Thursday 19 April 2012

Save our Scrumpy!

When the government made its announcement about minimum alcohol pricing, I made the following point:
And how much does scrumpy sell for at the farm gate in the West Country nowadays? Indeed, does the farmer even know how strong it is? If it’s 8%, a pint will cost £1.82, which I suspect is rather more than the current price.
It seems I was right, as the cidermakers have been quick off the mark to spot this and start a government petition to Save our Scrumpy. I’m sure the policy was never designed to clobber small farmhouse cidermakers, and this campaign has considerable potential to cause embarrassment to the government. Labour’s plan in 2010 to increase cider duties overall by 10% certainly provoked a groundswell of popular opinion against it.

The picture is taken from the Burrow Hill cider brandy website, and I suspect the author of the petition, Edward Temperley, is a relative of Julian Temperley who runs Burrow Hill. On that page, the 6% farmhouse scrumpy sells for £6.80 for a 4-litre container, which is 28.3p/unit, well below the proposed 40p minimum price. As I doubt whether Burrow Hill is small enough to qualify for the small producers’ duty exemption, others must be able to sell it for even less.

You can imagine many farmhouse cidermakers just giving up, or alternatively just making cider for family and friends and others “in the know”.


  1. It is indicative of a particular mindset that because this gut rot is "traditional" and made in sheds it ought not be kyboshed.

    If it is correct to kybosh the Spesh, it is just as correct to kybosh this.

  2. Well, of course it's self-interested special pleading, but anything that helps undermine the proposal is fine by me ;-)

  3. It is not correct to "kybosh the Spesh" any more than it is to hit small producers, but some people think that it is. A lot of people don't care about a tax that they think will only affect tramps and lager louts and the only way to get them to see that this sort of tax is a mistake is to show them that it will impact people other than those they quietly despise.

  4. Yeh but wouldn’t you guys enjoy the schadenfreude as the condescending real ale twat element of Mudgies beer club (a small vocal minority or the lot of them depending on whose opinion you seek) got what they have spent years asking for and then come bitterly regret it as within a few years the consequences become apparent ?

    It could be a lot of fun?

  5. It would be expensive fun and it would be the small producers going out of business, not the mega corporations who will simply produce whatever product they can sell in the new environment.

  6. Expensive for the very people that advocated minimum pricing. I can't help but like it.

    I'd sign a petition against minimum pricing, not one to exempt gut rot shed made cider that is worse for you than the clean industrially produced stuff.

  7. I've said before that one day anti-drink measures will abruptly bite CAMRA on the bum. And the only thing that can be said with certainty about it is that it will then be too late.

    In a sense, it's already happening with the mass closure of pubs, as an anti-drink climate in society will increasingly drive drinking out of the public gaze and into private spaces. They blame the supermarkets, of course, but IMV you could double the price of off-trade alcohol overnight and it would make very little difference to the trade of pubs.

  8. I don‘t disagree with either of you and whilst you do bang on about smoking far too much is it true that smoking only really became persecutable to the current extent when the number of smokers fell to a minority.

    Your beer club may despise the working class minimum wage shelf stacker (though I saw a sign in Aldi that suggested the wage was a quid above minimum, but still buttons) that drinks cheap grog at home and thinks a pub pint expensive, but that shelf stacker is not going to defend drinking once priced out of it.

    One radical idea, why not campaign for the pub pint to be affordable for that shelf stacker rather than up the price of his can of lout?

    The first problems will be your bearded pals noticing that oh dear some products they like are more expensive, how did that happen? The bigger problems start when drinking is a pursuit of the minority. Stage 1 is turning drinking into a minority habit, you start with the poorest and keep raising the bar. Bit by bit people fall away, those above the bar have no problem and give approval to the vulgar habits of others being stopped. At some point the bar get raised above you.

  9. @ Cooking Lager: I'm intrigued how something that is made from freshly pressed fruit, with nothing added, can be "gut rot shed made cider that is worse for you than the clean industrially produced stuff".

    All cider makers have to pass food hygeine inspections - there aren't dead rats in it any more.

    As for "industrially produced stuff" - you mean fermented corn starch with flavouring, sweeteners and preservatives that's passed-off as "cider"?

  10. Cookie: CAMRA are trying to keep the price of a pint affordable by a *lot* of campaigning against the beer escalator which is the main cause behind the recent 10p rise.

    But I'm against it's support of minimum pricing because that smacks way too much of prohibition and control.


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