Home > About Pubs > Good Pub Essentials

Good Pub Essentials

By: Mike Watson - Updated: 18 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Traditional Pub Real Ale Pub Irish Pub

The British and Irish Pub have been exported around the world to great acclaim. There is barely a significant city in the world without a replica traditional Pub (and to be sure those without one are, generally speaking, housed in countries where alcohol is banned). It is hardly surprising that a country that imposed both a real and a cultural empire over large parts of the planet managed to export its central social institution with such success. The British Empire has long drawn back its borders, yet the 'Pub' continues to symbolise British-ness, and Irish-ness (and, in these changing times, Scottish-ness and Welsh-ness) the world over.

It must be noted that for all the pubs there are in Britain, Europe and the rest of the world, quality varies greatly, with some being a must-see, while others should be steered well clear of. There is a wide variety of pubs that can be loosely grouped under several headings. What denotes a great pub is often down to the individual. The main thing is to identify the kind of pub you would like to spend a while in and find a decent example. Here are a few categories to get you reminiscing and thinking about the future:

Australian Bars - have a strong Antipodean theme and are great if you like: Aussie Rules Football; Rugby Union; Rugby League; Chart music; Lager (cold lager mind!); grilled meat as a main food ingredient and loads of Australians. Admittedly, all of these things can be great, but if you're looking for somewhere to try authentic beer and put your feet up, look elsewhere!

Chain Pubs - can often be deceptively good if you are looking for great décor and a cheap pint, with passable food. Wetherspoons has carved a reputation from selling cheap standard food and drink in often pleasant surroundings (as they, invariably, move into old pub premises, or convert other characterful buildings). However, they do not have a music or entertainment licence, and rarely sell quality real ale. They are also partly responsible for putting genuine old high street pubs out of business, or on the breadline.

Club/Pub - the late night opening Pub/Club, that has arisen on a wide scale due to new licensing laws, is not definable as anything in particular: Many very good pubs that serve great beer and food now have their licences extended, whilst many others merely want to cash in and encourage the sale of cheap beer, bad music and worse vibes!

Gastro Pub - the Gastro Pub along with the Real Ale Pub, and a great many surviving Traditional Pubs is a saviour of good food, dining and great beer. The first of these, 'The Eagle', established in 1991, started (as it continued) by offering decent portions of well-sourced food, cooked by quality chefs, with a ready supply of genuine 'real ale' on hand.

Irish Pubs - these vary greatly and are generally built around the concept of 'Irish-ness' in its broadest sense. Look for those that are frequented by Irish clientele (denoting authenticity) and who know how to pour a perfect Guinness. Try and avoid Irish theme pubs, and remember… the best genuine Irish pubs are, naturally, in Ireland! Other than that, an Irish pub will tend to be named after the current proprietor, or licensee (such as 'O'Murphy's' or O'Donnel's) and will not have a pub sign.

Traditional Pub - be careful here! Any pub that advertises itself as 'traditional' may be a cheap fake; be wary of mock 'real' fires, plastic beams and tacky props. A genuinely traditional pub is easily enough spotted. If it looks like a film set, don't bother - there are a great many genuine traditional pubs with histories spanning hundreds of years. Often these pubs will serve good food and real ale, whilst providing the perfect atmosphere to unwind, especially in the winter months when a genuine log-fire and a cosy atmosphere will be greatly appreciated.

Real Ale Pubs - a Real Ale Pub will have a strong 'Real Ale' theme and often be traditional in many other senses. These pubs have sprung up around campaigns such as the Campaign for Real Ale and are a great place to find a good pint.

Whilst all of the above pubs have their selling points, the discerning beer drinker will generally want a pub with the following essentials: a friendly atmosphere; knowledgeable barstaff; good food; a good history and traditional features. A good jukebox can also be a great help, as can some relaxing pub games, such as chess, chequers, 'jenga' and pool (see related article: 'Pub Games').

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Professor Penis Rect
    Re: Is Guinness Really a 'Meal in a Glass'?
    Guinness pairs well with oranges, you can't "live off guiness" without some vitamin C to not get scurvy. Calling…
    27 October 2020
  • Anjalina
    Re: Licensing Laws
    I am a link builder & I've a good number of quality sites, where I can help you to build contextual links which helps you to get good page rank and…
    24 September 2020
  • JRBS420X
    Re: Licensing Laws
    Until the lockdown, Bedford town centre has been a no-go zone with pubs and bars open until 0400hrs. Students and thugs only setting out for a night…
    22 September 2020
  • Minty
    Re: Licensing Laws
    Our local pub is licenced from 12pm to 12am money to thursday . 12pm to 1am friday and 12pm to 11 pm sundsy What time should they be calling last…
    5 December 2019
  • Straycat
    Re: Is Guinness Really a 'Meal in a Glass'?
    I started drinking Guinness in the early 90.s I was badly anaemic and funny enough drinking Stout helped.Guinness…
    18 November 2019
  • Joy
    Re: Licensing Laws
    We have problems with noise level from the arrow pub. There is shouting and swearing until 12.30 - 1am can there be anything done as I cannot sleep
    5 September 2019
  • Jay
    Re: Licensing Laws
    Can a bar serve 1 person 4 pints on last orders knowing it just fof them and knowing they have only 30 minutes drinking time. Dont they have a duty…
    14 June 2019