The 2011 Good Pub Guide has blacklisted 381 pubs after receiving “serious criticism” from their customers, including rude staff and smelly dogs.
The way pubs have reacted to a tightened economy has played a key role in this year’s selection in the guide, which lists over 5,000 recommended pubs in the UK.
Jobs in the sector have been cut by around four per cent with the economic downturn, and this has had a big impact on their service to customers, said The Good Pub Guide’s editor Fiona Stapley.
“This over-economising on staff has led to service delays and other related problems. The genuinely warm and personal welcome found in so many of the Guide's pubs has become something of a rarity”.
The main issue that excluded pubs from the guide was bad service. Four in ten customers this year reported poor service, which was often linked to short staffing and slow service. Another complaint was rude or unwelcoming staff.
“It's quite clear from their reports that something which really rankles with readers is staff reacting badly or unsympathetically to a complaint (the absolute opposite of what good publicans do),” says the guide.
Other criticisms ranged from “a very smelly roaming dog”, grubby or cheerless surroundings, overpowering TVs, piped music and a poor choice of beers to shortcomings in food.
When pubs get it right
On the other hand, quite a few favourite pubs owe their appeal almost entirely to the caring and welcoming personalities of their landlords or landladies, says the guide.
Some of the best pubs are in appealing countryside or small villages, with a relaxed and informal atmosphere to match.
Others stand out because of their good beer or wine offering. Almost 400 pubs in the guide have qualified for its Beer Award, while one in three main entries this year holds a Wine Award.
The guide also selected a top ten list of breweries, which it says are the ones that most often supply good pubs with their cheapest beer. These are: Adnams, Black Sheep, Fullers, Greene King, Harveys, Hook Norton, Otter, Sharps, Wadworths and Wells & Youngs.
This year’s top ten pubs are:
• Bell at Aldworth (Berkshire)
• Sun in Kirkby Lonsdale (Cumbria)
• Five Mile House at Duntisbourne Abbots
• Bathurst Arms at North Cerney (Gloucestershire)
• Highwayman at Nether Burrow (Lancashire)
• George of Stamford (Lincolnshire)
• Running Horses in Mickleham (Surrey)
• Malet Arms at Newton Tony (Wiltshire)
• Nags Head in Malvern (Worcestershire)
• Tempest Arms at Elslack (Yorkshire)
The Pub of the Year 2011 was awarded to the Tempest Arms at Elslack for its “good food and drink, great atmosphere and comfortable bedrooms”.