This weekend a guest post on murky beer from long-time reader Quinno contained the following passage:
"Until recently, as a Reading resident, I’ve passed this off as a London-centric thing (anyone who happily pays northwards of four quid a pint is clearly a fool anyway)."
I took this to be a slightly jokey, cage-rattler of a comment, which is obiviously not something we usually indulge in here at STONCH. However it caused a bit of a stir over on Twitterland.
Here's a selection of outrage:
@roro_mantic 'Anyone who happily pays northwards of four quid a pint is clearly a fool anyway'. *instantly stops reading— The Evening Brews (@TheEveningBrews) October 3, 2015
@TheEveningBrews pricing is a complicated issue. You can't dismiss 4 quid out of hand like that— Rmoan (@roro_mantic) October 3, 2015
"Northwards of £4 a pint" are people really still chatting this shit? Really? £10 for fags,£1 for a can of Coke..it ain't the 80's no more..— Grandmaster Tash™ (@danielvane) October 3, 2015
|£3.60 this cost me and lovely it was too.|
Judging by their Twitter profiles all these people are based in London, which was kind of the point Quinno was making. Certainly since I left London at the beginning of this year I don't think I've paid more than £4 for a pint; when Tiny Rebel's Cwtch appeared in a local bar shortly after winning the CBoB I paid £3.60 for it. But even when I lived in London I rarely paid more than £4. Pubs like the Harp opposite Charing Cross station would knock out decent, enjoyable beer from interesting breweries for less than that. But of course these guys, I assume, don't mean "beer" in the way I and most other people imagine it.
Strangely the idea that we should be paying more for our beer is spreading. Robyn Black over at Inapub even uses the recent Cask Report to suggest publicans "bump up the price of your cask ale to gain greater profits". This is utterly bizarre as the data gathered for the report suggests 67% of those surveyed said that price is an important factor in deciding where to drink.
I can remember the moment I fell in love with Marble brewery. It was a meet the brewer event at Cask, Pimlico a good few years ago. One of the team was talking about how they came to brew their beer Pint. He said they wanted to brew a beer that the "suits" could knock back but that would still excite the beer geeks. I was instantly struck by the image of workers and beer geeks both enjoying the same beer in happy harmony. Good beer designed to have mass appeal. Fantastic stuff. It's what anyone who cares about beer should be aiming for.
Pricing matters to most people. You can't sneer and dismiss it out of hand. The clocked-off workers who dash into a pub to pour a couple of £3.90 pints into their face before jumping onto the 18:15 to Croydon become less tempted to do so when the beer is £5.90. And as a consequence, beer slowly becomes more exclusive. Which is, rather stupidly, exactly what some people want.
On a similar subject check out these posts from Michael Kiser at Good Beer Hunting and Jeff Alworth at Beervana
Arthur Scargill is a beer drinker and currently based in the north west of England. You can find him on Twitter here and if you have a tip for Saturday's Drinker's Digest pass it on here.