Public houses (Pubs) are drinking establishments in the culture of Britain, Ireland, Australia, Canada, and Denmark.
In British villages a pub can be, and often is, the focal point attracting regulars to meet, enjoy a pint or two of ale, and debate or discuss local or world politics. The history of pubs can be traced back to Roman taverns where people gathered to drink wine and eat whatever owners cooked that day.
Pubs served mainly draught beers, which may have been cask conditioned on the premises, and each pint was lovingly “hand pulled”. Regulars in a village pub have their own tankards, and always, their “own” table. Publicans know what brand a regular drinks, and starts “pulling” it as soon he/she enters the premises, using the appropriate tankard.
Often the publican was, and in some cases still is, privy to the private life of a “regular” more so than the area doctor.
Pubs generally served snacks, sometimes ploughman’s lunch, (a platter of sausages, bread, cheese, and maybe a pickle), pickled eggs, and little else.
Today, with the popularity and affordability of microwave ovens and widely available plated frozen entrees, the choice is much bigger, i.e steak and ale pie, shepherd’s pie, fish and chips, bangers and mash, Sunday’s roast, pasties, burgers, chicken wings, lasagne, and chilli con carne.
While up recent times pubs served draught ale only, today many also carry bottled beers (bottle conditioned ales, sometimes even a few lagers. Regulars have the privilege to play darts that many pubs install. There is no entertainment other than conversation in pubs. 75, 000 pubs served Britain in 1969, the number dwindled to 48 000 by 2013.
Presently, approximately 29 pubs close every week and many old citizens are very concerned. Some attribute closings to increased immigration from Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Far Eastern countries; others to high taxes imposed on breweries and beers.
Presently, a pint of ale costs 4.70 Euro, given unemployment and low wages, ale appears to be unaffordable to millions or blue-collar workers.
Younger regenerations favour wine more than draught ale, despite valiant efforts by CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), an organization specifically created to promote “real ale” as opposed to huge brewing organizations marketing poorly made and dilute ales.
Pubs can be “tied” to a brewer contractually. They must buy the brewery’s beers, which restrict choice, or “freehold”. Publicans own freehold pubs and free to buy any beer they choose.
Now, a new “industry” has evolved in pub management. Entrepreneurs with a lot of capital buy up pubs and manage them by cutting costs, contractually buying from breweries huge quantities at low prices, and charge more. Many convert to gastro pubs, which serve “modern” food, attractively presented.
Pubs employ 900 000 in Britain and contribute significant amounts to the GDP. The government coffers also benefit from various taxes on ale.
If you happen to visit Britain frequently, or are planning to visit, choose a few “authentic” pubs (there are still some left in London and English countryside) to experience British culture, before most of the true pubs disappear.