The book is published by CAMRA headquarters and edited by Roger Protz, but the contents are assembled by CAMRA's 200-plus local branches. The local branches consist of members who have an interest in visiting local pubs. Each branch is allocated a number of pubs which may be included in the guide. As each branch is given autonomy to decide which pubs to enter and which to leave out, there is considerable variation from area to area, depending on the interests of the local members. While most CAMRA members regard the book to be so trustworthy as to earn the nickname "The Bible of Beer", other readers have found it to be inconsistent.
The pub descriptions themselves have grown from a single line to sometimes quite lengthy little essays that include history and legend. This is a major factor in the doubling of thickness of the Good beer Guide over the last twenty years.
Although it concentrates on pubs, the Guide also includes a list of cask ale breweries in the United Kingdom, with lists and tasting notes on their beers.
The Guide was first published in 1974, and contained the comment on Watneys brewery: "Avoid like the plague", which generated a lot of media attention and caused the publisher, Waddington, to recall the first print run and revise the description to "Avoid at all costs".