Did you know there is a Yahoo Group for J D Wetherspoon supporters? Well there is and pretty informative it can be sometimes. You get the usual and well known issues of being unable to be served, tables not being cleared and the chips being cold, but one thing seems to be dominating at the moment. Prices.
JDW seems to have applied a 6p a pint increase in most places, while in others, they seem to have applied more. One irate correspondent says that they now charge £2.89 a pint in a new pub in Whitby, which astutely was observed to be " a bit dear for Wetherspoons quality and service." Quite. And of course in London there are two other sets of prices, an "Inside the M25" one and a "City of London" one, both of which are considerably more ouchy price wise. And airport venues are even more.
More ire is directed at JDW's budget response, where the decision to reduce the cheap end beers, Greene King IPA and Ruddles Best by 5p a pint, while, presumably, trousering the rest of any duty reductions passed on, is seen as taking the piss. Seems too the grub has gone up and the portion sizes have decreased and there are moans about the price premium for stronger beers as well as quibbles about the price of beer at the forthcoming beer festival. A slippery slope is being predicted. Now this is mostly huff and puff. Apart from Central London, JDW for all its faults, remains cheap - if not exactly cheerful, with reliable real ale and cut price lager. (Central London is quite another case, with some beer prices being nearly as much as some in the Euston Tap. Extracting the urine from customers price wise is hardly a new phenomenon in London after all)
Now most of my readers won't care about this, but it is interesting in the sense that it send s a message that beer is becoming more costly, even at the budget end of the market. It also says something about the pressures within the industry. Of course, like many of you I'm sure, while I do go into JDWs reasonably frequently, I'm not that worried about their prices, but I'm not their core audience. People like those on the Yahoo Group are, and they are sending a clear message of disgruntlement.
Timbo Martin would do well not to alienate them and comments such as "Don't treat your loyal customers as fools!" should not be ignored.
The denizens of the Yahoo Group, oddly refer to individual pubs as "branches". Hmm.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer author, 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. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
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