These days, the lucrative appeal of alfresco drinking and dining, has become much more an essential, rather than a novel addition to pub life and the upsurge in this activity has been spurred on, over the past two decades, by a couple of unforeseen factors.
I am talking here of course, about the 2007 smoking ban and, most recently, the strictures associated with the UK government’s approach to dealing with Covid. Thinking back to the beginning of April, this year, when pubs were finally permitted to re-open, albeit in an outdoor capacity only, I recall sitting out, in a sunny, but freezing cold pub garden, insulated by several layers of clothing, whilst enjoying a pint.
It might seem strange writing about this topic, when the clocks are set to change in a couple of weeks’ time, as for many, this ritual turning the clocks back an hour, heralds the approach of winter. Perhaps then this piece should serve as a reminder of the fast-fading days of summer, and an inspiration to look forward to next spring, and the promise of what is to come, with the return of the warmer weather.
Mudge’s article covered the rise of outdoor drinking, in rather more detail than I intend to do here. The impact of the smoking ban and of Covid, have both been major factors, and their importance should not be ignored. Neither should the different approaches of those who prefer to remain hidden away indoors, in the gloom of a dark and low-lit bar, and those outdoor types who are rolling up their sleeves, and heading into the pub garden, at the merest hint of a ray of sunshine.
What both of us are hinting at, is alfresco drinking tends to divide pub-goers up into two distinct camps, and whilst I fully appreciate the advantages, and the disadvantages of both situations, what I want to cover here, is a particularly enjoyable aspect of enjoying a pint outside in the warm weather.
I’m talking about a sensation that is often overlooked, but
one which is associated not just with beer drinking, but with beer appreciation
and enjoyment of the finest long drink in the world. To give you an idea of
what I am talking about, I refer to the following words, that I wrote three
years ago, following a particularly memorable lunchtime visit to a local pub.
It seems that the presence of the sun, rather than just high temperatures, is required before this effect occurs, as the hoppy aroma is still noticeable in spring or autumn, when the thermometer can be struggling to register anything remotely respectable, providing the sun is shining.
So, for me, sitting outside in a pub garden from early spring to late autumn, whenever the weather is kind, whilst enjoying a well-hopped pint of bitter is, one of life's great pleasures. Even at either end of this extended period it can be worthwhile finding a sheltered spot, away from the wind, in order to add that extra enhancement to a pint.
Whatever the reason, there is still time before the onset of winter, to find that cosy corner, out of the wind and in the full glare of the sun and put what I am saying to the test.