Popular pub excluded from beer guide

The Artichoke at Broome.

The Artichoke at Broome. - Credit: Archant

For beer enthusiasts across the UK, CAMRA's Good Beer Guide (GBG) is the bible of real ale breweries.

Every year 4,500 pubs in the country are recognised and the campaign releases a comprehensive list of their best pints.

This year The Artichoke at Broome, which was named CAMRA Norfolk Pub of the Year in 2009, was not given a coveted spot in the guide.

During a CAMRA scrutiny meeting, after about 130 nominated pubs from Norwich and Norfolk were whittled down to 70 spots, the campaign learned that The Artichoke had been sold and was therefore not eligible for inclusion.

CAMRA's rules state that if a pub changes hands, they don't know if the new owners are maintaining the same quality of real ale.

The Artichoke's owner, John Craft, was frustrated by the decision. He said The Artichoke, co-owned by Nikki Howard, had been sold subject to contract last November, but the buyer pulled out of the deal in June.

This aspect of the eligibility rule in general, he says, is unfair.

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'It's a good beer guide, not a good landlord guide. They seem to be disenfranchising us in a way,' Mr Craft said.

Most importantly, Mr Craft is worried that The Artichoke's exclusion from GBG will hurt his business.

'Lots of people come in on holiday and have the guide in hand. I don't think this will affect our normal trade, because locals know we have good food, good ale, and good service, but outsiders might not know about us now,' he said.

Ian Stamp, the chairman and pub campaigns coordinator for Norwich and Norfolk CAMRA, said the group could have contacted Mr Craft to discuss the sale but ultimately they had followed guidelines.

'Given the certainty of the information - that the pub had been sold - I do not think this is reasonable [to contact Mr Craft], especially given that the whole process, which is very time consuming, is carried out by unpaid volunteer members of the branch. I think this is just an unfortunate accident of timing,' Mr Stamp said.

Despite this year's guide, CAMRA and Mr Craft do agree on one thing: the lofty reputation of The Artichoke.

'The Artichoke is an excellent pub, which has well deserved its status as a Good Beer Guide entry for many years, and the fact that it is not in this year's GBG does not in any way reflect on the pub, or on John and Nikki's stewardship of it,' said Mr Stamp.