Pete Brown has visited hundreds of British pubs and is uniquely placed to write about pubs that ooze atmosphere, whatever the reason, be it food, people, architecture, location or decor. The best pubs are those that always have a steady trade at any time on any day of the week, and where chat flows back and forth across the bar. They’re the places where you want to drink weak beer so you can have several pints and stay longer.
Some are grand Victorian palaces, others ancient inns with stunning views across the hills. Some are ale shrines, others gastropubs (though they probably don’t call themselves that any more). A precious few are uniquely eccentric, the kinds of places that are just as likely to have terrible reviews on Trip Advisor as great ones, because some people don’t realize that the outside toilets, limp sandwiches on the bar and really disturbing full-size mannequin glaring at you from the corner are all part of the charm.
This collection of 300 pubs with atmosphere includes 50 pub features and 250 smaller descriptions, alongside quirks of local history, pen portraits of punters or publicans, legends, yarns and myths, and case studies of different trends and types of pub.
Behind the Blurb
To be perfectly honest, this is not the kind of book I set out to write. But the book’s editor, Jo Copetick and I, had been having conversatiosn for ten years about how there was room for a book that looked at pubs not just as drink shops, but in terms of their look and feel, their atmosphere. And one day, she said publisher Jacqui Small wanted to do a book on British pubs. Even though I was already committed to other books at the time, I had to say yes.
And I’ve never regretted doing so, thanks to the amazing journeys around Britain the book necessitated. My touchstone throughout was George Orwell, who said the most important thing about a pub was its atmosphere. No one really writes about this, because its harder to pin down than the quality of beer or what’s on the menu. But I wanted to give it a go.
The heart of the book for me are the fifty longer essays about the pubs I found most special. I’m not sure if I managed to capture the unique atmosphere in each of them, but they certainly have it, and it sets them apart, preserving the British pub as a unique institution.
Best Writing in National Media, British Guild of Beer Writers Awards, 2016
Best Drinks Book, Fortnum & Mason Awards 2017