Last year,for the first time in its 28 year history,the guide introduced a charge for featured pubs.
At the time we hummed and hahed over whether we should stay in the guide,then a twitter friend commented that if we thought it was good PR for the pub we should just stump up the cash and stay in.
So we did.
This year we didn't really give it much thought,the invitation to be included arrived and we sent off the payment.
This weekend I saw a copy of the 2013 guide for the first time.
I was surprised to see last years County Dining Pub of the Year demoted to a 'worth a visit' entry.
'worth a visit' pubs are:
' pubs that have been recommended by readers in the year before the guide goes to print and that we feel are worthy of inclusion-many of them,indeed as good in their way as the featured pubs'
There has to be a reason why last years County Dining pub of the year is given only a worth a visit entry at the end of the county chapter.
Is it under new ownership?
Has the Chef changed?
Has its entry in other notable guides lapsed?
Could it be perhaps that they decided against forking out the dosh?thus warranting only a minor mention?
I see also that the guide reports a record number of new entries(a bumper crop of 252-the most ever) this in a time when we are told 12 pubs a week continue to close.Call me a cynic but Id like to see this figure offset by the number of pubs which have disappeared from the guide.
Fast forward a couple of years.
Lets imagine that a significant number of the pubs that would previously have achieved a full entry status decide against paying the annual fee.(I think it was around £200 this year).
Its unlikely that all of these pubs would be included as 'worth a visit' pubs otherwise valuable space for paying entries might be lost(lets not be so naive as to think they don't have a financial target).
Therefore its probable to assume that good pubs might disappear from the guide,whilst less notable pubs that may previously have achieved only a worth a visit mention might have featured status.
Not really a Guide any more is it?More a guide to the best of those willing to pay.
Everyone knows there are guides which charge for inclusion,the problem with the Good Pub Guide is its reputation as being one of the independent guides(eg Michelin and Good Food Guide) .
Whilst a pub cant approach the guide and ask to pay to be included(they invite you),there is no denying that the introduction of charges for main entries totally alters the dynamic of the book as witnessed above.
Of course all of the above is supposition.
What do you think?Shall we pay for inclusion next year?(Assuming of course we're invited..)
Chow for now.
NB The Good Beer Guide also published recently and compiled by Camra remains impartial,there is no charge for inclusion in this guide.