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    Friday, 6 July 2007


    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.


    Bailey said...

    The George is an interesting example -- I've been there at lunchtime on a weekday in winter, and it's actually been really nice. It has partitioned rooms, low ceilings, and a quiet courtyard outside, so was very cosy. The beer was good that afternoon, too (only London Pride, but nicely kept). Every other time I've been, though, it's been hell on earth.

    Stonch said...

    I agree both pubs are touristy, but I didn't notice them being overpriced? Maybe living in Central London has just made me used to high prices!

    If they got some decent beers in at The George I'd go there. The Fighting Cocks, however, has been ruined by pandering excessively to the tourist lunch trade.

    Eddie Rowles said...

    I used to drop into the Fighting Cocks years ago - the last time was with some members of Hawkwind prior to a gig but that was back in 1985 so I suspect it may have changed....

    We often drink around London Bridge which has good pubs but by and large the clientele are irritating tossers - I'm getting more intolerant of vapid youngsters as I grown older, especially in the Market Porter.

    We rarely bother with the George as the beers never jump out at you as being interesting or very well kept - and of course it is a bit touristy. Can't imagine being a local here.

    Much better by far to wander down to the Royal Oak where it's not as lively but has everything you need in a good pub.