The Seven Types of Boozer, c.2001

Neon sign: 'Bar'. (By Peter Sigrist.)
SOURCE: Peter Sigrist on Flickr, under Creative Commons.

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’?

11 thoughts on “The Seven Types of Boozer, c.2001”

    1. That’s a good point — there were probably enough Spoons in 2001 for it to have warranted a category of its own, and it doesn’t seem to fit into any of those above. The ‘city centre mega pub’ was certainly considered to be a category in its own right by CAMRA in the 1990s.

  1. The first time I went to Manchester I was struck by the way it seemed to have a “beer scene”, the same way Glasgow had a music scene, complete with key venues (~pubs) and fanzines (~CAMRA newsletters).

  2. As an American, I say craft beer bars are a “style,” not a theme. You can sell craft beer in a normal pub environment; by doing so, the owners attract a targeted audience. That’s a style to me.

    Though that beer type implies a localist type of vibe, I wouldn’t give it it’s own category. Craft beer doesn’t entail a change in the serving environment.

    1. Clearly, the UK market is different to America.

      Yes, of course, you can serve craft beer in an ordinary pub, but in the larger cities of the UK there are also now dedicated craft beer pubs/bars, and these are somewhat different.
      If you visited, say, the Greenwich Union or the Dean Swift on the one hand, and then the Rake and the Euston Tap on the other, you would see a difference between (fairly) conventional pubs serving craft beer and dedicated craft beer bars.

    2. Patrick — you’re right, craft beer can be sold anywhere, but, as Rod says, there is a particular kind of establishment that has emerged in Britain in the last couple of decades which relies on craft beer for its very identity. The Craft Beer Company pubs/bars (http://thecraftbeerco.com/) are probably the best example.

      1. Bailey –
        Possibly, but I reckon the Brewdog bars probably exemplify it for me…….

        Either way, re-reading Patrick’s view from the wrong side of the pond, with slightly strange bits like, “Though that beer type implies a localist type of vibe”, which frankly don’t really make sense to me, I can, just faintly, hear Bowie in the background, singing, “this…..is not…..America….Oh, yeah….la la la….”

        I know you love a beer/music analogy.

      2. Hm, I’ll definitely visit some of those! I would love to compare and contrast those pubs to bars here in the States.

  3. I like the idea of craft beer bars a s a theme; Wetherspoon’s also. We’ve recently seen Tapped Brew Co open here in Leeds, and seeing taps – both cask and keg – sticking out of tiled walls as opposed to handpulls or t-bars is certainly something that I’d only seen in the Euston Tap 3/4 years ago. It’s purely aesthestic, isn’t it? An Americanisation? To fit further the ‘craft’ or ‘brewpub’ ethos?

    1. In a couple of places I’ve seen handpulls on the bar and keg taps sticking out of the back wall – usually a bare brick wall – which seems like a good stylistic compromise. Presumably it’s a pretty thin brick wall, or the keg beers would be a bugger to maintain, let alone change.

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