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29-03-2012, 07:29
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I’ve been in a growing number of pubs recently where I’ve been charged over £3 for cask beers of ordinary strength, around 4% ABV. That included one occasion when the price was a ludicrous £3.01. After the duty rise in the Budget, the £3 pint will become much more common.

I’m old enough to remember when people said “drinkers will never stand for paying a pound a pint”, and then the same was said for two pounds. Of course they did, but each time in somewhat smaller numbers.

I’ve seen a few posts in the blogosphere where price has been dismissed as something of little importance, and comments have been made along the lines of “it’s worth paying more for really good beer.” However, unless you’re rolling in it, or only drink a couple of pints a week in the pub, price is not something that can be ignored. Most people have, to a greater or lesser extent, a limited budget and have to juggle and trade off various priorities in their lives.

I have to say £3 rather sticks in my craw and makes me think whether I really should have a half or a pint less than I really wanted. I also have to question whether I can justify paying that, or nearly that, in a Robinson’s or a pub company pub, when in the local area I can be paying £2.15 for Holts, £1.99 in Spoons or a mere £1.60 for Sam Smith’s. (Those are pre-budget prices, but they’re unlikely to be more than 10p higher now).

I remember when I first moved into this area at the end of 1984 that a pint of bitter tended to be around 60p. Between February 1985 and February 2012, the Retail Prices Index has increased by 161%. So the 60p pint, had it gone up in proportion to the RPI, would now be £1.57. However, in fact it’s more like £2.80, a rise of 367% rather than 161%. It’s not that off-trade alcohol has become cheaper in real terms, but that the on-trade has become much dearer.

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