Friday 19 January 2024

Baby, It's Cold Inside

In these difficult and expensive - and it has to be said this winter -  bloody cold - times, it is rather pleasant to leave the dank and chill of our underheated homes and head for the conviviality of our nearest pub. How satisfying it is to turn the heating down, head for the door and spend the saved money in a venue where the price of your chosen drink includes you being nice and toasty while you sup your amber nectar.

Or is it?  The problem of affording heating at home, alas, cannot with certainty be avoided by jumping ship to your nearest boozer. Like Doc Morrissey in the Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, you may well find that they have it worse.  You see, unlike us lucky sods at home, who have at least some limits applied to our energy supply, your local pub is entirely subject to the vagaries of the market and the various commercial contracts that they have entered into. In short, the price of heating pubs has gone up considerably.

Recently in the cold weather, I have noticed some pubs, quite frankly, to be more than a tad chilly.  Now this is a problem. Nobody likes a cold pub, and not many of us will sit in one for a long time. Being cold when out spending your hard-earned is hardly an agreeable experience, and while it isn't difficult to sympathise with the situation pubs find themselves in, it is yet another disincentive to visit. We have quite a few of those already.

Yesterday in Manchester, two out of the three pubs I was in while celebrating my 25,000 days alive - I won't be doing that again - were actually cold.  So cold in one that my wife refused to allow a further drink, as she was perishing. In this case, it was not helped by a door at the rear to the courtyard was left open by smokers as they nipped in and out. With a door at the other end admitting customers, it made for an icy through draught from the sub-zero temperatures outside. While the radiators were feebly doing their best, it was a losing battle, and in any case they didn't seem to be that hot anyway. Our earlier experience in a very large venue wasn't much better, though they did have a huge space to heat, nor was the small restaurant where we tried to enjoy a meal. I'd call that a trend.

So, what's to be done? Well, hard to say. Pubs could put prices up, as I, for one, would rather the drinks cost a bit more than be cold inside the pub. They could also ensure that their pubs are as draughtproof as possible, but whatever, in a cold winter like this, something needs to be done.

For me, I reckon if it is cold inside the pub, I'll just be voting with my feet and go elsewhere. I'm too old to be suffering over a pint.

It has to be said that you are less likely to encounter cold pubs in the managed estate of breweries and  of course, busy pubs do generate human heat, so a bustling and busy pub is also likely to be warmer.

Not much chance of warming up on the bus on the way home either. The shocking state of our buses makes a warm bus a real rarity


Metal Mickey said...

Our local is nice and toasty all the time.

They are always burning copies of What's Brewing, Beer and The Good Beer Guide on the fire.

That GBG is a real beaut for keeping warm. 800 pages of real warmth.

retiredmartin said...

I haven't experienced the cold pub myself this winter but I'm with you. Stick 20p on a pint and put the heating on. I go to the pub to feel comfortable.

TheCockInn said...

Maybe there's a niche here for codger pubs with the heating rammed up to 11 ?
Complimentary Ready Break for the regulars

Brownie said...

There is a pub near me that has a wake on 1-2 times a week. Local undertaker is a buddy of the pub manager. On those days they always turn the heating right up for the croaks attending. I always make sure those are the days I pop in. Get some free sandwiches as well.

Paul Bailey said...

I remember seeing the film, Ice Station Zebra at the cinema, when it was first released (1968, according to Wiki). Knowing virtually nothing about the Cold War at the time, I hadn't a clue what it was all about, and neither had the mates who watched the film with me.

Nothing to do with the post, of course, but a little more sensible than the other daft comments (with the honourable exception of Retired Martin). Pubs are obviously struggling, especially those facing high energy bills, so instead of taking the p*ss, let's look for a sensible solution.

A door closer with a strong spring, would help solve the problem of the smokers, who were obviously born in a barn, but apart from that I agree, with yourself and Martin - raise the price of the beer and turn the heating up!

Professor Pie-Tin said...

Funnily enough it has been a running joke/complaint in my local and when I visit in an hour or so after giving my old mutt a walk down Dog Shit Alley I'll be wearing a sweater, a hoodie and a gilet.
To be fair it is 300 years old and relies for its heating on a fuel-burner in place of the old open fireplace in each room.
But the cellar room isn't actually in the cellar but at the back of the bar where the door is often left open.
Over Christmas someone accidentally tipped a chair back and broke the glass in the main burner and the choice was either put up with a smokey bar or have no heating. They chose the latter. Fortunately two pints is about my maximum these days if I don't want to be up half the night pissing but bloody hell it has been parky.
I forgive them over the last few days because it has been perishing but surely it wouldn't be beyond their wit to nip down to the local hire centre for some emergency heating.
Part of the problem is that the landlord is also the chef so spends most of his time in the kitchen.
Anyway mustn't grumble. Landlord is back on the taps tonight and in good form a lunchtime regular has just Whatsapped me.

( PS: My final update on sourdough. The best of all them I've tased recently is Jason which you can find in Tesco, Sainsbury and other supermarkets.Decent thickness, no holes. £2 for one of those half-loaves thingies. Really tasty toasted with some Marmite )

Curmudgeon said...

You're right that managed pubs, whether brewery/pubco/Spoons, tend to be properly heated, whereas independent ones can be a bit chilly.

Of course the tendency to remove small rooms and convert pubs into one large single space has stored up a problem for the future in making pubs expensive to keep warm.

Tandleman said...

I like that sort of ingenuity!

Tandleman said...

Good point that.

Tandleman said...

Good to hear as always Prof. I quite like Tesco own sourdough, found near Jason's. I'll maybe do a comparison
Hope the nighttime manoeuvres don't bug you too much.

Stafford Paul said...

Last week I was in a pub where the landlord was wearing a thick scarf and woolly hat. A pint of Old Ale though meant I didn't notice the cold. So that's what must be needed, increase the strength not the cost of a pint.

Tandleman said...

Well, possibly.

Curmudgeon said...

@Paul - you may remember in the Rose & Crown in Stafford in December 2022, when the pub was distinctly chilly, but the Joules' Old Ale helped warm us up :-)

Anonymous said...

It’s not a new problem neither, on the rare occasions someone thought to take photos inside pubs back in the early 20th century the bar is often populated by unsmiling gentlemen in overcoats and hats, a small open fire at the end of the room with one piece of barely smouldering anthracite the only warmth outside of their pockets.

Stoves where possible are a good answer though, most village pubs I’ve been to recently have been warm(ish) almost entirely down to the wood burner with its little fan bravely spinning heat into the bar.

Stafford Paul said...

Ah yes, and the gun shop micropub "was distinctly chilly" seven years ago, or seven years ago next Friday to be precise.

Cooking Lager said...

Maybe if they premiumized the bitter they'd be money for the leccy bill?