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How we research pubs

We like to get out and about looking for new pubs (although the evil of work has prevented this a bit recently).

Sometimes, we just chance our luck and hope that we’ll stumble on somewhere good. We’ve got quite good at peering through pub windows to see what’s on offer and have become pretty adept at turning on our heels and walking out of pubs that turn out to be rotten once we”re inside.

More often, though, we do a bit of research beforehand, using various resources.

We do have a copy of the Good Beer Guide (2007 edition) which we refer to, but as we’ve mentioned before, its focus on consistently good cask ale, rather than on interesting beers across the board, sometimes leaves us uninspired.  Also, it could be better at clearly flagging pubs in a given area which stock locally brewed beers.

We like Beer in the Evening, but a number of our regular haunts don’t  score above average (usually because a few Internet trolls have dragged the rating down).  But the comments often give us a good idea of whether we’d enjoy the pub or not, regardless of overall rating.

These days, though, we’re most likely to survey our favourite blogs before visiting a new area.  If several bloggers like the same pub, it’s probably worth a look. Over time, we’ve also developed a sense of which bloggers like the same kinds of pubs we do, so we rate their opinions more highly. It’s the next best thing to a personal recommendation.

6 replies on “How we research pubs” is a good research tool for certain areas of the country (predominantly Kent). Even if you’re not anal/geeky enough to regularly contribute, you can browse the site without becoming a member.

It gives a good idea of the beer range to expect before you commit to a visit and as it’s fairly niche and requires admin approval to join, hasn’t been ruined by the BITE spoilers. But there are great swathes of the country with no data as yet, so it may not be all that useful for your requirements.

I also favour the Real Ale Pub Guide over the GBG, as it focuses more on interesting and unusual beers (ales) rather than where to get a consistent pint of Bombardier. It does suffer from a few outdated entries but it has lead me to a few gems that I would never have come across in the GBG.

To be fair, I’ve found a few country pubs via the GBG, but only as I’ve used the map in there and then Googled the pub name for more gen. GBG is outdated before its printed, BITE is full of back-biting and trolling, too many third-rate websites carry precious little detail and too many printed guides are basically paid-for advertorial.

I’ve found CAMRA branch websites really useful as well as blogger recommendations, which has led me into a dozen pubs over the last month that I wouldn’t usually have visited. Most of them were good and a couple were absolute gems.

Haddonsman — yes, we’ve done the same. It’s essentially an incomplete directory of pubs in a given area, and needs a fair bit of extra legwork to be of much use. CAMRA branch sites are great, although I remember coming across one branch (can’t recall where) which wouldn’t recommend pubs online in case that hit sales of the GBG.

Dubbel — that’s a pretty decent site and there are a good few London pubs on there. Thanks for the tip.

Dear team,

On the subjects of pubs to research, would it be possible to get your opionion on my pub which is now serving 6 real ales all the time. The last time you came (April 2008) we only had 3, but now we try to keep at least 6 including a porter and a mild.

We could do with a hand spreading the word about the quality of ale we sell here.

Many Thanks


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