Bottoms up north: Beer's nearly 30p cheaper there

The cheapest pint of beer costs 28p less in pubs in the north of England than those in the south-east. Good for the pocket, but for the health?

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012
The Good Pub Guide asked 650 pubs for the cost of their cheapest pint of bitter, and found that this pint cost £3.15 on average in the south-east of England and London, but £2.87 in Yorkshire and the North. This adds more fuel to the argument that it’s grim for your pocket down south.

The story’s even worse if you take your figures from the British Beer and Pub Association's Statistical Handbook, which claimed that the price differential for a pint in London and in the north east in 2010 was as high as 84p. Whatever the figure, the blame is generally attributed to rates and rents being higher for London publicans. Yet there’s other grim news in the Good Pub Guide for beer drinkers of all postcodes - the research also found that overall prices had risen by 7% over the past year.

According to Paul Maloney, national officer of the GMB union, the picture’s even worse: he says the average price for a pint of lager in Britain ‘has risen by 80p higher than justified by inflation and changes in taxes in pubs’, the increases down to property companies replacing brewers as pub owners. On Wednesday Jonathan Neame, boss of brewer Shepherd Neame, likened the Government’s tax and regulation of the booze trade to ‘fiscal violence’, adding that beer prices would continue to rise as cereals such as barley became 30% more expensive than a year ago.

This has at least led pubs to up their game: the Good Pub Guide said pubs were increasingly offering breakfasts and coffee mornings to tempt reluctant punters to part with their cash. But it hasn’t always gone well. The Kings Fee, a Wetherspoons pub in Hereford, has been criticised for starting a baby and toddler group - in the bar. The research seems to have missed the other recent beer-price story coming from the north: the recent outrage over the ‘2 Bob Tuesday’ promotion at the Showbar nightclub in Warrington, Cheshire, where they’re flogging pints for 20p. As the photos of the aftermath of its first night showed, there’s a point at which cheap booze isn’t such a good thing…


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