Five years ago, CAMRA introduced its new National Beer Scoring System, which enabled any member to rate the beer that he or she had drunk in any pub in the UK.
A lot can happen over five years. Pubs can close or be renamed, new ones can open or landlords change. Breweries come and go as do beers, but I thought it might be interesting to look back to see which pubs have emerged with distinction. Our West Norfolk branch area stretches much further than the council area, incorporating the old licencing districts of Lynn, Hunstanton, Downham, Thetford and Swaffham so some of the pubs involved might be unfamiliar. The scoring is on a scale of 0-5, with half points acceptable. First, the pubs which have had the most scores entered. They may not sell the best beer, but they are the ones where members go back to time and time again.
Far and away in top place is the Red Lion at Hockwold, with 533 scores entered (average 4.01), followed by the Victory at Clenchwarton (192, 3.73), and the Lattice House, King’s Lynn (184, 3.55).
This could be the same people going many times, so which pubs have attracted the most unique visitors? Top of the list is the Crown and Mitre where the beer has been rated by 42 drinkers (3.35), the Lattice House (41, 3.55) and the Angel at Larling (37, 3.85).
What about the chances of finding a great pint? Scores of 5/5 are extremely rare, with only 26 of the 174 on the list earning any at all. Ignoring the four that were entered on the same night by one landlady, the places with the most perfect scores are Hockwold Red Lion (10/533), Great Hockham Eagle (9/175) and Shouldham King’s Arms (8/146). Only nine others received more than one.
And now for the best average scores. Obviously, the more scores that have been entered for a pub, the more reliable the average will be, so let’s start with those that have been scored over 50 times. The top three are as above, Great Hockham Eagle (4.32), Hockwold Red Lion (4.01) and the King’s Arms at Shouldham (3.98), followed by Lynn’s Stuart House Hotel (3.98) and Ferry Lane Social Club (3.89). Of those with between 10 and 50 scores, the best are the Berney Arms at Barton Bendish (4.2), the Windmill at Necton (4.13) and Narborough Social Club (3.96).
There are a few which have been scored fewer than 10 times, which makes the data less reliable.
There are a whole bunch averaging 4, including the new Blackstone Engine Bar at Denver Windmill.
If you are a CAMRA member, entering scores is very easy, but if you have a problem contact me and I can help. Hopefully you will be inspired to go and check a pub on the list, but be aware that the scores are purely about beer quality.
They do not take into account the food, décor, quality of service, cleanliness, etc. As a branch, we try to address some of those issues when we choose our Pub of the Year, but that’s another story.