Book Review: Good Beer Guide 2019

CAMRA’S GOOD BEER GUIDE 2019.  CAMRA. 2018. 1048 PP. £15.99. Pbk.


The 46th edition of the Real Ale lovers’ bible is the first for many years not to be edited by Roger Protz.  The editorial role now seems to be handed over to a committee.  The format of the book remains relatively unchanged with an introductory chapter on pubs and beer festivals.  This is followed by a brief guide on how beer is brewed and some notes on beer appreciation. The style guide only lists 14 “British” beer styles including saison, wheat and sour beers.

The real meat of the book is the 4,500 real ale pubs listed by county.  Each county section is prefaced with a helpful map showing the locations of these real ale pubs.  I have always felt that GBG has a bit of an urban bias, probably due to the fact that most CAMRA members live in towns and cities. There are probably many fine country pubs serving real ale but the logistical problems of getting local CAMRA groups to visit them must be quite considerable.

Good quality real ale is the only criteria required to gain a listing although many of the pubs also serve food. Each pub gets around 70 words to list its features and there are easy to understand symbols to show if the pub offers food, accommodation, real cider, or is dog friendly.

Part two of the book is the indispensable listing of all breweries in the UK.  The total listed in the 2019 edition is around 1750, up by only 50 from the 2018 edition. Over 130 breweries have closed since the 2018 edition of GBG was published. It is beginning to look as if the bubble has burst and the current brewery total is unlikely to rise in future years.  Each brewery also has a set of symbols indicating as to whether it can be visited, has a shop, offers real ale in bottles, etc.

Whether you are looking for good local pubs or want some inspiration for beery holiday destination then GBG will not let you down.  It remains the indispensable guide to Real Ale.

David Harris