The North West Wiltshire (NW Wilts) Branch of CAMRA is responsible for the nomination and survey of 13 entries in the annual Good Beer Guide (GBG). Twelve come from the Branch’s geographical area in NW Wilts and one from South Gloucestershire (S. Glos).
Until 2006, the Branch Committee used their judgement and local knowledge of pubs, with informal soundings from the wider Membership to select the GBG entries. Following proposals from Nick Harding (Branch Membership officer), the process was revised to use a voting system that was open to all Branch Members. The intent was to ensure that every pub in the area had an equal chance, and not just those known to the Committee. The process has subsequently been fine-tuned, but remains largely unchanged.
Process. Our initial voting list is derived from Pubzilla, selecting all open pubs and clubs that sell real ale. All Branch Members are then invited to vote for up to 12 NW Wilts and 1 S. Glos. Establishments, but are not obliged to vote for more than one. In practice, most voters select at least 5 pubs. In the guidance given to voters, it is always emphasised that the main factor must be the quality of the real ales being served, and not the number
available or the surroundings. Members must include their names and CAMRA Membership number to prove that they qualify. Family Members are allowed one vote each. Any duplicate or incomplete entries are excluded. The votes are checked and counted by the Chairman, Secretary and Pubs Officer.
As a local rule, any Pub whose landlord changes over after the 1st September of the preceding year is considered ineligible unless there are mitigating factors, such as continuity in the cellar manager and a largely unchanged offering. Any cases where there is any doubt are passed to the Committee for resolution.
Once the votes have been counted, the top 15 pubs (more if there are pubs tied for 15 th place) are selected to be surveyed using the latest GBG entry forms and CAMRA guidance notes. Where possible, NBSS scores are also considered at this stage. The Committee has the discretion to replace the bottom two pubs (of the 15) with two others should they deem that the pub’s beer quality had consistently failed to reach the required standard over the past year.
During the survey, the written description is updated, dispense methods are identified (including the use of return trays if found), the cellar is inspected, and the landlord interviewed to ensure that the GBG entry is correct. Any anomalies, concerns, incompatibilities with CAMRA policies or other issues identified by the survey are raised to the Branch Committee for their consideration and determination. The Committee also reserves the right to veto any pub under consideration should it fail to reach their overall quality criteria, and their decision is final.
The top 12 NW Wilts and 1 S. Glos. entries are then selected, edited where necessary to meet CAMRA Editorial Guidelines and uploaded via Pubzilla by the GBG Coordinating Officer to ensure that the GBG and WhatPub? entries are accurate. Up to 2 NW Wilts reserves are also identified in case a candidate pub closes or otherwise becomes ineligible between selection and publication of the GBG. If a replacement is needed, the Committee will notify the Regional Director (RD) as soon as possible. If this is before the GBG goes to press, our entries will be amended, otherwise this will be notified though What’s Brewing. Once finalised, the Branch’s entries are passed to the RD for endorsement and subsequent inclusion in the next year’s GBG.
- Pubs Officer downloads a search from Pubzilla of all open pubs and clubs serving real ale in the Branches area of responsibility. List cross-checked against local knowledge.
- Online voting opens and paper copies of the voting forms are made available at the AGM.
- Early January - Voting closes.
- Votes are counted and checked for validity against Membership records by Chairman, Secretary and Pubs Officer.
- Top 15 pubs are disclosed to the Members at January Branch Meeting.
- Those pubs are then surveyed in accordance with CAMRA GBG guidelines by volunteers drawn from the Committee and other Branch Members.
- Surveys completed.
- Branch Committee meets to ratify the result and rule on any issues arising.
- Result passed to Regional Director in accordance with their timetable.
- Distribution of GBG Licensee Packs.
(Version 1.10, updated November 2019)