There is nothing more British than going to the pub and enjoying a good, wine or cider together with your friends and family. Every foreign visitor to Britain wants to experience this all-British practice called Pub Culture, as it is a part of every day life for the beer and wine loving communities of the United Kingdom. In recent times many people visit the pub to taste that deliciously unique and flavourful brew called Craft Beer in London pubs and those located elsewhere in the country.
Pubs actually started off around 2000 years ago in Britain as Italian wine bars, called Tabernae, by the invading Roman Army. With the Roman roads being built in many parts of Europe (yes, all these roads led to Rome!), many of these Tabernae opened up along these roads, mainly for the Roman troops to have a watering hole similar to those back home. In addition to wine, these places started serving traditional British Ale, a favourite among the locals, in order to get more people visiting them. Over time these Tabernae of Italy were more popularly known by their less desirable name of Tavern.
These Taverns and Alehouses existed long after the departure of the Roman troops, serving their British local regulars with their favourite beverage, as well as food. Some even offered room and board to travellers and pilgrims who passed their way. Over time these taverns and alehouses became known as Public Houses, and around the reign of King Henry VII, these public houses were more commonly known as Pubs, and there began the pub culture of the British people.
With the advent of Stagecoaches, many inns started appearing along the routes taken by them offering accommodation, food and drink to both the affluent of society who travelled inside the coaches and the not-so-affluents who travelling on the outside of the coaches, literally hanging on to them. These inns provided separate types of accommodation and dining for these two different classes of guests, with warm welcoming smiles given to the high society guests and being invited to wine and dine in the innkeeper’s private parlour, while the others had to make do with what was available at the inn’s bar.
These days people from all walks of life have found the British pub to be an indispensable part of their everyday lives, where they go to relax, unwind and enjoy some good food, drinks and company. During the early years, pubs were mainly frequented by men as a means of getting away for a few hours at least from the responsibilities and burdens of work and family life. In recent times however people of all types and ages have found the pub culture an essential part of their social existence, and is especially true for the student population in the country who got here to get some respite away from exams and their studies. Pubs offer a relaxed atmosphere that allows for talking, laughing and generally creating a time for getting away from life’s troubles for a few hours.
So, what type of drinks can you find in a pub? Well, it is highly unlikely that you will find fancy cocktails, but you will definitely find beer, more specifically lagers, ales and bitters, as well as other spirits like gin and cider. Beer is certainly one of the most popular drinks served in a pub, and in recent times you will find that more and more pubs have started serving Craft Beer in London and elsewhere around the country, as well as Craft Gin, due to the growing popularity of these drinks. Craft Beer offers a much more flavourful experience for the beer lover and beer enthusiast, created by small, independent local breweries, using their own recipes and traditional brewing methods.
Many of the pubs that you find these days have existed for many years, and there is a lot of history and many stories attached to each one, which in itself is an interesting way of spending some time away, listening to these stories of old retold thousands of times over the years. Some pubs who lay claims as being ‘the oldest pub’ in England are Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem in Nottingham, Ye Olde Salutation in Nottingham, The Bell Inn in Nottingham and Ye Olde Fighting Cocks in North London.
Whatever your favourite drink, if you are visiting the United Kingdom sometime, don’t forget to join the locals for a nice beer or ale or cider at one of these historical pubs, and experience this unique adventure called pub culture in Britain.