The prolonged holiday between Christmas and New Year always seems to tempt a few people out to visit pubs who might not normally do so, and produces some encouraging scenes of pubs doing a good trade. One was in a well-known pub on the edge of the Stockport built-up area, which had been ticking over nicely at lunchtime, and where it was good to see at about 1.45 pm a party of five youngish people come in, settle themselves around a table near the fire and enquire whether food was still being served (it was). Not a pint between them, and no cask beer either, but even so it was a new generation rediscovering what pubs are about.
I also called in Sam Smiths’ Boar’s Head on Stockport Market Place, where the experience was a carbon copy of two years ago. Absolutely heaving, with hardly a seat to be had, the clientele still predominantly male, working class and over 40. It’s rare now to see a pub with so many pint glasses on tables. The day being a bank holiday, I don’t think they were serving any food either. Of course, Old Brewery Bitter at £1.43 a pint does help, but its success is down to far more than just cheap beer.
But, on the other hand, I went in a Good Beer Guide listed pub, to my eye a very pleasant, cosy establishment with a real fire, less than five miles from the centre of a big town, and I was the only customer at one o’clock. No doubt some will say “it’s not a lunchtime type of pub”, but who ever said that twenty years ago, and back then I’m sure there would have been a good buzz of custom.