Ever since we found out about the existence of pub sheds—a U.K. phenomenon that’s exactly what it sounds like—we’ve been mildly obsessed. From dreaming up our perfect backyard retreat to plotting which beers we’d stock it with, the ultimate summertime escape has captured our imagination. That makes Mark Appleton our hero. He’s the owner of The Appleton Arms, winner of Cuprinol’s Shed of the Year competition, and he was nice enough to indulge our curiosity about his tricked-out backyard oasis.
Turns out, it was whiskey, not beer, that led to The Appleton Arms’ construction (though Appleton’s been known to enjoy a draught bitter or pint of real ale). Mark Appleton’s growing collection of single-malt was “taking over the house,” necessitating a separate bar.
“I had always wanted a bar at home, but a friend of mine showed me his own pub shed and I was hooked! Since he saw my own pub shed, he told me that he has ‘shed envy,'” Appleton says. (We know the feeling.)
Construction began in 2011 with a custom pine wood “summerhouse” purchased online, for which Appleton laid his own foundation and completely replaced the roof. The interior is a mash-up of portable pub accessories and fittings he’s purchased online or bought from local bars.
Naturally, it attracts visitors. It’s become the choice venue for holiday parties for Appleton’s friends and family, and it hosted an impromptu cocktail party last year when the neighborhood experienced a stronger-than-normal snowstorm.
But why should the U.K. have all the fun? Why hasn’t America caught on to the phenomenon?
“I’m not too sure that the U.S. gets the concept of the great British pub, but it’s all about a way to socialize,” Appleton says. “[Pub sheds] are fast growing phenomenon in the U.K. There are a few reasons why: there are a large number of pubs closing down every week over here. Cheap drinks are available at the supermarket, plus the economic climate, the smoking ban, equality at home (so men not going straight from work to the pub) and a few other things have all taken their toll on the great old British pub. That’s why people want a pub of their own.”
Count us among them.