Thursday, 13 September 2012

Reasons to Be Cheerful. 2

There are more breweries in the UK now than at any time since the Last Spot of Bother - surely a reason to be cheerful, especially for those of us who began our drinking lives in the dark days before the Real Ale revival. I was fortunate, as I did most of my early drinking in Young's and Fuller's territory - good independent brewers who managed to stay in business and buck the trend for fizzed-up keg pseudo-beers. In the big brewers' extensive domain, nothing resembling real ale could be found (on draught anyway), and beer drinkers had to make do with the likes of Watney's Red Barrel - and, when it was party time, the notorious Party Seven, a monstrous seven-pint can that had to be attacked with hammer and chisel and was guaranteed to spray the kitchen ceiling with vile gaseous liquid. Happy days...
  Not many things have improved in my lifetime, it seems to me, but here is one that undoubtedly has. It is now almost routine to walk into a pub and find four or more real ales lined up at the pumps, half of which you've probably never heard of. And - another change for the better - chances are you'll be able to get something decent to eat (and, if you're in that kind of mood, decent coffee). And yet pubs are closing at an alarming rate - and that is definitely not a reason to be cheerful. Why is it? When pubs were really bad, they thrived - now they're so much better, they're going out of business. Surely that doesn't add up. 


  1. Absolutely Nige, I was drinking Golden Plover at the weekend, golden indeed, pure nectar. All that is needed now is for the prices to match those in Germany, Fruh, a premium Kolsch costs 18 Euros for a plastic crate containing twenty half litre bottles, when returned empty to the local drink market 4 Euros are returned. Incidentally there are about 1200 breweries in Germany, most family owned.

  2. Chicago has only a fraction of the number of taverns it had fifty years ago, so it seems it's not just an English phenomenon. And, concurrently, the local brewing industry is better than it's been since before Prohibition. Maybe a quality over quantity thing?

  3. The inability to smoke with your pint is what has killed the town pub; it's country cousin was already being killed by the drink driving laws and not being able to have a Castella with your pint has merely speeded up the process.

  4. chances are you'll be able to get something decent to eat

    Are pickled eggs making a comeback?

  5. I suppose the answer to the puzzle is that the pubs that do survive do so precisely by being 'destination' pubs - ie offering decent grub, drink and gemuchlichkeit.

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