Beer Scoring and the Good Beer Guide

Beer scoring is something that every member can do - it’s quick, it’s easy, it’s really valuable, and it involves enjoying the fantastic variety of beers available. Simply log in to WhatPub, familiarise yourself with the 5-point scoring system and away you go!

Beer scores are very important in deciding on nominations for the Good Beer Guide. CAMRA members can rate the beers they drink in pubs and clubs in WhatPub and half scores are possible:

0 No cask ale available Not stocked or run out.

1 Poor Beer that is anything from barely drinkable to drinkable with considerable resentment. Includes beer taken back as being poor and not taken off.

2 Average Competently kept, drinkable pint but doesn't inspire in any way, not worth moving to another pub but you drink the beer without really noticing. Below what is expected for the Good Beer Guide.

3 Good Good beer in good form. You may cancel plans to move to the next pub. You want to stay for another pint and may seek out the beer again.

4 Very Good Excellent beer in excellent condition. Exceeds expectations.

5 Perfect Probably the best you are ever likely to find. A seasoned drinker will award this score very rarely.

Wyre Forest CAMRA encourages its members to put in plenty of beer scores to identify where the very best beer is to be found. The scores assist with deciding which pubs go in the Good Beer Guide at the annual meeting in February, so the competition runs from 1 February to 31 January. The top half a dozen or more scorers are rewarded with bottles of beer, kindly donated by local breweries. 2016 was very kindly sponsored by Bewdley Brewery and Kinver Brewery. There were twelve prize winners and lots of bottles of beer!

For pubs in the Wyre Forest Branch area you’ll collect ONE point for each beer scored on a visit, and TEN points for each additional pub or club. The top six scorers are rewarded with BEER at the February AGM.

It’s that easy!

Here’s where to find all the information you need:

WhatPub Login http://whatpub.com/login

To register or change your CAMRA Password http://password.camra.org.uk/

Beer Scoring info http://whatpub.com/beerscoring/login

Guide to scoring beers

Don't give a pint 5 just because it’s one you happen to like. Think: in your experience is this beer in front of me a really good example of this beer, or a pretty poor one? And don't give a pint 0 because it’s a stout and you happen to hate stouts. If in doubt, don’t score, or maybe ask a friend what they think. Most people can tell the difference between a beer that just happens to have a flavour that "isn't for them" and a beer with actual defects.

Gradually, as you walk around pubs, you’ll accumulate scores and begin to develop your own method of making comparisons. It’s like riding a bike. Soon it becomes second nature.

Some people do find beer scoring confusing and are unsure as to the ‘correct way’ to record a beer score. But you don’t need to be particularly knowledgeable about every beer you might come across! The great thing about real ale is the diversity of tastes. Here are a few things to take note of when evaluating an ale:

1. Look: Assess the colour, clarity and the foam of the pint. Golden ales should appear bright and clear while darker beers, such as stouts and porters, possess a richer colour and often a thick, creamy head. As a general rule of thumb it’s best to base your view on whether it looks appealing. If it’s got bits in it, or looks very flat (no head) it’s looking like a duffer.

2. Smell: Smell is an important part of the drinking experience. Take a short sniff of your drink to assess the aroma. If it’s immediately repulsive – smelling of vinegar or chemicals – then it’s a fair bet that the pint you have is poor.

3. Taste: Take a sip and let it flow around your mouth before swallowing. Beers can reflect many taste sensations. The intensity of the flavours and the finish (the ‘aftertaste’) make up the whole taste. Give your taste buds a few seconds to register all the differing sensations. Has the publican kept the beer well enough to allow the flavour to come through fully?

4. Mouthfeel: How does it ‘feel’ in the mouth? Most well-kept ales will have a light carbonation and feel ‘alive’. Well, they are! They should be served at cellar temperature – that means cool, not cold. Ales that are warm and/or as flat as old dishwater are definitely not good. ‘Flat’ beers can often indicate that the beer has hit the end of the barrel (imagine the dregs left in a bottle of cola that has been open a few hours) – this is a natural part of the cycle of the barrel’s lifespan and a good publican will be happy to check if you suspect an ale is at ‘bottom’ and replace it with a fresh pint from elsewhere.

With thousands of ales to choose from, everyone has their own personal favourites and things that they don't like, so please try to give an honest account of how well-kept a particular beer is. If you aren't sure then try to do your scoring based on beers that you know that you normally like when they are in good condition.

Good Beer Guide

Wyre Forest CAMRA uses beer scores to identify where the best beer is served, and is being served consistently very well. The pubs serving the highest quality beers go forward for inclusion in the Good Beer Guide.

The Guide is published in September each year. Nominations for the Guide from branches are submitted in early March.

In the Wyre Forest Branch area, scores submitted from 1 February to 31 January each year through WhatPub by many CAMRA members are used, both from the local branch and visiting members. Typically over 3,000 scores are received from around 100 individual members, which gives high confidence in identifying the establishments consistently serving the very best kept and excellently presented beers. The quality of presentation of beers locally has risen noticeably over the past couple of years. Competition for the 14 allocated places in the Guide locally is thus intense.