Falling out of love with your local?
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Pub closures hit 53-a-week high. 50% fewer pubs than there were before the Blitz. The price of a pint rockets from 93p to £3.50 in just over twenty years. The statistics don’t paint a pretty picture as the future of that long-held British institution – the pub – remains increasingly unsteady.
And now the scales are tipping even further as, according to the British Beer & Pub Association, the number of people purchasing beer from supermarkets will outweigh the amount bought from pubs by the end of 2011 alone.
For us, there appears to be two killer factors – amongst others - that are forcing beer drinkers out of pubs and into the fluorescent austerity of the supermarket; the first being lack of choice.
Whether tied to a contract with one of the UK’s monolithic brrewers or stuffy pub operators or simply too scared to buck the trend, the variety of beers in our pubs has significantly dwindled since the 90s; a time when pub chains began buying up independent establishments in their droves and the popularity of all-you-can-drink spirit deals combined with lashings of microwaveable curry hit its peak.
Shelf space within today’s sprawling supermarkets has allowed the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury's to quickly seize upon this now well established lack of variety in a marketplace that is increasingly difficult to break into by offering beer fans an at first unlikely yet welcomed alternative source.
The second killer factor is the cost. With rising duty and prices that buck inflation, it’s no wonder that money-savvy consumers have begun looking elsewhere for a better deal.
With mass produced beer offering poor value for money as it is, the lure of multipack purchases or simple buying ‘whatever’s on offer’ at the supermarket is becoming increasingly economical for cash-strapped drinkers.
These two points on top of the back drop of both the recession and the smoking ban make for an increasingly strong list of reasons why staying at home to drink is now the logical choice. Lack of variety, poor value for money and the kind of prefabricated environment akin to many pub chains is something we are avidly trying to tackle with our growing fleet of BrewDog bars.
We've been overwhelmed with the reception that the BrewDog bars have received and mainly put it down to the experience on offer which includes a the world’s best craft beers, a laid back atmosphere, the odd bit of live music and some retro board games but also some truly awesome bar staff who take the time to explain the story behind each of our beers so your foray into craft beer - be it your 1st time or 1,000th time - is as informed and exciting as possible.
So far, we believe attention to detail coupled with a desire to share our passion for craft beer has allowed BrewDog to find a formula that is completely at odds with the current trends associated with pubs and pub-goers and for as long as it keeps working for us and for you, we'll be sticking at it.
What’s your reason for not visiting your local? Let us know.
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- By and large the pubs that close are those that don't deserve to stay open.
In my area, pubs serving good cask ale and quality food are thriving. I think a combination of fewer people going out and this surge in quality is driving the poorer establishments out of business.
Whilst drinking at home means I can enjoy more specialist craft beer available from supermarkets or mail order, it just isn't the same as being out in a pub with friends and family. It is a traditional so deeply ingrained in this country that I cannot imagine life without it.
One thing I would say is that I fear the cask ale pub market is becoming saturated, and Brewdog's more wide ranging outlook is a welcome addition to the market place. I hope we see more of this kind of thing to add a bit of balance and variety to our high streets.w8004.10.2011
- My local sells bad ales and lagers. In fact I have 3 very locals which do mostly this. I'd make the trip to a Brewdog bar in London wherever it was. I already went to Aberdeen solely to visit the bar. frangilbert04.10.2011
- Pete Gerrard - thanks for all the suggestions! You're not the first to mention this Craft Beer Co place to me - sounds like a must see. Will try to get round a few of the others too! PeteM03.10.2011
- To PeteM who wants to visit some great pubs in London, Start by Euston Station with the Bree Loiuse and the wonderful Euston Tap, stroll to Lamb's Conduit Street for the Lamb, a diversion to the Craft Beer Company on Leather Lane, swing over to Holborn for the Princess Louse (£2.11 a pint of Sam Smith's beer a couple of weeks ago), head towards Charing Cross for the Lamb and Flag on Rose Street, and finish up at the Harp on Chandos Place. And then there's the Bricklayer's Arms in Putney, the Mawson Arms by Fullers Brewery, the Rake in Borough Market near London Bridge (and seek out Utobeer too!) etc. As always, check opening times before travelling. Have fun! Pete Gerrard03.10.2011
- I'm confused what you're getting at with this article. Are you commenting on the trend of pub closures since the Blitz, or since the advent of supermarkets, or just in the last couple of years?
If the latter, then as Clinton said "it's the economy, stupid" (which perhaps makes your own success in the last 3 years even more impressive). Everyone is feeling the pinch.
