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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