Always a sad story when we write an RIPub, most of them are older pubs than this but as soon as I heard about this closure I knew I had to write this. The first reason is a personal one- the Barley and Rye was a regular haunt for our monthly works drinks and I found out about its closure literally a couple of hours before I was due to go there! I got an e-mail about a change of venue to another pub, which I assumed was because the other pub had a beer garden and it was a sunny day but as I read further I found out that it was because the pub had closed.
The second reason that I wanted to write this is because with the new craft beer revolution there seems to be an idea that a place can’t fail. One of the things about the pub industry is that there is no magic formula to running a successful pub. There are definitely things you can do wrong that will make a place more likely to fail but it is also possible to appear to do things well and still not succeed. I liked the Barley and Rye- it had a great range of beer- most of it keg but with three cask lines and also a wide variety of craft in cans and bottles. In an ideal world I’d have liked more cask than keg but they had a variety of really good keg beers- I used to enjoy a Coast to Coast or a Whitstable Bay Stout.
What sadly became clear though was that it wasn’t getting the trade. Something that stood out for me was that fairly early on they only had one cask line in use because they didn’t have the turnover, which was a shame because the one line was well kept and was generally a good beer- Atlantic was a frequent one. I didn’t think they did a lot wrong and had there been a better early trade and word spread and cask was viable, would it have taken off?