QUICK POST: One Practical Thing

HOW MUCH?

This morning another conversation about the price of craft beer broke out on Twitter, as it does every three months or so.

This time the prompt was an arti­cle by Will Hawkes for the Guardian on pro­gres­sive brew­eries and inclu­sive­ness:

Women are increas­ing­ly tak­ing the respon­si­bil­i­ty for shap­ing the beer world. Writer Melis­sa Cole and brew­er Jae­ga Wise have dri­ven the cam­paign against using sex­u­alised images of women in beer mar­ket­ing.… There’s [also] a grow­ing sense that the beer world needs to make it eas­i­er for cus­tomers to drink its prod­ucts. Lead­ing the way is Ride Brew­ing Com­pa­ny in Glas­gow, where the tap­room is ful­ly acces­si­ble to peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties. Head brew­er Dave Lan­ni­gan says his expe­ri­ences have influ­enced this stance. “I am offi­cial­ly dis­abled through loss of hear­ing, so have per­son­al expe­ri­ence of being exclud­ed,” he says. “We are just keen to make a dif­fer­ence, no mat­ter how small.”

(Some­one did great work on the head­line for that sto­ry, by the way.)

This prompt­ed food writer Tony Nay­lor to Tweet the fol­low­ing:

Lots of good initiatives here but if craft beer wants an inclusive working class audience it needs to have a serious conversation about the race to establish the £5 pint as standard. What would you drink if you were skint? Idea: £3 Pint Project. 12 breweries in, say, Greater MCR take turns each month to brew a £3 pint/ get it stocked in loads of good bars/ to see what’s possible stylistically. Now THAT (& even £3 is expensive if you’re skint), would be a positive move.

We think that’s quite an inter­est­ing, provoca­tive sug­ges­tion and, indeed, made a sim­i­lar one our­selves in 2012. He’s cer­tain­ly not say­ing all beer should be £3 a pint, or that £5 pints should be banned, or are a great evil – just that some delib­er­ate, dis­rup­tive ges­ture on price might shake things up a bit.

But whether it’s a prac­ti­cal sug­ges­tion or not it did make us think of some­thing beer enthu­si­asts and com­men­ta­tors could be doing more often: mak­ing the effort to high­light good val­ue beers.

Big, rare, strange craft beers nat­u­ral­ly attract a lot of cov­er­age because they’re dif­fer­ent and come with some sort of sto­ry, but that can add up to a sense that (to bor­row CAMRA’s con­tro­ver­sial phrase) they are ‘the pin­na­cle of the brewer’s art’ and that if you’re drink­ing any­thing else, you’re slum­ming it. Why both­er? Real­ly, you should sell an organ or two, or skip your lunchtime avo­ca­do feast to cov­er the cost of the upgrade. (Remem­ber, nobody has any mon­ey these days.)

So, instead of moan­ing about expen­sive pints – or at least as well as doing that – make a point of flag­ging great ones you’ve found at £3 a pint or £2 a can.

It doesn’t have to be an essay – just a Face­book post, Tweet or pass­ing men­tion in a post on anoth­er top­ic. But essays are good too. Food crit­ic Jay Rayn­er has just shared a piece defend­ing his writ­ing about expen­sive restau­rants but one of the best things he’s ever writ­ten was about a Pol­ish restau­rant in Birm­ing­ham with main cours­es at under a ten­ner.

Of course nobody should pre­tend to like beers they don’t, or hold back from writ­ing about expen­sive beers that real­ly get them excit­ed, but if there’s a read­i­ly avail­able, afford­able beer you real­ly do enjoy, take a moment to tell the world, with­out apolo­gies or caveats, and with­out expect­ing a medal for your brav­ery.

16 thoughts on “QUICK POST: One Practical Thing”

  1. A good exam­ple (oth­er than Sam Smith’s OBB) of the “People’s Pint” in Lon­don is Redemption’s Trin­i­ty (as Kei­th Flett sug­gests in his post). A real­ly good mod­ern hop­py­ish beer at only 3% ABV. I drank this a cou­ple of months ago at the Queen’s Head on Acton St where it was only £3.20 a pint (even cheap­er with the 10% CAMRA dis­count). They also have it on fair­ly fre­quent­ly at the Euston Tap for about £3.60 (I think).

