Regional awards 2020 - WTF

This thread brought to you by the letters ‘F’, ‘F’ and ‘S’. Just looked at the best breweries by county for England. At least three counties where the award has gone to a macro/multinational. OK there’s not much in Bedfordshire but surely anything is better than Wells/Youngs. And really nothing better in West Yorks than Kirin/Lion?

Makes CAMRA pub of the year awards look well judged…

There were 3 I was concerned about. Eagle / Wells for Bedfordshire, just not enough numbers for any other Brewer in Beds unfortunately, happens every year, same with North Yorks, Sam Smiths numbers driven by big exports to USA. West Yorks, Magic Rock got good reviews and numbers, it was closely run but they did win. Coronavirus hasn’t helped this year with many fewer pub visits for everyone so packaged beers were always going to do better and a few breweries were not as quick to move production over.
It will be interesting to see how Camra manage to do a BotY this year and come to think of it, a GBG.


My CAMRA branch has asked for the votes (GBG 2022 edition) on our regions pubs.

I have only visited four pubs in the voting period because of Lock Downs, so I’ve voted for three of those (we have 24 pubs as our allocation each year); the wife only voted for one pub!

God knows which 24 we’ll put forward for the publication.


No point moaning if you don’t rate beers on here Dave

What do you think drives the scores ?


@evilempire got to concur with Glen and Colin, not enough Brits rating makes it difficult to overpower the 'merican scorer’s. Youngs Banana Beer is all over the states as are Sam Smith’s bottles.


1 Like

But the awards aren’t done from scores are they? Or at least not entirely. Magic Genocide is the one that surprised me most, they’re the best out of the three but there’s so much good in West Yorks, and a lot of it is available in smallpack, albeit not available for 50p in Tesco

As for GBG… I’m not really sure why it’s still a thing at all TBH but does seem even more pointless now, it’s always out of date by the time it’s out but this time will be even more so, and we don’t even know if/when we’d get to use it


I thought the rating scores were tallied up and then ‘The Admins’ played with them until a winner, etc is found.

As for the GBG it’s a ‘must have’ for the old, traditional Real Ale drinker in the UK. Although it is supposed to be purely about the beer quality a lot of branches have ‘sacred cows’ that are wonderful pubs people should visit, even if the beers crap!

I must admit, I’ve not bought one for a couple of years though, and will not be getting the 2022 edition.


yeah think it’s the ‘admins played with them until a winner’ that I had in my mind

Not bought a GBG since 1999, partly as I travel the UK far less than I used to and very rarely find myself somewhere new, and partly as over the last 20 years what I’m looking for has diverged massively from GBG criteria (keg beer for a start). If I am going somewhere new I’ll use sites like RB and the forums, and FB groups, to get a more up-to-date picture and from a more similar outlook

1 Like

Admins playing with the numbers hasn’t happened for a few years now. It’s just on the numbers these days. In the past we would have filtered a few of the macro brewers out but that’s not thought appropriate now. Some interesting brewers came up in the new Scottish areas, nice to see. I really hate to see Wychwood Goliath come up as Oxon best beer personally.


I can see the flaw in that system… but then any system will be flawed. Not sure there’s anything inappropriate about filtering out macro though! Other than irony, given RB ownership

1 Like

The numbers is the problem. I know the Suffolk scene pretty well and we had 4 new breweries open in 2020, yet no new best brewery for Suffolk. If raters don’t rate, then beers and breweries don’t win. There were a few surprises to me, but then you look at the breweries circulation outside of the region and you get the answer to why they won.

1 Like

yeah must admit I hadn’t considered US raters may outnumber UK raters for some UK beers. Scores also reflect number of ratings so by definition larger/more widely distributed beers will score better (other than when ‘whale factor’ comes into play). I’d still exclude macro though - better a county give no award than give it to a factory like Wells/Youngs!

Has always been the case with W&Y, Sam Smiths and I think Fullers.

People new to trying and rating different beers like myself have to start somewhere and there are a fair few macro beers in my 800+ rates to date particularly from the first few months.

I rated Young’s Double Chocolate Stout a 4.0 and and mine wasn’t the highest last year. Some macros do produce a few good core beers, and I guess if more people rate the good ones than the bad ones that will also have an effect. Sorry if I have failed the purity test!

Shephard Neame is the one that made me chuckle. Their New Dawn Citrus is the foulest beer I have ever tried and I rated as such, but they still won.


There’s so little in Bedfordshire as has been alluded to before. Not tried the new Charles Wells brewery Brewpoint (which looks pretendy crafty) but neither has anyone else with only one rate for all of their nine beers. Leighton Buzzard are pretty good, but only six of their beers have 10 ratings, and the most popular has 23 so they are stuck in Bayesian mean mediocrity. The 11 active Beds breweries boast such winners as Brookfield (formerly Kestrel), AB In Bev UK, and that classic ‘Unknown Origin - UK’.

