15th September 2021

Of the countless changes in the past 190 years, one thing remained throughout: the pub and its pints.

15th September 2021

BY MARK DREDGE

Of the countless changes in the past 190 years, one thing remained throughout: the pub and its pints.

Pubs are a central part of British culture. Pubs are places where we go to be with others and where we go to escape. Where we go for that familiar sound of a busy night with its chorus of voices and laughter and stories and opinions, and where we go for quiet in the afternoon. We go for fish and chips, for a sarnie, a cob, a butty or a bap, for two pints of lager and a portion of halloumi fries. We go for the live music on Friday, the big game on Saturday, the Sunday roast, the Monday quiz, a date night on Tuesday, the Wednesday run club where the bar is our finish line, and to work on Thursday ready for a fresh desk beer at 5pm. We go to celebrate, to commiserate, to raise glasses to those who are with us, and those who are not. We go to the pub because it’s that one space that we can all share, all the time.

Stories have passed through pubs for all their existence, and while the content of today’s stories aren’t exactly that same as the ones told 190 years ago, but you can bet they share the same tone. The mischief, the moaning, the gossip, the loud voice with the tall tales and the secrets whispered in the corner, and always we complain about the weather. That’s as unchanged as the pub and its pints.

Just once in 190 years have the pubs had to close. We didn’t realise how much we missed them until we couldn’t go anymore, how much their familiarity and warmth meant to us, and that warmth welcomed us back when the pub doors reopened, and the stories returned, and the pint glasses were refilled once again.

Beer and the pub have become a prism for looking at life, and for seeing how things change in an otherwise constant part of our world. Like a family photo album where the curtains, clothes and kids’ toys change every few pages, the pub shows the changing fashions of the day. Like how food went from salt beef and bread to jackfruit loaded curly fries. How the robust dark ales became golden and light, how cask ales were joined by cool lagers, and how we all love IPAs now.

Today’s family portrait at the bar has Young’s London Original next to Camden Town’s Hells Lager, with Beavertown Neck Oil and Two Tribes Session IPA wrapping their arms around the group. There’s Young’s London Special, a citrus pale ale, a chocolate stout, a tap for Pimm’s and a whole new shelf just for the gins. Pubs and beer have the special ability to tell us something about time and place, and that’s true for any moment in the past 190 years, and it’ll be true for the next 190 years.

There have been many changes since 1831, but one thing remains: the pub and its pints.

Exciting!

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