Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Should I stay, or should I go?

“Are we having another one here, or do you want to move on?” is a familiar question asked in pubs on countless days and nights out. But it’s something that can produce quite a divergence of opinion. I was reminded of this subject by a post entitled The Enduring Appeal of the Pub Crawl from relatively new beer blogger Pete Drinks a Beer. In this he says:
But what of those times that lack this spur of the moment quality? Those sessions that have been meticulously planned in advance, with lists of pubs written, maps of streets scribbled, Good Beer Guides consulted? I refer, of course, to the phenomenon of the pub crawl.

Some of my favourite drinking experiences have been of this kind. Sometimes they are in a new place, a pub crawl pieced together via Google Maps and internet forums. Others are old, comfortable, routes that I've walked hundreds of times, with different pub stops being added and removed as if to a patchwork quilt.

I fully identify with what he’s talking about, and for me that’s often what pubgoing is all about. However, others don’t see it that way, and are much more in favour of staying put. My recent Twitter poll showed them to be in a clear majority.
Now, I can understand that point of view. If you know a pub where the beer, atmosphere and company are to your taste, why move on to somewhere else that may not be as good? As Cooking Lager says:
My local CAMRA branch organises regular monthly “Staggers” – organised pub-crawls around different parts of the branch area. For me, as I said here, these are one of the most interesting and enjoyable things we do, but for some who are happy enough to attend other events they are a “route march” or “a soulless trudge”. And the general public are much less likely to spend their Friday or Saturday night wandering around some of their local pubs than they once were, possibly because individual pubs have become much more segmentalised in their appeal.

Of course, a lot depends on what you’re actually looking for. If your prime objective is just to go out drinking, then there’s little point in doing it in several pubs rather than just one. And if you’re solely interested in seeking out novel beers, then you won’t have much interest in going in the Robbies’ or Holt’s pub with just their standard offer. However, for me, pubs in themselves are a subject of interest. If you’re interested in castles, you don’t just go to the one on the grounds, if you’ve seen one portcullis, you’re seen them all. As I wrote here:

At heart I have to conclude I’m more fascinated by pubs than beer – by the variation in layout and architecture, the fittings from many different eras, the ebb and flow of trade, the little rituals and quirks of pub life, the mix of customers, their interaction with the bar staff and each other, the way their clientele and atmosphere reflect the varied strands of society. Every pub is different and has its own character and its own story to tell.
There are times when it may make sense just to stay in the same pub, especially in the context of a meet-up with people who have come from different directions. But ultimately, for me, the best pubgoing experience, if I’m having more than just a couple of pints, is to revisit a selection of old favourites or explore somewhere new.

Of course I’m not just aiming to go to pubs at random. Locally, there are some pubs that I know are reliably worth visiting, while others may be new, or have changed in a way that merits investigation. On the other hand, there are several pubs in the Heatons and in Stockport town centre that I know are unlikely to appeal in terms of beer offer or ambiance. If I’m visiting another part of the country I will remember pubs I’ve enjoyed before, and also do some research in the Good Beer Guide and via the collective wisdom of the Internet.

The local CAMRA Staggers have become more manageable than they once were, due to pub closures and the conversion of some of the historically less appealing pubs to keg, meaning that they’re now typically a leisurely saunter around maybe about six pubs that are generally of decent quality. And I’m fortunate in knowing a group of people who share an interest in exploring the pubs of towns and cities around the country.

53 comments:

  1. Wise fella, that Cooking Lager.

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  2. I of course voted for the minority view, although, beer variety and quality are very important to me , I soon get restless no matter how good the current pub I happen to be in is, I need the thrill of the hunt,plus you stay a lot more sober drinking ten pints in ten different pubs than ten pints sat on a bar stool in the same pub. Variety is the spice of life.

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    1. ... and the five or 10 minute walk to the next pub helps by introducing a gap between pints.

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    2. but you are maybe only the next drink away from a bad pub, or a good pub but serving bad beer that day. Dont get me wrong I tend to pub crawl more often than staying put, even in familiar areas as well places Im just visiting. But the joy of discovering a great pub, is tempered by hitting a bad pub, and then maybe another and another, easily done in London, and you then question why are you really doing this,whats the point to it when you could have stayed put in the good place and happily spent the night drinking there.

      I always say I learn something from doing it,be it which pubs to recommend or avoid, but I find Im more often than not disappointed by the process

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  3. You can't judge a beer by a "taste". A pint is a taste. You can't rate a pub in twenty minutes. It needs an evening spent.

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  4. The Stafford Mudgie15 November 2018 at 04:12

    Sometimes it's "a pub crawl", like the monthly Proper Day Out half way across the country, sometimes it's "one good pub", such as if my wife wants to go out for a meal, but often it's two or a few pubs, such as if I've reason to go into town.

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    1. I go for the third way. Two or three good pubs in the day. And in some places it is a struggle to find two or three good pubs

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    2. I'd rather drink during the day or early evening - no time really for drinking late nights.

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    3. Yes, I'm with TSM on this one - I'm rarely in pubs for evening closing except on CAMRA events.

