History of Pubs in UK

Pubs have forever been at the center of communities for centuries upon centuries. The pub was not just a place to drink beer, wine and whisky but was essentially a social meeting point at its heart. The pub was a centralized place to hear the latest gossip and news of that area. Due to the social importance of a pub nearly every village within the UK had at least one pub and nearly every micro area within a village would have a pub of its own, catering to everyone ‘micro-community’.

The pub was first introduced to the UK almost 2000 years ago as an Italian serving wine bar and not as a beer house. In 43 AD a particular Roman army invaded the UK and introduced the first pubs which were called ‘tabernae. The tabernae where just shops that sold wine and sometimes served food. They were usually built near the base camps of the thirsty Roman armies. It is easy to deduce why pubs where a commonplace in villages, as villages would usually be the primary targets for armies to raid.

Now the clash of cultures has resulted in the wine/beer/ale/whisky (or vodka) serving pubs we have today. Ale was the most popular alcoholic beverage among the Brits. Ale is a beer made from fermenting yeast and other ingredients. The fermenting process gives the ale a very nice sweet taste. Surprisingly ale is highly nutritious and doesn’t have too high an alcohol content to cause intoxication and drunkenness. (not a bid to drink ale 24/7 though) Some ales taste of apples, some plums and some even have an orangey taste.

It was the much-loved ale that quickly forced the Italian tabernae winery to become a corrupted beer tavern. These taverns also called ‘alehouses’ continued to evolve to suit their demanding clientele. It got to the point where in 970 AD the ruling powers even tried to limit the number of pubs per village and limiting the amount of beer available to drink per person.

Wooden barrel
Wooden barrel

As the tavern owners realized they were the first choice for passers- by to eat and drink they some began to offer accommodation within the upper rooms of the taverns. These where now called ‘inns’.  Fast forward to the 1500’s and these taverns and inns where now called ‘public houses’ or ‘pub’ for short. In addition to their new name the public house owners now needed a license to run it.

It may be hard to believe but pubs weren’t as socially friendly and open as they are now. Pubs like trains, had different sections segregating individuals as per their social class. No matter if the pub was small or large these demarcations where put in place. The different rooms would serve different beverages and foods according to the relevant social class.

The pub has undergone many changes as time has gone by, but the main aspect of the pub that remained was the brining together of a community into one place to share a tasty beer!