CAMRA UK publishes a series of books called the Good Beer Guide. There is one for the UK every year and periodically for other beer countries like Belgium and Germany. Naturally I came to the UK ready to go with my Good Beer Guide, but I haven’t actually found it that useful. While it has lead me to a few cool pubs, I need it most when I’m somewhere unfamiliar. Who wants to carry a giant book around when they don’t know where to find good beer? Nobody, that’s who. On top of that, I can barely find my way around the book as it is. I have no idea where Whatheshire, Whereceister, and Cantfinditborough are and it takes me a lot of flipping to even put myself in the right section. Also, you have to admin those sound kind of like British towns.
Today I managed to solve all my problems with the Good Beer Guide. I got an iPhone 4 today and the Good Beer Guide iPhone app was one of my first purchases. It only costs £5, takes up way less space, and is way more useful and up to date than the book. Now when I want to find good beer, I just start the app, tell it to find pubs nearby, then follow the directions it gives me. With the phone’s GPS and compass, I should even be able to find pubs whilst inebriated. If only every country could have their own Good Beer Guide mobile app.
We’ve been in England for over a week now and I’ve noticed a few things that I quite appreciate about drinking beer here:
- Real Ale – Or cask ale as we would call it, is available at almost all pubs. Commonly you’ll find six or eight of the major brands on tap and then there will be three beer machines pumping out real ale. Often you’ll find Fuller’s London Pride, Young’s Bitter, or Wells Bombardier available, among other British ales.
- Ordering at the bar – Whether it be beer or food, you order at the bar here. There is no pretense of table service and I much prefer this means of ordering. You go to the bar, order, pay, and have your beer shortly after. I much prefer this to table service where you are at the mercy of your server when it comes to ordering and settling up.
- Public Drinking – You can drink in public here. You can buy beer at a store and crack one on a train or in a park. You can order a beer at the pub and then walk out and enjoy it on the street if the weather is nice or the place is too crowded. I was shocked the first time a saw open alcohol in public, but only because it isn’t allowed back home, which isn’t to say it doesn’t happen anyway. People definitely drink in public at home, but either hide it or fear confiscation. Why bother with a silly law? People who want to drink in public will do it anyway. In the words of my aunt when told about our law, “but how do you have a picnic in the summer then?”
- Good Beer Guide – CAMRA UK publishes a Good Beer Guide to England detailing the many great pubs over here. I recently purchased this book only to find that there is also an iPhone app. The app uses the phone’s GPS to pinpoint your location and walk you to the closest approved pub. Considering that I don’t know a whole lot about my current whereabouts, this app is a revelation. My iPhone is now a good beer finder, wooo!