I thought Wells & Youngs might have won through ratings of cellared Courage RIS but there were only two of these this year. The US availability of Banana Bread Beer - and from my days there Youngs Double Chocolate Stout - will boost their numbers.

1 Like

Yeah, I’m 100% sure that it’s in AB Inbev’s interest to promote breweries owned by Kirin/Lion, Asahi and Carlsberg/Marstons. Totally legit.

1 Like

You do realise this is completely the wrong way to go about selecting pubs for the GBG ? If we tried to do it that way in South Cheshire branch the county co-ordinator would have a fit !

The correct way to go about it is to be (largely) guided by the beer scores in Whatpub. I would have thought that RateBerians would be keen to do it that way. It’s just one more number (for beer quality) to note down when drinking. I manage to do both (when allowed in pbus) fairly easily.

How do you mean “it’s not thought appropriate now”? Never seen that mentioned. The extent of that goes only to something ridiculous like a macro with shit ratings winning by strength of having a ton of ratings and beers, and admins pointing out to RB that their algorithm or whatever isn’t working properly. To which they may or may not react. Or pointing out winners by clearly faked ratings.

It’s never “make this one no. 1”.

I do try ot do CAMRA beer scoring, and when I’ve been involved in selecting the GBG entries for Wycombe/Aylesbury Vale, it’s been a bit of a balance between quality scores & opinions. The beer scores are presented at a meeting open to all members. The results are discussed, and there is an opportunity to get other great pubs added, or terrible pubs removed (regardless of actual beer scores). This has meant that the younger half of the branch have managed to get a few more crafty venues in, whilst (despite the objections of some traditionalists) pushing out terrible venues that just happen to serve a pint of GK IPA in decent nick.

Whilst CAMRA has traditionally seen the GBG as purely representing those places with the best beer quality (regardless of what the actual pub is like), they do need to bear in mind that most of the public will buy it as a general pub guide. Non-CAMRA members will expect it to show them the most welcoming pubs, the most atmospheric or beautiful pubs, and the pubs with the biggest beer choice, If the GBG omits all the new crafty places (because they focus on keg), and instead includes run-down pubs or locals-only pubs simply because they happen to serve decent quality cask, it’s going to ruin the reputation of both the GBG & CAMRA.

CAMRA do need to strike the right balance in order to maintain relevance - from what I’ve seen of the Wycombe/Aylesbury branch, they’re heading in the right direction in this regard. CAMRA as a whole do need to remember that their founders kicked of because they wanted choice & variety as well as just quality, and that at the time they saw cask beer as being better than shitty 1970’s pasteurised kegs. It could be argued now that a keg-only craft beer bar with 20 taps of great beers in mad styles is closer to what the founders wanted than a pub that sells four identical 4% golden ales.

Sorry for going off thread & retreading a well-worn argument yet again!


All in all, all said and done, the reason why these awards are such hit and miss is the lack of ratings and a lack of active people. Angry, surprised, disappointed something won or didn’t win something? That’s okay, a lot of us are. Frustrated too. Did you, however, rate anything in the last year - like, do anything that might change the outcome? Try to bring people to Ratebeer? Encourage them to rate fairly and thereby support the (best) local craft breweries, putting their name out. Like, they don’t even need to type anymore and they can still do that with a couple of clicks. You did none of that? Then your opinion is even less relevant than Ratebeer Best 2020 is so STFU or do something in 2021 to change that.

Now, one can blame Joe & RB LLC for a few things when it comes to this whole RB Best thing. It could’ve been done better in several ways. In may ways they are still doing that I guess just for the sake of doing it. In many places it doesn’t make any sense. They are not listening to constructive criticism sometimes or not reacting in time. But this “AB InBev conspiracy” angle is bloody tired and tiring. Like with all the hysteria of 2017/2018 largely not becoming true in any way or shape imaginable some people are always trying to find some angle to fit that narrative in where it doesn’t fit, by force.

Funnily enough, by scaring people away with talk of “the evil megamacro that will destroy craft beer”, making fun of Ratebeer around or whatever, you’re just helping limit the influx of people and making the awards even potentially worse. People who don’t give a fuck will just come in and rate whatever they can get at their local grocery stores, raising the score numbers (potentially scores) too, like they have in 2000, like they do in 2021. People who do give a fuck about craft beer and the craft beer scene maybe won’t, being discouraged by, among other things, that type of talk. Who wins? The macros. Congrats, you’ve just helped limit the potential exposure of your fav breweries, like the (imaginary or not) “evil craft scene hating ABI executives” would want you to do! <3

Now, a lot that could be dismissed by claims of not giving a damn about RB or whatever, but the people obsessing the most about this whole debacle I’ve heard were generally people with either 0 ratings in 2020 or people who don’t rate here at all, non-users. If they don’t care, then why all the fuss? Go, rate your share of stuff and then have every right to bitch about this. Otherwise you’re just randomly insulting, among others, a bunch of people who are trying to help the craft beer scene as much as they can.

Mind that the “you” is plural, not one particular person.