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The accidental drink

Humans have been brewing and drinking beer for thousands of years. It is now the third most widely drunk beverage in the world (after tea and coffee), and it is brewed and drunk in almost every country (with the exception of strict Islamic nations such as Iran and Saudi Arabia). And yet it seems that beer was not actually invented, but came about by accident.

The arrival of beer coincided with the early cultivation of cereal crops several thousand years ago. No one knows exactly how or when it happened, but it seems likely that a crop such as barley was left standing in water somewhere in the cradle of civilisation, the Middle East. The atmosphere contains naturally occurring wild yeasts, which would have activated on contact with this mixture. Result: fermentation. Eureka! Beer had arrived. The earliest physical evidence of beer has been found in traces in containers found in present-day Iran, which date back 7,000 years.

Soon the recipe was being refined, with the addition of spices and other flavourings. Water was often unsafe to drink, so beer became a safe source of hydration. Ancient Sumerian society is famous for its love of beer: they used to drink it through straws (a technique also used in ancient Egypt). One of the earliest written references to beer came in the “Hymn to Ninkasi”, written around 1,800 years ago in tribute to the Sumerian goddess of beer:

“When you pour out the filtered beer of the collector vat,

It is the onrush of the Tigris and Euphrates.”

Pyramids built on beer

Meanwhile in ancient Egypt, beer became a kind of currency – labourers working on the pyramids were paid in beer. Beer ingredients and containers were included in Egyptian burial chambers. Detailed evidence of ancient Egyptian beer-making techniques has survived to this day, leading to a number of brewers, archaeologists and historians brewing replicas of Egyptian beer. In the 1990s the Courage brewery marketed Tutankhamun Ale, a beer brewed using emmer wheat similar to that used in ancient Egypt. And recently the British Museum led a project to create an authentic Egyptian beer, the results of which can be seen on YouTube in its entertaining and informative Pleasant Vices series. Flavourings such as coriander, cumin and rose petals were added to some of the brews, one of which, in the British Museum’s experiment, was brewed in a terracotta container for extra authenticity. The tasters, who included a bio-archaeologist, all seemed to think that the beers were eminently palatable (“citrusy”, “winey”).

The first pubs

By the time the ancient Romans arrived in Britain, beer was already well established. But the Romans moved things forward with the introduction of tabernae – taverns – the forbears of today’s pubs and inns. With these tabernae came the earliest pub furniture, which would have been very crude trestles, planks placed across barrels and suchlike. Individual pub chairs were a luxury that didn’t become commonplace for many hundreds of years.

Many early north European beers were brewed using “gruit”, a combination of flavourings and spices such as dandelion and burdock, but around 1,000AD, brewers began to use hops – or, more specifically, the flowers of the climbing hop plant (which had been used for centuries as a salad ingredient). Hops introduced new bitter flavours to beer, and also had anti-bacterial qualities, which meant less spoilage. Hops spread across Europe, arriving in Britain in the 1300s, being grown in huge quantities in Kent; here they were traditionally picked by holidaying East Enders, for whom this was often the only break from the smoky city they would get. There are, however, some brewers who have stuck to the old ways: today gruit beer is still made in Belgium and The Netherlands.

Beer for breakfast

By the late Middle Ages, in Britain, beer was drunk at every meal, including breakfast; as in ancient Egypt, it was a safer alternative to water, and much of it was of low strength (known as “small beer”). Average beer consumption at this time was more than a pint per person per day. In Germany, meanwhile, in the 16th century the powers that be in Bavaria decided that quality control was needed, so they came up with the famous beer purity laws of 1516 that are still in force in Germany today: only barley, hops and water can be used (elsewhere, ingredients such as rice and maize have become commonplace).

The subsequent centuries saw new types of beer being brewed: lager, using cool fermentation, and Pilsner, first brewed in the city of Pilsen, now in the Czech Republic. The lagers use yeasts and fermentation techniques that are different to those used in the brewing of ale. Other variations include white beer, so called because of its cloudy appearance, caused by yeast and wheat proteins suspended in the liquid.

