A few weeks ago I had a message on Twitter from Councillor Paul James asking if we could meet up for a chat. I was intrigued and, since he suggested meeting in a pub, I happily agreed. It turned out that the topic for discussion was one close to my heart: how can we get more people into Gloucester in the evenings, drinking in our fine pubs?
We had a good natter and generally put the world to rights and, eventually, Paul suggested doing a Heritage Pub Trail. A great idea I thought, and very easy for me to put together as I have done a number of guided pub tours for the Civic Trust so I could simply repeat that in leaflet form. Within a short time I had a draft copy put together – it needs lots of work still, but hopefully it will be out by the summer to encourage tourists and locals alike to soak up the city’s heritage whilst also soaking up some beer.
I was discussing this notion with a friend who is even more enthusiastic about pubs than me, and he mentioned that in other parts of the country he’d seen city-wide beer festivals put on to good effect. This simply requires picking a suitable date and getting landlords in participating pubs to coordinate what beers and ciders they have on, with the more real ale-oriented pubs laying on something extra. Available beers and ciders are then listed in a leaflet with details of where you have to go to get them. How hard can it be?
So I had a chat to a couple of landlords and they seemed quite keen on the idea. I was invited along to the Evening Economy Group a couple of weeks ago and pitched it there, where it was also well received. It looks like now I’ve talked myself into a job!
My intention is to run the beer festival to coincide with Gloucester Heritage Weekend at the beginning of September. I have been in contact with Gloucester Marketing, who are coordinating the weekend and they are also very enthusiastic about the idea. Now all that remains is to make it happen.
Today I had a wander around Gloucester visiting pubs and speaking to landlords – not as good as it sounds because I was driving, but it was great to meet up and chat with people. The idea was pretty universally met with interest – I now have ten pubs definitely interested and a bunch more to talk to. I hope to get them all together fairly soon to discuss details further.
So far the pubs that I have engaged with are those that I know and like the most, so it is by no means comprehensive. I am also currently avoiding the Eastgate pubs on the basis that they already get sufficient trade and most don’t have real ale anyway. Of course, all this may change based on what the landlords think should happen. If you are a landlord in the city and I haven’t spoken to you yet, let me know if you want to be involved.
So I think I am probably going to have an interesting few months ahead and hopefully it will culminate in a great weekend – look out for more details soon.
Oh, also, if you are of an artistic persuasion and would like to design a logo for the Gloucester Heritage Pubs Trail and Beer Festival and are willing to do it for a pint and a credit give me a shout!