Pub industry jargon and terminology: A glossary

Trying to make sense of all the jargon that gets routinely thrown about in the pub trade? Like many industries, people in the pub trade have their own jargon and terminology, which might be a little confusing if you’re new to the trade.

In this blog post we provide a glossary of common phrases that you might come across if you’re thinking of taking on a pub tenancy. While far from comprehensive, we hope this gives you some insight that will make talking to other people in the trade a little easier!

A Crash Course In Pub Jargon!


This simply means the amount of alcohol in the beer.  Most beers are between 2.5% to 10% alcohol. For example our flagship beer, Greene King IPA (India Pale Ale) is 3.6%, whereas Old Speckled Hen is 5%. 

Community Pubs

When we refer to ‘community pubs’ we’re generally talking about the traditional neighbourhood pub that provides a focal point in the local community. These are not just village or small town pubs; cities also have community pubs where customers are generally residents or people who work in the area. As it sounds, a community pub suits operators who want to be involved in their local community. In many cases these pubs may also offer additional services to the local community such as shop or post office, or even a library.

Destination Pubs

We describe ‘destination pubs’ as somewhere people make a bit of an effort to go, rather than just popping into their local. Of course these pubs can have a loyal customer base of regular visitors, but will also attract people from far and wide. One of our destination pubs – The Fox Inn, Farnham – had a booking for their Valentine’s evening from a couple in London who made the 60 mile round trip just to eat there!


Fixtures & Fittings. When you take on a pub tenancy or lease you will need to buy the Fixtures & Fittings. These refer to the loose trade inventory items such as furniture that come with the pub.

Food Covers

This refers to the number of meals that can typically be served during one sitting in a pub or restaurant. It represents one meal, not the amount of tables and chairs available to eat at, as during some services more than one customer could eat at that table. ‘Food covers’ allow you to predict more accurately what revenue can be derived from food sales, and also to plan staffing levels.

Gastro Pubs

Gastro pubs focus on food and are often called ‘foodie pubs’ too. Although gastro pubs generally also have a bar, the main attraction for customers is the food. Within this category there will be pubs that offer a fine dining experience, and others that are more informal but have established a great reputation for excellent food and service. These suit pub operators who have a real passion for food; they may have a background in catering and perform the role of head chef as well as licensee, or they recruit a chef to look after the kitchen for them. Notable gastro pub licensees include Tom Kerridge at the Hand & Flowers.

Gin Palace

Pubs offering a larger range of gin have become very fashionable. Many people refer to them as gin palaces, reflecting the popularity of gin during the nineteenth century.  These Victorian pubs were very opulent and flamboyant, and gin was the most frequent drink being sold.  Nowadays, gin has regained this popularity and lots of connoisseur blends are being produced.  Some of the new style gin palaces even have their own distilleries where you can watch gin being produced on site.


Pouring a pint of beer can vary from region to region across the UK.  This is due to regional preferences for the head of beer. Some areas regard the quality of the foam on top of the pint as highly important. In Scotland and Northern England, a large head is preferred, while in the south there is a preference for a loose head with a light froth of large bubbles that quickly collapse.  In West Yorkshire, drinkers often prefer having a glass of beer with a stiff creamy foam head.

Managed House

These pubs are owned by a landlord (pub company or brewery) and run by that business. Unlike the pub tenancy model where the pub is owned by the landlord but the business is owned by a self employed operator or independent company; a Managed House is managed by an employee – a General Manager.


Craft beer has become very popular with customers; many people are actively seeking it out and especially locally brewed ale. Pubs that combine a brewery alongside the business are also gaining in popularity. The additional revenue stream from sales of beer through a shop or online, as well as the added attraction of an on-site brewery, it proving to be a very successful business model for some pub operators.

Music Pubs

These are pubs that have developed a reputation for live music. Customers are drawn to the pub to hear the music and tend to stay much longer than usual because they want to listen to the entire set.  This means they buy more drinks and frequently food as well.  Music pubs can prove very profitable, but you do need to make sure that if this is your plan that you actually enjoy the music being played! It is also important not to alienate existing customers, and to ensure the music is not so loud that it annoys homes and businesses nearby.  Special licenses also need to be obtained.


This term is often used by Business Development Managers in the pub trade when talking about what a pub offers and the opportunity it presents. The pub tenancy business model is ideally suited for providing customers with a premium pub experience with premium drinks, service, and excellent food. Some pubs in the ‘value’ or ‘mainstream’ parts of the market could increase turnover and be more profitable if they moved up a level or two to become a premium pub. Premiunisation refers to the process of changing the pub offer accordingly.


An abbreviation of ‘Pub Company’, a PubCo is a company that controls a number of pubs that it either manages itself or leases to tenants. As well as overseeing the running of their pubs, the PubCo can also be a brewery like Greene King.

Pubs Code

The Pubs Code is new legislation that came into force in 2016 that regulates the relationship between pub companies and tied pub tenants. It applies to all companies that own more than 500 tied pubs, and is adjudicated by an independent Pubs Code adjudicator.

Sports Pub

Often found within urban areas, these are pubs designed to attract sports fans.  The big draw is a large screen TV where sports fans can watch their favourite sports, especially big matches or horse races, in the company of like-minded people, while enjoying a drink or two.  Larger pubs may have several screens allowing fans to watch more than one sport at a time.  Sports pubs often have pool tables, table football and games machines as well.


Tied pubs are those owned by the landlord (brewery or pub company) that sells products to the pub operator using a tie agreement. Most standard tenancy agreements stipulate that some products, such as beer, have to be purchased from the landlord. A partial tie may allow for certain products to be bought elsewhere, for example wine.


This refers to the amount of liquid within a container that is lost due to leakage or deterioration of the beer.  Most brewers give an ullage allowance to deal with the need to draw off waste beer from the pumps before serving, or through spillage.

Wet Led

This is a traditional pub where drink is the main reason for visiting it. A basic value food offering may be available, but generally the focus is on drinks and bar snacks. Often these pubs are known as a ‘wet boozer’, and act as a focus for the community providing somewhere for local people to meet up and enjoy a pint, chat and perhaps play a game of darts. Most customers live locally and often walk to the pub. There can be a lot of local support for the pub and reluctance to accept any changes, unless undertaken sympathetically and focused on local needs.

We hope this crash course in pub jargon provides some insight into what people in the trade are saying!

If you’re researching the industry and thinking about taking on a pub tenancy you may also find our email series helpful. These include lots of useful information about pub tenancies, starting a business and running a pub. Click on this link and sign up for our Researching series.