I don't think I agree that "the variety of beers in our pubs has significantly dwindled since the 90s". Quite the opposite, I would say. Of course there are pubs that just sell Tennents and Guinness (and white wine for the ladies) because of their brewery/chain contract, but that's the been the case for many decades. Maybe I'm just lucky living in Edinburgh, but as far as I can see there's been an increasing number of pubs over the last 10 years trying to do something a bit more exciting with their beer range. There are many dozens of pubs in town with crap choice, and always have been - that's why I don't go in them. But while there are still a couple of dozen interesting pubs around, I won't shed a tear when the crap ones close. The variety is there (in cities, anyway) - you just have to look for it.
I'm sure the pub choice outside major towns and cities isn't so good, but of course you could say the same about restaurants, cinemas, theatre, museums, galleries... ad nauseum. Same as it ever was.
If you want to support local pubs against supermarkets, then I'm not entirely sure how this reconciles with your very lucrative deals with the likes of Tesco. I'd be interested to know what the profit margin is on a Brewdog beer you sell via Tesco compared to one sold directly at one of your bars.
On an entirely different note - I've got a free day in London next week, can anyone recommend any great pubs to visit?PeteM02.10.2011
- Is the lead photo how BrewDog Aberdeen used to look?
- Cannot wait for BrewDog Camden
Will. Be. Epic.
- Who won the last caption competition?
- @ fish supper - completely new toilets going into Edinburgh this week!
This was the one part of the bar we did not renovate, but we are about to put that right.
- Have to back Sashdog up, Levenmouth is a shite-hole for drinking... Why I love working in Edinburgh, BrewdogEdin 5 minute walk from work :) sdehn01.10.2011
- Dear brewdog, love the beers and pubs, but quite seriously, the smell from the toilets here in Edinburgh is putting us off our beers. Please sort out the ammonia and fish supper smell. The odour is rather rank, and if it continues, we will be forced to drink at home instead.! Surely someone had noticed this before (and stop calling me shirley).
- We 'want to stifle choice'.......wtf!?!
brilliant, mate, brilliant. By offering people to the opportunity to drink the world's best craft beers that we import specially into the country for their drinking pleasure, beers you can't find elsewhere in Europe we are 'stifling choice'.
- I can’t afford to go to the pub as often due to the massive rises in beer duty that BrewDog supported. Barm01.10.2011
- The most concerning part of this blog is the hand job being given to the supermarkets that BrewDog are balls deep in. The supermarkets are owned and operated by utter scumbags, Tesco in particular, but they are all the same.
Sadly BrewDog are just as bad as those 'monolithic brewers and boring pub co's' in that they also want to stifle choice, they just want to stifle it to what they choose.
- My "local" is 10 miles away from where I live in Methil. Beer selection in Levenmouth is pretty dire pub-wise, so I dont mind travelling along to the Harbour Bar in Kirkcaldy where 6 cask ales are on regularly. I also do a weekly journey to the BrewDog bar in Edinburgh rather than stay at home and drink bland pish. It's worth it ! SashDog01.10.2011
- on the other hand a new pub seems to pop up everyday in london with a great beer selection mixing real ale, you guys, meantime, american crafts and if we are lucky the kernel. And the chains are getting much better too, my local mitchell and butler has 5am saint, ubu, wandle, flying dog, brooklyn etc.... Not sure what else youd expect really PeterG01.10.2011
- 2 pubs have closed in my small town in the last month but they weren't real ale establishments and certainly didn't know anything about craft beer. One of them previously was a real ale only pub which refused to sell lager (Tom Woods Brewery in Lincolnshire) but it was alienated as real ale wasn't appreciated and somewhere not selling lager was obviously not a pub!! However if I want to drink lager I'll frequent a gay bar as that's what poofs drink in my opinion. Real ale / craft beer? I love going into a strange English pub and seeing what they have on offer from breweries that I have never heard of before. I won't buy a beer purely because it is craft. If it tastes good then I'll sup it. Support your local pub for sure and if they serve great beer then even better! Wetherspoons pubs in Lincoln are having a beer festival in October and are featuring 5 different American craft ales / IPAs, so will take a bimble along and see what's on offer. arobertson30.09.2011
- Just back from NY and EVERY bar/pub/restaurant I was in offered at the very least 1 craft beer (even the airport). They don't seem to have a problem packing out these places and also charging fairly high prices. Would love it if I could go into any bar in UK and get the same kind of selection - that is why if I do go out for a drink it is pretty much exclusively at a Brewdog bar. As an aside tried a few good brews that I've not seen at all in Britain yet that would like to see at the bar - Live Free or Die IPA by 21st Amendment Brewery, Brooklyn Summer Ale and Magic Hat Apricot Ale (from a gig venue that even had great selection). One other cool thing was the corner shop next to my apartment had a great selection of multiple brooklyn beers, stone beers, dogfish head among many others. Marc R30.09.2011
- I can't smoke in my local. tom mann30.09.2011
- One factor you didn't mention was the fact that most pubs are still tied to rip-off pubcos who charge a huge monthly rent and force "landlords" to buy their beer/wine/spirits at rip-off prices. Luckily many pubcos are having to sell off premises due to the fact that they have huge debts so I am hopeful for the future. Most decent pubs these days are independents. BringBackChaosTheoryAgain30.09.2011
- The pub closest to me has minging toilets that have not been done up in years and the beer is a line up of lager and maybe a smooth flow bitter. I refuse to step foot in the place.
