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Is this the future of the pub?

         by Jack Summers-Glass - Branch Member
                                                      InnQuirer Issue 69 - Winter 2018/9
                                                      InnQuirer Issue 69 - Winter 2018/9
         Do you still have a ‘local’                       are doing something wrong is
         or has it closed? It looks                        part of a discussion that no
         like our pubs are                                 doubt will run for years. In the
         disappearing fast, judging                        meantime, if you ignore your
         by what the figures say.                          local, it won’t be there for the
         Now, why is this? Well, I                         future. Luckily, the new beer
         suppose the first reaction                        shops and micropubs that are
         is that ‘times have                               appearing in towns seem to
         changed’ and that is                              draw in existing and new
         certainly true, but then it                       customers and can be a
         is always true, isn’t it? The                     pleasant change from the large
         earliest pubs were places                         town pub, more intimate and it
         to stop and eat and stay                          seems more likely to encourage
         during a long journey and                         social interaction. The
         often beer was brewed on                          downside of this is that rural
         the premises. It was, as it                       pubs don’t seem to be picking
         still is, the livelihood of                       up new custom in the same
         the publican. Throughout the industrial  way – it is all down to footfall. Fewer
         revolution, thirsty workers flocked to the  customers can mean less choice of beer or
         pubs after a hard day to quench their thirst  worse, closure. Some major companies are,
         and gather the latest news. It was a social  apparently, giving ‘loans’ to pubs in return
         hub.                                    for them stocking their products.
                                                 Unfortunately, if you don’t like these
         As manual work faded and was replaced by  products you won’t go to the pub. It is not
         office work, you could often find the pub  easy running a pub at the best of times.
         full at lunchtime and after work as people
         shared ideas and news over a beer and   A lot of pubs there days are owned by large
         maybe a pie.                            ‘Pubcos’ and that introduces another layer
                                                 of cost into the pricing structure with
         Then, suddenly, alcohol at work policies,  publicans often restricted to buying their
         long hours in the office and drink-driving  beer at higher cost from the parent
         laws saw this sector fade away, leaving the  company rather than the brewer and this
         pubs to find new ways of enticing       does not help either the end-pricing for the
         customers into the premises. Food became  customer or the sustainability of the
         the thing – Sunday lunches, evening meals  landlord.
         and quick lunches but not necessarily over a
         beer. Food became the saviour of the pub  CAMRA is now planning ‘real ale in a bottle
         (or so it seemed). However, there were, and  or can’ accreditation so, ultimately, you can
         are, still a lot of people who enjoy a visit to  tell if the beer you bought is ‘live’ rather
         the pub to meet friends, sample the ales  than pasteurised (or cold filtered) and not
         and maybe play darts or pool (or dominoes  gas-injected like most major brands. If you
         or…… the list is almost endless).       are into ‘real ale’ this means you can take
                                                 home a can or bottle and know what it is.
         Now the threat is from the new generation
         of pub goers – or rather pub not-goers.  On top of this, beer shops and micropubs
         Their social life is digital, they don’t drink as  often stock a large variety of cans and
         they think alcohol is evil and whatever  bottles of quality ale for home drinking so
         money they have is going to save up for a  you are no longer limited in your choice.
         house or pay back their student loan, or  With luck, once this gets off the ground,
         more likely both. If they do drink, the ‘slabs’  pubs can stock bottles and cans to
         from the supermarkets are cheap, in their  supplement their beer choice.
         eyes, and they can stream their videos while
         drinking at home.                       Despite the wide variety of bottled and
                                                 canned beers for home consumption, it
         How on earth we convince a younger      would be a great shame if this replaced the
         generation to sample the delights of ‘real  pub as a social hub. Only time will tell…..
         ale’ or quality beer without feeling that they

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