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Pub of the future?

In the short article Victoria Wells discusses the future of pubs.
Photo of man drinking a pint.
© Robert Mathews on Unsplash

As you’ll have realised throughout the course, pubs in their many different guises have been in place for many hundreds of years. Changes have been gradual over the years in the fixtures and fittings, what is served and how and what we do to entertain ourselves. I’m confident that the pub will survive for many years to come, even if there are less than we would like, but what might the pub of the future look like?

My predictions take in two aspects: nolo and sustainability. With many more people (especially Gen Z) looking to sobriety or cutting down their alcohol consumption pubs really need to embrace the nolo in all its forms to make sure non-drinkers have something to turn to (other than an orange juice or coke which over the course of a few hours can get very sickly).

Some pubs are doing this very well – a shout-out to the Falcon in York which had a great range when I last visited. I get the sense that publicans don’t take much time to think about and select their nolo offerings and they really should as this is a growing market. I’m surprised by how much I’ve embraced nolo and actively seek out a lower alcohol beer wherever I go. Proposals for stricter drink driving rules mean that providing good nolo for designated drivers, especially for rural pubs that often rely on driving trade is of vital importance.

My second prediction is around environmental sustainability. Brewers and pubs are heavy users of water, electricity, gas and the buildings are often old, not well-insulated and difficult to heat. All this makes for a sustainability nightmare. However, more pubs are now investing in sustainability initiatives, motivated in many cases to save money. CAMRA has backed a plastic free pint campaign and the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) has launched a sustainability champion award. You can find a list of the most eco-friendly pubs in the UK on the Green Pub Guide website.

But I’m also not the only person or organisation to try to predict the pub of the future! Catering Insight suggested 10 ways in which they predict the pub sector will change in the next 10 years including smart technology for ordering, more welcoming venues for everyone, and nolo. CAMRA has also predicted the pub of the future in three parts, suggesting that it may include inclusivity, working from the pub, and becoming more environmentally conscious. As we’re now coming to the end of this short course and you want to continue learning more about this, you might consider listening to the Pubs. Pints. People podcast episode on The Pub of the Future (Season 4, Episode 5).

Over to you

  • What do you think the pub of the future might look like?
  • What do you think will be there and what entertainment will there be?
  • Will you be served differently?

Add you thoughts to the comments below.

© Victoria Wells/University of York
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Pubs: History, Consumers, Management, and Protection

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