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I was in one of my favourite pubs last night. They had a beer festival last weekend. We went on Friday night, which was nice, it was busy enough, a bit of live, acoustic music and a selection of beers. They had some Hardknott beer on the temporary bar in the marquee. A lot of work had been put in by the manager and his staff and I was a little worried, with the weather and everything, that the event might not have been a success. Friday night, after all, was quiet enough for me, and really not the roaringly busy thing that was needed to shift beer and make all the effort worthwhile.

Last night I returned, being Thursday, it was quiet. I was enjoying a couple of quiet pints and a nice chat with the guys in the pub. One chap I was chatting to, who was helping out at the beer festival at the weekend, was asked if it was busy on Saturday. "Rammed" he assumed me "Needed shoehorns to get more people in" he continued, with obvious glee "Great" I was also really pleased, if for no other reason than I want the pub to do well so that they buy more beer off me.

"I prefer mid-week nights in here, to be honest" I confessed "It gets too busy in here on a Saturday, even when there isn't a beer festival" This particular pub has just had a makeover which has made it a little more contemporary. Most of the carpet has been removed and the walls re-plastered and re-painted making the whole place a little more sterile and echoey. Quite a few folk don't really like it as much, and complain there should be more pictures to break it up. It can easily get noisy and difficult to be understood by other people, or hear what they are saying to you. When there is live music it gets to be impossible to hold a conversation.

But the pub is doing very well. Often busy and getting busier. It is most often full of younger people and has a real buzz about it. I wish they would have some craft keg. I wish they would buy more Hardknott. I suspect that will come with time.

Port Street Beer House
a cool contemporary velvet-less paradise
Pete Brown is now complaining that the new age, contemporary craft beer bar scene is full of boxy, echoey and sterile establishments. No soft furnishings, and nothing to break up the noisiness of the place. I understand Pete, I do, I'm getting old as well. It's crap, having to say "eh" all the time, but it's what happens. Though really, do we think that velvet drapes would be cool, or hip, or funky?

Craft beer bars are successful because of what they are; modern and trendy. I'm also not convinced that sound proofing is what would help. Generally, busy bars are noisy because they are busy. Indeed, I'd even argue that people are in themselves sound absorbers. If you have ever tried to set up a sound system in an empty room and then noticed how much it needs to be turned up when the room is full, you'd know.

Pete does have a point. Some places could be less sterile, they could break up the lines a little and perhaps just a little bit of softness. Just don't make it velvet, for goodness sake, that isn't cool at all.

There are pubs that span the gap and provide a little of both. The White Horse at Parson Green for instance is, in my view, providing a balance. My way of thinking is that the craft beer bar growth will be followed by less trendy places moving in a copy-cat fashion. I think it's happening, a fusion of ideas where some of Pete's wishes are being implemented. The surviving businesses will be the ones that are popular, whatever they do.

Still, I do worry that Pete is coming across a little like the old man who has his peace and quiet ruined by the youngsters in the pub. I've so many times heard people complain about a place being OK, but it does seem to get a little too busy sometimes. All that noise and people, you can't hear what people say.

I think the future of pubs, beer and nearly everything else is in the youngsters. Success is in being busy and thriving and having a little bit of a buzz. Yes, some of us old fogeys might not like it, but that's fact.


Sorry, I had to Google Keira Knightley, but then did go "phoar"