In 1984, the trade magazine Pub Leader conducted a survey of beer prices around in England and Wales and discovered that cask ale cost 2p more per pint than comparable keg beer.
The average price for keg was 70½p a pint, while cask cost 72½p. (Lager was more expensive again at an average of 81p a pint.)
In trendy London, the price difference was even more pronounced, with a pint of cask ale going at 85½p (About £2.35 in today’s money.) One pub in the West End of the city was charging a staggering £1.03. (Equivalent to £2.90 today.)
The Campaign for Real Ale weren’t happy with this finding and urged the Brewers’ Society to admit that its members ‘are gradually turning real ale into a premium product at a premium price’.
What can we conclude from this? That being fussy makes consumers vulnerable to exploitation?
At any rate, it was surely CAMRA’s efforts in the 1970s which ‘turned real ale into a premium product’: brewers and publicans were simply, and somewhat reluctantly, responding to the market CAMRA created.
We’re trying to digest a big pile of surveys and articles about ‘the price of a pint’ from the 1960s onward, and we’ll no doubt share a few more of these snapshots as we go.
We’ve got to file this somewhere and this post seems the best place: from the London Drinker, May 1980 (PDF) more evidence of premium pricing for cask ale over keg bitter in the wake of the ‘real ale craze’:
And here’s another nugget from the London Drinker that appeared in the September 1980 issue: