Follow beer writer, Troy Burtch, as he explores the wonderful world of craft beer and the pubs that serve it. Great Canadian Beer is a place to come to catch up on beer news, read tasting notes, check out event listings, and for pub previews and reviews.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Big Decrease in Pub Beer Sales in the UK

A frightening story coming out of the United Kingdom today, is reporting that there has been sharp decrease in the number of pints sold in British pubs this year. In 1979, 29 million pints were sold each day at pubs and today that number drops to 15 million - or 22% less.

Beer sales in pubs have slumped to their lowest level since the 1930s, brewery representatives have said.

So what seems to be the problem? Well, is seems that politicians have been steadily increasing the duty tax on beer in the UK. In fact, since 1997, the tax on beer has rose 27% while wine only saw a 16% rise and only 3% for spirits. The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) are doing what they can to persuade those in government to pay attention to the effects that steeper taxes are having on Britain's national drink. They are also working with CAMRA to challenge the government for a tax freeze.

"We are calling for government policy to encourage and support Britain's businesses.

Smoking has also had a negative effect for the pub owners. Since the smoking ban, pubs have witnessed a 7% decrease in sales. Unlike here in Canada, where we welcomed the ban, smoking in British pubs is as customary as pouring maple syrup on our pancakes here in Canada.

The government is unlikely to change their stance on the tax issue as the Alcohol Health Alliance (new group of 24 health organizations) is pushing strongly for the increase. They figure that increasing the tax will lead less people to drink (already working) which would result in less alcohol related deaths.

Well, to them I say that we should tax microwaves heavier, increase tax on swimming in lakes, and ban cellphones altogether. This world is getting to timid; scared of their own shadow. If beer has been around for as long as we all think it has, it can't be THAT bad. I guarantee those members of the AHA are all wine drinking snobs who should be spending more time looking for a cure for cancer and spend less time worrying about the state of Britain's world famous beer.

"A pub is the proper place to enjoy a drink in a responsible and regulated atmosphere"

The BBC has a spot on their online paper for citizens to voice their concerns and pass along information regarding their drinking habits to see if the pub is still the centre of social life in Britain. It will be interesting viewing their responses in the days to come. Now, what would it look like if we did something like this in the Toronto Star??????

For the full article, visit


Stonch said...

Can I add another fact into the mix, that doesn’t fit with the picture of doom and gloom being painted by BBPA?

The actual value of the market for small/independent British breweries is growing - yes, growing - and at a healthy rate (7.5% per annum, I believe)

Poor quality mass produced beer is losing ground to other things that make people drunk. Is that such a bad thing, for those of us that love quality beer?

Frankly I’m fairly indifferent as to whether people drink Fosters or Smirnoff Ice. That’s why figures like this - that take in the whole beer market as opposed to just quality beer from honest brewers - aren’t depressing in the slightest.

Now here are some other things to consider:

1. In the past a large proportion of men would go to the pub pretty much every day after work, get pissed up, and leave the wife and kids at home. The fact that happens less is not something I'm upset about. We still have problems with binge drinking, but I reckon men, certainly, drink less now than they did then (not so sure about women).

2. In the past wine was a largely inaccessible luxury to British people. Nowadays, that isn't the case. There is more choice, beer is no longer the only show in town.

3. Britain is still fourth in the world rankings for beer consumption per head of the population.

Anonymous said...

The Guardian has the same take on the story as Stonch ... it's the big guys who are suffering, while the micro brewers are benefiting. As they say, many drinkers are bored with "drinking the advertising". Couldn't have said it better myself.,,2214383,00.html

Troy Burtch said...

Well, that is great news!!! I am glad you pointed that article out to me. Cask ale on the rise too!!

I agree with Stonch about men hanging out at the pub all night and leaving the wife and kids at home. The way I read the article in the BBC lead me to believe that pubs were suffering with less customers as wine becomes more available and attractive.

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