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  5. I have mixed feelings about pub-crawls. They were fine, back in my student days, but now I prefer to take things a little easier.

    Bloggers, Boak & Bailey have got things right with their goal of visiting every pub in their new home city of Bristol. With no time limit set on the goal, they can achieve it at their leisure, and it can remain as a "fun task" rather than a chore.

    Four pubs is probably a sensible number to achieve over the course of an evening, particularly for those of us who still have to get up and go to work the following morning. My own CAMRA branch normally limits these "walkabouts" to just three pubs now.

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    1. After doing an 18 pub pub-crawl of Stockport with Pubs Galore, it was most enjoyable. On the other hand it was a waste of 18 good pubs. A half in the Magnet, Crown, Old Vic etc. is not doing them justice. But I am unlikely to be visiting Stockport 18 times as it is 50 miles away.
      Alan H

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  6. I have decided on trying out a pub you recommended, the Queen's Head in Newton near Cambridge. Looks enticing and we might persuade them to try some of our beers too.

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    1. Martin Taylor knows it much better than I do. There's a division of opinion as to whether or not it's a bit snooty, but it's one of the select five that have been in every edition of the Good Beer Guide.

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    2. Well it is worth trying. As to our beers, they can always say no. We have bottled samples. We know another snooty pub. They asked us to change the name of our Goat Tosser bitter because the customers wouldn't use the Tosser word. The pump clip shows a farmer throwing a Goat to the next pasture. As if it was rude?

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  7. Nice little piece. Must say I used to move around a bit but now my nights out are usuually spent in just one pub - some times two but that's about it. By the way is 'segmentalised' a word?

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    1. I don't think the link leads to a satisfactory definition. It that had appeared in OT I'm sure we'd have changed it to 'segmented' which reads much better.

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  8. Professor Pie-Tin15 November 2018 at 14:04

    Ireland's drink-drive limit has just been reduced from 80mg to 50mg which means driving after a single pint will mean an automatic ban.
    A rural publican has taken to social media to highlight his early evening trade.
    www.facebook.com/fatcarthy/videos/10215141715950222/

    PS: Mudgie,you're verification process is becoming tortuous.It's taken me through cars,buses,bicycles,zebra crossings,fire hydrants and stairs to get this far ...

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    1. Sorry, Prof, but it's just an on/off switch. I can't control the difficulty of it. I'll try temporarily disabling it but, as usual, I predict being overwhelmed by a mountain of spam.

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    2. That's ridiculous. I think the drink drive limit should be raised a little bit - a controversial view I know in these Prutanical times, but I think people should be allowed three pints of low ABV stuff, or perhaps a tolerance.

      How can we best preserve our remaining pubs? It seems the pub companies are determined to close them. They've put a really tacky looking sign on my local. Arsewipes.

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    3. Scotland is the same. In theory you should be OK after a pint of something sensible, but most people I know up there won't have even that. I suspect it is only a matter of time before the level is lowered in England too. Our politicians seem a little preoccupied at the moment, but once that is out the way, the anti-alcohol/road safety lobby will be working overtime no doubt.

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    4. The limit in Ireland was reduced a few years ago. AIUI what has recently changed is introducing a mandatory ban for anyone over 50mg, whereas previous an alcohol level between the old and new limits would only attract the equivalent of 6 penalty points in the UK. The latter sounds more reasonable given the very small level of risk at such levels.

      Yes, it probably will come in one day in England and Wales, and that will effectively sound the death knell of pubs outside urban centres.

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    5. Well then Beermunster England should be ok for about twenty or thirty years

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    6. "In theory you should be OK after a pint of something sensible"

      In fact, according to this official document, a pint of ordinary-strength beer will typically leave an average man well below 50mg, and in fact nearer 30mg. However, it's entirely understandable that people don't want to incur any risk whatsoever, and the appeal of calling in to the pub for just the one pint may be a bit limited.

      It should be remembered that this also reduces the amount people can drink on the night before and remain below the limit the following morning, something that isn't as widely appreciated as it should be.

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    7. At that level it's pointless having a limit at all.

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    8. Personally, I don't drink anything if driving, but you do need a non-zero limit to account for morning after, as Mudgie implies. I personally feel that the current level in England is about right, plus of course, given the reduction of traffic officers, unless you have an accident you're pretty unlikely to get pulled.

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    9. I was stopped an breathalysed recently shortly after consuming four units of alcohol. I was a bit worried but the reading was actually barely half way up to the red line.

      Despite what is said you would have to be seriously pissed, almost paralytic, to be over the limit 6 hours later.

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    10. Not necessarily. Remember that, one you have reached a peak blood alcohol level, it is only metabolised at a rate of about one unit per hour. Assume you drank 5 pints of Draught Bass at 4.4%, which would contain a total of 12.5 units. Six hours later, that would only have dropped to 6.5 units, which *might* put you over the 80mg limit, and almost certainly would put you over 50mg. And that for many people is a normal night in the pub.

