You don’t need to be a member of the branch Committee to get involved. There are many duties that need carrying out throughout the year and we welcome branch members (and non-members) input to everything. To offer your services email or speak to any committee member.

For general information about volunteering read the National leaflet.

Get involved with the Nottingham Drinker

Our very popular and successful branch magazine “Nottingham Drinker” is put together by a team of volunteers and further help is always welcome. The editors are always pleased to receive articles for inclusion, complete with photographs or other images where appropriate. In addition we could always use help with such tasks as selling advertising space, distribution of copies to pubs etc. For more information or to offer your services email

Adopt a pub (or two)  

Like most CAMRA branches, we have more pubs than the Committee alone could possibly keep up to date with.  So we ask that Branch members and non-members alike to visit pubs in their local area and drop the us a note of any changes you see.  Changes can cover wide areas such as change of owner/landlord, a refurbishment, a change in beer stocking policy, introduction of LocAle beers and real ciders.  

Work at a Beer Festival

Contact the Staffing Officer of Beer Festivals and become a volunteer. We rely on volunteers to staff all the CAMRA sponsored Beer Festivals in our Branch area, so your help will be very much appreciated. No experience is necessary as guidance will be given by CAMRA members who have been volunteering for some time. We understand that everyone has busy lives, so just volunteer for the hours that you can offer and we will work a schedule around your availability.
For the annual Nottingham Robin Hood Beer & Cider Festival in October then visit the Festival website. We need volunteers from two weeks before the festival opens all the way through to the Sunday afterwards to include setting up and take down. The festival itself runs from Wed until Sat. To serve on the bars, volunteers are needed from 10 am until close to help out on both beer and cider bars, or anything else you could assist us with. It is really rewarding, as the many volunteers will attest to. 

Lobby your MP

Often this can result in progressing CAMRA’s aims by raising issues with parliament. CAMRA Headquarters often asks people to write to their MP or local councillor. The quantity of letters received is what makes an impact and it only takes a few minutes. If you would like to be involved, just ensure that CAMRA’s Membership staff have your email address. Simply email saying that you are happy for CAMRA to contact you and quoting your name and either your address or CAMRA membership number.

Join in the selection of Branch Pub Of The Year (POTY)

So How Do You Judge A Pub?  We explain how Nottingham CAMRA arrive at the shortlist for Pub of the Year and then judge the Winner.

Everyone who has ever visited more than one pub will have an opinion about which is their favourite pub. Everyone will have their own idea and their own way of judging a pub. Everyone will have their own thoughts about how to score one pub against another.

This is the sometimes difficult issue that confronts those people involved in judging Pub of the Year contenders: whatever pub comes out on top and whichever pubs are shortlisted, sadly some will disagree and may be disappointed by the result. However, to be fair and open, CAMRA have produced detailed guidance on judging to achieve an accurate reflection of what a great pub should be.

However, it is important to bear in mind that Nottingham CAMRA’s Pub of the Year competition has to meet CAMRA’s stated aims and objectives. So the winning pub has to be a great CAMRA pub too.

Let’s try to answer the common questions that are asked about the Pub of the Year (POTY) award:

How are the pubs nominated?

Nominations are sought at Nottingham CAMRA branch meetings and through the pages of the Nottingham Drinker; the only criteria being “Do you think it is a good pub?” and “Would it be a worthy winner of Pub Of The Year?”. Requests for nominations are also sent out in the branch mail out and a dedicated email address is open all year for nominations:

How is the short-list arrived at?

To enable the competition to be judged in a reasonable time-frame, only a certain number of pubs will go through to the final stages. If a very large number of pubs have been nominated, the branch POTY coordinator looks at all the entries and, assuming no changes have occurred at the establishment since the previous competition, any pubs that have failed to get into the top half of the previous list will be eliminated at that stage.
How is the final judging panel made up?  Are they all Committee members?

