How can it be that a pint costs £2.15 in one pub but double that just a mile down the road?
Not only that, but how is it that the more expensive beer can be better value?
It's easy really, when it comes to buying anything in a pub you are buying far more than the drink in your glass or the food on your plate.
I was in Edinburgh a few weeks ago, staying at a Wetherspoons. Don't judge me, I was professionally intrigued and the rooms were far better than many pubs and hotels I have stayed at across this country.
The beer at most Spoons' is usually pretty decent. You tend to get a decent range and it's generally kept well, as it was here, and I could not argue with the quality of the Titanic Cappuccino Stout I was presented with. The perfect drop if you don't know if you want a coffee or a beer.
It's just it took a little while to be presented with it. The bar wasn't busy but there was only one member of staff on and I was served out of turn.
That always annoys me more than it should.
I appreciate that it isn't always easy for staff to know who is next in line but when there are only a handful of people waiting it shouldn't be that hard. Also, in my pub utopia, this should be self-policed by customers rather than sneaky folk taking the chance to jump the queue.
Shortly after getting my change another member of staff got behind the bar and asked why the person who served me was still working. They had a brief chat about long hours, shift patterns and having not had a break. While I could muster some sympathy it just wasn't a conversation I wanted to be exposed to.
If you chuck in the general atmosphere and friendliness of the pub to the mix, alongside customer service and beer quality, then that £2.15 pint, while still good value, started to feel like it was priced around the right mark.
I left after one pint and headed to a pub that had been recommended, the brilliantly named Canny Man's in Morningside.
What a pub.
It's a family freehouse that has been in business since 1871. We entered to the site of a gleaming traditional bar with exceptionally smartly dressed staff ready to serve. Customers parted gladly so we could get to the bar.
I ordered two pints, happily handed over a tenner, was told to find a seat and that the beers would be brought over to us.
We went through to an adjoining room that was full of character and artefacts – the kind of pub that has more stories than the New York skyline.
There was a mannequin hanging from the ceiling above my head...
When the bar tender placed the beers in front of us (brought over on a silver tray) I asked her how the elegantly dressed lady mannequin came to be where she is today. Apparently, she has been in the pub ever since a Canadian serviceman danced with her on VE Day. He left her behind and she has been hanging around waiting for him to return ever since.
The story, surroundings and the staff had already made the beer good value and I had barely had a sip of my Deuchars.
The bar tender returned a few moments later with an eight-page document full of amusing stories about the pub's history. She rightly guessed that I would be interested. The below is an extract:
"Public House. This is what this is and it has survived as such for over one hundred years. Please try to remember it, and the characters you see here are real. It is well loved and well hated. Loved by those that know it and hated by those who do not understand a place that will not change, will not alter, respecting the past and prepared at all cost to preserve the future."
That was worth the price of the beer alone.
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