NBSS - National Beer Scoring System, Good Beer Guide, and PotY

Have you ever wondered how branch pubs are selected for the CAMRA Good Beer Guide and our branch Pub of the Year?

You will know of the ‘Good Beer Guide’, CAMRA’s flagship publication which lists the best pubs for beer in the UK. But what you may not know is how those pubs are selected to appear in the Guide. The answer is that in the Arun & Adur branch they are mostly chosen via beer scores submitted by CAMRA members from our branch and other members visiting from all over the country. We apply criteria to make sure that the beer scores are representative (e.g. to exclude pubs where there are only a few scores) and then chose pubs where the average score is sufficently high. Based on branch size there is a limit to the number of pubs that we can include.

If you’ve ever wondered why your favourite pub isn’t in the Guide, this may well be because you, and others, haven’t entered enough scores rating the quality of beer there.

By beer scoring, you help your branch with the selection of pubs that go in the Good Beer Guide and are considered for our branch Pub of the Year. The more scores that are submitted by members the more confident we are in the quality of beer in our favourite pubs.

How do we pick a Pub of the Year?

The process for Pub of the Year is slightly different to the Good Beer Guide. Of course we focus on beer quality but we then take recommendations from members and beer festival attendees. These are used to draw up a short list and then members are asked to visit and assess each pub against a standard set of criteria:

  • Quality of Beer
  • Style, Décor, Furnishing & Cleanliness
  • Service, Welcome & Offering
  • Community Focus & Atmosphere
  • Alignment with CAMRA principles
  • Overall Impression

All the scores from the visiting members are combined and the pub with the highest score is crowned as Pub of the Year. A very similar process lets us chose a Cider Pub of the Year.

Scoring beer in pubs is easy!

The National Beer Scoring System (NBSS) is a 0-5 point scale for judging beer quality in pubs.

It is an easy to use system that has been designed to assist CAMRA branches in selecting pubs for the Good Beer Guide and monitor beer quality by encouraging CAMRA members from any part of the world to report beer quality on any pub in the UK.

How do I score my beer?

You don’t have to be an ‘expert’ to begin scoring your beer. 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 described below.

You can score your beer online at home or if you have a smart phone you can do it in the pub! To submit your scores just visit whatpub.com. If you prefer you can print out a sheet if you prefer to score your beers once you are back at home.

Log into the site using your CAMRA membership number and password. Once you have agreed to the terms and conditions and found a pub on the site, you can start scoring. You can find out more here whatpub.com/beerscoring. If you have a smart phone you can also score directly from the Good Beer Guide app gbgapp.camra.org.uk

What do I need to record?
  • The location and name of the pub (WhatPub mobile can work this out!)
  • The date you visited the pub
  • A score out of 5
  • The name of the beer
  • We will also need your name and membership number but once you have registered these are recorded automatically in WhatPub
What do the scores mean?

It is important to realise that the scale is not linear. Only 0.5 and 1 indicate poor beer. This allows a wider range of scores for beer that is anything from uninspiring to perfection in a glass. Most worthy Good Beer Guide pubs tend to score either a 3 or 4 for their beers. Bland, uninspiring beers score a 2 and a 5 is something given once or twice a year. It is always worth reminding yourself of the descriptions associated with each of the numbers.

  • 0. No cask ale available.
  • 1. Poor. Beer that is anything from barely drinkable to drinkable with considerable resentment.
  • 2. Average. Competently kept, drinkable pint but doesn’t inspire in any way, not worth moving to another pub but you drink the beer without really noticing.
  • 3. Good. Good beer in good form. You may cancel plans to move to the next pub. You want to stay for another pint and may seek out the beer again.
  • 4. Very Good. Excellent beer in excellent condition.
  • 5. Perfect. Probably the best you are ever likely to find. A seasoned drinker will award this score very rarely.
What if I can't decide on a score?

The NBSS allows you to enter half scores, for example 3.5 for a beer that is somewhere between good and very good.

How do I score a beer I don't like?

Ideally a beer should be scored to reflect how it has been kept. In other words, its condition. However, the ability to distinguish between a beer that is in poor condition, is unpalatable to our tastes but is meant to taste like that or has been poorly made is going to be difficult for the untrained taster. In these cases, it is better to score the beer as it honestly tastes to you. After all, even if you don’t like carrot and coriander ale, others may well do and therefore score it higher.

If you are having any problems, comments, or suggestions about scoring your beers then please email the Chairman or our Pubs Officer and we will be glad to help.

Current Beer Scores

You can view snapshot of the scores for the previous month. Perhaps there are some pubs here that you haven't been to yet that would be worth a visit. This is just the raw data averages - a pub with a single score of 5 would go straight to the top of the table.