The Hallowed Halls of DrinkTracing the history of the modern day pub.
Picking your pub is just as important as picking your home, your vehicle, your job, your partner- it defines who you are. And in doing so, you’re making a solemn pact.
An unwritten, unspoken pact with all the other people who picked the same place, a pact that establishes that you are now part of a community, and that you’ve got each others boozy backs.
We’ve always believed that the architecture of a place defines its identity. That’s why when you walk in to Toit, you’ll find the place filled only with things that truly define us. While we might be an example of a modern day brewpub, unique thanks to our Bengaluru roots, our lineage can be traced back to what we’d like to refer to as the Hallowed Halls of Drink. These four collectively, through natural evolution and design, became the reason modern day brew pubs are the way they currently are.
Now that we’ve established the required levels of solemnity, let the tracing of the family tree begin.
Many a century ago, ales were locally brewed with people using the same yeast they used to make bread to brew beer. As with most things in life, some people were better at it than others, and the ones who were good at it quickly realised that there was a quick buck to be made. So whenever they prepared ale, they would put up a post as a means to let the people of the land know that some good ale was ready to be consumed.
…they passed a legislation that made announcing the availability of ale at homes compulsory.
The law makers at the time understood just how important knowing that good ale was available was and so, they passed a legislation that made announcing the availability of ale at homes compulsory. The quality of brewing at some homes was consistently good, and through word of mouth, they became the ‘alehouses’ everyone preferred.
The ale houses quickly became important places where people would catch up on life, how good or bad business was, gossip about the local buxom maiden and eligible bachelor, compare whose carriage had shinier spokes, the ancient equivalent of alloys, we assume.
You can credit the monks for this one. *cue music from Enigma*
Back in the day, pilgrimages were the focal point for pushing any kind of tourism, and Inns became larger, roomier versions of alehouses, that provided refreshment and rest for the weary pilgrims, as well as their horses. Inns became a place were you could recoup and then continue on the next leg of what could only have been a long and arduous journey.
Thanks to the evolution of the stage coaches and general municipal awesomeness at that time, roads got better real fast and Inns sprung up along peoples travel routes. There were people who needed to be fed and general amazing moneys to be made.
Of course, the overnight glory of the Inns was short lived. Once the magical railways were in place and functioning, they suffered a tragic, immediate death. But in the short time that they thrived, they managed to pass on a little bit of their legacy to our modern day pubs.
The name comes from ‘Taberna’, Latin for ‘shop’, and basically referred to a shop where you could get yourself some wine. Taverns are the posh, snooty rich cousins in the family tree, and used to attract clientele of a similar kind.
While they initially sold just wine, because it was easier to prepare, with the advent of improved transportation, beer also became easily available. So Tavern owners began to sell beer as well, all the while retaining wine as their primary drink of importance. You know, to maintain the snob appeal. Lah-di-dah.
…modern pubs and their atmospheres are reminiscent of the mood taverns created in their time
They really became a place for the upper classes of the day to hob-nob and do silly spoilt-drunk-people things like who can stick their nose up the highest. Even though they are not as highly associated with beer as Inns or Alehouses, modern pubs and their atmospheres are reminiscent of the mood taverns created in their time- a place where you could unwind and let some steam off.
This pub can best be described as the coming together of all three, inns, alehouses and taverns, born as a result of social, industrial and cultural evolution.
As is well known, the Industrial revolution led to the creation of new classes, where people had access to a lot more money than before, and that kind of made everyone feel the need to assert their status and authority.
And because of the new classes that the Revolution had created, all drinking places began to seem altogether too accessible. So the upper class started things like Gentlemen’s Clubs and Coffee Shops, as alternate places where they could take their fancy pants.
Seeing the profits that were to be made, merchants began to invest in alehouses, which ironically were less like ale houses and more like inns and taverns, by virtue of the fact that they were now larger and provided rooms for different purposes. Because of this loose definition, they came to be known as public houses.
It’s not just beer you’re drinking. It’s centuries worth of history and culture.
So the next time you’re taking a sip of your favourite brew, take some time to savour it. It’s not just beer you’re drinking. It’s centuries worth of history and culture.
As a side note, if you love getting into details, a fascinating book on this and the general history of beer is ‘Man Walks Into a Pub’ by Pete Brown. The author’s humorous and deeply researched approach towards all things beer makes for a stellar read.