Gin vs beer

In Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries, beer consumption fell as a result of the “gin craze”, the effects of which were depicted by the artist William Hogarth in his engraving, Gin Lane (which was shown alongside his Beer Street, showing the benefits of drinking beer). Legislation to reduce gin sales included the introduction of a new kind of pub, the beerhouse, which was cheaper to set up and run than the “gin palaces”. These premises were crudely furnished, with beer often served in jugs or straight from the barrel. The battle between gin and beer had been won by beer, with a little help from the government.

Fast-forward to the mid-20th century, when ubiquitous, fizzy, mass-produced beers such as Watneys Red Barrel gave rise to a backlash: the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), which was formed in 1971 to encourage smaller breweries that produced real ale, and which aimed to preserve the traditional British pub. “Real ale”, according to CAMRA’s definition, is beer that finishes the fermentation process in the barrel, or cask (hence “cask conditioned”). Although CAMRA has been subjected to some ridicule for its image as a haven for a certain type of bearded male beer drinker, its female membership has grown, and its campaigning has borne fruit: today Britain has a thriving brewing industry, with more than 2,000 breweries and microbreweries, many of them brewing the new generation of craft beers. Among the beers on offer today are gluten-free beers and beer made from leftover bread. CAMRA now has a membership of more than 190,000.

Elsewhere in the world, beer has been viewed very differently. In Russia, for instance, for centuries it wasn’t really seen as an alcoholic drink – this status was reserved for spirits such as vodka. Beer was marketed as a healthier alternative to spirits. However, in 2011 it was finally classified as an alcoholic beverage. In Iceland, by contrast, although beer was brewed and drunk by ancient Norsemen, beer was banned for most of the 20th century for reasons of temperance and also patriotism (beer was seen as Danish, and therefore unpatriotic). Only in 1989 was it finally legalised, which has led to a growth in Icelandic breweries, and a shift away from “hard” liquors towards beer.

Beer from a beard

Today beer comes in a glorious spectrum of flavours and variations. Among them is the New Belgium Brewery’s multi-flavoured Coconut Curry Hefeweizen, which would surely fall foul of Germany’s beer purity laws if it were brewed there. In Mexico, the Unknown Brewing Company has created a beer whose name roughly translates as “The Path of the Fiery Scorpion through the House of the Dead Chupacabra”. It is strong, around 10 per cent ABV, and among its ingredients are the remains of dead (food-grade) scorpions. The Wynkoop Brewing Company of Denver puts bull testicles in its stout. And Rogue Ales of Oregon came up with a beer that has a truly unique ingredient: it is made from yeast that was cultivated in the brewery owner’s beard. It is called, of course, Beard Beer.

Finally, which country in the world drinks the most beer? By volume, unsurprisingly, it is China. Per person? It’s the Czech Republic, at 143 litres per capita annually. As for Britain: surprisingly, given our long history of beer drinking, it comes in at a measly 25th in the league table of beer drunk per head.

The hotel lobby is perhaps the most important room in a hotel. Of course, the actual guest rooms need to be up to standard, but as a public space, the lobby is where guests will make their first impressions and is at the heart of the hotel’s functions.

The hotel lobby has evolved from just acting as the area for guests to check in and out. It should now be a multi-functional space for relaxing and socialising and more than just a pit-stop. For the best first impression, the lobby needs to be clean and tidy but it needs to do more than just this to create a lasting impression of guests.

Here are some tips for designing a welcoming and functional hotel lobby:

Comfortable seating

Choice of seating is always important, but in a hotel lobby, comfort is paramount. Tired travellers will want to seek some sort of refuge as soon as they come to check in and guests should be encouraged to use the lobby space for relaxing with a book or socialising over a quick coffee before they head out.

Who are your usual guests?

Families, couples, young groups, retirees or business travellers? Who is it that your hotel is trying to attract and who is your main customer group at present? Each demographic has different wants and needs, so the features in your lobby will vary depending on your target market. For example, if your hotel is described as family friendly, there should be puzzles, colouring books and the like in a kid’s corner.

