beer festivals

Beasts of Bodmin and the Price of a Pint

The heritage railway ran beer festival visitors from Bodmin Parkway into town.
The heritage railway ran beer festival visitors from Bodmin Parkway into town.

Unlike at most beer festivals, we found room to breathe at Bodmin. There were no queues for anything and we had little trouble getting a seat. This, of course, probably means that it was fatally undersubscribed, but we won’t worry about that for now.

Working our way through the beastly strong Burton Ale candidates on the menu, pondering the “West Country Ale” as a separate useful descriptor for certain types of sweet, strong brown beer, we became aware that the chaps at the other end of the table wanted our attention.

“Do you know where the local Wetherspoon’s is?”

We didn’t, but we ended up chatting to them for a while, and very nice they were too — veterans of Exeter CAMRA with the bulging, twenty year old tickers’ notebooks to prove it. Once we’d compared notes (literal in their case) on the beers at the festival, the conversation turned to Exeter. As we’d struggled to find a good pint there, we decided to pump them for information.

We were interested to note, however, that their comments went something like this: “The Old Red Lion — now, that’s a nice pub, £2.90 a pint, about four handpumps.” For them, the average price of a pint was a key piece of information, and they had an estimate for every pub in Exeter.

When they asked us about Penzance, we had no specific idea of the price of a pint in any pub. Are we odd?

We enjoyed St Austell Big Job ‘double IPA’, Driftwood Spars Alfie’s Revenge, Spingo Special, as well as beers from Coastal and the Penzance Brewing Company.

29 replies on “Beasts of Bodmin and the Price of a Pint”

I’m pretty sure that if you were comparing notes, they were scoopers rather than tickers.

I would say you are odd for engaging in a market with little care or idea for prices within that market. It is not the act of a rational market participant.

I have no idea of your income or social class, but it is a behaviour that is more common in people for whom money is not a concern.

You may care more for product range or quality than price information, but that does not negate price as a key factor in the comparison of value between establishments.

As the people in question did not know you they may have thought you were interested in price information.

If someone were to ask me regarding the facilities of an area I was familiar with, price would be one piece of information I would include. As price can be an embarrassment to some, and prices unclear in many pubs, providing that information is polite.

Interesting. Without wanting to provide a spreadsheet of our household finances, I’d say the reasons we don’t worry too much about the price of a pint, give or take a quid, are:

1. we don’t have kids, run a car, smoke or eat much meat — that saves us quite a lot of money, or so we gather from observing friends and family
2. we are *ridiculously* careful about spending in other areas of our lives and
3. absolutely prioritise spending on travel and beer.

In other words, being able to afford a bus fare and drink what we fancy in a pub at the other end, without undue agonising over the cost, is pretty important to our standard of life.

I did not ask for justification life. I would think no less of you if you were to simply say “we are stinking rich”

I would not criticise your choices, but I would say your life is uncommon. “Odd” was your choice of noun.

I would say being aware of cost is not agonising over it. I would say most people care what the cost of things they buy is, and beer has no special place in that.

I am far from being an expert in beer geekery. I have studied and continue to study the species.

My observation is that beer geeks value beer more than regular drinkers. That is not to say they consider it priceless, they simply place a higher value on it.

There is a price level that would have the geekiest of beer geeks moaning about the price.

The moaning point for regular drinkers is slightly below the market equilibrium, I gather it is somewhat higher than equilibrium for the beer geek.

As an addition, I would throw the question back. Is price insensitivity a mark of beer geekery? Like a league. The more price insensitive to beer the better ones geek credential? A rank, like having stripes in the army

If so is this a factor greater or lesser than being able to drink the type of muck that would make regular drinkers gag and declare it “An interesting and bold experiment on breaking the boundaries of the IBU level of a pale ale”

There are factors here I need to study more.

In a long winded way Cookie is right. It always amazes me how scathing some people can be to those that raise price concerns. To the vast majority of people in this country, price is a constant nagging worry and the difference of 10 or 20 pence will mount up and make a few more pints possible over a period of time.

I dare say these chaps were on some kind of fixed income. Seems right to me to include price. The complete picture for any drinker is what is the place like, what does it cost, what is the quality and how good is the choice?

Price is important. It dictates everything for some, not through meanness, but necessity. In my case of course, it is meanness, but then I have had more duff pints that you could shake a stick at. It has made me cynical.

T, I think this is one of the things that has been a great success for CAMRA and what is missing in the North American market. In the UK, the issue of cost for value to the consumer is important. In North America it is a bit of a dirty discussion for reasons beyond me.

