Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Good Pubs or Good Beer

I recently did a little poll for a bit of fun, but of course it had, underneath it, a serious point. Here's the result:

Choose one:
Now of course if you really like pubs it's a no brainer. When you think of it logically, why if you really like beer above all, would you go to the expense of visiting a pub and endure the mark-up when you could merely find the required beer at the best price and sup it quietly in the comfort of your own home? 

Now of course this would be an unusual way to look at things - though not out of the question as a minority of beer drinkers for whatever reason don't frequent pubs -  and in any case many people pointed out, that it can't really be a great pub without great beer. That though isn't at all so certain.  Great beer is always in the eye of the beholder, as to a lesser extent are great pubs, though likely the latter is more easily identified than the former. (Mudgie uses the word "congenial" to describe his required atmosphere.)

On that slight tangent, there can also be the more neutral "unthreatening" and while old hands like me and Mudgie can (mostly) tell a pub where you might be in danger within a second, others might not be quite so keenly tuned in.  Of course a boisterous or indeed a clearly cliquey atmosphere rarely conveys a feeling of danger. Danger is probably best described as the" absence of normal" and your instincts tend to kick in in such situations. Mere boisterousness can usually be quickly rationalised too and most of us old soaks often understand the warning signs before even setting foot in a dodgy pub. These can clearly only ever be described as convivial by the sort of people you wouldn't ever want to drink with.

But I digress, so back to the main question.  Mudgie sums it up quite well, as he often does:

"Even if it's the best beer in the world, I won't stay for more than one if I don't find the pub congenial" — Pub Curmudgeon 🍻 (@oldmudgie) March 3, 2019"

To my mind, that's a very good rule of thumb.

Not to be outdone, Mudgie followed my poll up by:

Now in some ways this seems to contradict my poll, as here great beer wins out. I suppose the difference may be that I ask about "fantastic" and Mudgie asks about "dull". Think about it a bit more closely and it might well just be down to terminology. In Mudgie's case this is a less binary choice, as it means you are in the pub anyway.

So do good pubs and good beer go hand in hand? On the balance of probability - yes - but in beer and pubs, as in everything, the rule isn't hard and fast.

 Of course being a cask ale kind of guy, pubs are essential to my sort of drinking.  So I'm biased both by inclination and neccessity.

I don't know so much about bars though, but that's for another time.


Cooking Lager said...

The definition of a good pub is whether or not there is a pint of lager available for £1.99

Tandleman said...

That helps.

Curmudgeon said...

Yes, the two polls seem to contradict each other, although the question asked is somewhat different and obviously everyone puts their own slant on these things.

I also suspect some people thought there was an ulterior motive behind my poll of having a go at micropubs and craft bars, which wasn't at all the intention.

I've heard several people say "I don't care what the pub's like so long as the beer is good", but I do wonder just how many features of "pub hell" it would take to drive them elsewhere.

Of course, realistically, the chances of finding brilliant beer in truly terrible pubs are remote, and realistically it's usually more a question of pubs that you simply don't find congenial.

retiredmartin said...

Increasingly the issue is inconsistent rather than dull beer in reliably great pubs.

To name (not shame) just one, two Tim Taylor beers in Bradford's Fighting Cocks just lacked the sparkle of fresh beer you hope for recently, but I've had great beer there, as have many others. The risk of another dullish pint wouldn't persuade me to take the safer option next time in Bradford.

Citra said...

Great beer tends to have the final say for me, I am unlikely to return to a nice pub if the beer is rubbish, whereas if I find great beer I would more often than not return to a railway arch or featureless bar. Ideally of course great pub and great beer is always a winner.

Beermunster said...

For me it is a bit of both. There are times when I want to go out somewhere quiet either with my book or with one or two friends and we want to go somewhere that serves superb beer.

But there are also other times when I want to go somewhere for a chat and a bit of atmosphere. Those evenings I will go somewhere where the beer is below par, or even somewhere that only serves lager/Guinness. Usually this is if I am meeting a group of friends or just going somewhere hoping to chat to other people in the pub.

David Lavery said...

Alas, I don't know where a good pub is near me (in the US), and so it is all about the beer. There are some good restaurant/bars near me, as I understand the discussion here. The closest I can think of is a local 'pub' of the Irish-American tilt. But, it is mostly a restaurant with a nice feel. Service tables downstairs and upstairs (with big screen tvs dominating upstairs), and the bar gets a little cramped and loud, but still fun on a Sunday evening for music.

RedNev said...

I will drink in a pub with unexciting standard beers, such as Doom Bar, if that's where I'm going for a specific reason, such as meeting friends or watching live music. Otherwise, usually I wouldn't.

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