2 Beer Guys Blog

Welcome to the 2 Beer Guys Blog! Here, you will be able to read our stories and adventures as we travel through the world of craft beer.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Publick House

I can only hope that everyone is passionate about something in their life. For me, at this moment, I'm passionate about beer. Not just about drinking it, but writing about it, talking about, and educating others about it. As I write this, I'm sitting at the Redhook Cataqua Publick House in Portsmouth. I look around, and I see a lot of people enjoying great conversation over good beer. The premise of the publick house is, of course, nothing new.
The inhabitants of the UK have been drinking ale since the Bronze Age, but it was with the arrival of the Romans and the establishment of the Roman road network that the first inns, in which the traveller could obtain refreshment, began to appear. By the time the Romans had left the Saxons had formed alehouses which grew out of domestic dwellings. The Saxon alewife would put a green bush up on a pole to let people know her brew was ready. These alehouses formed meeting houses for the local cottagers to meet and gossip and arrange mutual help within their communities. Here lies the beginnings of the modern pub. They became so commonplace that in 965 King Edgar decreed that there should be no more than one alehouse per village.
In case you didn't catch that, there was a time reference of 965. For those of you counting at home, that was over 1000 years ago. Sure, times have changed and the beer has changed, but the concept has remained the same. Publick House's remain the same, in their purpose of providing beer to the community, and in providing a location for the community to gather and engage in conversation. I look around, and I think I'm the only one here that is here solo...and that is by virtue of a day off from work. Everyone else is here with at least one other, in some cases several people, and they are in engaged in conversation regarding a wide range of topics I'm sure, whether it be the presidential race, the Superbowl, or the beer sitting in front of them.
Later, the public bars gradually improved until sometimes almost the only difference was in the prices, so that customers could choose between economy and exclusivity (or youth and age, or a jukebox or dartboard). During the blurring of the class divisions in the 1960s and 70s, the distinction between the saloon and the public bar was often seen as archaic, and was frequently abolished, usually by the removal of the dividing wall or partition itself. While the names of saloon and public bar may still be seen on the doors of pubs, the prices (and often the standard of furnishings and decoration) are the same throughout the premises, and many pubs now comprises one large room.
Despite these distinctions, the basic premise still applied; these venues served as destinations for thirsty patrons to gather and discuss the days events. The dynamics of the conversations differ also, where some are between patrons, and other are between patron(s) and the bartender. One established change in the times is the way that publick houses are now identified. The particular one that I'm writing from has a distinctive rooftop, similar to its sister brewery in Washington. However, throughout history, publick houses were identified slightly differently.
Another important factor was that during the Middle Ages a large percentage of the population would have been illiterate and so pictures were more useful than words as a means of identifying a public house. For this reason there was often no reason to write the establishment's name on the sign and inns opened without a formal written nameā€”the name being derived later from the illustration on the public house's sign.

The earliest signs were often not painted but consisted, for example, of paraphernalia connected with the brewing process such as bunches of hops or brewing implements, which were suspended above the door of the public house. In some cases local nicknames, farming terms and puns were also used. Local events were also often commemorated in pub signs.
The idea here is to let all members of the community, no matter their education level, know where the publick house is. While establishments these days may not need to cater to such individuals, the idea that providing a destination for all members of the community to gather and discuss the topics of the day remains. This, in essence, is what 2beerguys hope to accomplish. We've established a destination for our friends, family, and community to visit to discuss whatever is on their mind, as well as enjoy some tasty beer along the way. Short of teaching others about the merits of a hand-crafted beer, we're more than happy to just bring our friends together in good spirits and discuss amongst each other whatever is on their mind. If we had our way, they would do it over a well-crafted beer, but as long as they're together thanks to us, that's really all we can ask.


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