Pick a section to travel to ...
The pub evaluation scheme in its present format was
born on a rather abbreviated Circle Line pub crawl on 15th December 2001,
involving Messrs. David Wacey, Graham Buckley and Ed Lewis, although its
origins may be traced back to earlier discussions with Messrs. Richard
Bradshaw, Mark Giles, Matthew Oliver, Adam Sharr and Andrew Wright pertaining
to establishments visited on a Croydon Tramlink pub crawl. After a few
attempts to get the scoring and weighting system correct, the eventual
scheme was hit upon which seems to work rather well.
In general, an average pub will score half
marks on each category. Marks are generally
divided as low as quarters out of a total of 25, so that it is possible
to give a percentage score. This however seems too analytical, so the mark
out of 25 is preferred.
Here are a few guidelines for marking each section:
Toilets - an average toilet should get 1 out
of 2. Things to look for include availability of toilet paper, working
locks on cubicle doors, ease of access and egress from bar, soap in the
soap dispensers, whether there is a trough [good, especially with partitions]
or individual urinals [bad], hand-dryers, towel roll and general cleanliness.
If there is piss on the floor and fag butts in the urinal/trough, it loses
marks. Nice stone worktops get extra marks.
Bar snacks - marked out of 2. Simply peanuts and crisps won't
do. This would get a pub about ¾ out of 2. The presence of things like
Sahara hot nuts, scampi fries, real pork scratchings, pickled eggs,
vacuum packed cockles, sweet machines, cheese moments, twiglets and chocolate
bars will get it bonus points. Some pubs, like the Brewery Tap in Wimbledon,
put up a bar snacks menu on a chalk board and have things like Bombay mix
and olives. Others will have visits from a seafood man. Obviously good
scores there. Bar meals do not count, although may be considered
in the last section of category 4.
Beer - a big category here for a total of 11
marks, subdivided into three sections
Atmosphere - 10 marks available for
this category, split into two sections.
Range - Out of 4. Look for how many hand-pumped ales
there are, these will earn the most points. Wetherspoons are particularly
good at getting high points in this category, but a pub with three
hand pumps is going to be getting around
2 out of 4, and mark generally ½ mark for each handpump above or below this (though there is lattitude if they are quite odd ones). Novelty lagers such as Zamec and Hurlimann get points too,
as does a cider with bits floating in it or a selection of Belgian beers.
A pub that has one crap hand-pumped ale such as Tetley and some gassy lagers
is not going to merit more than about 1 out of 4. Ladies may additionally
mark an establishment on the array of spirits, cocktails, alcopops and
Quality - Out of 4. This is quite subjective. A reasonable
pub is going to get 2 out of 4. If the beer is poor, pull the mark
down, but do try to get other members of your group to sample different
ales in order to get a balanced opinion. A pub with range limited to pedestrian
things like lagers and keg bitters will never get full marks, but a pub
with a pint of 6X or London Pride that makes you remark 'what a fine ale!',
Price - Out of 3. Depends where you are and what the
going rate is. Pretty straightforward really - are you shocked or pleasantly surprised? Wetherspoons tend to score well, as do Sam Smith's pubs, as long as you stick to the cheap bitter. A single draught beer on offer will be viewed in a favourable light.
Thus an average pub gets 12½ out of 25 [50%]. The system
has been noted to work well for most pubs, the only ones getting flattering
marks are Wetherspoons, although this is noted in the remarks column.
Service - marked out of 3. does the bar person serve you with
a smile? Do they hand you the right change? Will they top up that pint
for you? Have they any idea what is going on? After
all, if the barmaid does cartwheels and jumps through hoops for you, is
that really that big a deal? If
they are poor, then they can be stitched up, and give them a crap mark
that will pull the pub down considerably.
Clientele and demeanour of pub - 7 marks available
here for general, often intangible things that don't fit in the other categories, in the form of 6 marks plus one joker mark.
For example, why do people keep going back to the Lamb & Flag in Oxford?
It is a hole yet we love it. Other considerations are comfy chairs, jukebox,
table football, pool etc. etc. Sometimes exceptional things from other categories may
warrant extra marks beyond those allocated to that category.
The question is to ask yourself whether you would be content to come back,
and possibly spend an evening in that establishment. If the answer is 'yes'
then this section is likely to be 3 out of 6 or more. Don't forget that
some drinking dens are not made to be stayed in, like sports club bars
and the pit on the concourse at Victoria station - whilst a degree of leniency
should be applied in cases like this, never lose sight of the fact that
you would still probably not want to spend longer than you had to in them.
A pub with one or two novel or exceptional features - anything at all! - may additionally play its joker and receive up to one bonus point to bring this category out of a total of seven. Nondescript pubs will get nothing extra.
Pub ratings and tally thus
Pub Scoring Sheets may be downloaded here.
And this excel spreadsheet
will allow you to do them electronically and return them to me!
The pub rankings are available for boys on these
sheets, in both xls and html format.
This section is continuously being updated, so
check it regularly to see if your local has been rated.
Italics are used on the boys' spreadsheet
in cases where I wasn't in the pub at the time of marking. A large number
of pubs have been rated more than once. The list of unique pubs rated can
be found here (spreadsheet) or
also put together an all time ranking (duplicates and other peoples' results
taken out) of pubs. The data goes up to the end of 2004, but will be refreshed
periodically. Download it in excel
There are summaries of Pub Check lists from various
years, also available as HTML:
Note: these HTML files might not be as regularly
updated as the word/excel ones.
- Tally of pubs Richard Bradshaw visited in 2006,
including scores, in excel. We also
have the spreadsheet in html. The final score was a magnificent 533.
List of 720 pubs completed in 2005: excel and html.
List of 594 pubs completed in 2004: excel and html.
You can also access Chris Walker's Oxford Pub Guide
here. It was copied from him in the late 1990s and has not been maintained, instead providing a wonderful glimpse into history.
Last updated 14th August 2018.