Wednesday, 11 February 2009
Pub of the Year Tour
This coming Saturday sees me and some of my fellow CAMRA members from West Kent Branch embarking on our annual Pub of the Year Tour. Now CAMRA, like a great many other organisations, seems to thrive on acronyms; hence Pub Of The Year gets shortened to POTY. I particularly despise this abbreviation, to me it's only one step up the evolutionary scale from Baldric (a.k.a. Tony Robinson) waffling on about "Geophys" on "Time Team" - the word is Geophysics man! I've lost count of the number of times I've wanted to throw something at the television when this whining, extremely irritating little man ruins what should and could be a very interesting and enjoyable programme - but I digress.
For better or worse, our Pub of the Year Tour kicks off just before midday, and those members who have booked a place will be whisked by minibus around the highways and byways of West Kent visiting the finest hostelries the area has to offer.
Actually we're confining our trip to six pre-selected pubs, carefully chosen at last month's Good Beer Guide selection meeting. A few years ago we ended up with eight nominations, and had to run two separate trips. This led to all sorts of problems, especially with the scoring, as some people were unable to attend both trips. It was unanimously decided after that to restrict the number to six - even if it meant taking a vote on the nominations. Six pubs are just about do-able over the course of a Saturday afternoon, especially as the branch covers quite a large area of West Kent.
All six pubs are automatic guide entries, and several are either past winners or runners up. The list does change slightly from year to year, otherwise things would get a bit boring, and this year we are doing the circuit in reverse. This is a good idea, as in spite of all good intentions, by the end of the trip (i.e. by the time we have reached the final pub), people's judgement does become just a little clouded by the amount of alcohol consumed over the course of the day!
Attendees are given a score sheet and are asked to mark each pub according to CAMRA's standard scoring criteria. As well as beer quality, several other areas come into play, including involvement with the local community, attitude of the bar-staff, plus of course that all-important, but hard to define quality we refer to as "atmosphere".
We will linger in one of the pubs for lunch, but the whole trip will hopefully be a relaxed affair. I can think of few better things to be doing on a dreary Saturday in mid-February, and am really looking forward to it.