Saturday, 20 August 2016

That Was Then, This Is Now

Beer bloggers Pub Curmudgeon and Tandleman have been discussing what pubs looked like in the early 80's.

I didn't reach legal drinking age until 1988, but went in pubs and social clubs a fair bit before that. I remember quite a lot of the things they mention: afternoon closing, the dominance of tied houses which only sold products from the brewery which owned them, a bit like Sam Smith's pubs now I suppose, including bottled beers (the first pub I drank in was a Whitbread house which sold their Gold Label and Mackesons Stout), the mixing of bottled and draught beers by older drinkers to make "splits" (mild and brown ale or bitter and Guinness), probably a hangover of the poor quality cask beer in the decades when they'd started drinking, and the unavailability of food in many pubs, even cold snacks like sandwiches and pies, which is rare now,.

Other things I remember include separate children's rooms in some pubs, plastic, brewery-branded ashtrays (probably illegal now), people coming in to sell things (legally), including potted shrimps on a Friday night (which might have been a Catholic thing) and on Saturday afternoon the football "pink" (now also defunct). There also seemed to be more middle-aged bar staff, possibly a result of differentials in the minimum wage making it cheaper to employ younger staff now.

In 1990, I went as a student to Staffs Poly in Stoke and entered another world of pubs, not just Banks's, Bass and Marston's Pedigree instead of Holt's, Robbies, Wilsons and Boddies, but trays of sandwiches passed round by landlords at closing time, older women coming in with plastic jugs to be filled with draught beer for their husbands at home, and beer a couple of pence dearer in the lounge compared to the vault where (unofficially, and unlawfully, even then) women weren't allowed, leading to some comical situations if you were in a mixed group with men nipping in to see their mates and buy a slightly cheaper pint.

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