The publog vs CAMRA: a battle which is inherent in our very core. They believe the ale is the thing, we beg to differ – it is all about the pub. It is even more nebulous and subjective to judge the atmosphere of a venue than even the taste of a beer which might be why CAMRA has never risen to that challenge. Instead some time in the mid seventies CAMRA decided that quiet pubs without too many lager drinkers and well kept ales were the ticket. Problem with this is that some time in the early nineties that anti-Euro bloke with the funny quiff agreed and set up a pub chain just like it. I’m not saying that all CAMRA members love Wetherspoons, but institutionally they are stuffed if they disagree.

Which brings us to the Wenlock Arms, a regular winner of North London pub of the year. About six real ales on, a chewy cider, a mild and yes – it is actually a pretty nice pub. A genuinely friendly little boozer, with the kids playing cricket popping in and out. The beers seem to get changed every hour or so, and the doorstop sandwiches are just frighteningly large. (I don’t have a big mouth, which explains why my salt beef sandwich won the fight with me). Pubs like this are few and far between which is probably why they get a decent clientele – I certainly did not feel intimidated during the solo pint I had a while back.

That CAMRA run a pub of the year competition suggests they have at least a passing interest in the institutions. In the end though they are merely interested in places that serve the beer they want to drink. Fine, it is their campaign. But you wonder if it only sold Stella and Fosters if the Wenlock could ever win. But then, we wouldn’t have gone off the beaten path on the City Road to go either.