Sprinkled through the less showy parts of Christchurch is a flock of no-nonsense, highly functional, simply decorated taverns. It's like no-one told them they're part of a chain.
There are car parks out front, pokies out back, Speight's signs splattered on the windows, and food menus including pork scratchings and peanuts. They serve pitchers and handles.
Websites? There's a sign, isn't there? Craft beer? Have some Speight's Old Dark. Cocktails? Buy an RtD of Coke 'n' bourbon.
These bars don't toy around with themes, or dress up in fancy decor.
They don't have purple wallpaper. They have posters of large beers or big bold arrows pointing to the pokies.
They offer a simple place to drink cheap beer, watch rugby and chat to other people who are keen to drink cheap beer and watch rugby. Schroeders Tavern on Warrington St is one of these bars.
One balmy Wednesday we took a seat at a spartan table surrounded by stools and eyed up the drink options. Canterbury Draught, Summit, Speight's, Lion Dark, Steinlager and Guinness. We ordered a pitcher of Lion Brown from a gruff (but friendly) moustached bartender and settled in . . . well, as best we could settle on hard wooden bar stools, and watched Canterbury batter some poor silly part of New Zealand in the ITM Cup.
Around the bar, a handful of middle-aged men in black jeans and dusty black tops chattered to other middle-aged men wearing high-vis jackets and puffer vests. Not a woman in sight, we noticed, until a middle-aged blonde briefly emerged from the pokie room to order a drink, before skulking back to the darkness.
Later on, a group of grey-haired men in football shorts and Lotto sports tops dribbled in, sitting down at one table to talk - presumably - about shopping.
At first I wasn't really sure what to think about Schroeders. Beer was cheap and people- watching was fun, but for some of my friends, Schroeders is their - often visited - local.
One says: "It's awesome. you don't have to fight to find a table, the beer is dirt cheap, and you can bring fish and chips in from down the road (You can. I saw it happen). How can you go wrong with that? Maybe I should be saying it's crap so nobody else goes there."
His explanation isn't snide or ironic in a, "I'm-used-to-pubs with-leather seats-$20-cocktails- and-members-of-the-other-sex- kind-of- way".
He has fun there. And, you know, so did I.
60 Warrington St
- The Press