‘Tragic’ pub closures being replaced by unlikely venues

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

An unlikely pub: Beer Nouveau, Piccadilly, Manchester
An unlikely pub: Beer Nouveau, Piccadilly, Manchester

Related tags Good beer guide Brewing

Pub closures are at their lowest in a decade, with the number of operations buoyed by a rise in micropub openings and “new breed” public houses, according to the Good Beer Guide.

The closure rate of UK pubs has declined to 21 a week, the lowest in 10 years, according to the Campaign for Real Ale’s (CAMRA’s) 2017 edition of the Good Beer Guide​, which is edited by beer intellect Roger Protz and was launched last week.

A “stubborn resurgence” of British pubs in the face of declining numbers was commended by Protz in the guide, who pointed out the number of new wet-led boozers as a key factor in the change of pace.

He said: “While traditional pubs continue to close, new types are opening at a fast rate and are drawing large crowds of enthusiastic drinkers.

The ‘unlikely’ pubs

  • Fuller’s Parcel Yard, King’s Cross, London
  • The Knott, Deansgate Station, Manchester
  • Piccadilly Tap, Piccadilly, Manchester
  • Beer Nouveau, Piccadilly, Manchester
  • Left Luggage Room, Monkseaton, Tyne & Wear

‘The heart of their communities’

“It’s tragic that pubs that have been the heart of their communities for decades and even centuries continue to close – though the closure rate is declining to around 21 a week. But they are being replaced by new pubs, often in the most unlikely places.”

Unlikely sites include planned openings by JD Wetherspoon in places such as Edinburgh Waverley Station’s former booking office and already well-established sites such as Fuller’s Parcel Yard in King’s Cross/St Pancras.

A boom in pop-up and micropubs has also helped abate the decline of pubs on the UK’s drinking landscape, Protz continued.

“In just a few short years, micropubs have become a national phenomenon,” he said. “The number has grown to more than 250, with just under half making it into the Good Beer Guide​ and 29 of them have their own in-house breweries as well.”

Before the launch of this year’s report Protz drew attention to the sector’s use of the beer fining agent isinglass​, calling for more brewers to find vegetarian and vegan alternatives.

He told a local paper: “A growing number of brewers are now looking at alternatives to isinglass as a clearing or fining agent in their beers.

Acceptable to vegetarians and vegans

“This then makes them acceptable to vegetarians and vegans – of which there are an increasing number.”

However, the editor’s quotes led to confusion around whether or not CAMRA was set to implement a ban on isinglass.

Despite the organisation insisting it was not banning the fining agent, brewers were bombarded with calls from drinkers urging for it to be banned.

Hogs Back Brewery, Tongham, Surrey, managing director Rupert Thompson, said: “Like many other brewers, we have been contacted by customers asking if we will stop using isinglass, since ‘CAMRA has called for it to be banned’.”  

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