Volunteers are invited to come forward, once again at meetings and through the pages of the Nottingham Drinker and mail out. The majority are ordinary branch members although a few committee members do join in. There is no selection process to pick volunteers – everyone who volunteers is accepted. A desire to show impartiality is very important to us and we have even been joined by publicans in the past (but of course, this is where their pubs have not been nominated!).

What experience do the members of the judging panel need as a minimum?

There is no experience necessary; the only thing asked is that you must visit all the pubs on the judging list, not just a selection, thus giving every nomination an equal opportunity.

The Judging

There are six criteria that the judging is based upon.  

1. Quality of Beer/Cider/Perry

For a pub to get onto the short-list then it is a safe bet (we hope!) that it serves excellent real ale and real cider or perry. The National Beer Scoring System (NBSS) used by CAMRA members to record their thoughts on a pub’s offerings is a good starting point for picking out good pubs.  The scores submitted by CAMRA members who visit our Branch area pubs are a very reliable guide to the quality of real ale and the cellar team’s skills in serving a good pint. Nottingham CAMRA’s Tasting Panel also visits our Branch area pubs on a regular basis and their scores are an extremely reliable indicator of  the performance by the pub and its team.  This is the most important category when judging a pub and so the scores in this section are heavily weighted. Note that this category is also one that is assessed over repeated visits to ensure consistent quality. It must always be remembered that a couple of beers served in excellent condition will score much more highly than a pub with 8 or more handpulls serving indifferent or variable quality beers. 

2. Atmosphere, Style and Décor

This is mainly looking at a pub where you will feel at home and feel comfortable. Is the pub a place you’d want to visit regularly? Does it have a nice “feel”? Is it a pleasant, clean and safe environment? Is it a friendly place to be? The judges will also be looking at sympathy for the building and the pub’s heritage – any pub no matter how old or new can be excellent and score well on its own terms.

3. Service and Welcome 

For the purposes of judging, the approach is taken of being a stranger in the pub, visiting for the first time. One would expect to be treated promptly and courteously, with a level of friendship. Key is being treated as a person, a valued customer and not just a means to pay the bills. If the pub is busy or the bar staff are chatting somewhere, have they acknowledged you – and are you then served promptly? Is your glass a full measure and topped up if required – or do you have to ask? And if you do ask, what is the response?

4. Community Focus

To be considered for a CAMRA Pub of the Year, it should be inclusive and not exclusive. Are all sectors of the community welcomed? Does the pub cater for people of all ages and from diverse backgrounds? Whether the pub is in the city centre, suburbs or a rural setting, the pub should demonstrate some community feel and focus. This category is the second most weighted focus as CAMRA believes pubs are vital to communities. 

5. Sympathy with CAMRA Aims

The most obvious way this can be seen is by the way real ale and real cider or perry, are actively promoted. Those drinks that CAMRA promote and protect should not be playing “second fiddle” to other drink promotions. Does the pub promote CAMRA’s values generally? Are oversize lined glasses used? Is there a clear and obvious price list?   

6. Good Value

This is not about cheap drink but whether you feel you have had good value for money. Would you want to return to the pub? Does travelling to the pub and spending both money and time there leave you with a feel-good factor? A pub scoring highly here should leave all customers with a good overall pub experience.

What happens next?  How are the results worked out?

The judging consists of two rounds; the initial short list is judged and after reviewing all the scores on a spreadsheet, the three top scoring pubs will get a further visit and will be judged again using the same criteria as before. This second pub visit during this final round will also be done on different days and times to the previous visit; for example, if one visit was done on say, a Wednesday, then the next visit would possibly be a Friday or Saturday, to give a different perspective of the place.  So we hope you will now have a much clearer understanding of the process used by Nottingham CAMRA. We do need folks to fill in the NBSS score cards – online or via paper copy – and submit their scores. We trust that folks will feel confident, with the judging criteria above born in mind, to nominate pubs at any time of the year via the email link quoted. We also hope that more members will feel they want to be part of the process and look out for news of when the POTY judging for next year is getting readied.