There has been an interesting debate on RateBeer this last couple of days about pubs in St. Albans. What started off as an innocent question finished off in a good natured debate about one particular pub: The Fighting Cocks.
Here is a pub which is old and historic and is a beautiful building, and some parties thought that made it worthy of a visit. Parts of the building date back to the 11th Century, and as can be seen it is very characterful to look at from the outside. Others said it's not worth a visit because the beer is crap, the service surly and it is full of tourists. In short, it's not a good place. I have never been so cannot add to the debate.
Another pub which is as interesting and historical is The George in Borough High Street, London. To stand and admire the galleries of this coaching inn, is to take in a vision of architectural beauty, and we need to ensure pubs like this survive. I have been to this pub, and as some feel about The Fighting Cocks, my thoughts are it is too touristy, the staff are surly and the beer's crap. In short it's not a good place.
Now, to get to the point, both of these pubs doubtless have ATMOSPHERE. But, is it the atmosphere I as a beer and pub lover really want. Do I want to be overcharged because tourists are happy to pay these prices, and because I am drinking in a piece of history? Or do I want to pay a fair price in a spit and sawdust drinkers pub, and take in the convivial atmosphere of like-minded people, and be served by people happy to serve me? There is no question in my mind that I would go for the second option.
So atmosphere exists everywhere in all guises and for all people, but my preference is for no frills atmosphere over pomp, ceremony, tradition and overpricing.
I'll stand outside and take a nice photograph of these pieces of history, that's as atmospheric as I need.
Atmosphere is this month's session theme for beer bloggers. Click the link for other bloggers' views on atmosphere.