GALLERY: Modern Watney’s Pubs from Matchboxes

These were carefully removed from matchboxes produced, we would guess, in about 1968, probably for sale in Watney’s pubs. (Any matchbox collectors who want to correct us, go for it.)

The Silver Sword, Coventry, which now looks like this.
The Silver Sword, Coventry, which now looks like this (Google Street View).
The Roebuck, Erdington, Birmingham, described in 2010 as 'like a wild west saloon'.
The Roebuck, Erdington, Birmingham, described in 2010 as ‘like a wild west saloon‘.

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So, How Many Craft Beer Bars Are There?

A little while ago, we tried to work out how many craft beer bars there are in the UK. We got stuck, but perhaps you can help.

For starters, here are some (to us) obvious examples, first in chains:

  • Brewdog bars × 22
  • Bloomsbury Leisure × 4.5
  • Craft Beer Co pubs × 6
  • Draft House × 8
  • North Group × 6 (ish)
  • Pivni × 4.5
  • Utobeer — The Rake, Tap East
  • Zero Degrees × 4

Then some one-offs:

  • Bristol — Small Bar, Beer Emporium, Beerd
  • Edinburgh  — The Hanging Bat
  • Exeter — Beer Cellars
  • Falmouth — Hand
  • Lancaster — Tap House
  • Leeds — Mr Foley’s, Tapped, Northern Monk Refectory
  • Manchester — Port Street Beer House, The Font, 57 Thomas Street
  • Newton Abbot — Teign Cellars
  • Tunbridge Wells — Fuggles Beer Cafe

And as for London, Des de Moor’s London’s Best Beer, Pubs & Bars listed 270 establishments of which around 148 are classified either as bars or ‘contemporary pubs’. (As opposed to ‘traditional pubs’.) At a glance, about 100 of those are what we would call (give or take some debate) ‘craft beer bars’.

So there’s about 170 before we’ve even started to rack our brains, so we’d guess that means there are actually more like 250, but that’s still not really a lot, nationwide.

Are we missing any obvious examples in your neck of the woods? (Yes, obviously — tell us below.)

And do you have any better guesses, or cleverer ways to calculate, the total number?

Pre-emptive FAQ

  • ‘But how do you define a craft beer bar?’ This is a legitimate question — where’s the line between style bar and craft beer bar? Or ‘contemporary pub’ (© Des de Moor) and pub-pub? Try this: If we turned up in your town and asked someone carrying a Pete Brown paperback under their arm for directions to the nearest craft beer bar, where would they send us?
  • ‘I dislike the term “craft beer bar” because…’ [Patronisingly] OK, great — we’re going to write that on this Post-It Note and come back to it at the end of the session.
  • ‘I have a quirky take on the definition of “craft beer” and am therefore going to suggest a Sam Smith’s pub in Bolton.’ Have you considered writing for the Ironic Review?

BOOK REVIEW: London’s Best Beer, Pubs & Bars

The new edition of Des de Moor’s guide to the best places to drink beer in London (£12.99, 333 pages, CAMRA Books) is more than just a list.

The cover of The CAMRA Guide to London's Best Beer, Pubs & Bars.The gazetteer which make up the meat of the book is solid. There is a mix of traditional pubs, trendy pubs, bars, taprooms, brewpubs and even the Leyton Orient Supporters’ Club bar. It covers territory from the outer edges of the city to its very heart. Some are old favourites, staples of similar volumes from the last five decades; others are current hype magnets; and, crucially, there are many of which we’d never heard of but now find ourselves wanting to visit.

The selection is broad but does skew, perhaps, towards a certain type of smart pub — the kind with liquid soap in the bogs and scotch eggs under a cloche. If you insist on pubs with no hint of gentility, this may not be the guide for you.

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QUOTE: Pub Perfume

“Before opening time there is a Q, virgin aroma of freshness, an inimitable pub-perfume mixture of hops and malt, spirits and polish with perhaps a faint touch of violet-scented air-freshener. This is my boyhood nostalgia. Spilt ale, dried and sugar-sticky.”

Adrian Bailey in an essay for Len Deighton’s London Dossier, 1967.

West Cornwall Notes

There’s been quite a lot going on in our local beer scene so, for the record, and to help those of you planning a visit to the far west, here’s a quick round-up of developments.

Coastal Brewery’s on-site brewery tap and specialist beer outlet is up and running in Redruth. An industrial estate on the outskirts of a former mining town is about as far from twee as you can get, and drinking among stacked palettes and breeze block walls won’t be to everyone’s taste, but we found it surprisingly atmospheric, with a chatty crowd of post-shift drinkers from surrounding units. It’s probably the best place to come if you want to ‘tick’ Coastal’s own beers from cask and keg (they’re generally decent and occasionally brilliant), and has plenty of Belgian, American and German beers not often seen out this way. Bottles are available to take away, too, if you’re thinking about stocking a holiday cottage. It’s open until 10-15:00, Mon-Thu, and on Saturday; and until 7pm on Fridays, but check the Facebook page — those hours aren’t fixed.

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