What are we looking for?

How are we rating the pubs and bars we visit?

When considering a pub or bar it is worth acknowledging there are some hard to place qualities that make it feel just right. Similarly, there can be unique features, even tiny elements that contribute. You can’t always measure these, though they have been weighed up when making our verdict.

In order to provide some objective comparison, there are specific criteria  it is possible to define, compare and contrast. There are 5 categories these venues will be judged upon, leading to an overall final rating which we have labelled, ‘The Pub Going Factor‘.

For this category we will mainly judging the quality and choice served in the bar, mainly the taps, however I will also consider the range on the back shelf as well. If the venue specialises in a certain thing and does that well, it will be allowed a degree of latitude if the beer is not up to scratch.

The furnishings, decoration, the look the place is aiming for, or has accrued over the years. I will compare whether these are sympathetic with the surroundings and whether they positively contribute to the experience. We explored this recently in the feature article 10 of the Most Stylish Bars In Europe!

An essential factor in the enjoyment of any bar is that it creates an environment in keeping with its purpose, whether that be digging in with a good book, or socialising by the bar. Is there a buzz or the right cosy feel? Are the crowd the kind of people you want to share space with? Extra commendation goes to any bar that has successfully fostered a cast of regulars. It’s highly likely a bar that has achieved this will go on to receive a good overall score.

The primary purpose of a bar is to serve drinks, and allow people space and room to drink them in the fashion and mood the bar intends to generate. However, extra features such as food, games, terrace areas, quizzes, live music and community events will score points when and only when they are a net improvement on the place’s core mission. It’s not the be-all-and-end-all. It’s possible to have no seats, 1 available drink and still be a great pub.

Becoming a regular at some bars could turn into a very expensive habit. This is something we pondered recently in our feature article Beers Vs. Your Bank Balance. It’s vital bars price their drinks fairly in order to maintain a loyal following. We will be judging value for money by considering a bar’s location, the quality of the drink and surroundings. If we can only get a Corona for 6 euros, we are going to be unhappy. If we can get a pint of Pilsner Urquell for less than 40 Czech koruna, we are going to be very happy.

This is what you end up with when the scores from the above are put together, and when  other inexpressible feelings are weighed with it. Essentially this final score is the answer to the question: how likely am I to make a special visit to this place, or, if possible, make it a regular haunt? The score as much as any other will tell you outright how good this pub is. If the end result is a score of 8/10 or higher, it will make it onto our Bar Directory.


8/10A score reserved only for a high quality pub. While there may be room for improvement you can visit this venue assured that it offers a thoroughly enjoyable save haven from mediocrity. Most of the time, this can be achieved by being Distinctive, a virtue we wrote about recently in our feature article, ‘The Importance of Being Distinctive‘.

9/10A score reserved for an excellent venue that does a series of important things really well, far and beyond the norm, to enhance your experience. The kind of place you want to make your local and cheerlead.

10/10An unmissable pub going experience stemming from several special qualities that make the place standout beyond the every day venue. Possessing or offering something that cannot easily be found. Usually a ‘genius locii’, harmony of place and purpose. A reason to visit a town or city in and of itself. Not many venues have received this score from us!

Nothing. Feel free to disagree with us in every way you like, however first we recommend reading our ‘FICS (Frequently Irrelevant Complaints) page, just to check you aren’t a prissy crybaby or a dullard whose opinion ought to be taken with a pinch of salt. No offence.

We acknowledge not everyone enjoys crumbling edifices, real ale, pub quizzes – some people would rather be listening to chart music slightly too loudly and drinking cider in venues decorated temporarily in whatever the latest fad is. You have the absolute right to disagree but unlike us you are not going to set up a website dedicated to those places, are you? Victory is ours. Thanks for showing up though.

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