Friday 19 May 2023

Do you remember the 1970s?

Realising how scant my own memories of the 1970s were when I started writing them down, I thought: "Why not steal other people's memories?" 

Sorry, collect the recollections of others. Of beer and pubs in the 1970s. And 1980s, I suppose. Any old crap that you can remember. Nothing is too trivial. Yearning for the low, low prices of the past is especially welcome.

You can send them to me either as a comment or as an email via the "Get in Touch" gadget to your left.

Not sure how much response I'll get to this. I'd like to string them together into something semi-coherent. 

Come on oldies. Send me your memories.


Phil said...

I remember that age limits meant nothing. Before I was 16 my Dad would buy me halves, but that was more for form's sake than anything. At 16-17 I used regularly to meet my friends at a pub full of 16- to 17-year-olds; there was another pub down the road that we never set foot in, because the clientele there were too young(!). I remember a friend turning 18 and finding his first legal pint a bit of an anticlimax. There were absolutely massive amounts of drug dealing going on in that pub, incidentally; I wasn't there the night they were raided, but apparently someone got tipped off just in time and everyone dropped whatever they had on the floor. Naturally there was dead silence when the DS came through, broken only by the crunching sound of pills underfoot. (They nicked two people that night, which we all thought was a joke.)

You drank bitter. If you were feeling ostentatious you drank Guinness; if you were flush you drank lager. Basically it was bitter, though. (I can't for the life of me think who the brewer was, let alone what it was actually like.)

Just as bitter was the proper beer to drink, what we now think of as old men's pubs (bench seating, brass rails, old guys in caps) were proper pubs - but you didn't like to actually go in them unless you had to, you'd get looks. There were also kiddie pubs, druggie pubs(!), plastic pubs and biker pubs. Plastic pubs served keg bitter, which was disgusting. Biker pubs were the best, really - younger age group, plus you heard rumours of things like draught cider and pork scratchings, and really good jukeboxes - but also the scariest, even more so than Proper Pubs.

Dennis King said...

In the early 1970's most of the pubs I would visit would be to watch bands. During the miners' strike one pub, a Watneys pub, could not use their kegs as they used electricity so the manager was allowed to bring in casks and serve by gravity. He had a barrel of Green King Abbot ale and that was my road to Damascus moment fueled a year or two later by the CAMRA revolution. By the end of the 1970's I started to brew beer at home and after over 40 years I still do. The two beers I have tried to replicate the most being Abbot circa 1970's and Ind Coope's draught Burton. Got fairly close with the Abbot but the Burton has been a totally alluded me.

Bribie G said...

I didn't really get into beer until the dawn of the 70s and, in Cardiff I avoided the Brains pubs like the plague. Couldn't drink the filthy swill so I used to frequent pubs where I could enjoy the cool, fresh beers like Worthington E or Courage Tavern.

Then in around 73 we drove over to a wedding in Oxford and on the way home on the A4 pulled into a pub... it's still there ... and was confronted by a range of Wadworths ales. So I got a pint of 6X, sniffed it and took a sip.

I can still remember the taste. Angels serenaded on my tongue, it went down like milk. Then a few more, SWMBO was driving. My genes had been reset.

Back in Cardiff I tentatively tried a pint of Brains SA and realised that I had shed my carapace and now had wings. So next move of course was to join CAMRA!!

Cardiff was real ale central while other regions had turned into beer deserts. I will say however that I miss the old Lamot strong lager that was in the Welsh Brewers pubs, way better than Whitbread's take on Stella Artois.

Anonymous said...

I was 16 and just started my apprenticeship, I worked with an American guy,we went to the pub at lunchtimes , I had 1/2 of bitter and he drank canned Colt 45 which he said was the only beer he could drink as British beer was horrible.In Reading the pubs were mainly Courage and Morlands in the Courage pubs I drank bitter or light and bitter and the Morlands pubs I drank mild but my friends were adament the slops went back to the brewery to make the mild,then lager was creeping in around 1972 and we started drinking it with either a lemonade top or with lime.I went to work in Gloucester in 1973,and the popular drink was brown and bitter which the locals called Forest top [Forest brown ale] it was nice,when I returned to Reading I started to drink brown and bitter for a while untill going back to lager.In the early 80s I discovered Courage Directors and that was my drink for a few years,a few weeks ago I visited a pub In Rolleston and they had Courage Directors and told the Landlady I drank it back in the 70s and 80s she wanted to know if it was the same as then,unfortunately it wasnt

Chris Pickles said...

I was 18 in 1970, and never having been one for under age drinking I didn't really start till then - actually earlier in the year when I was 17 and a half. There was a bottle of Webster's Green Label in the fridge. This was a puzzle as it wasn't a beer my dad ever drank, anyway I thought I needed to acquire a taste for beer if I was going to fit in, so I forced it down, and that broke the ice as it were. From then on beer was firmly on the drinks menu. My dad later admitted he had left it there for me to find.

After a few visits to Bradford pubs, not entirely satisfactory as my friends wouldn't drink Tetley's so we avoided their places (which were somewhat spit and sawdust anyway) and the other brewers supplying Bradford at the time were rather poor. There was one good pub, the Monkey on Horton Bank which was one of the last places to supply cask Trophy from the old BYB but that didn't last long.

Summer found us on a cadet camp in Lincolnshire, and a couple of trips to the local pubs ensued. The pubs belonged to Hewitts and Batemans, and I remember enjoying Batemans very much, actually this came as a bit of a revelation, first that there was wide range of beers available as you travelled around the country, and second that these local breweries were as good as any of the big brewers and better than most.

1971 saw me a student at Durham. On joining up we got a freshers guide to the pubs of Durham. This was interesting, albeit the main theme of the guide was in saying which pubs had the best Younger's Tartan. I was a sufficiently sophisticated beer drinker by now to disregard this advice - and a sampling of Tartan did nothing to persuade me otherwise.

Looking back, the preferred pubs were Whitbread and Vaux. The Trophy was excellent, from the formerly Nimmo's Castle Eden. Numerous arguments were had about the relative merits of Trophy and the more expensive but far inferior Tankard. Tankard must be better because it cost more was the argument from the other side.

The main Vaux beer was Gold Tankard. Samson was just being introduced. I found the flavour too strong. The much gentler Gold Tankard was my preference, but that soon disappeared.

All through this period I never heard the names 'real ale' or 'cask'. But I always thought about what I was drinking even though most of it was probably keg or tank. So when CAMRA came along I was already primed to receive the message.