The Office for National Statistics confirmed last year what British beer drinkers have been complaining about for the past decade. Over the last ten years, the price of a pint has risen by more than 30%.
In May 2009, you could buy a pint for £2.81 and as of March 2019, the price was £3.67 on average. However, this varies from city to city: a beer in London was more than double in 2019 (55%) of the price of a beer further north.
A survey by St Austell Brewery’s Proper Job IPA also revealed that the perfect pint should:
- have a head of 9mm,
- be served in a ‘proper’ pint glass preferably at 5.30pm on a Saturday,
- with a partner or best mate in a beer garden accompanied by a bag of crisps and
- a singular lack of mobile phones!
However, this may all be academic in light of various issues encircling the brewing industry. The first is climate change: over the past few months globally we have seen severe drought, rising temperatures and epic floods. All have a substantial effect on barley yields worldwide impacting the supply used to make beer. They also affect all the other key ingredients.
Don’t think you’re safe if you drink wine…combining long-term records with global data, researchers have suggested that if temperatures rise by 2°C, the regions suitable for growing wine grapes could shrink by as much as 56%. Stoke that up by a further 2°C and 85% of those regions would no longer be able to produce good wine.
In addition, there has been an ongoing constant battle with the tax burdens facing the pub industry. UK Hospitality chief executive, Kate Nicholls spoke about the issue of rising prices overall across the trade. She commented “costs continue to increase for businesses. So it is no wonder that the average price of a pint continues to climb. Even with the scrapping of the beer duty escalator, many businesses have no choice but to pass costs on to customers.”
Rise of Independents Affects Style
Also affecting British beer consumption is consumers shifting from mass-produced, low flavoured lagers from well-known, well-established beer companies to quality independent beers from craft brewers. A recent report points out a considerable growth of the no- and low-abv category. This registered a massive 381% sales increase compared to its market share only two years ago.
Traditional British beer styles such as mild, bitter and golden ale are experiencing challenges with overall production dropping from 14% in 2016 to 5% in 2019 and the percentage of featured producers brewing these styles decreasing accordingly, from 44% in 2016 to 31% in 2019.
Finally, the drinks trade has warned that the UK government’s announcement this week to deny visas to low-skilled workers is set to cause a massive challenge to the UK’s pub, bar and restaurant sector.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said the points-based immigration system would present significant challenges for the pub sector. She commented “many pubs rely on workers from overseas. So it is hard to see how they will cope with such fundamental changes coming into effect in just ten months. Pubs will especially struggle with the costs and complexities of becoming a sponsoring employer in order to take on staff from outside the UK.”