Amid predictions of chaos, the re-opening of pubs in England seems largely to have passed without major incident. It’s a welcome shot in the arm for this much-loved sector of the hospitality industry.

Ascot Brewing taproom
Photographs: Val MacFarlane Travers

Boris told drinkers to act responsibly, and with the exception of some pockets, like late-night drinkers in Soho, featured on Sky News, that’s exactly what they did.

Social media users have been treated to a panoply of first draught pints since lockdown, although Beer Today has yet to venture out.

Steve Hobman
Steve Hobman with a pint of Big Hand beer at the brewery’s Ale House, in Chester

Steve Hobman, of Beer Tours UK, reported a busy Saturday at the Big Hand Ale House, in Chester, with everything going well. Yesterday was what one could call ‘steady’. All Covid measures were in place, but you could order from the bar.

Steve said: “The selection of beers, from owners Big Hand Brewery, of Wrexham, was top notch. Not many cask ale pubs re-opened in Chester city centre yet, so it was a joy to be able to go here for a couple of pints of Big Hand Super Tidy.”

As well as pubs, breweries have been able to get a much-needed boost to their income by opening their taprooms. Here, guest blogger Val MacFarlane Travers describes a visit to the Ascot Brewing Co taproom, AKA pop-up pub The Socially Distanced.

A grand time at The Socially Distanced

By Val MacFarlane Travers

I dithered over booking a table.  Should I go and have a great time?  Should I stay home and wish I had gone? Or feel smug because I stayed home? 

It was going out to a brewery, so of course I booked the table for noon and off we went.  We hopped on our bikes and got there at 11.58. We were checked in and shown to our table. The laminated beer menu was given to us, and the online ordering and payment was explained. All we then had to do was chose some beer, which was delivered seamlessly to our table. Nectar!

Arriving early, we saw that it was a quiet start to the day for them. But people steadily arrived, joining their booked tables; most outside, but some upstairs inside the brewery. Everyone enjoyed themselves, the staff were super helpful, the beer was on top form, and a good time was had by all.

I have now booked to return on two more occasions, as I have every confidence they will maintain the high standards they set at the start. Oh yes — what did we drink?  Some Anastasia’s Stout, their Nelson Sauvin, Strangely Deserted, Ripple in Time, from Electric Bear, and Spellbinder Porter from Elusive Brewing.

• To find out more about Ascot’s pop-up pub, and to book, visit

Ascot Socially Distanced

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