CAMRA Country Pubs Dorset

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CAMRA Country Pubs Dorset

DriveU To A Country Pub

Article by S. Charlton

One of CAMRA’s many remits is to produce the Good Beer Guide, an annual publication containing details of the pubs selling the best real ale in the country and where to find them, the entries being broken down into the countries of the United Kingdom and subcategorised by the counties within these. The book also contains listings of all the nations breweries along with tasting notes for the range of beers they produce and is an invaluable companion when seeking out a good pint of real ale either in your local area, whilst away on holiday or after that long meeting when away on a business trip! The real ale outlets to be represented in each edition of the guide are chosen by members of the many local branches of CAMRA using various means to rate the pubs, the most important of which is CAMRA’s beer scoring system. This system is the practise of CAMRA members scoring beer they are served according to a defined scale of quality and these scores are used to produce an average rating for each pub, a higher average indicating a better consistency of the real ale being served.

Our branch of CAMRA, East Dorset is allocated space in the guide for twenty eight of the two hundred and fifty plus pubs selling real ale in our branch area which includes one of the so called ‘famous five’ pubs which have appeared in every edition of the guide since its inception over forty years ago, this being The Square & Compass in Worth Matravers – a fine achievement indeed. While we use the scoring system detailed above to determine the pubs to be represented we also stipulate that each pub must have been visited a set number of times in order to be eligible, thus ensuring an element of consistency in the results. For the pubs in towns such as Poole, Bournemouth, Wareham and Wimborne this isn’t a problem as they are visited frequently by branch members and so plenty of scores are accumulated but it can be a problem for many of the pubs in rural villages which are serving great beer but are somewhat trickier to get to so don’t get as many scores.

A number of branch trips are therefore organised during the year to tour these pubs and with limited or no public transport available to their locations, we hire minibuses from DriveU Minibus Hire for these ventures. Chris, the owner offers a friendly service, has developed a good understanding of what our trips are trying to achieve and provides a service which is tailored to our requirements. As our branch area covers the Purbecks and extends as far west as Lulworth Cove and as far north as Child Okeford and Iwerne Courtney, it is not possible to visit every pub in the number of tours we can organise. We therefore target those pubs which are the most difficult to get to or we believe will be serving the best real ale and have a chance of being awarded good scores in the scoring system. DriveU work with us to plan the most efficient routes around these so that we can maximise our time with the minibus and achieve our objectives.

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The trips are not all about the beer scoring of course and it’s important that everyone has a good time on the outings which invariably start with DriveU collecting us from a centrally located pub (where else?!) on a Saturday during late afternoon/early evening. Half an hour and a drive through the picturesque Dorset countryside later can see us arriving at The Bankes Arms on Studland, The Sixpenny Brewery Tap or The White Horse in Stourpaine to name a few, where we can sit out and enjoy the remainder of the days sun with our first beers in hand. An hour or so later and with scoring complete and drinks consumed, we move on to the next port of call, eager to find out the real ale which will be on offer there. The DriveU drivers are always friendly and often join us for a tea or coffee in one or more of the pubs visited, of which there are usually four or five during the course of the evening. While these are always well researched, there is the odd occasion when one is unexpectedly closed or the beer is not up to expectation and the drivers are very helpful and accommodating if timings need to be changed or we decide to visit a different pub to those on the original plan. After winding our way through the Dorset countryside we arrive at the last pub of the trip and having sampled the beer, it is time to return to the point of collection with the odd stop for people whose home we may pass along the route. Drop off is usually made by 1030pm which, after thanking the driver and exchanging well wishes, gives everyone time for a pint before last orders or head home at their leisure, an enjoyable evening visiting some of Dorset’s great country pubs which are otherwise difficult to get to, fresh in their minds.

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CAMRA Country Pubs The White Horse Dorset

If you would be interested in joining them on these trips then contact us and we will forward your details on to the organiser or visit the East Dorset CAMRA website East Dorset Camra where you will find details of when the next one will be.


"Thank you for making our trip enjoyable and stress free."

Positives: Thank you for making our trip enjoyable and stress free.

Many thanks to the driver as well for his help.


Richard Comer (Devon)

Negatives: None

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