It’s a while since I walked St Albans, a small Cathedral city generally characterised as both affluent and a hot-bed of late night rowdiness. In my experience, from having in the area, both are over simplifications. What is more true is that things change very slowly, if at all in St Albans.
The best way to approach the city is from the parkland of Verulanium where you can see some typically dull roman remains, an abundance of birdlife, and the Olde Fighting Cocks, a landmark pub with some claims for oldest pub that bored me to tears. The interior is a joy though, and the pub had an agreeably mixed crowd (octagenarian diners, wedding guests, professional drinkers) and some good local beers like Rebellion and Tring in decent shape (NBSS 3). It felt like a pub, even if the giant screen for “rugby” outside looks ugly.
Elsewhere St Albans looks pretty much as it did in the late 90s, with a similar range of chain and family restaurants, and pretty much the same eight pubs in the Good Beer Guide.
There may be a few more guest beers than there were (Oakham and Purity pop up often), but no sign of the craft beer taps and brewery bars seen in East London, Manchester or even Cambridge. This feels to me a good thing. Beer quality has always been above average in the home of CAMRA HQ, and consistent pubs are to be applauded.