My recent post here about beer prices elicited 56 responses. In the way of blog comments, these did not always include anything about the questions asked, but more about what the contributor wanted to say as an aside. But that's an aside. Most kept to the point.
Inevitably London prices were more expensive than those in the North, though in most cases the eye watering prices are in places places like Cask or Meantime and the like, while those in "ordinary" London pubs were around the £3.60 mark - or perhaps a little more or less here or there. This varied, too, with cask being pretty affordable, even in these places. UK produced craft keg was always more expensive and of course imported pints are too. London to my mind didn't come across that badly given the high rents and overheads, though again to my mind the quality of what's offered can let it down all too often.
There are some surprises like Marble beers being cheaper in the free trade than in the Marble Arch - well maybe that's not a surprise to me - but I am sure it will be to some. Pints in a Sam Smith's pub in the North can be as little as £1.80 and though Joey Holt's is no longer sold at bargain basement prices, it can still be had in some places for £2.19. Huddersfield is known to be a fantastic place to drink, but what is surprising perhaps is the really keen prices. Maybe it's the competition of just good old Yorkshire canniness. Stockport offered a real bargain with Dark Star Six Hop Ale (6.5%) at £2.60. Availability of price lists varied greatly, which is slightly annoying to the budget concious, though I suppose the old adage of "if there isn't a price list, you probably can't afford it" might be a useful standby to keep in mind.
So no real shocks. Craft keg costs more than cask for the same beer, but why be surprised? Someone has to pay for these throw-away keykegs and it is of course the drinker. London was reasonable given the circumstances, fancy beer bars charge more (Euston Tap an honourable cask exception), the North is much cheaper, tied houses from Family Brewers arguably offer dearer pints than they ought to - Sam's excepted - and that is perhaps a surprise. Huddersfield and Sheffield show that competition, particularly proximate competition, keeps prices keen. Wetherspoon's are cheaper than most, but prices, particularly in London, are creeping upwards. The £3 JDW cask pint is already there.
This was an interesting little exercise, which above all, to my mind at least, provided me with little I didn't know or couldn't guess already. However, with a little common sense, a beer in a pub remains (even if it is just an occasional treat and you pick your pub and beer wisely) a relatively affordable pleasure. In most cases, you can do better than that and have two or three pints without bankrupting yourself.
On the keykeg thing a good pointer from Dave Unpronounceable; "In the case of Jaipur you pay the same for a 30l keg as a 41l (i.e. 9 gal) cask, thus to recover the cost the pub has 3/4 as much beer for the same cost so charges 4/3 as much per pint."
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
This blog mentions specifics; pubs and beer, good and bad. The opinions will be forthright, but you can always disagree, just don't be offended. Comments from those mentioned are particularly welcome and a right of reply is hereby offered.
Read my information and links and then decide for yourself. You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes.
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