Monday, 20 September 2010

British pubs - 10 tips to get the most from your visit

There can’t be any hard and fast rules about how to get the best out of a visit to a British pub. Their character can change hour-by-hour, day-by-day. A quiet nook at lunchtime can become a heaving beerfest at night; a Friday evening haunt for office workers celebrating the weekend can be a cosy, intimate bar 24 hours later.
But I do have 10 tips – admittedly personal and prejudiced though they are – which might help make your pub visit even more of a success. Here they are in no particular order:-

1.Pubs aren’t cheap entertainment. So a flying visit is poor value. Take it easy; spend some time people watching. Pub gardens are much improved - a lot are investing in heaters. True they are where smokers are banished by law but now you can always choose to sit inside without your eyes stinging from a tobacco smog.
2. Choose a pub which has a good age mix of people - that way you get the vibrancy of the young and the good service older folk expect.
3. It’s all beer. If you want the ice-cold stuff you get in most parts of the world we call it lager. Give our ale a chance; it won’t give your throat frostbite but it’s not warm either.
4. I’m not going to recommend an ale. To my untutored palate they’re all good. In any case pubs switch their ales around. So you might find a new favourite is “off” and you quickly have to choose another.
5. Often the only information on the label attached to a pump handle is the beer’s name and its alcoholic strength. Be nice to the bar staff. If they have the time they’ll give you a taster – as a rule the darker or else the more potent the brew, the more distinct its flavour.
6. If it’s atmosphere you’re after give pubs a miss that have sports screens or canned music. Live music, however, is a plus but only as long as it doesn’t drown out convivial conversation. Quiz evenings can be fun but often pubs run them on slow nights.
7. Thai food is making big inroads into pub kitchens and can provide healthy and good value meals as an alternative to more stodgy traditional fare.
8. When you order food take a token – perhaps a numbered stick – and your meal will be delivered to your table. The drinks you have to collect from the bar.
9. Pubs have different rules about opening tabs – they’ll want a credit card if they do.
10. Finally, I don’t like drinking out of jugs/mugs – dimpled glasses with handles. I’ll always choose a thin glass – it’s easier to see if it’s clean. Tankards might look the part but they give beer a metallic taste – that’s just my opinion like everything else in this post.

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