100 Words: Not an Endorsement

Let’s pop in here for a pint.

Oh, is it good?


Well what?

Not, good, exactly. Interesting.

What does interesting mean?

There’s always something going on. Some sort of drama.

Oh dear. Is the beer good, though?

Well…. Not good. I mean, it doesn’t taste that nice, but there is something about it.

Sorry, but this sounds terrible.

Oh, yeah, it is, in a way. But we should go in anyway, just for one. It’s brilliant.

Oh, I see — ironic appreciation — ‘So bad it’s good!’.

No, we genuinely like it, we just can’t be sure anyone else will. It’s complicated.


13 replies on “100 Words: Not an Endorsement”

Examples please? Sort of know what you mean. But with every potential example I come up with, I can always think of one or two reasons other people should visit.

Taz — some good examples coming up in the comments. If we came to your town, which pub would you hesitate to send us to without explaining it a bit first?

I’m glad I’ve been to the Bree Louise, once.

In this dialogue I think the friend is heading for a disappointment on the beer front. I’ve had beer with ‘something about it’, but in my experience you only really get the ‘something’ on the third pint. Single-beer pubs & clubs have – or had – a lot to recommend them in that respect.

You remind me of the Live & Let Live, Cambridge.

For me, personally, the best pub in town. But… well… YMMV. We love the place, but it isn’t your typical shiny, clean, middle-class cosmopolitan 20 beers, 100 gins, young chirpy service sort of modern pub. Small, woody, cluttered, dusty, worse for wear, occupied by folk who could well be glued to their chairs. A pub with character full of characters.

Best landlord in town and most consistently well kept beer in town. Oakham Citra and Green Devil as the backbone of the range across 4 or 5 pumps. Not craft bling central.

But it isn’t for everyone, it definitely suits a minority. It’s not a rough pub mind, it may have some essence of the romanticised dive bar about it perhaps with a touch of decaying academic gentility.

It seems to make most people uncomfortable. Perhaps it is too small and personal. Forcing you to integrate with your surroundings.

I may be slightly romanticising “the Live” because I almost never get to go out these days and haven’t been there for far too long and miss the place. I do 100% endorse it, but was led here by your tweet… with “footnotes and disclaimers”. People I know visiting Cambridge will always be presented with this option… but if you want something “less hard work” and more mainstreamed (maybe “craft-mainstreamed”) then I’ve a list of good, but mostly soulless, alternatives.

The Live is highly mercurial, in my experience from 2001-10. Depends which Pete is on that day.

But then I used to drink most in the Rad. (Terry Kavanagh, RIP).

Reminds me a bit of the old Wenlock, before the refurb. But even there, I was having to convince myself I liked it. I didn’t, much, and infinitely prefer it spruced up but not denuded of character.

I’d say it’s normally possible to sum up the attraction of a “curate’s egg” type of pub.

And the Live & Let Live as described above sounds great to me 😀

A friend of mine, back in the 80s, was fond of pressing things on me with the recommendation “it’s brilliant – you’ll hate it!”. Music, mostly – I remember him lending me tapes of early Meat Puppets and Swans (“it’s practically unlistenable – it’s brilliant!”). But he also took me to his favourite pub, the Old Garrett (“a proper working man’s pub!”). At the time it was still a Boddington’s house, and he recommended the bitter to me in much the same terms: “it’s really bitter – you’ll hate it!”. Sadly I don’t remember a thing about it, so it can’t have been that extreme – but we are talking about 1986 or 87 now, by which time the bitter was, by all accounts, a shadow of its former self. (I remember the pub, though – at least, I remember that there was a cloud of smoke completely obscuring the ceiling, and that we were the only two people in there in suits. Them wert’ days.)

Yates’s Wine Lodgers in Liverpool used to be like that. Pretending to like Aussie White and marvelling at the sawdust on the floor and the varied clientele. Just for the one drink mind.

God yes – same in Manchester (“you’ve got to have the Blob…”). The beer was actually pretty decent, but that wasn’t why you went in there.

Interestingly, although I can think of several pubs that have fitted this description that I *used* to go to (in Cheltenham and Oxford, certainly, but even in London), I can’t think of any currently? Feels like yr Taylor Walker and Nicks houses that might once have been in this category have been spruced up (homogenised?) to an extent that they are now bland to good rather than wacky and weird to excellent?

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