In response to the recent debate over at Boak & Bailey about the apparently very poor returns available to brewers, I thought I would create a poll on whether beer was really too cheap in British pubs.
The result was a resounding “No”, with 71% taking the view that beer was generally too dear, and just a solitary person thinking it was too cheap. If you really want to pay more for your beer, of course, there are plenty of pubs only too happy to relieve you of a larger chunk of your hard-earned cash.
I don’t deny that the beer market, especially for small brewers, is extremely competitive and many struggle to make a decent living. But, by and large, that isn’t reflected in low prices paid across the bar. In most parts of the country, a typical pint of 4% beer will be well north of £3, and across much of London and the South-East it approaches or even exceeds £4. Spoons are usually a fair bit cheaper, but the general run of pubs certainly aren’t. If the brewers aren’t getting much of that, it suggests that the cake needs to be divided up differently, not that drinkers should be expected to pay even more.
Even around here, it’s common to be asked to pay £3.70 for something of fairly modest strength. Especially if the quality is indifferent, I find it hard to see that as anything other than expensive for what it is. I still tend to feel that a reasonable price is £3 or under, and I’ve certainly enjoyed several different beers up to 4.5%, most notably Draught Bass, for that kind of price in good pubs in recent weeks.