What is all this stuff about?

A free utility that makes it easy to follow your favourite breweries, beers and local pubs.

Why Register: As a member you can promote your favourite breweries, the beer you like and pubs you visit. You can also comment on the beers in various ways, including adding your own tasting notes.

Guest Drinker: Want to checkout the beer before you buy it? You can add the beer to the pubs current beer list, then read the tasting notes festival style. Then if you try it, you can add your ratings for next time.

What no Pubs Set Up: We don't have many pubs setup, the system is not meant to work that way. Drinkers can list the beers they like on the pubs they like, then read the tasting notes. Otherwise there could just be a list of all available products, which may or may not be applicable.

What We Are Not: We try not to be a review style website or a pub guide. We are about delicious cask ales, local to everyone.

Hit Counters: Our hit counters tell it how it is, we want to be honest about what you are looking at and the status of our site.

Beer Scores

Our rating scheme uses a 1-5 in half scales. Everyone's taste is different, so to rate a beer on personal taste does not really make sense. We consider a rating for next time a better way to do ratings, and whether you would want to return visit and part with your hard earned cash to drink it again. Below will give general guidance of how our system could possibly be used for your own records.

Rating for Next Time (Rating on whether it is worth buying it again, CAMRA style)

  • 1 - Not for me, would not want to buy this beer again.
  • 2 - Bearable, buy again only if no alternative available.
  • 3 - Good. Would definitely consider buying this beer again.
  • 4 - Very Good. Would make the effort to buy this again.
  • 5 - Special. The same as Very Good, but needs something extra/special. eg low alcohol and big flavour.

Quality of Beer Being Served (How well the beer has been looked after)

  • 1 - Poor. Beer that is barely drinkable. Would want it changed for something else.
  • 2 - Average. Competently kept, drinkable, but doesn't inspire in any way.
  • 3 - Good. Good beer in good form.
  • 4 - Very Good. Great beer in excellent condition.
  • 5 - Excellent. Probably the best you are ever likely to find.
Site Hits History

With a total of 25933973 hits, here are the last 12 months:

Terms of Use

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Developers Last Words

Why? Well, initially just as a backoffice sandbox that seems now to have got totally out of hand. We started circa 2005, in the style of an e-commerce project, but after a knee injury made visiting my favourite pubs much more difficult, Guest Ales was born. There was nothing at the time that focused on where you can buy the beers in pubs, only on rating them. Ref: Guest Beer (Wikipedia) selling a beer from a different brewery. Anyone could then update the listed beers, and also read the tasting notes beer festival style.

Initially our development was using a J2EE EJB Websphere stack (complicated and really not much fun) then migrated over to use primarily Apache Software Foundation software. We are 100% web based, so have no app and never will. Only using the web is going to be a hard sell for most (rather than a native app) but it does not tie us to any one platform and are free from Android and iOS. This allows us to easily add/update our features and with increasing speeds on mobile data the web will continue to get better. Checkout our mobile site, which has been further optimised for ease of use and works best when signed on.

Our desktop UI design really needs updating, we continue to look at alternative solutions, and which direction to take (ie maintain our own or suck it up and use a UI framework). For the time being, we keep evaluating/waiting, which is our bad, but our current layout is lightweight, fast, easy to maintain and with very few dependencies. Why? The whole html evolution seems ever evolving, becoming horribly complex, and not much fun. The mobile first paradigm has resulted in one large, complex and really slow css that fits all devices, this is really never going to end well. The resulting design seems a compromise, single page scroll down style just to make it work on mobile, but for mobile, you would have a native app, right? Then there are the huge number of javascript libraries/frameworks/components, in reality most are the next gaffe in waiting (here today, gone tomorrow), and with no long term support (security fixes etc) a total waste of time. These client technologies seem to have no clear way forward and require too many dependencies for them to be worth consideration. There is also little reusable code that can be shared between them, so you must start from scratch, making it impossible to switch when the talent leaves. ._.

We try to focus our efforts on making our site lightweight and fast to use. Our design goals are to make a useful utility, and to facilitate future developments. This, along with the nature of the content of the site, does kind of restrict us on what we want to do. Generally, there would be more beers available than you sensibly would want to try, so you can use our Guest Drinker which allows just the adding beers (so you can read and enjoy the delicious tasting notes). In fact you do not have to even drink to use our site.

We try our best, if you find something broken or not working, please use the contact form and let us know. If you are interested in getting involved, please use our contact form and we will get back to you. Help in keeping on top of our beer database would also be appreciated by updating your local/favourite brewery beers, which I guess is the more interesting part and also a perfect way to start your day ;-) Our backoffice utilities make adding/updating the beers easy, and are the same utilities we use, so they will be geared towards more seasoned keyboard users.

We run early till pub closing hours, which saves energy (among others) during the night. Why? well, being only interested in UK beer/breweries seems a sensible (or not) thing to do. If you get a can't establish a connection to the server message that's why. We are looking at moving to the cloud, if you have any spare resources for a light weight Apache/Tomcat system and want to support use please get in touch.

Beer dates... all the earlier beers listed from 2005-2011 have an April 2011 created date, these were loaded from our original DB2 database where the creation date was not recorded, only an update date.

Our pages are designed to use larger font sizes. If you are using our mobile site you can zoom in and out to make reading and using the application much easier.

Finally, thanks again for looking.