Well it's all about the beer, obviously. Most CAMRA members would endure any conditions to find the nirvana of the perfect pint. But a little bit of ambiance, comfort, security and companionship goes a long way to improve the experience further. What might the perfect pub look like to you? Here are some thoughts to consider ....
Quality and Condition of Real Ale
It is the quality and condition of the beer that is important, not the range of styles or number of hand-pumps. Is the beer a good example of the style it represents? How would you score the beer? Do you leave with a feeling of deep satisfaction?
Promotion and Knowledge of the Beer
Can you tell at a glance what beers are available and where they come from? If there is a choice, does it offer a range of styles and strengths?
Do the staff know how to pour a good pint? Can they answer simple questions about the available beers? Do you think they may enjoy a brew themselves?
Does the bar enthusiastically promote real ale? Does it host "meet the brewer" evenings or advertise beer festivals?
Cleanliness and Staff Hygiene
The pub should be clean throughout, including bar tops tables and glasses. Toilets should be clean with hot water, soap and suitable hand drying facilities.
Staff should observe good hygiene practices; e.g. not eating behind the bar, cleaning hands and surfaces regularly, handling glasses correctly.
Service, Welcome and Offering
All members of the public should be welcome, with no advertising or attitudes that may be offensive. Service should be welcoming, friendly and polite.
Prompt service is desirable, no waving at staff who are engrossed on digital devices or private conversations. If it is busy, then friendly acknowledgement of your presence is welcome. We all like bar staff who maintain a mental queue of who is next to be served.
Is there a dedicated section for families and children away from the bar? If loud music is prevalent, is there a quieter area? Are other products available that may enhance a visit, such as a whisky/gin selection or quality soft drinks.
Style, Decor and Furnishings
Is the environment comfortable, pleasant and safe with no unpleasant odour? Are all furnishings in a good state of repair? Have the carpets been cleaned or do your boots stick to the floor?
Does the style show respect for the building? Does the decor enhance or detract from the building and neighbourhood?
Community Focus and Atmosphere
Is the atmosphere friendly? Do regular customers interact well with strangers?
Is there a sense of community that is inclusive and welcoming to all age groups? Does the atmosphere change at different times of the day or different days of the week?
A good community pub might support local activities such as sport teams, local groups or local celebrations. It might host teams for pub games. There might be a notice board advertising events in the local area.
Sympathy with CAMRA's Aims
Prices and opening hours should be clearly displayed. There should be no misleading dispense.
You should always get a full measure or top-up without asking. Will the bar happily exchange a "dodgy" pint?
If the bar uses sparklers to affect the head on a beer, will they adjust or remove it on request?
Are noisy electronic amusement machines out of sight and mind?
Overall Impression and Value
Taking into account the style of the establishment and it's location, do you feel you received reasonable value for money?
Did you enjoy your visit ? Did you spend more time than you had expected or wish you had been able to stay longer. Would you look forward to a return visit?