CAST YOUR mind back to all those times you can recall a visit to a pub, club or bar and how the humble beer mat has played its part.

Can you remember those occasions when it steadied up the wobbly leg on the table, or became a handy notepad for telephone numbers, addresses, reminders, card scores and a myriad other notations?

Not only that but it is the focal point of that well-known pub game beer mat flipping.

The Guinness World Record currently stands at a staggering 112, which was set by Mat Hand in Nottingham in 2001. And it took him over four hours and 129 attempts to beat the previous record of 111!

All this in addition to the primary roles of soaking up beer drips and spillages, as well as being an effective advertising medium.

Yet today, a good number of pubs don’t put them out for customers or even make them available just at the bar.

All that happens now is that you might be paying more for your liquid refreshment, but the drips end up on you or your clothing, and not on the mat.

Like anything they are collectable, so much so that there’s a word for those that do – they are called tegestologists.

There’s naturally a British Beermat Collectors Society ( founded back in 1960.

It’s a low-cost hobby and there’s a brisk international trade between avid collectors, though in America pre-prohibition examples are reported to change hands for more than $1500 each.

The origins of the beer mat date back to Germany in the late 19th Century, starting out as a felt pad to cover the drinking pot of working-class drinkers who couldn’t afford the porcelain vessels with hinged metal lids. This soon morphed into beermats made from cardboard.

In Britain, Watneys was the first brewery to make them widely available in the 1920s. By the 1970s they really had begun to take off, and today an estimated 5.5 billion of them are manufactured every year worldwide.

So you see, beer mats really do matter. Encourage your local to keep them or make them available.

Bradford CAMRA’s annual beer festival is being held at Victoria Hall, Saltaire, from February 26 to 28.

Tickets for popular sessions of Bradford Beer Festival frequently sell out well ahead of the event.

Tickets are now on sale by post and will be available from a few pubs, including the Brown Cow in Keighley, from January 12.