Saturday, 17 September 2011

Figuring it out

I was recently kindly sent a complimentary copy of the British Beer & Pub Association’s annual Statistical Handbook. This may come across as dry reading, but it contains a wealth of information about the brewing industry and the overall drinks market.

It shows that in 2010, the UK had the second highest beer and wine duties in the EU (only Finland being ahead) and the fourth highest spirits duties. UK per capita alcohol consumption was well below the EU median level, and less than France, Germany or Spain. But you’d never imagine that if you listened to Don Shenker and Sir Ian Gilmore.

No doubt my friend Cooking Lager will be pleased by the breakdown of the relative market share of ale and stout vs lager:

1970: Ale and stout: 98.0; Lager:   2.0
1980: Ale and stout: 69.3; Lager: 30.7
1990: Ale and stout: 48.6; Lager: 51.4
2000: Ale and stout: 36.4; Lager: 63.6
2010: Ale and stout: 24.6; Lager: 75.4

One of the most telling tables is the one breaking down on-trade draught beer sales by category, from which I have created the extract shown below.

From 1980 to 2010, cask ale lost over three-quarters of its volume, and keg ale and stout over four-fifths. Even lager, although greatly increasing its market share, lost volume in absolute terms over that period.


  1. Very interesting - I hadn't appreciated how low cask's share now was, not at all the healthy impression you get from reading any CAMRA publication !

    I think this shows that while Britain now has a decent number of specialist beer houses, and real ale holds up in some more affluent areas (e.g. Chorlton or Cambridge), cask has made little inroads into the Stella/Smooth monopoly in what is left of the country's boozers.

  2. The last Cask Report, which was based on 2009 figures, put cask's market share at about 15%, so there may be some differences in assumptions and methodology.

    But you certainly wouldn't think from listening to CAMRA that across the country cask was outsold by keg by almost 2 to 1.

    There is, of course, a huge swathe of keg-only pubs and clubs that are largely off CAMRA's radar.

  3. We're friends now? Okay then but it's on the understanding that you have not got a beard. That's a deal breaker.

    I'm neither pleased or otherwise. Not bothered to be frank. It is interesting that the real story of beer in the UK really isn't a CAMRA tale of saving real ale, it's a story of the UK joining the rest of the world and necking lager.

    That 40 years ago "a beer" was a flat warm brown liquid to most people. Now it's a cold, fizzy golden liquid.

  4. Lager,,,,a triumph of globalisation and marketing :)

    Ale,,,,too traditional and tasty for today's palate :(

  5. Does it have anything to say about cider drinking. I have noticed a lot more people drinking cider than previously. It was either not available or lager was preferred. Now i know when i go into bars that i will see a lot of cider being ordered. Not fancy ciders but strongbow etc. This is in Glasgow.

  6. Yes, there has been an increase in draught cider sales. The following figures are in 1,000 hectolitres (whatever that may mean):

    1980: 518
    1990: 1432
    2000: 1587
    2010: 1963

    It was in the 1980s that Bulmers and Taunton got keg Strongbow and Blackthorn on pretty much every bar in the country.


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