Friday, January 07, 2011

Good reading: Pints and pubs in the UK.

For Friday reading, here are two recent articles surveying the state of drinks and pub culture in the UK. In the first, the sanctity of the pint measure is defended.

In praise of … the pint, editorial in The Guardian

There is a glass-half-full take on the government's blurry vision of beer being served in continental measures. Brits have an unfortunate tendency to pour strong foreign lagers – Stella, even Leffe – into a pint jar for which they were not intended, and to get poisonously pie-eyed in the process. But the solution is not to change the measure, it is to change the drink. The UK has a distinctive, venerable and varied tapestry of quality session ales, which can quite reasonably be slowly supped in decent quantities.

In the second, the history and current condition of the distinctly English pub and its pub culture are considered.

Public Houses: Time, gentlemen; an elegy on the British pub, by our obituaries editor, in The Economist

... The fate of the Hand & Racquet can be multiplied across Britain. Since 2005 more than 6,000 pubs have closed. Drive through the cities, and the once-proud Victorian keystones on every corner are likely to be shuttered and dead. Roam the suburbs, and the neat brick housing estates are haunted by mock-Tudor ghosts. Search the countryside, and increasingly only the strange, too-large front windows in a cottage, or an ornate iron sign-holder projecting from a wall, will tell you that a pub once stood here. More than half the villages in Britain now have no pub at all.

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