But you didn’t think we were being scathing here, did you? (Just checking. Failure of tone on our part if you did.)

I remain unscathed. But I think T suggests that you may be the object of a scathing response. You are, after all, suggested the beautiful intoxicant might be just a product and not a movement.

Seems to be one of those occasions where you and Tandleman (and Cooking Lager/Carpe Zytha) are in agreement: it’s not wrong to take price into account when judging the quality of a pub or product; and it is wrong to get snotty with people who do so.

Right. Can’t really argue with that.

Paying top whack for duff beer really is galling. In my experience, many of the pub company outlets charging well over the odds (often because they are a bit upmarket and foody) have served up the poorest beer.

I’d be in the same boat, but it’s not that I don’t care about prices within the market. Pints where I am cost about “pint price”: somewhere in the €4 to €6 range. The €2 difference is not really worth fussing about and I don’t think that necessarily marks me out as a member of the idle rich (though, of course, I am). They might add up if I went out for seven or eight pints a couple of times every week, but I don’t.

I *will* notice if somewhere is serving beer above or below “pint price”, but I wouldn’t direct someone to a €4 pub over a €6 pub unless they were selling the exact same thing, which they generally aren’t.

This is what I wanted to say. Pints in Penzance are about the normal price, give or take.

Would you direct someone, or tell them what sells what, where, at what price, and what you thought of the quality of offer?

€2 is neither here nor there to me but I’d let the other guy decide whether €2 were important or not, what with it being his wallet and all.

No, but only because it’s long-winded, boring and they’d never remember:
“You can get €4 pints in Messrs Maguire but they only have their own stuff; The Bull & Castle has a good range, and it’s €4 Mon-Wed, but you only get half a litre of the ales, though stouts are served by the pint. And the promotion doesn’t include cask. Farrington’s does full pints, with a good range, for €4 Mon-Wed, but it’s not as good a range as the Bull & Castle and there’s no cask beer. No special offers in Against the Grain but it’s particularly good for imports, however the UK, US and German stuff can be as much as €6. There is cask beer, but most pints are around €4.50-€5 all week.”

Nah. I’ll say “Try Messrs Maguire, The Bull & Castle, Farrington’s and Against the Grain: it’s about €4-5 a pint in them for most things.”

I would say that price only really bothers me when it is substantially higher than average. I would guess for similar reasons to those presented here – the quality and range of the beer is more defining for me.

I think this is a beer taster thing, the average drinker will be more price conscious as they are looking for “a beer” not “the beer”

I have to say I keep a kind of mental map of prices in all the pubs I regularly frequent. In recent months, I’ve been in a position where I do have to count the pennies a bit more than normal. This hasn’t forced me on to a diet of Tesco Value Lager, but if I’m just going out for a pint or two I do have to think “is it worth paying £2.90 for Robinsons, when I can pay £1.99 for a guest ale in Spoons (even if it is a shed) or £1.66 for Old Brewery Bitter in a Sam Smith’s pub?”

I recently paid £3.40 for a pint in a Brunning & Price pub. The pint was nice, as was the pub, in its own way. But it did sort of offend my innate sense of value.

The Magnet in Stockport, which is arguably the town’s premier beer enthusiast pub, is also notably good value against much of the local competition, with standard real ales typically at £2.30-£2.40 a pint. It’s been nicely refurbished and is certainly far from being a scruffy dump

Never a better time to prostitute your blog for free grog, then. When needs must, the devil drives. Tand tells me you can get pissed for free by volunteering for pong and vinegar festivals. Always one of them occuring.

If it were you, Cookie, that’s exactly what I’d do. You can get a pint of Foster’s for €3.50 in this town if you know where to look. Might want to do something about the English accent in those pubs, mind.

The only place I find myself getting particularly price-conscious is in the supermarket, where I balk at anything much over £1.75 a bottle and buy up in quantity (if the beer’s any good) the 4-for-the-price-of-3 offers. Pub prices bother me less, probably because my wife drinks large glasses of dry white wine, which will set you back £5 or more a pop in almost any pub in London today.

Curmudgeon’s “innate sense of value” resonates.

I regularly mention price on my blog because I can’t take it out of my assessment. I am a thirsty lad, especially if I find a pint I like, so I could be saving my bus fare if am avoiding 30p a pint less.

I would always praise a pub selling good beer at a perceived “lower price” but too often in pubs appearing to charge over the odds the paying for quality ethos is absent, and I feel cheated. So that sense is portrayed in my reviews.

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