The Newport Inn
Yesterday, The Metro ran a feature entitled ‘Is this last orders at the bar?’ reporting on the mass closure of pubs in Britain. This piece was extremely timely, as just the other night we shared a short film on our Facebook about a pub back home in Hampshire.
This pub, The Newport Inn, is a local institution in the Southampton area, as it hasn’t changed a bit since 1948. Unfortunately the pub, owned by Fullers Brewery, recently closed following the sad death of the landlady.
It is estimated that around 9,682 pubs closed this year, but many don’t close for the same reason as The Newport.
They are closed by what MP Greg Mulholland describes as ‘zombie companies.’ These large pub companies (or pubcos for short) are not only zombies, but are also devils, as they are in a process of asset stripping. What are these assets being stripped exactly? Our dear beloved pubs!
Two of the biggest pubcos are Enterprise and Punch Taverns, and between them they have axed more than 5,000 pubs between 2008-2012. Some of the luckier pubs are sold to new owners who keep pulling pints, but some face a more tragic fate.
If you thought Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball was bad then you will agree with me that the wrecking ball that will crash into these pubs is a monstrosity. After the pubcos fling their pubs to the side like Woody and Buzz were in Toy Story 3, they are knocked down to be reborn as blocks of flats and more than 200 have been converted into supermarkets since 2010.
With about 24,000 pubs owned by pubcos, many more will have their beer stained bars replaced with supermarket checkouts and where once stood a proud one armed bandit, you’ll find a vending machine coughing up Fanta and Coke.
A New Hope
But don’t fret, there’s still hope yet. Proposed reforms would see pubcos being monitored as well as the tenants being allowed to buy from other suppliers. This would pave the way for microbreweries, who, like Luke Skywalker, would step up to the plate and save the galaxy from the Dark Side; or in this case, the pubcos.
Microbreweries would gain greater access to hundreds of pubs and will be able to capitalize on the renaissance of traditional brewing. In the last year alone, 187 breweries have opened which makes a total of 1,147 microbreweries in Britain. These breweries are estimated to produce more than 12,000 different beers brewed across the country.
We hope breweries will follow in the footsteps of the likes of Tiny Rebel who have opened their own pub The Urban Taphouse in Cardiff.
Although hundreds of pubs will suffer, the future looks bright, and we will hopefully see the pubs change hands from the pubcos to the breweries.
What do you think? Comment us below or tweet us at @thegrillbarrel