The following extract is a representation of a conversation I had last week.

'So are you going for a drink afterwards?'

'Yeah, but only a couple. I've got a big cycle ride at the weekend. We're doing a cross-country challenge.'

'What about you, you on it tonight?'

'Hmm, not sure. I'm still a bit sore from yesterday.'

'Late night was it?'

'What, no. I was fresh-water swimming in preparation for this iron man I'm doing.'

'Iron man...?'


You would have thought I was at the gym or on a work-induced detox at a health club but this conversation actually took place with industry professionals at a pub trade event.

Specifically it was at a golf day (the always excellent Titanic Brewery Golf Day) which was attended by brewers, operators, licensees and various folk from across the sector.

It is the type of event where five years ago you would have expected a fine if you were found walking along the fairway (or more likely in the woods) without a bottle of beer in your hand.

But now, here we were, talking about calorific intake and the benefits of ensuring you get plenty of water down you on a warm day on the course.

'What the hell has happened to the world,' I thought to myself, as I worried about the gluten content in my bacon roll and looked around to see if I could get a green tea instead of a coffee.



This day out alone is evidence of how the pub trade, and those who work in it, have changed in recent years.

I know we often hear official sounding reports about obesity and how we are getting bigger as a nation but my scientific research in the pub and at golf days reveals the true picture of how healthy we are becoming.

Drinking rates in this country have been on the slide for years, so much so that a recent small decline in beer sales - 0.2 per cent in pubs in the first quarter of the year according to the British Beer & Pub Association - was greeted as a cause for celebration.

Young people just don't put it away like the generations before them. That is a fact that the pub trade has had to contend with. Even the older generations are generally more concerned about health than ever before.

Barely anyone smokes these days (myself included, most of the time) and people who would always have ordered steak & chips now let their eyes drift towards the harissa chicken or three-bean salad on pub menus - menus that that often provide nutritional advice.

There's further evidence of our changing habits from the latest hospital admissions data.

In the last five years alcohol-related admissions for the under 18s have fallen by 50 per cent for men and 42 per cent for women. Even such admissions for the over-40s are down 12.5 per cent. That really is something to be happy about.

The way we drink and the way we enjoy ourselves is changing in front of our very eyes. While I hope we are still a long way from pubs having treadmills instead of pool tables there is no doubt that pubs have to cater for these lifestyle choices.

The man in the group who orders a lime & soda while his friends drink beer is not laughed at anymore. He is an important customer whose choices could influence his friends.

I'm not sure whether to go for a pint or a run.