Thursday, April 14, 2011

What is a decent price for a decent pint ?

It is a couple of weeks since the Budget and the price rises promised are beginning to appear, some quicker than others I admit, but every local pub I have checked seems to have increased theirs.

I understand than I do drink in several pubs under different sorts of ownership; mostly owned by small pub chains or individuals, and therefore the rises are sometimes governed by rises across the group rather than the licencee themselves but I have come across some wildly differing rises that have confused, or even worried me.

Most places have been happy to add about 10p to the price of a pint, and that seems the norm across the board in Huddersfield, bringing the cheapest beers to around £2.30. Before you tell me, I know there are places whose beer are still cheaper than that, but this is a general statement. Other beers have increased pro rata of strength, so naturally the stronger the beer the more expensive it becomes. Again a fair system in my opinion. But I was a bit unprepared for some of the rises I found.

Before I go on, this is the exception rather than the rule but it does highlight a worrying trend. I was concerned that beer at the local Wetherspoons that had been part of their festival range and sold at £1.99, has now come on sale after the festival at £2.35 in some cases, surely this beer was bought in prior to the budget, so why the rise ? The same applies to another local pub chain whose prices increased the day after the budget. If the supplier bought the beer cheaper, why pass on the increase to the customer. It would be more acceptable, and more understandable to raise the price on beer bought post budget, as other local pubs seem to have done.

My concern with 'spoons was nothing compared to the amazement I showed when charged £3.23 for a pint of 5% 'York' beer in the Head of Steam. I assume, although cannot confirm, that they charge a rate per pint based on what they pay per barrel from the wholesaler, hence their bizarre price range, but I found this somewhat excessive.

All I can say is that the punter buys what he wants where he wants to buy it, and if the market supports a beer at £3.20 a pint so be it, but I would be concerned that my customers may go elsewhere. It is not uncommon now to find the same beer on sale in different town centre pubs with a variation of at least 35p per pint, and it is often possible to go out of town and save even more.

I am not saying that all suppliers sell the same product at the same price, after all, they all have differing overheads, but rather they understand why their profits may take a dip in comparison with their neighbour, as drinkers we are a canny bunch, and can, and will vote with our feet. After all, we have to drink to a budget too.

2 comments:

Grotsnot said...

Pubs sell beer at a price that means they can /replace/ it and still have a profit.

It's no good saying "I bought this firkin for X, so I'll charge 2X/72 for a pint" if the price of a replacement firkin will wipe that margin out.

It's the same reason that prices at the petrol pump go up as soon as the price at wholesale/duty does.

Mallinsons Brewing Co said...

We have calculated that the beer duty rise affects us, as a small brewery, by £1.50 per firkin - this is the amount that we will increase the price by (we have held off for a month to try and absorb the prices rather than knee jerk and hitch up the prices).

It has surprised us that the prices have risen so much in so many pubs, but it is hard to tell if other breweries have really hiked up their prices by alot.

The comparison with oil prices dosn't really work - in the beer trade, breweries aren't publishing their prices on big boards, and the news isn't daily reporting on the price of beer ingredients. It's harder to tell whether the pubs are reflecting the true price from their suppliers or not.