Sunday, 21 November 2010
Saturday Night's Alright??
I must admit that these days I don't often venture out to the pub on a Saturday night. There was a time when a visit to the pub, or indeed several pubs, was the highlight of the week, and a session that was virtually un-missable. I have written before about the reasons I don't visits pubs with anywhere like the frequency I used to, (family, financial, lack of decent pubs close-by etc), but it seems I am not alone in this.
Last night my son and I, together with our friend Eric, caught the train over to Frant, in order to visit the excellent Brecknock Arms at Bells Yew Green. This unspoilt Harvey's pub has long been a favourite of mine, and it is well worth the short train journey to enjoy some excellent beer and some good company in this small, but welcoming village local.
We caught the 18.59 train, arriving at our destination some 20 minutes later. On entering, we were surprised to see that the only customers in the pub were a slightly loved-up couple, enjoying a drink in the far corner. We received a warm welcome from hosts Joe and Charlotte, and were please to see not one, but three dark ales from the Harvey's stable, on sale alongside the Best Bitter. We gave the mild a miss, as none of us are great fans of this style, opting instead for the Old Ale. It was excellent; smooth, dark and full-bodied and just the beer for a cold and slightly damp winter's evening.
Charlotte recommended we try the Lewes Castle Brown Ale next. This is a 4.8% brew that is normally only available in bottles, but she told us the brewery sometimes have some left over from the bottling run and they make this available in cask for any pubs interested in taking it. It was therefore something of a rarity to see this strong brown ale on draught. We found it similar in taste to the Old, but fuller in body, and perhaps slightly more bitter in flavour. It was definitely an interesting beer to try.
We sat at a table, opposite the bar enjoying our beer and chatting to Joe and Charlotte. The lovey-dovey couple left, but soon after one one the pub's regulars called in and sat at the bar enjoying a few pints of Old himself, and joining in the general conversation. What struck us more than anything was how quiet the pub was, especially for a Saturday night. It had been like this on our previous Saturday visit, back in September, when Eric and I had called in for a quick pint on the way back from Eastbourne at the end of our Wealdway Walk. Charlotte told us that Saturday's were always quiet at the Brecknock; in fact it was normally the quietest session of the week. She told us they usually had more people in on a Tuesday lunchtime than on a Saturday evening. The pub had been packed the night before, and they were fully expecting to be extremely busy Sunday lunchtime, when the pub is popular with diners.
This got me thinking; where were all the people who should have been packing the pub out? and what were they doing instead? Surely they weren't all sat at home watching dross like X-Factor and I'm a Celebrity, or were they? Have the nation's habits changed? Do more people now prefer sitting in the comfort of their own homes on a Saturday night, even if there is only drivel on the TV to keep them entertained? As I said at the start of this post, I don't go out enough on a Saturday to know the answer. All I can say is, whilst I may be enjoying a drink or two at home, I am not doing so in front of the TV watching rubbish!
I would be most interested to hear other people's thoughts on this matter.