Pubpaper 831 – Pubs from a non-drinkers eyes

Posted: 29th October 2015 by santobugtio in Pub Paper, Writing

It takes time to adjust to being a non drinker in a pub world.  To be honest it took me a few weeks after my treatment started to start going back to pubs, but there was the social element I missed and of course when guests are up visiting it is only fair they can enjoy a good beer.   The relatively good news is that despite being 5 weeks into my treatment I can still enjoy the non alcoholic beers out there, giving me at least a sense of normality in the surrounding of a pub.  The Germans seem to do the best examples with Erdinger Alcohol Free and Warsteiner Fresh which have that beer like taste coming through even with the decimated state of my taste buds.

What the period of non drinking has made me appreciate is that beer is only part of the reason I go to pubs, of course it is important and my choice of pubs is still driven by a good beer choice from my 17 years of drinking around Calderdale.   At the Cross Keys, Siddal, I usually visited on Friday or Saturday, but over the last few weeks I’ve made an effort to go and see the live band there on a Sunday afternoon.  Good music, a chilled out friendly atmosphere and people I know and like there.  In fact it was a member of staff there who suggested I try non alcoholic beer, the idea having totally slipped my mind.   The only downside is that what most people would call a short afternoon visit to the pub of a couple of hours can take all my energy out of me for the rest of the day, but for me it is a price worth paying for that period of normality.

It is nearly 3 years since Hugh and Ruth opened the Cross Keys and is still a favourite of mine after all this time, most pubs having drifted into second tier choices by that point from.  The pub has never deviated from what it was meant to be “a real ale house serving a rotating range of well kept top class ales”.  The beers have been consistently good over that period with not a single complaint from me.  The only addition in those 3 years is a TV in the back room for those who want to watch sport.  It looks like a real ale pub should look, polished wood, stone tiling, bench seating and stools.  Food is limited still to a range of pies, pasties and scotch eggs as well as the usual crisps and nuts.  You know exactly what you are going to get when you go in and that is how I like it.  Numerous awards back this up from CAMRA and SPBW.  Don’t forget to ask for the landlords favourites music when you go in, Elvis and Beatles always going down well with him :^)

A couple of Saturdays ago my parents were visiting, so we popped into Halifax on Saturday afternoon, did some shopping and went for a few drinks.  There is a benefit for my wife now I am not drinking, it means she can have as much as she wants while out, the opposite situation to most days out before my treatment started.   Usually it is me running down the real ale pumps trying as many beers as possible, but during my visit to the Victorian Craft Beer Cafe, my dad had the honor of doing that five times with styles from pale ales to stouts all getting the seal of approval whilst 3 bottles of Erdinger Alcohol Free kept me satisfied.  

This is a venue which I visit again and again, in fact my first choice when in town.   A nice chilled out atmosphere in an genuinely interesting pub interior.   Good ciders, a range of 8 pumps and 10 keg choices as well decent coffee and hot drinks.  It sounds strange to add the last 2 items, but it means 3 generations of my family all had a good drink choice and thus as a family we will spend longer and thus more money there.  Being a town centre pub, it is important to offer a choice for any passing potential customer, even those not interest in alcohol, the outside of the venue selling itself doing half the job.  The fact that it is well behaved family friendly during the day as is my other pub discussed is a bonus for when we are all out.

Pubs are not a uniform design, it is horses for courses.  An estate local has different needs to a dining based venue, as it does to a real ale house, as that does to a town centre venue targeting the 18-30 crowd.   As we age we drift from one kind of drinking establishment to another, it is part of life.   As a friend in the industry said to me drinks like Fosters, Carling, Carlsberg and Strongbow are the gateway drinks 18-24 years old consume before developing more sophisticated palettes and discovering beers which have taste.