- Brewdog bars definitely seem to be bucking the trend. Every time I visit the Aberdeen one I'm impressed by the atmosphere.
In no other bar do you see people pick up q beer menu and peruse what's on offer like they were in a wine bar.
I've stood at the bar and compared recommendations from total strangers and been offered a taste of what they've bought.
I've never seen anyone 'bleazin' though I was pretty well on at tbe dark beer night. (next one soon please).
Drinking at home isn't the same, I like meeting new people and trying new stuff. Knocking back 12 cans of cheap Tennants/Carling/etc etc in my living room isn't what I'm after.
My local has a poor range of the usual suspects of beer. I'd rather pay for something different and get the taxi home.DaveU30.09.2011
- I'm as guilty as any. At the end of my road is a true local, beautifully refurbished in old Carlisle State Management style and selling good cask ale at less than £2 a pint. Okay, I work anti-social shifts and can't always use it and some of the customers are a bit noisy at times, but I should be supporting it more.
I've become more obsessed with drinking bottled US and European imported beer, aswell as some of the more innovative UK brewers bottled stuff, and I'm just as happy sat at home with those, listening to the music I want to listen to.
Maybe too many years behind the bar has made me fall out of love with my local?RichW30.09.2011
- I love Brewdog and very pleased I can get it over here! I live in a little city accross the channel called Haarlem. Here a new microbrewery/bar opened up last year. So when you are in the neighbourhood of Haarlem it might be worth to pay the Jopen beer brewery a visit! Tobias30.09.2011
- Maybe I'm lucky. The one local pub I choose to drink, very few in the small town I live in, has a fairly good but at times standard rotation of real beers. The only reason you'd drink some of them is because it's all they have on offer. On two occasions they had Punk and Trashy Blond on. If I want a craft brewed beer I either need to hit a supermarket or a supermarket trawl, for example If I want Hardcore or Meantime IPA. Other than that I need to take a trip to a certain beer warehouse, where I can stock up. I need to as it's a fair drive away. Or else I have to travel to York. I would love to have a local that was not dominated by standard real ale brews but I know that where I drink , the guy who orders the beers in is very conscious of how much his beer drinkers are prepared to pay. I pay around £2.65 a pint, which is fantastic compared to the prices quoted by other comments. If he got Hop back Summer lightening in he'd have to charge around £2.90 perhaps £3.00. He does nor want to do that as he knows people will drink with their feet (a pretty good stunt I know, but you know what I mean). As stated in the article, there is fear and complacency rife in a burgeoning new zeitgeist in the beer world in this country. A crying shame. grahamf430.09.2011
- I still go to my local. Will Mill30.09.2011
- I used to go to the good ale pubs here in Bristol alot more when they used to sell BrewDog on cask/keg. Now that there is no BrewDog it's mainly just boring ales except from a few local breweries that make cool interesting beers. Breweries like Arbor Ales/Moor Beer & Bristol Beer Factory. tarcher30.09.2011
- My locals don't have any cask beers whatsoever, let alone craft Stephanos30.09.2011
- It's a boring shithole, for a start! Inn at the Park? Inanely Boring at the Park, more like! TV on, no music, no atmosphere, snobby auld coots at the bar that glower at you if you dare raise your voice over a whisper, crap beer and uninterested bar staff...and all that before mentioning that it's over £3.70 a pint (last time I was in - over a year ago!)...On the rare occasions we get a babysitter, I'll stick to staying in or heading down to the Brewdog..... ScottMP30.09.2011