Cold beer, happy customers: The importance of refrigeration for UK pubs
With over 39,000 establishments employing around 300,000 people, UK pubs are a cornerstone of our culture and social circles – if the beer’s cold, at least.
Crowds of people, a buzzing atmosphere with food and drink in abundance. In a real shocker of a plot twist, today we’re talking about just why refrigeration matters so much to the much-loved public house. There’s a lot going on, from ice rooms to bar fridges and freezer machines, so keep reading!
First and foremost, warm beer is almost a criminal offence (in most parts of England, at least!) and nobody likes being told that drinks are off the menu. It’s a supply chain puzzle; kegs can take up to two days to chill to required temperatures, and pubs often operate off a consignment system – the goods keep coming regardless of sales!
Pub refrigeration systems face a lot of use around the clock; an issue made more relevant by the constant entering and exiting of cooling areas. The heat exchange that occurs when ‘outside’ air briefly mixes with a chilled interior can stress a system, meaning pub cooling solutions must be tough and reliable to face the demand. Even smaller units are affected by this.
And you’d better believe that customers want their drinks; beer alone is rising in popularity at a significant rate in the UK. Craft beers have exploded in popularity, with a 20% increase in the registering of trademarks for such alcohol seen in recent years. Waitrose has boosted its range of specialist beers by 27% in response to a similar decision made by Tesco. People love beer, and they love it cold.
Food is far from trivial, either, where refrigeration is concerned. A 2019 quarterly report, Pub Brand Monitor by MCA, tells us that over a quarter of dinners out are at pubs. Large chains like JD Wetherspoon are well-oiled operations, bringing in and cooking literally tonnes of food every week.
Chilling foods is mandatory to stop harmful bacteria and food spoilage. Different units, too, must be carefully installed and calibrated; fridges at 1°C and display cabinets at 5°C, for instance. Maintenance contracts come into their own here; systems and units should be regularly checked – pubs that skip on this run the risk of losing their stock should a system underperform or break on them. Not nice when your prized pub is stocking thousands of Pounds of produce and drink at any given time!
While food storage is important, it’s fair to say cellar cooling is vital. Pubs – or any establishment selling alcohol – rely on sophisticated systems to maintain temperatures at exact levels across large spaces.
Cellar cooling units are the answer. They work by pushing chilled air into the cellar in question, producing an optimum temperature for the storage of beer, wine, soft drinks and more. Importantly, they give pubs the option to use large cellars to refrigerate drinks where a standard refrigeration system wouldn’t be feasible – or would be too limited in size to get the job done properly.
They’re quite the systems. Many operate for over eighteen hours a day, with modern units able to incorporate small heating elements into the mix to ensure that, if required, the exact temperature can be reached by raising as well as cooling the cellar.
Fortunately for pub owners and restaurants, they’re quite affordable to maintain. They’re ubiquitous across the UK, being a relatively affordable initial purchase that solves the cold storage problem many pubs face – particularly ones which are older or listed buildings, of which there are many across the UK.
A glimpse, then, of just how important refrigeration is to our beloved pubs! It’s easy to enjoy the front of the house, so to speak, without wondering about the hard work and investment that goes into keeping your favourite watering hole running.
We’re proud to support many pubs across the UK; they’re part of our cultural identity, after all! If you’d like to have a chat with us directly about anything relating to cooling and air-conditioning, call us on 01635 551446 or email at [email protected]. We hope to hear from you!