Breaking out of the Rut

Illustration: moody London pub.

It’s easy to end up drinking the same beers, and going to the same pubs and bars, and feel miserable about it. But there are ways to break free.

1. Walk down a new street or visit a new town and go into the first pub you walk past after a certain hour. (Don’t cheat.)

2. Or go to every single pub in a neighbourhood, town or village, however weird or unpromising.

3. Buy an old guide book and visit the pubs it recommends, or take on a famous historic crawl.

4. Drink your way through a list of beers from a book or listicle.

5. Get someone else to choose beers for you.

6. Drink every beer you can find in a particular style, from a particular region, or that meet some other criteria – ABV, colour, Christmas themed…

7. Critically revisit beers you know you don’t like but haven’t tried in years. After all, they change, and you change too.

8. Spend a month drinking things other than beer, but with beer in mind.

There are lots of other ways to go about this kind of thing. The point is, like writing poetry using restrictive rules, or cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats, it should be sort of pointless… But not really.

You might hate all the new pubs you go in and beers you taste, or you might find new favourites you kick yourself for having missed out on for so long. Even the duds will teach you something.

5 thoughts on “Breaking out of the Rut”

  1. When we fancy doing something different we tend to pick a word (usually a combination of why we’re meeting up and how many pubs we want to visit) and plan a pub crawl in pubs who’s first letter spells out that word. It makes you go to different places than you would usually, especially as proximity to the previous pub often trumps other variables.

  2. Ha – by coincidence, on the very day you published this, I ended up going on a “crap pub crawl” of Bath with a mate for the reasons you outline. Bored of great pubs like The Bell, The Old Green Tree, The Star and The Raven, we instead charted a course of pubs that we’d avoided in the past because they looked a bit rubbish, but were maybe worth a go (i.e. not ones that we knew were dire e.g. Belushi’s).

    The running order:

    The Curfew – “trendified” Wadworth pub – learned that 6X takes half a pint to start tasting good, probably won’t go back in a hurry though
    Hilton bar – surprisingly enjoyable to pretend to be a businessman or someone going to a wedding, although we paid £5.25 for a 330ml Dead Pony Club
    The Coeur de Lion – always thought it was just trading off the gimmick of being Bath’s smallest pub, never quite enjoyed it before but really liked it this time, good pint of Bellringer, highlight of the evening
    The Westgate – barn-like city centre pub, as empty & crap atmosphere as expected but a surprisingly good beer and cider range
    The New Inn – Wadworth sold this a year ago and it was totally remodelled, more or less as crap as expected, barmaid was sick of hearing people talk about what it used to be like, pint of Shipyard
    The Lamb and Lion – less crap/scary than it has always appeared from the outside, inexpensive, surprising number of young people at 11pm on a Monday, decent pint of ale

    In short, it was fun to shake things up a bit for a change, and also reassuring to find that I was able to get a decent-ish pint in all of these places.

  3. I don’t have too much trouble trying different places, but trying to get some of my friends out of the rut can be difficult. I recently managed to get some of them on a pub crawl in Liverpool which involved catching a bus out to the furthest pub and walking back in to city centre.
    1. Peter Kavanagh’s (eccentric, and with an unexpected Irish music session).
    2. Ye Cracke (John Lennon used to drink here before he was famous).
    3. The Philharmonic (worth it for the architecture alone – and the marble gents).
    4. The Roscoe Head (only Northern pub in every GBG).
    5. The Dispensary.
    6. The Globe (Merseyside CAMRA founded here in 1974).

    1. Wot no Belv? Anyway, if the second pub on the route was Ye Cracke you didn’t go that far out, surely!

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