions. Thanks to CAMRA – it’s been a blast.

22 thoughts on “The 50th Good Beer Guide

  1. There are actually 8 new entries in Bristol, although you will probably have ticked at least 2 of those in recent years. All are close to, or reasonable walking distance from, the city centre, and one of the Somerset new entries is close to the city’s southern boundary.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is the GBG post we’ve been waiting for.

    That Chapel looks brilliant; after a burst of micro-led activity a decade ago Middlesbrough went quiet, denying tickers a visit to surely the UK’s most unfairly derided town (discuss).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Isn’t O’Donnells / Brendan O’Donnells a 2nd IOM new entry? Not that you have to visit next year anyway. Bottle Monkey is pretty good though, I have to say, having pre-emptively been in January

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for your write up. I was slightly confused by Lincs as I’ve only got 4 new new entries. Heanage has been in many years ago. But I understand it to be 7 extra allocations. Sadly I read Griffin Castleford has also closed. Good luck with your one a day!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Have you not made the (understandable) error of forgetting about John Major as the last PM elected at one General Election and kicked out at the subsequent one? Too many bottles of Doom Bar shared with Martin in Welsh hotel rooms.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, my wording was too imprecise. He didn’t assume office as a result of a general election but did retain it. Don’t mention Doom Bar- I swear he tried to administer it by IV tube when I was asleep.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. A useful read, if only to confirm my Lincs counting was correct. But also to save me a trip to Barnsley, and Leeds, even though I knew in the back of my mind Nomadic had shut, the blindness of the unticked had me planning a trip there soon.
    Will go to Middlesbrough instead!

    Liked by 1 person

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