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‘.
A: Quality and/or Choice of Drinks
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.
B: Style & Décor
Any bar that has a distinctive look or character, whether through really standing out or just looking lived-in and possessing a clear identity will score a higher rating. Less derivative, more distinctive. Bad news for bland cookie-cutter craft beer taprooms and chain pubs.
C: Character, Atmosphere and/or Local Life
Most people choose to visit a place because they enjoy the surroundings on some level. There is a special atmosphere generated when a place achieves genius locii, harmony of place and purpose. This could be a busy noisy Irish pub with a fire going and folk music playing, or it could be an ultra-cool ruin pub with excited youngsters exploring semi-abandoned surroundings. Likewise, if a place has retained a core gathering of locals in the face of pressure from big money and property or changing demographics, that will be accounted for.
D: Amenities & Events
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.
E: Value For Money
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.
F: Overall Rating (The Pub Going Factor)
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.
How to get rated 8/10
8/10 – If a bar succeeds at doing a number of things well, not just well but clearly above average, it has a chance of a spot on our guide. Scoring 8 means it’s a bar you would recommend to someone, not necessarily in a ‘you must go here whatever else you do’, but in the knowledge that it’s an outstanding option .
How to get rated 9/10
9/10 – A 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.
How to get rated 10/10 (Dream on!)
10/10 – An 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!
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