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Britain's Best Pubs
by Roger Protz
ISBN 1858688264 / 9781858688268 / 1-85868-826-4
Publisher Carlton Books Ltd
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Roger Protz claims, not entirely convincingly, that he does not actually spend a great deal of time drinking beer in pubs. Notwithstanding, he knows a great deal about both (he is currently editor of the Campaign for Real Ale's Good Beer Guide) and puts it to very good use in Britain's Best 500 Pubs, which is a model of what pub guides ought to be. This is a personal collection of favourites, mostly old or at least old-fashioned, almost all serving cask-conditioned real ale. Each receives a spirited appreciation, with special attention going to the food. Most of the chosen pubs serve food, some of it very good indeed. Protz has had the bright idea of grouping his pubs not by location, as most such guides do; rather he gathers establishments all over the country into 50-odd categories, some fairly obvious, others idiosyncratic in the extreme. All make sense, though. Great coaching inns, top country pubs, genuine Irish pubs, pubs near London markets contrast with pubs in unusual buildings, pubs for bird watchers, Inspector Morse's favourite pubs and pubs with unusual names. There are also the highest pubs in Britain, haunted pubs and pubs with pets. Ten pub walks, long and short, in different parts of the country are a particularly useful addition; and as a special bonus Roger Protz lists bars he has particularly enjoyed in Lille, Prague and Brussels. A geographical index by count allows stay-at-homes to cheat. --Robin Davidson [via]