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Matthew Eley

Matthew Eley

Matthew Eley

Matt Eley is an Inapub contributor. Follow him on Twitter @mattheweley

31.5.2011 Matt Eley
altWell sorry to disappoint anyone who was looking for a witty punchline or a wise riddle (you’re definitely on the wrong site for that) but for me a pub ceases to be a pub when the nature of its business fundamentally changes.
For example, a pub that extends it hours, brings in a DJ and starts charging for entry after a certain time could easily earn the description of ‘bar’ or ‘club’.
Likewise, if you start making more from letting rooms than drink you could transform your business into an inn or hotel.
However the biggest argument over business descriptions involving pubs is when they veer into restaurant territory.
It has been a constant source of debate between colleagues of mine over the years.
Many look at the wet/dry split of a business. With some arguing that when you start making more than say 70% from food you no longer have the right to call yourself a pub. Though you might still get away with ‘gastro pub’, whatever that really means.
Anyway, I don’t subscribe to that view. My take on it is that they can sell as much food as they like but if can still sit at the bar or at a table having a drink with friends and not be expected to order a meal than it can pass as a pub.
For me it also comes down to how you feel about the place you are going to. When discussing what constitutes a sport a friend of mine once said that it is a sport if you have to change your footwear to play it.
Thus football, tennis, golf, even ten pin bowling, all qualify while darts, pool and snooker would end up being in the realms of hobby or pastimes.
Similarly for me I think a pub stops being a pub if I feel like I have to put on something smart to go there.
Maybe that sounds slightly uncouth but for me a pub is a place to kick-back and enjoy good drink, food and the company of friends in a relaxed environment. That means you don’t have to feel like you are making an effort in terms of dressing up.
I had a great experience of that over the Bank Holiday in a pub that had a separate dining area, waiting staff, table service for drink etc. But it was undoubtedly a pub due to a number of factors such as a slightly cantankerous landlord, old men sitting at the bar talking too loudly and the general atmosphere of the place.
Pubs being pubs, bars or restaurants etc is a debate that can go on for hours and, as I said, everyone has their own definitions. But does it really matter?
Well I think it does. Everyone around the world has restaurants and bars and hotels but nobody quite does pubs like we do. They are always one of the top five things that tourists seek out – they need a pint to soften the blow of not meeting the queen (the number one attraction).
So be proud to be a pub I say, whether you are a wet led boozer that only sells salted peanuts or a gastro pub that specialises in butternut squash risotto with shaved pecorino cheese and toasted pumpkin seeds.
Either way I salute you, just don’t expect me to get dressed up to do so.
Matt Eley
23.5.2011 Matt Eley
altIt was with a sense of curiosity that I headed to the first European Beer Bloggers Conference in London at the weekend.
Sponsors Molson Coors were kind enough to ask me along and I was fascinated to see who would be in the room.
We are talking beer bloggers here, so surely I was about to be confronted by a room full of geeks still communicating with each other via Twitter because they lack the confidence to speak face to face?
Or maybe, I thought , it will be packed with the same rotund beer monsters you find at festivals up and down the land who have discovered another forum to push forward their views?
Wrong, wrong, wrong!
In fact I could not have been wider of the mark.
Instead of either of the above scenarios I found myself in a room full of people so young and fashionable that it could have been a scene straight out of Hollyoaks.
Well OK maybe they weren’t quite as attractive but the array of trendy haircuts and fashionable garb made this more Vogue than CAMRA.
As the evening wore on and I spoke – in person not via social networking – to attendees I was met with witty and engaging folk who have a passion for beer that they want to share.
It left me feeling hugely encouraged that despite the well documented struggles of the UK beer market the ‘next’ generation have their fingers at the ready to defend, promote, praise, hold to account – and indeed consume – our national drink.
It was also fascinating to see so many beer companies and breweries taking part in this event and engaging with those at the forefront of a form of media that is going to continue to grow and have a wider influence over consumers.
Roll on #BBC12!
Matt Eley
15.5.2011 Matt Eley
altThis sounds a bit pathetic but it is one of those things that bugs me when I go to a pub.
I was served a pint of beer (not Adnams) in an Adnams pint glass the other day.
I know, I know it isn’t exactly the crime of the century. It wasn’t as if it was in a Guinness glass, but still, it had a small impact on my enjoyment of the beer.
It gets me most when the beer is clearly supposed to be served in specialist glassware because it is part of the overall experience.
If, and it has been known to happen, I order a pint of Peroni and it comes in anything other than the vase I will have no qualms about asking the staff why my pint (verging on £4) has come in the wrong glass?  alt
Tomato ketchup comes in a ketchup bottle, peanuts come in the right packet and soup comes in a soup bowl. I expect the same service standards with, what is after all a pub’s bread and butter, no not bread and butter but you know what I mean.
If possible I want the beer that is supposed to be in a branded glass in a branded glass and if not I’d like to be told before the drink is poured. For customers to spend the best part of a fiver on a drink it needs to be of a high standard inside and outside the glass.
It is the little things like that which make people return to the pub rather than spending a few quid on a case of beers and drinking them straight from the can or pouring them into whatever glassware is knocking about at home.
Matt Eley is the Inapub Editor
Matt Eley
7.5.2011 Matt Eley
altI wasn’t away for long but even after a three week break from employment enjoying the most un-April like weather conditions I have to admit I am glad to be back in work.
And not just back in any old journalism job but back working in the pub trade. I was in a pub a few days ago that reminded me of many of the simple things that I personally love about pubs.  
This particular venue was located just off a country road, enticing drivers to pull in and ramblers to have a rest with benches dotted around a beer garden to the front and hanging baskets bursting with various blooms adorning the outside walls.  
Well, we were due a break anyway, so we duly pulled over and ordered a soft drink for the missus and a fantastic pint of Harvey’s Hadlow bitter for myself.  
As we sat supping outside a solitary rambler sat himself at the table next to us and started chatting away. At first I was concerned that I was going to be given a tedious talking to about the benefits of walking or a one-sided conversation about unfamiliar local landmarks. My stereotyping was quickly revealed to be entirely unfair as said rambler instead talked easily about his family and a working life that had seen him traipse further afield in places such as the Middle East and southern Africa.
It wasn’t what I was expecting when we pulled up for our pit stop but it was certainly welcome. Half an hour later we went our separate ways without so much as having exchanged names but content to have enjoyed a beer and chat for half an hour.
And where else would you have that kind of simple, relaxing and engaging experience? This pub provided a perfect environment, a product that had clearly been cared for and free and easy conversation. For me that is a great pub experience.
Hopefully over the weeks and months on these pages we will be able to reveal many more great pub experiences and celebrate the best of the trade from those at the heart of the industry.
I also hope that these pages will become a forum for licensees to share ideas and inspire each other to even greater things when it comes to running successful businesses.  
So please keep logging on, provide us with feedback and if you would like to have your say in the form of a blog of your own please drop me a line at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Cheers!   
Matt Eley is the Inapub Editor.
Matt Eley