Thursday, 2 February 2012

Speaking with forked tongue

There’s a welcome outbreak of fighting spirit in the February edition of the CAMRA newsletter What’s Brewing from Chris Holmes, a former national chairman of the organisation and retiring chairman of Castle Rock Brewery.

The anti-alcohol mob poses a serious threat. I said several years ago that once the do-gooders had sorted out the tobacco industry they would move on to alcohol.

Well, it’s come true. The best body to stand up to the health fascists is CAMRA, but one has to ask the question. Has CAMRA got the balls for it? Do I detect reluctance among the CAMRA hierarchy to speak up in favour of booze, and to contradict the over-hyped and biased stories put out by the dry brigade who clearly have no sense of fun or enjoyment unless it’s going for a five mile jog or eating a lettuce leaf washed down with green tea?
Well, absolutely, but what do we think are the odds on Neville Colin Valentine and friends actually growing a pair?

But he then goes on to piss in his own soup by saying:
There is a big question to be dealt with. To what extent should CAMRA lobby for legislation to protect pubs from supermarket competition? If we think that CAMRA should be doing this then it should go for the throat. It should be noisy, controversial, and generally stroppy to get the message across. I’m not convinced that sitting at the top table with government and senior civil servants actually gets us anywhere.Don’t forget that the supermarkets employ armies of lobbyists at Westminster and they are serious opponents.
Now, there’s plenty to be said on that issue, much of which I’ve said before. But, if you want to fight the anti-drink lobby, might it not make sense to have the big battalions of Tesco et al on the same side, rather than opening up a war on two fronts? And, realistically, the people who are drinking cask beer in the pub are broadly the same as those who are buying the premium bottled ales from the supermarket. To suggest that someone cracking open a bottle of London Pride that he has got on a 3 for £4 offer while watching Midsomer Murders is doing a VERY BAD THING is likely to lead to your support rapidly withering away.


  1. The only drinkers are of course pong drinkers, whether on or off trade.

    Drinkers of lager, wine & spirits outnumber CAMRA and by and large consider CAMRA a national treasure holding goodwill for an organisation seeking to preserve a tradition.

    Like the national trust, you wouldn't want to be a member or even trudge through the forest on a rainy Sunday but you are pleased some people do.

    Until of course you realise that CAMRA want to force you into the grotty pub down the road by increasing the price of that nice Merlot you found in the bargain bin.

  2. I make 3 bottles of london pride to be 7 units, 7*£0.50=£3.50 so is above the minimum price threshold. If the legislation was introduced it wouldnt be bottled ales affected, just cheaper lagers and bitters.

    Of course that doesn't mean the minimum price will be fixed over time.

  3. It was a general comment about supermarkets, not specifically about minimum pricing.

    But there are one or two PBAs on Morrisons' regular 4 for £5.50 offer that already fall foul of the 50p/unit level, plus plenty of ciders.

    And the 4 for £5 promotion that Tesco ran a couple of times last year - including beers up to 6.7% - drove a coach and horses through it.

  4. I'm afraid beers currently above the threshold will be affected. If the lowest quality beer sells for 50p a unit, then high quality beer will be selling for substantially more.

  5. Think about a famous 20th century British politician who was a bit slow to grow a pair...

  6. Got it! Yes, good one - my less than illustrious namesake.

    I agree completely that attacking supermarkets is wrong-headed. The hope is that if supermarket prices are raised, more home drinkers will go out to pubs. But, as I've said before, increasing the prices in supermarkets will not knock a penny off the prices in pubs - and I do know people who are either drinking less in pubs or have stopped going altogether because of the prices. People do expect to pay more food and drink when they're out, but for a growing number of people pub prices are becoming prohibitive, mainly because of the beer duty escalator.

  7. I think a reason for that, Nev, is that pub prices have risen above RPI and CPI for decades

    Many old timers eventually think, hang on a minute, 3 quid ? It was 2 quid only a few years ago. Hence the Spoons & Sam Smiths & clubs attract an older clientele.

    It doesn't surprise in one way that the people who object least to 5 quid a half in a craft beer house are mainly under 30.

  8. I agree that pub prices are driving people away but I don't necassarily agree that it is the beer prices. The cost of soft drinks and mixers have risen to ridiculous levels. A glass of draught coke which is just syrup and fizzy water can cost between £1.50 and £2.00. I've found that a pint plus cokes for my wife and children approaches £10.00. So we don't go very often. I'm sure that there are many couples and families that make the same decision.

  9. See this post about soft drink prices in pubs.

    As I said there, the prices charged in pubs are comparable to those in the cheaper end of table-service restaurants.

    The demand for soft drinks in pubs is not highly sensitive to price and, even if the price was halved, it would overall have a minimal effect on demand.

  10. I seldom drink out anymore.

    I can smoke at home.
    I don't feel compelled to tip at home or at the store(20% for me).

    Service is quicker and there are no hours of operation.

    There are no dress codes.

    It is quiet if I choose it to be so.

    I never have to wait to get into the restroom.

    If I want conversation, I talk to my dog or my wife.

    If I watch TV, I watch what I want to watch.

    The only thing I do not have is young ladies and at my age that is not much of a loss.

    Gary K.

  11. CAMRA members with balls? ? ? ?
    Fell out of my rocking chair and
    spilled my Ovaltine over the cat,
    They're no different than the smokers ,who crawled into the gutter and whispered disquiet.
    How brave ,how gallant,how noble
    were the heroes who stood by and let thousands of pubs,clubs and other social centre close with
    hardly a whimper.
    A bloody disgrace ,an insult to
    our fathers and forefathers who
    fought ,sweat blood and died for
    our way of life,our liberty,our
    choice of liesure.
    Time to stand up or shut up

    Look back in anger

  12. Anon 22:18 - you actually blame the smokers? If we light up in a pub, the landlord gets fined, big time. How would that help?

    So most of us don't go any more. If the vicious and spiteful had not declared that smoking shelters must be unfit to house livestock, we'd be happy to use them. They are not allowed to be enclosed - whose protection is that for?

    Still, you carry on blaming us for not supporting the pubs, clubs, restaurants etc you banned us from if you like. We've made alternative arrangements.

    CAMRA are too late anyway. Prohibition begins in York.

    Do something about it? Already have. As I said, we've made alternative arrangements.

  13. When you buy a drink in a pub, most of what you pay is rent. You are renting a seat or a space. That is why soft drinks are expensive. The owner doesn't want someone spending an hour drinking a cheap soft drink occupying a space that someone drinking two pints could be occupying.

  14. The response to the smoking ban was piss poor, ok you've lost a lot of us smokers, but rather than holding their nerves and trying to get non-smokers to show, the pubs racked up the prices to try to regain the margin lost from smokers, so ensuring that their non smoking customers f**k off as well.

    BTW I never thought that non-smokers were going to replace the lost trade. If you're so risk adverse that you believe SHS is damaging you, you're not going to quaff a useful amount of booze.

    The ONLY upside to the smoking ban for me is that buying the grogg at Tescos saves a bloody fortune. It seems spitefull and perverce of camra to be trying to punish me for the unintending consequences of a law with they agreed, and I didn't want.

    I would love for Camra top knob to come on here and try to justify their position..


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