      Also bear in mind that alcohol is not absorbed immediately into the bloodstream. If you were breathalysed only shortly atfer drinking, your alcohol level wouldn't yet have reached its peak, although four units would be highly unlikely to take you above or even close to 80mg.

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    11. I have my doubts about that one unit per hour figure. Personally I think that it is nearer two units per hour. That is based on tests I did some years ago, measuring my breath eight hours after a four pint night out, when the result was essentially zero. And, on days out, drinking one pint per hour never seems to make me drunk.

      Of course individuals differ and must make their own tests. And since I raarely drive it is fairly academic to me now.

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    12. The Stafford Mudgie19 November 2018 at 06:43

      David,
      Yes, I would agree that "it is nearer two units per hour" and "on days out drinking one pint per hour never seems to make me drunk".
      Up till about ten years ago I might very very occasionally drink up to 16 pints a day over nearly as many hours, 8am Smithfield Market to 10pm, and at the end of the day it was as if I had had several pints.
      Now I'm old I'll still have about a pint an hour on a proper day out but I've had enough after about nine hours.

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    13. You need to distinguish between how you feel and what your actual blood-alcohol level is, though. It's actually a recognised phenomenon known as the Mellanby Effect that impairment resulting from alcohol declines more quickly than the blood-alcohol level. One unit per hour may be, as such things often are, something of a lowest common denominator, but I wouldn't want to stake my licence on alcohol being metabolished much more quickly than that.

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    14. The Stafford Mudgie19 November 2018 at 09:39

      Yes. I hadn't heard of as the Mellanby Effect but that's a useful point of clarification.

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    15. Anyone for raising it to 100mg?

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    16. The limit used to be 100mg in many US States, but Clinton blackmailed them into reducing it to 80mg by threatening to withdraw Federal highways funding.

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  9. Most of the time it comes down to:

    a) Do I like the ale?
    b) Is the company alright?/Do they want me there?
    c) Is there a better pub further along that I can get my pint in?
    d) How much is it for a pint in here? How much might it be in the next pub?

    There are a few other considerations, but I've forgotten them.

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  10. The Stafford Mudgie16 November 2018 at 11:42

    It's nice to have a theme for a pub crawl such as Holts pubs eight of which were in a short distance from Eccles to Patricroft on or very near Church Street and the Liverpool Road.

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    1. Some people (not me) might consider that a bit lacking in variety...

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    2. The Stafford Mudgie16 November 2018 at 16:00

      .... in which case they needn't join me !

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    3. I once accompanied members of the Deal, Dover and Sandwich branch of CAMRA on a crawl of the Holts pubs of Eccles, starting at the Grapes and working our way back inwards. Suffice to say their capacity for beer was considerably greater than mine and I ended up in a highly inebriated condition :-(

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    4. Please don't offer up a Spoons pub crawl paul.

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    5. Could be done in, say, central Manchester ;-)

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    6. The Stafford Mudgie17 November 2018 at 11:16

      There's all sorts of things that can be done in central Manchester !

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  11. Awesome blog! Do you have any recommendations for
    aspiring writers? I'm planning to start my own blog soon but I'm a little lost on everything.
    Would you recommend starting with a free platform like Wordpress or go for a paid option? There are
    so many choices out there that I'm totally confused ..
    Any suggestions? Thank you!

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    1. The above comment underlines why I need to have the Captcha, Prof. Pie-Tin and others. Several others in similar vein have been deleted.

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    2. I've recently had to upgrade the anti-spam plug-in on my blog after around 2000 spam comments were posted from a botnet. Not running some sort of protection is unthinkable, TBH.

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    3. I have turned it off as requested by the Prof. I'll see how it goes - a handful a day is manageable, and since I'm moderating everything they won't actually get through to the blog. I let the one above through to make a point. If they become dozens a day I'll have to turn it back on.

      If you register an account and build up a track record of commenting you usually don't se the Captcha anyway.

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    4. Trick seems to be not to try too hard. Be quick, and don't worry about small frame overlaps. AI takes ages, you see

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  12. Tonight I've been out on a local CAMRA branch pub crawl of Didsbury, covering six pubs. An enjoyable evening, with good company, as usual, and a variety of different pub atmospheres. But it was notable that, out of eight people, I - at 59 - was the youngest.

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    1. Does that mean you'll be the last one standing for are some of the older fellas in better health so you won't necessarily, ten years on, end up pub scoring the pubs people won't go in, on your own?

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    2. Mr Sharpe will probably outlive us all!

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  13. All of this reduced alcohol in the blood talk is really depressing.

    It seems to be engineered by people who do not care about the average person. Of course, such elitist social engineers can easily be transported from party to party without ever having to worry about being tested for alcohol levels.

    First, ban smoking. Second, ban drinking. Wait and see. Even in France, alcohol is becoming a no-no. Meanwhile, the kids are running around high on dope. It's called 'dope' for a reason.

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  14. A quick reminder from the comment policy, folks:

    "If you want to use the comments as a soapbox to hold forth on something entirely different, then you need to do it elsewhere."

    ReplyDelete

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