QUICK ONE: One Function of a Pump-Clip

Handpumps at a Bristol pub.

A huge, gaudy, distinctive pump-clip is the speculative pub-explorer’s friend.

For benefit of readers from Mars, pump-clips are the badges displayed on handles in pubs. They barely existed until about 50 years ago but now they’re ubiquitous, increasingly ornate, and increasingly huge.

Which, though some may scoff, is great for people like us whose favourite way of finding pubs is wandering about with feelers twitching.

In Topsham the other week, researching our Devon Life column, we saw a pleasant looking pub but with only limited time before our train had to make a snap decision about whether to pop in. From the street, through glass, across several metres of floor-space, we could recognise the brands on offer and see that they weren’t terribly exciting. Without stopping, we were able to make a quick decision to push on somewhere else instead.

Equally, though, there are times when we’ve slammed the brakes on because one of us has subconsciously registered a hit in the database: wait — was that the clip for Rooster’s Yankee back there in The Union? (They’ve never had it on again since; it was glorious.)

In lieu of pubs displaying a list outside, which is ideal, a bank of pumps visible from the street, with bold clips on display, is the next best thing.

And brewers: if your pump-clips are generic, or inconsistent within the range, or lack a visual hook, you might want to bear that in mind next time you review the designs.

8 thoughts on “QUICK ONE: One Function of a Pump-Clip”

  1. Glad you linked back to Mudge’s point about advertising outside. I’ve been impressed with pubs promoting the fact they “now serve Real Ale !” on blackboards in keg heartlands (e.g. Wilnecote), a cask convert often a good place for quality.

    A quick look through a window often reveals the presence of far too many pumps, a sure sign to move on !

  2. So true. Distinctively shaped pump-clips (e.g. RedWillow, Ticketybrew) are a boon in local bars as well, particularly if (like me) you’ve got far too many local bars to go into every one you pass.

  3. I’ve now got to the lazier phase where online checking of beer lists is used to pre-choose drinking routes. Some places I’ll only bother heading in the direction of if I know they have an intriguing offering available.

  4. A sign outside saying real ale served here is usually a warning. I’m increasingly in pubs with say 8casks 8 kegs, couple of bodies at the bar and I may skim rather than study. I’ve been half way down a glass before now when I’ve twigged pub has beer on I’d much sooner have. (I want to see brewery name or know brewery name from style before I’m close enough to read anything.) inconsistent or bad design from some of my favourite breweries does them no favours.

    1. That’s the slippery slope…

      “Oooh, I’ve always wanted to try that beer and I suppose I could stay another half hour without being late home / missing the train / coming home drunk / spoiling my breakfast.”

      A slope I know well.

  5. It’s a skill that is honed without the enthusiast’s knowledge. That’s what’s so remarkable. When I lived in London, a glance through the window was often enough to identify the pub co or brewery based on the shapes over the bar – even in silhouette. Pubs with just the Doom Bar/London Pride circle and badge got left behind.
    Also, as with the labels on bottles and cans, it’s art work and some of it is pretty amazing whether that be Siren, Brewsters or even Harveys now.

  6. Too many clips don’t tell you much about the beer, I see many that simply state the brew name and strength, no mention of style, hops or brewery location. From my experience in the trade, I can testify that the customer really is interested in these matters.

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