When you aren’t drinking out at the pub then thoughts of licensed drinking can drift into your mind easily, prompted by news of a pub opening or changing, talking to friends on their related experiences or simply that craving that you can’t satisfy at this very point. Of course, we think about eating and drinking on a regular basis and frankly we are bombarded with food marketing, but these are essential to living and surviving day to day and never have I been more aware of this in my condition. Cookery programmes are teasing out your tastebuds 240/7 and if you are a wine or spirit drinker pulling you towards the fridge or cupboard most hours of the day. As I have mentioned before in previous articles, beer isn’t mentioned too often still on food or drink programmes and beer programmes are non existent, despite the very small peak in such productions a handful of years ago. Any advertising for beer is generally for mainstream lager or real ale and big box discounts, the exception being around Christmas time.
The market for beer is growing of this there is no doubt, Look at Halifax and Calderdale, more bars are opening and surviving longer than the average business and in this current economic climate that is all we can ask for. They are not cannibalising each other’s trade and instead creating a informal chain of venues or a local scene. You can’t see this in big cities like Leeds and Manchester for the woods of bars hiding the special trees out there in the mass of licenced premises, but you certainly do in our local towns. When I think of going out, it isn’t just to one pub, it’s at least 2 even if it means I drink less in each due to driving. In Halifax, a planned evening out will consist of Pumproom, Victorian Craft Beer Cafe and Cross Keys minimum, Hebden will be Calans, Fox and Goose and an other according to mood and needs. They’ve thrown pretty much every biblical plague at us in the Calder Valley and we’ve kept going. As a side note Sowerby Bridge is the exception here as we have lost Puzzle Hall and the Works over the last year, but it is important to note these have been open for many years now, so initial failure is not to blame, rather Enterprise or their agents being greedy bar stewards or personal financial or individual circumstances of which I briefly delved into a few weeks ago.
These bars jobs might not be employing tens of thousands of people and making headlines on the 6’O Clock News like major car factories do But over time a lot of these small service sector businesses will add up to that same number of jobs, them being all local being a bonus. Beer as a sector is still being under represented on TV and in the media. Beer related magazines are virtually non existent outside of craft beer circles and clubs whilst wine and food magazines are fairly well represented on the racks. This hasn’t changed in 5 years and can’t see it changing in the next 5 at this rate.
Ironically I actually get to write about visiting the pub this week, if only because I frankly couldn’t last much longer without a fresh pint. I popped down for an afternoon at the Cross Keys on Sunday for a few halves whilst enjoying the usual live music, this time from My Brother Jake. Half the pub full from the local cycling club, the rest filling nicely from a mix of friends and family of the artist and Sunday regulars. There is a phrase that you can be in a room full of people and be totally alone and some people like myself are comfortable like this, others less so. The fact you are around people makes all the difference not that you are interacting with them. I’d seen the artist before several times and the acoustic guitar set made for a very pleasant afternoon out whilst u waited for my family to return from the pantomime, them enjoying the second act with me. Sampling 4 of the 6 pumps on the bar all of which were well kept as expected of Hugh and Ruth’s joint just re-enforced how draft real ale makes all the difference over its bottled cousin as I mentioned last week.
Beer, Atmosphere and People are key and that is what makes our pubs!