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The recent increase in duty and VAT has caused howls of anguish in many circles and predictions of meltdown in the on trade. True it means that beer will be in for a steeper increase than any time in its history and that is regrettable, but how much is a pint anyway?

In the bad or good old days (depending on how rose tinted your glasses are) we knew more or less how much a pint would cost in our own manor. Pubs were mostly owned by breweries amd they to a large extent dictated how prices were levied. You knew roughly what was what. In the North of England Whitbread would be most expensive, then Bass, then Allied, then your local brewery and all were within pennies of each other. This hasn't been the case for years though and the variation in price, pub to pub, which is now the norm, doesn't on the whole stop people drinking in pubs. Other things might though, but the price charged to those dedicated to pub going is always these days a somewhat variable one.

Before the rise, my local charged £2.35 for a pint of any cask beer, whether mild, bitter or guest. The price varies by a few pence up or down in other in Lees pubs and of course elsewhere. In JDW it is likely to be still under £2.00 a pint in this neck of the woods and of course a trip to Manchester will see you paying anything from a couple of quid to £3 plus. The same picture I'm sure affects the whole country and of course, in London and the South East, the £3 pint has been common for quite some time. If there is a psychological barrier, it certainly isn't set at the £3 mark.

In effect nobody knows the price of a pint, as no such generality exists any more and people are therefore unlikely to make their pub going decisions on the premise that the cost increase now makes it too much. If you asked them how much a pint is, they couldn't really say.

As always the answer to pub going or lack thereof isn't solely price, but to paraphrase Bill Clinton "It's the offer Stupid". That's a truth that will never change and one that is becoming more and more important now.