My son recently wrote an essay about another country’s cultural identity. He chose Ireland, mostly because he is one-fourth Irish on his father’s side, but also because of the mystique that surrounds the island. What he seemed to find most interesting was the origin of its flag, its geography, and its pub culture. What I found most interesting about his paper was the pub culture he described.
Pub culture is something I love, something I have always associated with the British isles. This is probably because I grew up in Texas and our redneck bars were nothing like the pub culture idea of Ireland. The bars I remember from Texas always had an unsavory element to them. Loud, rowdy cowboys, some missing teeth, looking to let off steam or hook up for the night. Pubs, on the other hand, seemed to offer a laid back atmosphere, a place I could go with friends and relax. This wasn’t something I understood until I lived in Seattle, but when we left, I carried this new pub culture perception with me to Arizona. My husband and I checked out a few places upon arrival but it wasn’t something we kept up with, mostly because we started our family soon after the move.
We’ve been in Arizona 17 years now and KC and I have just begun exploring the local pub scene again. We’d visited places like Gordon Biersch for football season, and even have a favorite waiter, but it’s not the pub culture of my Seattle years.
Last fall a local brewery, 12 West, opened close to home. Now this place feels right. The pub culture here seems to flourish. They only serve craft brews, no food or other drinks, and there is a patio as well as inside seating. On any given night you might find us heading there for a beer, but what we get is so much more…
Sometimes we get to hang out with old friends, catching up on their lives. Sometimes we meet new people, walking away with a sense that maybe the world isn’t so big. Can’t find a seat? Just ask. Most of the time other patrons are more than happy to invite us to sit down. No need to talk, unless we want to, we are all just enjoying an evening out.
We’ve invited acquaintances to join us, making new friends in the process. We’ve met interesting locals, and enjoyed the company of people passing through. How about that young couple? The ones’ who brought their dog to the pub. They were planning a move to San Diego this fall to start a new chapter in their lives. Or how about the record guy? He met us there to buy album covers. We enjoyed chatting so much that he stayed through two rounds. Then there was that couple from Seattle…we started out sharing a table with them and then another young couple asked to sit with us. Between three sets of couples that evening we learned a lot, the highlight for me being when they called my husband Gandalf the Ginger. Long story short, he was the elder of the group and had red hair as a child, or at least reddish brown. The bartenders themselves are interesting people with interesting lives.
Since my Seattle days I’ve loved the pub scene, but it took Jericho’s culture paper to make me realize what exactly it was that attracted me. It’s the idea that pubs are a place to go for entertainment, conversation, an evening out with old friends, or an evening spent making new ones. When I think pub or pub culture I always think of the British Isles; my favorite pub of all time, Conor Byrne in Seattle, is uniquely Irish in its style, decor, and live music choices.
We love the idea of pubs so much that KC and I have even talked about owning one in retirement. It’s one of our favorite retirement scenarios. Maybe it is just a dream, but it’s a dream that we fall back on whenever the world starts feeling too big, too overwhelming, or too unfriendly. The idea of a local pub where you can be a part of the family, a part of the culture, it’s just too enticing not to contemplate. Come on down and have a pint with us. See for yourselves what it’s all about.