Boak and Bailey’s latest post nicely sums up what a list means to them and in many ways their personal thoughts seem contrary to the The Guardian 50 Best Pubs in the UK list they helped to prepare. To be fair, I’ve been into some of the pubs on the list, a couple would go straight onto my own.
The most notable thing I noticed was the inclusion of a beer and a food item in the ‘House favourites’ for each boozer. It says so much about what the intended audience believe are the most important features of a public house, food clearly being an equal factor. And looking at the many impressive rural and semi-remote pubs on the list then isn’t that entirely what they have to do to make money.
Personally, the presence of food items in a pub would not be a basis for it’s selection onto a 50 Best Pubs list and shouldn’t even get a mention. A ‘50 Best Pubs for Food in the UK’ compilation, I can live with, but I would clearly separate Food Pubs from Proper pubs, whilst accepting they can be both.
Boak and Bailey mention the Guardian list isn’t aimed at beer geeks. Clearly not, it’s targeted at Guardian readers and people they want to become Guardian readers/financial contributors to their website. I’ve no problem with this, but realise it says, I prefer to call myself a pub and beer enthusiast, people like me won’t necessarily shape what pubs will look like in the future.
My future prediction? Seemingly chocolate box pubs in pleasant locations serving food and some beer, supplemented by large chain pubs serving cheap eats with a serving of quality independent niche pubs on the side.
I could start criticising the Guardian list myself. The Lord Nelson, Southwold is far better than the nearby Harbour Inn on the Blackshore, which unless you’re seated in the inner sanctum by the bar, out of season, can resemble a screaming kids chain pub. I could go on, but instead I’m going to take Ray and Jessica’s advice, not to take this, or any other, particular curation too seriously. Although I will say that for many, the list will provide a nice starting point for exploration and pleasant days out.
I made my own list recently at a presentation I gave to Halifax and Calderdale beer festival when I talked about how I reached my own top ten pubs. Essentially using what I call the Pub Pyramid. Something which developed from discussions with Katie Etheridge and Simon Persighetti, performance artists from Cornwall.
I take no credit for the original idea, just a hand in developing it a bit. Basically the Pyramid works by extending the triangle of People, Place and Beer into a pyramid using Time as the third dimension. It’s not hard to work out and simply visualises the essential elements of a pub, acknowledging that pubs can change over time.
Simon and Katie have taken this further and are exploring visions of future social landscapes by focusing on the enduring role of pubs as important places of social gathering, exchange, entertainment, (hi)story telling, and activism as part of Compass Festival 2018 in Leeds .
They’ve managed to convince me to become involved on Friday 16th November at Crowd of Favours, on Harper Street, LS2, where in a participatory launch performance of their Public House project, Katie and Simon along with 500 specially commissioned pint glasses will initiate a series of live conversations inspired by the inscriptions on the glasses, bringing to the table special guests with a range of interests in the relationships between people, place and beer in Leeds.
Why not come along and start to compile your own list of pubs which mean something to you, and more importantly why?