Editor: Figures are stark but let’s not look through beer goggles

Who amongst us has had the best idea in the world, only to see the following morning that you were actually viewing a less attractive reality through beer goggles?

Wednesday, 23rd June 2021, 6:50 am
Updated Wednesday, 23rd June 2021, 6:51 am
The team at The Brothers Arms in Heeley, one of the city's many pub success stories

It has happened to everyone. Things seem very clear after a few pints and not so when you have sobered up. But you don’t have to drink too much to see there are two sides to the tale of drinking holes in our city.

There is no getting away from the fact that times are tough for our pubs. A quarter have closed and gone completely in the last 20 years. Fast forward to today and we all know of venues that weren’t able to survive lockdown and won’t be back. The experts also say that we haven’t seen the worst yet, more will disappear as furlough comes to an end and support is removed.

It is a grim picture, yet that isn’t the whole picture.

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Sheffield is the small brewery capital of the world, the quality is amazing and our reputation is growing. We also have knack for taking the smallest, unloved places and turning them into incredible bars.

There are new places opening – some even brave enough to go into the trade despite the chaos caused by lockdown. And these are wonderful little places, the kind you recommend to friends because they are different, they are special and they reflect the best of Sheffield spirit. Some old and failing pubs have also been taken over, transformed and are huge successes. I was sitting in such a beer garden recently, marvelling at how a change of ownership and knowing your customers can really attract the crowds.

Yet, if we want any of them to survive, they only have us to rely upon.

It doesn’t matter if your taste is real ale, local gin or just pop; whether you like dressing up for a posh night out or walking down to the local in your slippers – without support no pub, bar or brewery will last.

Most of my favourite haunts from when I was first old enough to drink have gone. Back then, you were lucky to get in without queuing.

Times change, pubs have to adapt and what is popular now, definitely won’t be when our children grow up.

That isn’t a bad thing but losing these community hubs – whatever form they take – most certainly would be for all of us.