Have you ever wondered how pubs get into CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide (GBG)? Unlike guides where paid individuals submit reviews, the GBG is an independent selection of pubs judged by local CAMRA members to consistently serve quality real ale. There are nearly 150 pubs and clubs in our Branch so we need members from across the borough to help us gather information about them year-round. The easiest way is to use beer scoring.

So how do I score the quality of the beer?

You don’t have to be an ‘expert’ to begin scoring your beer. However, it is not about your personal favourite beer receiving the highest scores! You may try a beer that isn’t to your normal taste but what you need to consider is the quality of that beer, how well the pub has kept it and served it and score it according to the general guide below. It is a simple system of a ten point range from 0 to 5, with half points being used if your opinion of the beer falls between two categories.

0 = No cask ale available.

1 = Beer that is anything from barely drinkable to drinkable with considerable resentment. Includes beer taken back as being poor.

2 = Competently kept; drinkable but doesn’t inspire in any way. Below what is expected for the GBG.

3 = Good beer in good form. A GBG user would not be disappointed with it. You may seek out the beer again in the same session.

4 = Very good: Excellent beer in excellent condition. Exceeds expectations.

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

Don’t give a pint 5 just because it’s (say) Doom Bar and you happen to like Doom Bar. Think: in your experience is this beer in front of you an excellent example of a Doom Bar, or a pretty poor one? And don’t score 1 because it’s a stout and you happen to hate stouts. Try to give an honest account of how well-kept a particular beer is.

Some things to consider:

Is the cask beer served at the cellar temperature (not too cold or too warm)?

Is it in good “condition” i.e. not undercarbonated (flat) or overcarbonated (too fizzy), and does it seem alive and with a good mouthfeel?

Does the beer have off-flavours which suggest that it is not ready (sweet apple flavours), too old (unpleasant sourness), or pulled through unclean lines (stale, mouldy, lifeless)?

Does the beer have the full range of expected flavours? Note that really good cask beer may develop different flavours over time.

How do I submit my scores?

In order to submit your scores, you should login to CAMRA’s online pub guide www.whatpub.com either on a computer or by smart phone. Here you will find a list of over 54,779 pubs and clubs from all over the UK including 31,576 serving real ale. These are not all Good Beer Guide pubs.  In order to start submitting scores via What Pub you need to:-

  1. Login.  You only require your membership number and your CAMRA password which will be your post code unless you have joint membership when it may be your surname.
  2. You can then search for your pub by name. Be careful here as many pubs in the country share the same name. It may be best to search by the pub name and the town. The WhatPub smart phone web page also gives you the option to search for real ale pubs nearby, very useful if you are in an unfamiliar town.
  3. Once you have found your pub a ‘Submit Beer Scores’ box will appear on the left-hand side of the screen (or on the tab bar underneath the pub photo if you are using a smart phone).
  4. Simply fill in the date and your score then as you begin typing in the Brewery box, the brewery name should automatically appear underneath where you are typing. Then click on the arrow in the Beer box and a drop-down list of that brewery’s beers should appear. In some cases, the beer you are drinking may be new or a one off seasonal by the Brewery so may not appear on the list, if this is the case you can simply type in the beer name, otherwise select the correct one. In the Additional Options you may add the price of your pint, and you can also add any comments you feel appropriate, especially if no real ale was available. Click ‘submit score’ and your score will be entered into the database.

It is as simple as that. An added bonus is that it will keep a record of your scores so you can look back to see what beers you have had and how you rated them by using the ‘view scores’ option. You can also check and provide feedback to the branch on the facilities and beers at the pub by using the submit changes icon at the top of the WhatPub page.

Alternatively, you can provide written scores (with your membership details) to the Branch Pubs Officer either in person at Branch meetings or by email at pubs@bolton.camra.org.uk. A blank form is available to record your scores on. This can be downloaded here.

How are scores used?

The scores from all members are used to help work up a shortlist for final GBG voting in January/February. Scores highlight pubs in which you are likely to get a good quality beer (with an average score of 3.2 or above) throughout the year.

So, your scores do count. Judging the best pubs in Britain is something you are uniquely placed to do. Please take the time to beer score and make your contribution to the Good Beer Guide!


CAMRA never charges for entry into the Good Beer Guide.

NEVER give money to anyone claiming to be collecting for this purpose.

(This guide has been created from original material by Reading and Berkshire CAMRA Branch andSonia James-Henry and thanks go to them and John Armstrong for the use of that material)

See also our videos on beer scoring and Whatpub on the links below

Why you should score your beer

How to submit a Beer Score