Nothing epitomises British culture more than its pubs. Forget afternoon tea or Pimms and strawberries, it’s the traditional British boozer where you will discover the real Britain.
From quaint country inns to spit and sawdust public bars, the pub has always been the heart and soul of the local community. Nowhere is this truer than in the capital when the local has always been the place to meet. The capital still has some outstanding hostelries that resound with history – you can almost taste Dickens in them. However, in recent years pubs have been closing down almost as fast as churches, leading some to fear for their prolonged existence.
That so many pubs have maintained their authenticity can be largely attributed to one organisation – CAMRA – which has campaigned for real ale for a number of years now. Indeed, following on the shirt-tails of the American craft ale explosion, there has been something of a renaissance in the UK’s brewing industry. Key to this has been the growth of real ale festivals and gastro-pubs often run by Michelin star chefs offering high quality local produce at a fraction of the price in a top-end restaurant.
So what is the difference between a pub and a bar? Traditionally, you had two bars – the public and the saloon inside a pub. But in recent years the term ‘bar’ has come to represent the type of homogenised, soulless place where beer comes in bottles rather than being pulled, and what you are wearing is more important than if the landlord has looked after this pipes properly. If it looks and smells like a pub then it is one, if it doesn’t then it’s a bar – but don’t worry there’s bound to be a pub nearby.