Welcome to Pubology

UPDATE 2015: Let’s be realistic, I’m not updating this blog anymore with new entries. Other people are better at writing about the beer scene and about pubs; I like sitting in them and drinking. I still take photos and post them to Flickr, but my pub energies are devoted to doing research on pubs for my London Pubology website. As for blogging, I spend most of my time these days writing about the films I go to see (my other hobby), to no particular success or interest, but it amuses me.

The post below was written when I started the blog, aside from the statistics.


As you may have guessed, in this blog I intend to waffle on about pubs, with specific examples drawn from London. As of May 2014, I have around 6000 photos of London pubs on Flickr, so although I can’t pretend to have any kind of comprehensive coverage, I’ve probably got a pretty good sample set to draw upon.

My intent is not to review specific pubs. Although value judgements may come into it to a certain extent, you can go to a website such as Fancyapint (or Randomness Guide to London, to which I contribute) to get that kind of information. Instead, I want to try and categorise the pubs and talk about the salient features of these categories, and then highlight particularly interesting pubs, etc.

The Categorisation of All Pubs

The rest of this post is an attempt to categorise pubs. This has been adapted and is kept up-to-date on the page linked in the title bar above, entitled “Categories (An Index)“.

Anyway, before I set up all the categories and start writing, I wanted to get an idea of what you might consider the various types of pub. I have come up with a list, first trying to separate the ones that are quite distinct in type (gastropubs, wine bars, etc.) and then amongst what’s left, trying to sort by another means (though I don’t expect any pub to fit into just one category). I’ve come up with a few below (theme, location, history, literature, architecture) — perhaps there are other ways of grouping pubs, or within those groupings I’ve suggested perhaps there are further sub-groupings?

1. Public House vs Free House (and the meaningfulness of the distinction).
(a) Tied pubs (tied to a brewer, e.g. Greene King, Young’s, Fuller’s, Samuel Smith’s, Shepherd Neame, Hall & Woodhouse, Harvey’s, Bass, St Peter’s, etc.).
(b) Chain pubs/PubCos (All Bar One, Slug & Lettuce, Eerie PubCo, Mitchell & Butler, etc.).

2. Gastropubs (those which emphasise drinking vs those which emphasise eating).

3. Bars.
(a) Wine bars.
(b) Cocktail bars/members’ clubs.

4. Brewpubs (brew their own beer, e.g. Zero Degrees in Blackheath, or the Florence in Herne Hill).

5. Themed pubs.
(a) Pubs themed by a particular sport (or sports in general).
(b) Pubs themed around a particular nationality (Irish, Belgian, French, et al.).
(c) Pubs themed around a genre of music (or perhaps they put on music events).

6. Pubs notable for their location.
(a) Estate pubs.
(b) Riverside (or waterside) pubs.
(c) Station pubs.
(d) Country pubs (those in the middle of nowhere, and there are some in Greater London even). A related issue is whether a category of ‘village green pubs’ or ‘high street pubs’ would be appropriate.
(f) Market pubs (in a market, or directly serving a market area/street).
(g) Student pubs (around universities/tertiary institutions, perhaps owned or operated by that university).
(h) Theatre pubs (attached to a theatre, or with their own theatre).

7. Pubs notable for their connection to history.
(a) Pubs which are very old.
(b) Pubs at which historic events occurred.
(c) Pub at which historic figures drank (or currently famous ones, for that matter).
(d) Pubs built on an historic site.

8. Pubs notable for their literary or art connections (i.e. they appear or are alluded to in works of literature or art).

9. Pubs notable for their architecture or interior design (or perhaps their beer gardens?).

10. Pubs which have undergone a structural or management change.
(a) Brand new pubs.
(b) Refurbished or remodelled pubs.
(c) Pubs replaced by a new pub/bar in existing building, perhaps with a new name.
(d) Closed pubs, either intact and decaying, or replaced by another retail/residential venture, or demolished.


16 responses to “Welcome to Pubology

  1. All sounds quite comprehensive so far. I’d say it would be very interesting to look at pubs that are notable for their beer gardens. For example, the Dolphin in Sydenham — more info here or at http://www.thedolphinsydenham.com/garden.html if that link didn’t work (can we have a preview button please?) Oh, and related to this, how about pubs which have come up with particularly creative responses to the smoking ban?

