Skipton, the historic market town on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales has over 20 pubs, and most of them are pretty damn good. Exactly how good though? Well, there really is only one way to find out.
The idea to visit every pub in the town and provide a balanced review wasn’t exactly a difficult one to make. In fact we first started the task some time ago as a tribute to a friend who’d recently passed away. The mistake we made though was creating a ‘unique’ scoring system which gave points for each aspect of the pub experience. It became so complicated that even we got confused by it and just gave up in the end. At one point we were even giving scores out of 10 for ‘eye candy’ and adding bonus points for things we liked about each pub – these additional points tended to increase the more we drank…..it clearly wasn’t going to work.
Two years on, armed with a simplified scoring system and minus one reviewer (who’s since made a baby to keep him occupied and out of beer money – he’s going to join us when he can) we’ll now be again testing each pub in turn. We’ll be scoring them for beer choice and quality (and when I say beer, I make no apology for stating I mean beer and not that carbonated urine manufactured by the sponsors of football competitions), the décor and atmosphere of each pub, the service of the bar staff and whether the toilets smell of roses or tramps. We won’t be testing the food though, as the waistline and the bank balance just won’t take it – we’ll save that for a later date. Plus some pubs in Skipton don’t serve food, and several that do probably shouldn’t!
The perfect pubs almost always feel like your own home – but warmer, cosier and full of beer. Skipton has its fair share of classic pubs with open roaring fires, real ales and pub quizzes, but it also has several that flog gallons of fizzy chemicals and technicolour gloop to hammered teenagers. We’ll be testing them all, one by one.
Our quest almost feels like we’re offering the local community a service. With around 20 pubs to choose from, how can drinkers possibly decide which one will suit their needs? Of course, this will very much be down to personal opinion and we aren’t setting out to launch a campaign for or against each pub. In fact this could be an opportunity for the pubs in the town to gain come custom, not lose it.
The public house is so quintessentially British. Alcohol has always been part of British culture and despite a recent decline in our average alcohol consumption, it probably always will be. As the coalition government discusses fixing the prices of booze in supermarkets, it’s now more important than ever for pubs to make sure they offer enticing, comfortable and safe places for us to enjoy a drink. It could well be the opportunity for pubs to recapture the customers who’ve turned to drinking supermarket bargain booze at home.
We don’t expect everyone to agree with us – especially the landlords. However our findings may urge the establishments which leave a lot to be desired to make more of an effort. In times when hundreds of pubs close each month, surely any sort of publicity (if you pardon the pun) can only be good?
We’d like to think that whilst it may seem like we’re just using this as an excuse to go to the pub, we actually might inspire other people in the UK to do the same. If you don’t like the thought of your local boozers closing their doors forever, then do the decent thing and start going to them more often.
You know it makes sense, even if by the end of the night you probably won’t.