The Manchester Pub Guide produced by CAMRA in Greater Manchester is a handy book listing all of the pubs selling real ale in the City Centre and a couple of districts beyond. It is split up by area and there isn't a lot by way of editorial, rather, the reader - user if you like - is left to make up his or her mind from the pub descriptions. Typical CAMRA guide you might say. Give 'em the info and then let them get on with it. Fair enough? Certainly Rhys Jones, that doyen of many a CAMRA book review thinks so - and why not? In Stockport and South Manchester's Opening Times, he summarises by saying it is "an accomplished and professional volume with little to criticise".
The reviewer in Manchester Confidential toook a different tack. His thoughts are more along the lines that the book should provide recommendations rather than just descriptions. The reviewer, Charlie Butterworth says, "The authors should have been more discriminating. Some inclusions should have no place in this guide. For some places it's best to hire armed guards before venturing in......there's a lack of judgement in some of the choices that is worrying.It appears pubs and bars are included simply because they sell real ale not if they're any good as a pub." Well yes. There's the nub of it. Do you produce a comprehensive list and leave the reader to get on with it by exercising his judgemnent, or do you, as Manchester Confidential thinks, produce a book of recommended pubs with its attendant difficulties of what you put in and what you leave out?
There's a certain degree of missing the point in the Manchester Confidential article which one might think wilful until you read what Charlie has to say. I particularly liked this comment " For instance if I said to my Manchester ale-drinking mates, "Do you want to go for a few in the Lloyds in the Printworks?" they'd think I was already pissed." It's great knockabout stuff, but there is a serious point. Do you prefer a comprehensive list, or do you want to be guided? Clearly Charlie prefers the latter.
Is"guide" the correct title? What do you prefer? The Manchester Pub Guide is already on a reprint and is available at a giveaway £4.99 from camragreatermanchester.org.uk
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink. He also judges beer at both the International Beer Challenge and the World Beer Awards.
This blog mentions specifics; pubs and beer, good and bad. The opinions will be forthright, but you can always disagree, just don't be offended. Comments from those mentioned are particularly welcome and a right of reply is hereby offered.
Read my information and links and then decide for yourself. You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes.
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