In the comments on this post last week, a side debate broke out about whether people ought to research a town’s beer scene before visiting, rather than hoping to stumble upon a good pub or bar.
A similar conversation, with a more hysterical tone, followed Pete Brown’s post about Chesterfield earlier in the year.
It’s obviously a bit rich to dismiss a town or city as having nowhere good to drink if you haven’t done any research (although that certainly wasn’t Mr Brown’s point) but playing it by ear from time to time can be both fun and illuminating.
The risk to relying on the guidance of others is that the loop can end up closing: everyone goes to the same handful of famous places, drinks the same few ‘must try’ beers, ends up writing more-or-less the same articles and blog posts, and then makes the same recommendations when they’re asked. The same places end up appearing in listicles and guide books, often for years after they’ve lost their lustre.
By all means carry out research before your trip, but do also leave a little time to explore, and to follow your instincts — you might find a new place struggling for custom but destined to be the next big thing; or stumble upon a great pub that no-one recommends because the beer is terrible; or just get really under the skin of the town you’re visiting.
You might even strike-out completely and end up back in the hotel bar, but that’s fine, too: if every single drinking session is ‘world class’, none of them are.