    It might also be worth addressing the proliferation of pubs-that-serve-Thai-food — what are the historical reasons behind this? Why Thai?

  2. I must say the Thai question vexes me too! And I was also going to suggest ‘smokers” pubs.

    Would live music/theatre pubs come into a category of its own?

  3. These are reasonable issues to explore. I’ve noted beer gardens in section 9 above, so will look forward to writing about these (which will actually require more research than merely taking a photograph of the facade: c’est la vie). I think when I write about individual pubs, there will be many more tags, and a ‘live music pub’ will probably be one of them, perhaps ‘smoking pub’ (the discussion under beer gardens will probably also link to a discussion of smoking areas, and some insight from an actual real smoker will probably be of help!).

    Research will be required on the issues around the serving of Thai food, historically speaking, which I hope to do justice to at some point. For the moment, I have moved the central parts of this first post to its own page, rather pompously entitled “Prolegomenon”, which I intend to keep updated (and will subsequently link from there to individual posts).

    I have already added to that post, categories which I loosely call ‘affiliations’, to describe pubs which are either linked to a particular cuisine (the Thai food issue), or, as I’ve noted in my own pub-going, to a particular religion, ethnicity or ideology.

    Unfortunately, my knowledge of these kinds of factionalisms are fairly vague when it comes to pubs (I am an ideological naïf), though the operation of ideology (most noticeably, divisive ideologies) cannot be ignored. I’m not saying many pubs, whether explicity or implicitly, are for example, BNP pubs or Catholic pubs, but I think we’ve all had experiences where we feel less than welcome somewhere, and I’m interested in why that is (beyond merely saying, don’t go there, which is valid, but not my purpose with this blog).

  4. i maintain that the thai food explosion is related to mail order brides although i have NOT ONE PIECE of actual evidence to back this up…

  5. I feel sure that Jorge Luis Borges could come up with a more rigorous taxonomy.

  6. It is truly unfortunate that Borges is no longer in a position to comment. Perhaps I can add further categories in this vein: which belong to the King; in large fields; which cannot be otherwise categorised; those which from a long way off look like animals; are beyond the power of description; take umbrage; must be ignored. I don’t know, stuff like that.

  7. Gay pubs? Of course this raises all sorts of meta-issues about categorisation. But they do exist, in an empirical, Berkeleyan sense.

  8. The groupings sounds great, though I hope there are no limits to the number of categories a pub is elegible to be a part of.

    Another category could revolve around the type of licence an establishment has – in relation to opening hours, entertainment, food and drink served, and so forth…

  9. I’ll just use tags. I think we’ll have to declare a winner when I find a gay black Irish muslim estate pub by a river serving Thai food in an architecturally-interesting historical building with a venue space which has a beer garden, or something…

  10. Very interesting. You’ve established a great reference tool here. Keep up the good work.

  11. What sort of a difference to the taste of a brew do things like temperature, bubliness (this sort of thing – http://www.wesureservegoodbeer.com/pouring_the_perfect_pint.cfm) make?
    In your opinion for example, does a Fosters that is a bit more gassy taste better or worse? Can things like this change your opinion of a pub, or is a Carling the same wherever you go?

    • A Carling is always the same wherever I go in the sense that since I never drink it, it can never change. I do think there is something to pouring technique and that a lager that is too gassy (where it is, for example, trickled down the side of the glass to give a minimal head) is less pleasant to drink, but that’s mostly up to individual drinkers really.

  12. Reading about all of these pubs makes me even more excited about coming to Leeds next month for the European Beer Bloggers Conference. Will you be joining us there? We still have scholarships available (which makes registration free!)

  13. This is genius!! People who don’t understand pubs, don’t understand the necessity for such a site and indeed for such categories, but I do; they are crucial.

    I am new to London and thus this is going to prove a very useful site for me. I have also started using another new site – http://www.townfish.com – which helps you locate all many of people and places in London.

    The best way to get rid of the cold is to find a nice pub!! I hope I can find a few with nice wood burners!!

    Many thanks for such a great blog. I will be a regular visitor!!


  14. Great post, it’s always great to read about new pub bloggers. If you’re ever in the north, be sure to visit an amazing pub called Wheelatwelton.com, their food and service is incredible! X

  15. I love your blogs and website! I would appreciate a link to mine: https://nicholasjcoxinlondon.wordpress.com


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