Tag Archives: terminology

Craft Beer Pubs

Since this blog was created, indeed probably since the last time it was updated, the term “craft beer” has become a much-ballyhooed part of the beer scene in London. There are still only a handful of pubs that might justifiably be called “craft beer pubs” according to the recent use of this term, but I’ll need to address what exactly it is before I can address the pubs themselves.

The Euston Tap (Euston NW1)
Figure 80. The Euston Tap (Euston NW1).

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Temperance Inns

In a post last month, I tried somewhat flippantly to question what exactly a pub was by presenting a hotel bar called London Pub (fig. 54). It seems, however, that there may be more examples of when a pub is not really a pub, namely the temperance inn.

The Lord Roberts (Upper Woodcote CR8), now closed
Figure 63. The Lord Roberts (Upper Woodcote CR8), now closed.

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What’s in a Name?

Sorry for such a long gap between posts. I’m working on something now, but just while we wait, here’s a brief one.

In my last post, I tried to settle on a definition of a pub so as to discuss the phenomenon of the gastropub, which to a certain extent is overtaking the very form of the traditional pub itself. We talked about the look of a place, we talked about the drinks available, the decor, the expectations of its drinkers, all kinds of things.

I therefore present this photo, of London Pub (Bloomsbury WC1, fig. 54), on Woburn Place.

London Pub (Bloomsbury WC1)
Figure 54. London Pub (Bloomsbury WC1).

Is it even a pub? Despite its hopeful name, this could be considered a bar — and a hotel bar, at that.

The Gastropub

Unlike many of the previous topics, this one promises to be contentious, for it concerns the much discussed phenomenon of the gastropub. Everyone it seems has an opinion about them, roughly ranging from grudging acceptance to downright loathing. Given that even how to define such an establishment is itself debated, for me to discuss them I must start to offer some personal opinions, so I’m moving decisively to the first-person for this post. You may differ in your definition, but that’s to be expected. There’s no single defining element at work, though I’ve heard people trying to argue that things like serving handmade/hand-cut chips, or having a chalkboard with food specials, are the sole feature making a place a ‘gastropub’. Perhaps, though, they could feature on a checklist we might come up with, or a mathematical equation?

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Public vs Free Houses

It’s not really feasible for me to continue much further without actually discussing the origins of the pub, and the terminology that surrounds their definition.

The use of the word “pub” as we know it largely developed during the 19th century, which isn’t to say that these establishments were new, or that there was no drinking culture predating the Victoria era. Quite to the contrary, in fact. Rather, before this time there was a greater variety of terminology, referring to many different kinds of establishment. “Pub” itself developed from the “public house”, which was but one type of institution (also known as an “ale house”), alongside the earlier coaching inns (which provided accommodation to travellers) and taverns (focused more on wine and food). Some of these survive in name, but very few still retain their original architecture. One such is the famous George Inn (Borough SE1, fig. 6) with its galleries facing a central court.

The George (Borough SE1)
Figure 6. The George (Borough SE1).

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