Add an information hub

Seeing as your guests are likely to be new to the area, it is important for hotels to have a place to go to access local information. Having an information hub with leaflets of attractions, bus timetables, a map and events calendar, helps guests quickly settle in. The hub can also include information about the hotel such as restaurant timings, laundry and reception details.

Amenities hotel lobbies should have:

  • Access to water or hot drinks: guests should always be able to access free water. Having a water dispenser available means guests can keep refreshed while they wait for other members of their party or taxi driver to arrive. Depending on the standard of hotel, you may have teas and coffees within easy reach too.
  • WiFi and charging points: It’s now expected that a hotel has an open WiFi network for guests to connect to. Charging points are necessary near seating so that guests can top up their battery before leaving the hotel.
  • Enough seating: If you want guests to feel comfortable relaxing in the hotel lobby, having enough hotel seating is essential. Seating in the lobby makes the hotel appear busier and friendlier to those passing by.

Hotel furniture

If the furniture in your hotel’s reception, bedrooms or eating area looks like it needs a refresh, Trent Furniture’s hotel furnishings include every type of décor you are trying to achieve. Browse our full selection here.

Whether you are opening a new restaurant, bar, café or club, or renovating your space, the choice of furniture is an important decision to make.

Through your furniture search, you might have come across commercial and domestic furniture and wonder what exactly the difference is. There’s no questioning that you want your establishment to look as good as possible, but with potentially tight budgets, some buyers have the tendency to go for the cheaper options of domestic furniture when in the long run this isn’t the best decision.

Before you make your decision, here are the reasons why commercial grade furniture is needed over domestic furniture:

What is commercial furniture?

Put simply, commercial (or contract) furniture is fit for the job. Commercial furniture goes beyond the appearance and consideration is given to what the item will be used for on a daily basis. As such, they are put through extensive testing for safety, flammability, strength and durability, stability, and fabric and foam performance.

Why is it necessary for commercial environments to use contract furniture?

Fire safety

It is a legal requirement that furniture used in a commercial environment meets strict UK fire regulations. Whilst domestic furniture must only meet a couple of fire standards, commercial requirements are much more stringent.

Contract furniture is manufactured to a high standard and uses material that withstands tough conditions, helping them to pass fire safety standards such as CRIB5. A certificate must be produced by an establishment when requested by a fire safety officer. If your establishment is found to be using furniture that doesn’t adhere to these regulations, penalties could be enforced.

At Trent Furniture, all of our chairs are made using fire retardant high-density foam and upholstery fabrics are all CRIB5 so you can be confident knowing your chairs meet UK requirements.


Even the most expensive piece of domestic furniture isn’t built to withstand the amount of use in a commercial environment. In a restaurant or bar, the furniture is likely to be used non-stop throughout the day, week after week. This means that durability and longevity and vital in the buying process.

Naturally, customers don’t treat furniture the same as they would their own; they might drag chairs and mark tables. Domestic furniture simply isn’t made for this type of use. This is why those who persist with domestic furniture have to attend to more furniture breakages and repairs.

Money saving

You may be thinking that contract furniture is expensive and any savings that can be made when refurnishing your establishment are welcomed. However, whilst the initial investment for contract furniture is more expensive, the view is that it is just that: an investment.

The furniture is more suited to commercial environments and as such has a longer lifespan than domestic grade alternatives. This means that there is no need to budget for new furniture or repairs in the years that follow. In the long term, commercial furniture offers better value.

Commercial furniture supplier

Trent Furniture is a commercial furniture supplier for restaurants, bars, cafes, hotels, clubs and much more. We stock a wide range of affordable quality contract chairs, tables and furniture packages. At Trent Furniture we have both the experience and range to offer you the very best selection of furniture for your individual needs.

Hotels that fail to renovate and move with trends are the most of risk of missing out on trade. For a weekend away, holiday with the family or a business trip, an outdated building is not going to be very appealing to travellers.

Whether it be minor tweaks or a complete face-lift, the idea of renovations can be daunting to hotel owners. Down-time, cost and design ideas are all concerns but this doesn’t mean a renovation should continue to be pushed back.

How can you spot when your hotel is in need of an update or renovation? Here are some signs to look out for: 

Negative reviews are becoming more common

Is the number of negative reviews you’re receiving growing week on week? Perhaps the most obvious sign a renovation is needed is noticing a stark nice is the number of bad customer reviews. However, it can be surprising how many hotel owners will ignore comments from customers and move on without taking notice.

If someone says something negative about your hotel, chances are that plenty of others are thinking the same thing but haven’t taken the time to write a review. Hotel owners must listen and make adjustments where necessary.

Damaged furniture

It can be all too easy to turn a blind eye to damaged furniture but it’s safe to say that your guests won’t be so quick to turn the other way. Guests will expect that a hotel has clean and well-maintained furniture. Damaged furniture needs to be replaced as soon as possible, not only to appease customers but to meet health and safety standards.

If you are looking to renew your hotel furniture but aren’t sure where to start, have a read of our hotel furniture buying guide here.

Stained carpets and walls

Imagine walking into a hotel and finding marks on the lobby walls and stains on your room’s floor. It’s not exactly the best first impression. Have the cleaning team report any rooms where there are any stains that cannot be removed. Don’t waste time in laying down a new carpet or repainting the wall when necessary.

You’ve not renovated in the past five years

There is no perfect timeframe for hotels to follow when it comes to renovations. Much of it depends on how well a hotel is maintained and the standard of hotel. Nevertheless, with fierce competition and changing trends, hotel owners should aim to renovate around every five years. This doesn’t have to be a full renovation by renewing all fixtures and fittings, but a freshen up where wall marks are painted over and new designs are installed.

If you haven’t refreshed your hotel in the past five years, look at the hotel’s facilities objectively and think if it needs a touch-up.

Hotel furniture

If the furniture in your hotel’s reception, bedrooms or eating area looks like it needs a refresh, Trent Furniture has hotel furniture suitable for every type of décor. Browse our full selection here.


Having an appealing entrance is vital for restaurants in attracting potential customers walking past. For restaurant on a busy street, the opportunities are huge. Potential customers are strolling right in front of your doors, just asking for you to give them a reason to come in.

So, how can your restaurant appeal to customers passing by so that they choose your restaurant over the one next door?

Outdoor seating

In the summertime when the sun is out, if there is space for outdoor seating, make the most of it. Not only does outdoor seating give customers the option of sitting in or outside, it can attract customers by making you look busier.

In general, people go where other people go. If one restaurant is busy and another is deserted, there has to be a reason, right? Most people will see this as a reason to go to the busier option as they don’t want to miss out. By having happy customers on show outside your restaurant, it only works in your favour.


The chalkboard is an old marketing tool, but certainly one that works. They are particularly useful for inconspicuous restaurants sandwiched off the high street. The chalkboard can highlight offers, special dishes or funny quotes. Having the ability to change the sign means that you can continuously keep passers-by updated with real-time offers.

Get smells flowing

Using smells to attract custom is an old trick. Think about it, what is it that excites most about food and really gets there tummy rumbling? The smells! Before we even see or taste the food, it’s the smells that tell us how good it is.

Just think of a bakery when a fresh batch of bread comes out or a café when someone comes out with a warming coffee. The same can be done by a restaurant and their scents can stimulate passer-by’s appetite and get mouth’s watering.

By getting the right smells out into the street, the scent can be enough for outsiders to come in and diners to stay longer. Increasing people’s appetites is just what a restaurant needs to boost their business.

Make your windows inviting

Have you ever walked past a restaurant and felt inclined to have a deeper look, simply because it looks so appealing from outside? Especially for restaurants who are on a street with high footfall, the outer appearance is vital in attracting custom.

Once you’ve hooked them in with a beautiful exterior, clear up your window space and give them something to look at through the glass. Put effort into making the area that potential customers can see through the window inviting.

Restaurant furniture

Each restaurant will have different needs and requirements depending on the image they’re trying to present. Whatever space you are working with, it is nearly always possible to alter the ambiance of a space with careful manipulation of design elements.

Whatever interior your restaurant is looking to create, Trent Furniture can help. Call us now on 0116 2864 911.

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