It can be hard sometimes to recall details of the recent past. It does, after all, tend to blend rather seamlessly into the present.
That’s why we love coming across specific, detailed contemporary observations such as this academic study of nightlife in British cities in the period 2000-2002.
Its authors, Meg Aubrey, Paul Chatterton and Robert Hollands, categorised the seven types of drinking establishment in the UK c.2001 as follows:
Style Bar: One off, individual, décor obviously highly designed and stylised. By nature fairly new. Could be part of a large company which owns many pubs but a style bar would not be branded.
Café Bar: High levels of design, serves food & coffee, lots of seats/tables, range of clientele/atmospheres throughout day. Can be independent or part of a national operator.
Traditional Pub: Characterised wood tables, patterned carpets etc Can be either corporate or owner-run so includes branded traditional pubs.
Ale House: Very Traditional, scarcely changed, original features & loyal, regular clientele. Can be either brewery owned or independent. Often in need of redecoration. Often situated in run down areas.
Theme Pub/Bar: Main feature is that it follows an obvious style throughout, often with memorabilia, chalk boards, bar dress etc. Themed outlets include (1) multi-sited, national High Street Brands such as Sport, Nationalities (Australian, New Zealand, Irish) or student theme pubs or (2) single site concept bars.
Disco Bar: Vertical drinking, loud music, few seats, very busy Fri/Sat. Often closed during day and do not open till evening.
Alternative Pub: Defined by décor, but often due to music policy, clientele, attitude.
That chimes with our memories of our early twenties when we spent a lot of time in one particular ‘alternative pub’, drawn by the music and atmosphere rather than the beer.
But would a 2014 version of that list today also include ‘Craft Beer Bar’ as a distinct category? An early example of the phenomenon, Leeds’ North Bar, founded in 1997, actually gets a mention in a quote from a clubgoer (link to PDF, p20):
There is a real Milos crowd like there is a real North Bar crowd. They are quite similar to the North Bar people in fact some of them used to be North Bar people and then they grown out and they moved to Milos because there is like DJ sort of funk. And friends of the DJ will come and it is the bar people are all friends with each other and it is a big scene.
By way of context, the authors say: ‘One of the distinctive elements of Leeds’ nightlife is that many of the bars have loyal followings, often based upon musical and style policy.’
Perhaps these days, ‘craft beer’ is part of ‘style policy’. Or is it a ‘theme’?