P is for Pub
I like to think for as long as there has been beer, there have been establishments to serve it to thirsty patrons. We can estimate the first of these gathering places to have popped up between 9000 and 12000 years ago.
“That’s a pretty big window,” you might say.
Well, okes from the Neolithic weren’t exactly writing detailed accounts of their day to day, and since the first recorded alcoholic beverage didn’t pop up until around 9000 years ago in China, you’ll have to bear with me.
And although these social hubs also likely food and shelter for the passer by, an inn if you will, it wasn’t until the 1830 Beer Act that the pub got its name a reached a new level of popularity in the west.
But let’s back up a bit. We need some booze history interjected here.
In the late 1600’s, Gin was introduced to England by the Dutch. The Brits loved their gin – perhaps too much. Unlicensed production of the stuff was rampant, and the down trodden poorer class quickly picked up the spirit because it was cheap and readily available. In fact, there were 15,000 gin shops in London by 1740. The working class soon followed, much to the dismay of the English government, and pretty soon everyone was getting proper drunk and causing all kinds of mayhem. This was known as Gin Craze.
To combat this, in 1751 the English government passed the Gin Act. This basically forced gin distillers to only sell to licensed retailers. It helped, but folks were enjoying their “blue ruin” far too much to let some silly little law stop the revelry.
By the early 1800’s, things were more or less falling apart. “Gin Palaces,” as described by author Charles Dickens were, “unbridled cesspits of immorality or crime and the source of much ill-health and alcoholism among the working classes.” Sounds like a jol.
“For the public good!” was the battle cry as England passed the Beer Act of 1830. This permitted another type of establishment to sell alcohol – they were called Beer Houses. In the eyes of most, beer was a hell of a lot better for the public than gin – often even given to children at meals. As you can imagine, it was much safer to drink than the water available.
Under this act, homeowners could buy a permit to open a beer house in their house. For a once off R3000, you could produce and serve your own beer to anyone who would drink it. Profits for beer house owners were huge, and by 1838, there were over 46,000 of them.
Thirty years later, laws were tightened and most beer houses applied to become pubs under the new regulations. It’s no wonder there are so many in the UK today!
With colonialism, this tradition was exported to Australia, Canada, and South Africa. The oldest pub in SA is Perseverance Tavern which has been pouring pints since 1808.
The Taproom is our answer to this tradition. And while it might not be 200 years old, it boasts great food, good company and exceptional beer. Isn’t that what it’s all about?