I finally made it to The Hopsmiths last night, Late Knight Brewery’s north London outpost. It was very quiet, perhaps understandable as it was 4.30pm on a Wednesday afternoon. The beer selection was decent (I had Weird Beard Decadence Stout and Burning Sky Arise), and I also had a good blether with the bartender. As you would expect the conversation concerned beer, and after the barman had indulged in some mild hipster bashing, he recounted a tale that resonated with me. We got to talking about pubs, and he recalled a visit to the Southampton Arms where he bumped into a friend who had no interest in beer. This brought to mind an occasion when I was in the same pub on a weekend evening and it was busy, as you might expect. Not a bother to me, I don’t mind standing in the name of good beer; but what I did take umbrage to was that one group who were occupying a table with four chairs, were drinking cola. All four of them. They nursed them for a good hour.
Now it’s a free country and as long as the pub sells cola then they were perfectly entitled to sit there and drink it, no doubt soaking up the pub’s celebrated “vibe”. However, I reckon pubs are for drinking in. I wondered what my attitude would have been had I been the proprietor or manager, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I would have risked my reputation for running a friendly pub by asking them to order a beer or leave. Don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against popping into the pub for lunch and a soft drink if you’re not one for early drinking. But to sit there over the course of an evening sipping soft drinks while committed drinkers are left standing? That’s not right.
I can’t escape the feeling that if you’re a pub tourist with no interest in beer, then please stick to those awful “traditional” pubs that are ubiquitous throughout central London.
This post is slightly tongue-in-cheek, and certainly has the ring of “first world problems” about it. It maybe even exposes me as having a beer fascist streak. Whatever.
Above image clearly not the Southampton Arms, but another fantastic London (Highgate) pub