The English Pub is a tavern where fine traditional ales are served in a friendly setting. The name is a contraction of "Public House" - an inn open to all, as opposed to a private club.
Pub's were traditionally run by a landlord, often known as "mine host". Originally ales, porters and stouts would have been brewed on the premises but with the improvement in transport connections during in Victorian times, large breweries that supplied many pubs were developed. In the cities this created the hey-day of Victorian public houses with ornate woodwork and glass, often referred to as "gin-palaces". To ensure that a pub would continue to purchase from a particular brewery the brewery owners started buying up pubs and enforcing their own poor standards and restricting choice. This led to the introduction of so-called "keg"-beers (the most notorious of which was Watney's Red Barrel) and the nadir for British pubs. A group of beer enthusiasts formed the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) to re-educated the general public to the delights of traditional beer and to fight the closure of small breweries and independent inns. Largely as a result of their efforts pubs are now obliged to offer guest beers from other brewers.
In olden times an inn would have offered food and lodgings as well as wines, beers and spirits. However, the custom declined so that most pubs only offered crisps (U.S. potato chips), salted peanuts and pork scratchings. Since the glorious revolution of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, pubs were allowed to sell proper food again and out of this has developed the gastro-pub where unique regional comestibles are offered to complement the ales.