Saturday, 2 September 2017

Never the twain

One thing that has struck me about the comparison between the 1978 and 2018 Good Beer Guides is how much more homogenous pubs were back then. Yes, of course there were smart pubs and rough pubs, mature pubs and youngsters’ pubs, foody pubs and staunchly wet-only pubs, but the vast majority were owned by brewers and had a vested interest in selling their beer. There were very few pubs that you really didn’t feel at ease with just going in for a pint of bitter. People would often go for a wander round various local pubs in a way they rarely do now.

But now, with the breakdown of the tied house system and the rise of alternative formats, the pub scene has become much more diverse and fragmented. There are many pubs that the customers of another one wouldn’t touch with a bargepole. How many people in the average upmarket country dining pub, urban “old man” boozer or trendy craft bar would ever cross the threshold of the other two? If just wanting to “go out for a drink”, I find the range of options open to me is a lot less than it once was, even discounting the large-scale pub closures, most markedly because so many pubs are now entirely food-led. And, if they fancied a drink in Stockport Market Place, how many people would genuinely consider the Boar’s Head, and the Baker’s Vaults or Remedy Bar to be potential alternatives?

21 comments:

  1. Me and the wife would go in any type of pub and we have in the last few weeks.
    Is it you being a Camra type that makes you think everybody has the same mind set as you.
    We are both in our 50s but do not mind going in any type of pubs,you should try going in some different types of pubs that are not so boring as the typical camra ones,and we do like to drink real ale if possible.

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    1. How many Brunning & Price pubs have you been in recently? How many BrewDog bars? Did you feel at home in those?

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    2. I was actually in one of those last week. It's a five minute drive from my house and in the middle of nowhere. It's still quite recently re-opened (around a year ago). It's lovely inside, the beer was fairly good (but expensive - £4.10 or so for a pint of 4% real ale; I paid less than that for a pint of Birra Moretti in another local restaurant). The customer service was second to none (apart from being a bit tardy with the drinks), but the food was not good (and, again, expensive - they want £27 for an 8oz fillet steak!). In fact it was so bad we complained. I didn't eat most of mine. They excused us from paying the bill, but they stressed they would like us to return.

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    3. Alan, I admire your dedication in visiting every pub, warts and all. But I'm sure there are some where you think "I really feel at home in here" and others that you're glad you'll never be going back to.

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  2. Not sure about Brunning & Price pubs,but done one BrewDog and will never go in one again,i was with the wife last Saturday and we could see the Nottingham Brew Dog from a pubs window.
    Do you ever admit that you may be wrong on some facts,like i have over Brew Dog.

    PS We love your home town,been to Stockport loads of times and took the wife there a few times,not trying to wind you up,just making points that we do do any type of pub.

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  3. I find almost the exact opposite! When I lived in Lancaster in the late 70s I would usually go in the Yates & Jackson pubs because I liked their beer. I would seldom go into a Mitchells pub, because I found their beer too sweet. I liked going in the occasional Boddingtons pub of course (none actually in Lancaster city centre, except the Kings Arms Hotel, but plenty in Preston and some in the countryside), and once there would stay there.

    Nowadays, living in Sheffield, I wander around from pub to pub hoping to find something to suit my palate and never sure which pub I'm likely to settle in. In fact it would be a very rare evening now when I spend it in just one pub, whereas 40 years ago that was exactly what would normally happen.

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    1. Sheffield's a big place, though, and while that *may* be true of the city centre and some suburbs, I'm sure it isn't of the city as a whole.

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    2. I was in Lancaster last weekend - the best pub by far was "Ye Olde John O'Gaunt". Lots of real ale, packed out every night, good live music.

      Around the corner was "The Robert Gillow", a Hydes pub recently done out in micro bar style, similar to the Star in Cheadle. It is very splendid and it is obvious that a lot of money has been spent on it, but it wasn't very busy any of the times I went in.

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    3. I live not too far from Lancaster - good place to go for a beer. Not been in years though.

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    4. The James Watts (ex Star) in Cheadle is, to my eye, the very opposite of "splendid", so that's hardly a recommendation :-(

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  4. I am quite happy drinking in many types of pubs/bars across the range including Brewdog, preferring (as my username suggests) hoppy beers maybe they span a great range of pubs than malty beers that I believe Mr Hatter prefers. I do draw the line at family style pubs etc.

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  5. I'm happy going in any pub so long as they will deliver a £1.99 pint of Bud Light to my table ordered via a phone app & paid via Paypal. Any pub at all.

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    Replies
    1. The phrase a pig in shite, springs to mind!

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    2. I think Cookie likes to take the piss... which is completely understandable considering what he likes to drink! (j/k) :)

      Cheers

      Russ(tovich)

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    3. 3.5% is a bit low in alcohol for a lager isn't it? I'd rather have a nice large glass of Amstel in Tenerife - decent strength that way. :-)

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    4. Never drank in The Pig in Shit. Noticed it won CAMRA awards but that tends to put me off more than entice me in. But it has a lot of handpumps so you lads enjoy the gaff.

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  6. Interesting, I must be the exception. I am quite happy mixing up the 3 Stockport pubs you refer to as well as Calverts Court and the Petersgate Tap.

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    1. So am I. But I regard a pub as a necessary evil which has to be endured if I wish to drink cask ale whereas our host likes pubs for themselves

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    2. You might be, but the average punter wouldn't.

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  7. For the most part, this segmentalisation probably does more good than harm.

    Serious beer drinkers don't want to have to put up with little Tarquin and Chloe moaning about having to eat their rocket salad.

    Tarquin and Chloe's parents don't want them to hear a big group of noisy lads shouting at the television set that the referee is a blind cunt.

    That group of lads don't want to drink in a micropub that doesn't even serve Fosters and where the only entertainment is conversation.

    It's a sort of natural self-segregation that largely works and with which most folks are comfortable (and comfortable with the occasional necessary trade-offs).

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    Replies
    1. But drinking beer should be a social lubricant, not an end in itself. The last thing I want to do is go to a pub full of boring obsessives droning on about IBUs and hop varieties.

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