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Blinded by Science: Reasons for the Declining Number of British Pubs

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November 27, 2015 by fhsteinbart


British Pub

Typical British style pub as seen when going to the barkeep for a pint o’ real ale!

We Americans think that the romance and charm of jolly old England comes from “pulling a pint o’ real ale” from and age old local to be the defining paradigm of the UK. Unfortunately, this missive is anything but the truth. From my time in the UK way back in the mid-seventies, even then the locals were upset about the changing pub environs. However, statistical analysis of pub operations over the last 125 years have shown a steady decrease in response to three major factors. Firstly, there’s the slowly increasing trend of people buying cheaper beer in the stores for later home consumption. Second are the increases in taxes on beer and permits which show no signs of lessening or decreasing any time soon. Last, it has become apparent to those who study such things like social scientists, actuaries, and historians that the pub scene has changed dramatically over the past 125 years. This is mostly due to changes in cultural attitudes, government rules, regulations, and taxation, but the biggest contributor seems to be that people are drinking less beer, and are becoming more isolated and less social. Reasons for this vary from the Internet, to decreased reserve income, smoking bans, and even the emphasis on more domestic aspects of life like home makeovers and other indoor home activities. All criticism aside, this slowly evolving change in the domestic drinking scene in the UK can become a warning to we here in the States to evaluate our Pub Culture, and consider what we can do as members of the Pub Culture to keep it lively, active, and properly distributed so that we don’t make the same mistakes as our British brethren’s and instead make our own mistakes to reconcile, learn, and go forward into the brave new world of pub life.

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