2021 Good Beer Guide published today

See which pubs are in around Oxford, Abingdon and Witney

The new edition of the Good Beer Guide lists 24 pubs around the Oxford branch with 13 in the city and 11 in Abingdon, Witney and nearby villages. The only new entry for 2021 is the Wychwood Brewery Tap in Witney, while returning to the guide after not featuring this year are the Castle in central Oxford, the Eagle Tavern (also in Witney) and the King’s Head and Bell in Abingdon.

New for 2021: Wychwood Brewery Tap

A few pubs have dropped out, mainly because of a change of management but also because other pubs had higher beer scores. CAMRA rules nationally require any pub changing hands not to be considered for the GBG for at least six months after the change-over, which means some country pubs in our branch don’t feature in the new edition.

Oxford CAMRA, like all branches, had to decide on its 2021 choices – based on beer quality scores by members – back in February, before the Covid-19 crisis hit. But we are confident that all our pubs listed are in fact open, with the exception of the Fir Tree on Iffley Road which is due to re-open next week on Tuesday, November 3.

The 2021 guide lists 4,534 pubs throughout the UK with the highest beer quality scores recorded by members, and 1,815 breweries. In Oxfordshire it lists 69 pubs and 26 breweries, but as input was made before the Covid-19 pandemic started, CAMRA is concerned that the fortunes of pubs and breweries have declined markedly since then.

Back in….. the King’s Head and Bell

While pubs that are new to the guide or back in tend to get the most attention, it’s also good to pay tribute to pubs that have been in the guide consistently year after year – a great achievement. In Oxford, the Rose and Crown has missed only one year since 1996, while the Lamb and Flag has featured continuously since 2001, and the Masons Arms since 2004.

Securing inclusion in the guide is a very competitive process, with Oxford branch having places for 24 pubs at present as decreed by CAMRA HQ. This means that there are many pubs serving good beer that don’t get in, while some narrowly miss out after rival pubs get higher beer scores.

Local pubs and breweries have fared better than the national average despite all the restrictions and difficulties facing them over the last seven months, with very few remaining closed since re-opening was permitted in July. But as trading conditions were harsh for many before the national lockdown, the true impact of Covid-19 may not been felt yet – and it’s the same for breweries.

CAMRA’s national chairman, Nik Antona, said: “It’s clear the industry was already in a vulnerable position when Covid-19 hit. Since then breweries have all but been forgotten about, and may even be hit with higher taxes as the Government considers changes to Small Brewers Relief scheme.

“This is a pivotal time that could make or break the industry. Our pubs and breweries are going to need significant long-term support and funding throughout the coming months to survive.”

Celebrity chef Tom Kerridge writes in the foreword to the guide: “We are now facing a difficult year of lockdown restriction and social distancing measures. While every sector across the UK has felt the burden of Covid-19, brewers and pubs have most certainly taken the brunt of the impact.

20 years in the GBG: the Lamb and Flag

“The one thing we have all missed during lockdown is human connection and social interaction, which above all else, is everything that the Great British Pub provides – a warm, happy and friendly place for people to drink and eat. It is imperative that we continue to support our breweries and pubs to preserve them for generations to come.”

The full list of Oxford branch entries for 2021 is as follows:

Oxford city centre: Bear Inn, Castle, Chequers, Fir Tree, Lamb & Flag, Royal Blenheim, St Aldates Tavern, White Rabbit.

North Oxford: Gardeners Arms (Planation Road), Rose and Crown.

Headington: Butchers Arms, Masons Arms, White Hart.

Abingdon: Brewery Tap, Broad Face, King’s Head and Bell, Nag’s Head, Narrows.

Carterton: Siege of Orleans.

Northmoor: Red Lion.

Witney: Angel, Drummers Bar (formerly Oxbrew), Eagle Tavern, Wychwood Brewery Tap.

To buy the Good Beer Guide 2021, click here.