If you were to set a challenge to have one alcoholic drink in every pub in Dumfries and remain standing, I would bet my lifesavings that you would fail! There are over 40 pubs in the DG1 & DG2 postcodes alone. With so many you can imagine that there are a great variety and something to suit everyone's tastes. People in Dumfries seem to be people of habit and it's often the same faces that are seen in the same pubs. You can like this or loathe it but I find it adds quite a sense of community to the smaller pubs.
I obviously can't comment on every pub in the region as I've not been in them all, so I'll give a brief note about those I have frequented.
My favourite pub is the Five Arches, it's quite daunting to visit should you not know anyone there as the locals that drink there are very close knit and are suspicious of the new drinkers (think Slaughtered Lamb in An American Werewolf in London). Once you get over this, you'll find that it's a fantastic wee pub with a lively atmosphere. More focused on the sports than anything else, it has three television sets, a pool table and darts board. They have a function room which is fantastic for live band sets and the resident DJ hired for parties has a good sense of what will get the guests up and dancing which results in a fantastic night. The staff are generally up for a laugh and the banter. The alcohol is served in measures of 35ml making it great value for money.
If I'm out for a night closer to town, then my first choice is Greens, mainly for the pool hall and the jukebox. Green's is considered a sports bar and often shows more than one football game at a time. With three areas surrounding the horseshoe bar it caters to a wide group of people. The lounge at the front of the bar is quieter with the focus on the two small televisions, it's often used for the domino's. The second section is mainly for those wanting to sit and put the worlds to rights, the jukebox speakers are quite loud in this section which can be a bit annoying when trying to have a conversation. The third area is the pool hall, the volume of the jukebox is perfect here, you can play pool, chat and enjoy the music. Again the measures are 35ml so you get much more for your money.
If you're looking for something with a bit more tradition and local spirit, head to The Globe or the Hole I' The Wa'. Both boast that they have been around since before Robert Burns was born and that he frequented both pubs in his lifetime. The Globe is said to have a chair that was sat in by Burns and any woman who sits in it will become pregnant (whatever gets you through the day really). It is a very small intimate pub that serves a great pub lunch. The staff are very friendly and full of stories for the tourists. Beware of the locals, they are very defensive of 'their' spaces to stand and seats!
The Hole I' The Wa' is a strange pub. The atmosphere is always lively, especially with the karaoke and live singers that perform most nights. It is a great combination of traditional meets modern and is popular with drinkers of all ages. During the day it serves the favourites for lunch such as fish and chips.
If you're looking for somewhere to have some fantastic food, some really good beer and a relaxed evening, then The Cavens Arms is the place to head to. This is more than pub food, this is the best pub food ever. Everything I have tried from the menu has had that 'home made' taste to it and it's always fantastic. In fact, the only downside to the whole place is the fact that it can now charge ridiculous prices for it's food because it is so busy. You have to be in for half past 5 if you want a table without a lengthy wait. Winner of the 'Best Pub' for three years running, it is one of the main 'campaigners for real ale' in the town and often has guest ales for sample, which makes for an interesting night if you can sample them all.
We have recently been invaded by the Wetherspoons chain in Buccleuch Street. Personally, I avoid it like the plague. 25ml measures and Pepsi instead of Coca Cola are my two main reasons, but the lack of atmosphere, miserable and inefficient staff don't help the place. As for food? The kitchen staff seem to take very little care in the process of cooking and often food is undercooked or burnt. When there are so many affordable pubs in the town that serve high quality food I don't understand why people opt for the microwaved frozen ready meals of Wetherspoons.
The Granary has recently opened and again is part of a large chain. The food here is very hit or miss, as is the service, must just depend on the mood of the staff. Still reasonably affordable for food, it's the drink where they hit your purse hard. It's over £1.25 for a can of Coca Cola. The cocktail jugs are good value for money if you are on a night out but the standard measures of alcohol are seriously overpriced unless on promotion. The resident DJ is a friendly guy and is always willing to play your requests which is a nice change from some of the DJ's in the town.
Now if you don't want to go to the local nightclubs but you're not ready to go home, well then it's off to The Lyver with you! The outside of the pub looks dingy and well rather seedy, and you'd be right. Using old Stagecoach bus seats inside, this is the 'Solid Rock Cafe' Doonhamer style. It's a fantastic pub with friendly staff and a fantastic atmosphere. Alcohol is served in 35ml measures and is reasonably priced. Drinkers in here are very music orientated and the juke box is normally backed up with a great selection of music for most of the night.
As I mentioned before, this is simply a small section of the pubs in the town but I would definitely give the first five on the list a visit if you're in the area!
This is subject that you could spend all day writing about. Pubs in Dumfries are like shops, you just can't understand why there are so many compared to the size of population. The most recent attraction to the town is wetherspoons. Having refurbished a historic but rundown building in the centre of town and the fact that it sells cheap beer, this has to be one of the first stop offs when touring the pubs. On the side of character you have to visit the Globe. This bar states that it is the main pub that Rabby Burns the famous Scots poet and womaniser used when he was in town, still keeping an area of the original bar. If you are a youngster out for a drink, English street is the street to start boasting many bars with various themes and at the end of the night a choice of three night clubs to select from all decent, it just depends on your taste of dress and music