Pubs must change – and stay the same

As a young boy I was fascinated by pubs, even when I was forced to sit outside with a bottle of Vimto and a bag of salt and shake crisps. I still have the book in which I would write down the names of pubs I saw and the brewery that owned them.

By Keith Bott MBE, President, PubAid

22 June 2022

Once I started going inside pubs – yes, before I was legally allowed to drink, those were different times! - my love for them grew stronger. Sitting in The Holmcroft in Stafford with a pint of Banks’s Mild well before my eighteenth birthday, the camaraderie, the sights, the smells all made me feel at home. I’m sure Ron, the landlord, knew damn well I was underage but he also knew that amongst his regulars I was safe and they would make sure I came to no harm.

Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be I know - and it is right that we have moved to protect the younger members of society from starting to drink too early, but pubs are still hubs of their communities. PubAid highlights the amazing roles pubs play in their communities, raising over £100 million pounds every year for raised for charities, and supporting grassroots sports to the tune of £40 million. And when Covid hit, it was our fabulous pubs that stepped up to help their local communities, particularly the vulnerable, by converting into local shops, delivering supplies and hot meals to those most in need and running online quizzes and concerts to keep people together.

Pubs have evolved, but without losing the very essence of what they are, the place where people come together, the place where people meet and care for each other, the home of conversation, the beating heart of the community. Yes we stock different products now, yes we are cleaner and more welcoming but at our very core we are still about people. The people who come to enjoy the pub and the brilliant brigade of hospitality workers who thrive on looking after those customers.

If you had told me, back in 1985 when I began my career in this industry, that I would be brewing 4 million pints a year, that our best selling beer would be a fruit flavoured porter, that we would have a growing chain of café bars or that we would employ over 200 people, I would have suggested you were barking mad! Yet we have only been successful as a business because we have evolved, and will continue to evolve, changing what we offer to suit our thirsty and hungry clientele.

Despite the many challenges this industry has presented, none more than the last two years, it’s also hugely rewarding. I am still in love with pubs!

Titanic Brewery, based in Stoke-on-Trent, brews a range of award-winning beers which are sold in pubs and supermarkets. They also own eight pubs in the region as well as the Bod group of café bars, selling coffee, food and alcohol. The sixth Bod opened in Stone in May 2022.

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