|Possibly also idealised depiction|
So, why do people keep going back to certain pubs. There are basically two schools of thought on this.
Number One is what I call the Beard Reason - a slowly rotating supply of the same 5 or 6 Best Bitters. Enough to stop a CAMRA member getting bored, but not enough to disconcert people with novelty. Large amounts of brown paint, bench seats and moody cats helps, of course.
Number Two is what I call the Crafty Reason. Here, you are virtually guaranteed to see something different on every visit. There will always be a beer you've never seen from a brewery you've never heard of. Even if their ultra-hopped Keg IPAs taste alarmingly similar to each other, it'll be "different".
Laudable these reasons undoubtedly are, they discount the reason why most people go to a pub and, more to the point, keep going back with enough frequency to become a "regular". The people who serve you.
Now, if all those Beards and Crafties out there dismiss this as unimportant, I will ask them this - Imagine your most frequented pub, and you walk in one evening and don't recognise ANY of the staff who serve you that night. And the next time you go in, the same happens again. And again. What would you be thinking, even if both the beer and decor were to your taste?
No, the staff make a pub. They control everything that happens and even whether you get a drink or not. Thankfully, pub staff are usually hired on people skills, so it's easier than it otherwise would be for them. Someone like me, for example, would be utterly useless at it. But if someone can be friendly by default and firm when required then a pub will be a pleasurable place to be.
Surprising as it may seem, the beer isn't everything.