The blogger formerly known as Stonch, one Jeffrey Bell, has up a new post this morning and it is one with which I must heartily concur. Characteristically short, almost brusque, in fact, it gets to the heart of the beer drinking matter quickly and concisely. To wit:
“Put simply, I won’t visit a shithole just because it sells loads of beers from microbreweries.”
All too often, my comrades and friends in the pursuit and promotion of better ale and lager get caught up in numbers and forget completely the aesthetics of drinking. Sixty taps, eighty taps, one hundred and thirty-three taps and seven hundred bottles! What does it all matter if the establishment itself is a craphole? For me, and I’m guessing from his comments for Jeff also, the character of the bar or pub or café is easily as important as is the quality of the beer in my glass.
Sure, I’ll stop for a pint in a spot that is perhaps less than desirable – and I don’t here mean it has to be fancy, just interesting. Some of my favourite bars have been selected as the least likely to ever make it to the pages of Design Illustrated – but I won’t stay if the premises itself doesn’t offer some allure. In other words, it doesn’t matter much to me that a bar has one hundred craft beers if the walls are covered with brewery neons and big screen tvs blaring a dozen different sporting events at top volume.
Which reminds me, I’m way overdue in posting another instalment in my Great Global Beer Bars series at That’s the Spirit.
6 Replies to “You Tell ‘Em, Jeffo”
There are many factors that make up a great bar. The tap/beer choices might be at the top of the list, but it is not the sole aspect you judge on. I am more forgiving of establishments with a superior tap rotation though.
My favorite bars usually feature (in no particular order): good food, cool atmosphere, excellent beer knowledge, attentive staff, fun patrons and moderate pricing.
I too get stuck with friends enamored with a tap list at a shithole with lame decor, lazy bartenders, and crappy food. I’d rather go to a superior bar with a moderate selection than an awesome selection in a dump anytime.
You know, there are bars and then there are bars. I try to develop my taste to be able to appreciate a murky neighbourhood bar full of bums or a place which looks like it has not seen renovation for 20 years.
I agree that there are bars of many different stripes, and what makes this subject difficult is the difficulty in defining exactly what characteristics make a bar great. But when I am in a terrific bar, whether it is stylish or dusty, full of great beers or pouring only two good taps, I just know it.
“a bar (that) has one hundred craft beers … the walls are covered with brewery neons and big screen tvs blaring a dozen different sporting events at top volume.”
If this is the definition of a “shithole (bar/pub/whatever)” and if you throw in a bunch of noisy turists that don’t distinguish a lager from an ale, then a agree 110%.
+ some bars/pubs that look like shitholes to these tourists are some of the best and most unique places to have an excellent beer and a chat with the locals.
I don’t believe one can make a list of qualities of a great pub any more than one can make a list of the qualities of the perfect wife or husband.
Having said that, I am a regular client of In de Wildeman in Amsterdam and have no complaints nor suggestions for improvement.
Certainly among the best pub experiences I have ever had, however, must be Plan B in Copenhagen. I have been there twice. The first time, the new owner had just taken over a deli and the deli fixtures were still there, but filled with bottles of beer. The next time, I asked the owner about an interesting bottle of Swedish beer. He told me the price, then offered me a discount if I would let him have a glass. I declined. However, when I went to pay my check, he had opened the bottle (75cl) by himself and offered me and my friend a glass (for free). It was very, very good (the beer).
Although I generally don’t like pubs that play music, the music in Plan B is so special (“The Hits of Mae West”, for example) that I enjoy it. Plan B is proof that you can’t make formulas for perfection.
I’m not sure how i missed Plan B when I was last in Copenhagan, but it sounds like a great place. I’ve never had reason to complain about In de Wildeman, either.