    1. Hi Paul

      Thanks for the shout. I work for the Redemp­tion Brew­ery and it’s always great to have feed­back like this. We are lucky that the duty allows us to brew a great pint at a good price to the pubs.

      Hope you get to try it again soon­er rather than lat­er.

      Dominic

      1. Hi Dominic

        I would drink more of it if it was more wide­ly avail­able in west Lon­don. How­ev­er I do realise there are not that many free­hous­es around here espe­cial­ly in my area where Fuller’s dom­i­nate.

        Cheers

        Paul

  2. Had a pint of Dork­ing Pacif­ic Gold the oth­er day – £3.20 , and a rather pleas­ant gold­en pint with some New Zealandy hop action. Would hap­pi­ly drink more of it.

  3. North­ern Monk’s Faith – hop-for­ward, hazy as a NEIPA and as craft as you like goes for around £2.79 for a 440m can.

    I’ve got friends who think that’s too much, but on trendy craft beer terms I think it’s a bit of bar­gain com­pared to stan­dard Beaver­town, Mag­ic Rock, Cloud­wa­ter etc.

  4. It has to be remem­bered that the biggest influ­ence on the price to the final con­sumer is not the brew­ery gate price, but the retail mark-up. You can eas­i­ly pay £4 a pint in cen­tral Man­ches­ter for beers that would sell for £3 or not much more in Stock­port. And there’s one noto­ri­ous­ly pri­cy local bot­tle shop which typ­i­cal­ly charges 25% more for the same or sim­i­lar beers than oth­er inde­pen­dents in the gen­er­al area.

  5. Don’t for­get beer duty which is 11p per % of alco­hol per pint, above 2.8% – so 44p on a 4% pint. Half of this is relieved for small brew­ers.

  6. The trou­ble is that if any­one goes online cel­e­brat­ing a £3 pint or what­ev­er they tend to be tak­en to task by the “cask beer is too cheap” brigade. And if you are known to be a CAMRA activist you can add “typ­i­cal CAMRA all they want is cheap beer” for good mea­sure.

  7. Going to have to give a shout out to Oakham JHB. A lot of impact in a small beer, not quite the sin­gu­lar hop impact as the oth­ers in its range (e.g. Cit­ra, Scar­let Macaw or Green Dev­il), but a lot of change left over if you pick up a few bot­tles.

    Swung by an Aldi in south lon­don and they had it at maybe £1 x 500ml bot­tle on some kind of special/promotion. Picked up some for the bike home, and swung by that week­end with the car.

    1. Just bought some Scar­let Macaw from Wait­rose at £1.79 a bot­tle.
      By some dis­tance my favourite Oakham beer because it’s the most bal­anced. Lot of beer for the mon­ey, even if it’s not the lat­est thing in town.

  8. This is a very inter­est­ing pro­pos­al. The creep­ing up in price of even canned and bot­tled beer is pric­ing out any­one who doesn’t have much dis­pos­able income. The first time I bought a Cloud­wa­ter bot­tle, less than two years ago, it was about £2.79 and their DIPAs were £3.99. Since they switched to cans and scaled up to 440mls, their ses­sion strength stuff is nev­er any less than £3.99, which is the same as their DIPAs cost in 330ml bot­tles. Now I find myself leav­ing them on the shelf more often than not because i can get oth­er high qual­i­ty stuff for less.

    Dur­ing the Jan­u­ary blues when I couldn’t real­ly afford bot­tle shop vis­its, I tend­ed to get 3 Duv­el for £5.25 in Tesco which is ter­rif­ic val­ue for a tru­ly great beer and a decent night’s drink­ing at home.

    I will say though when it comes to drink­ing out, the mark up for an inde­pen­dent craft is not a huge amount more than what you’d pay for a Guin­ness or macro lager so I don’t think the fin­ger can be sole­ly point­ed at craft beer for the £5 pint

  9. Trea­son upris­ing 1.99 a can in spoons. Var­i­ous cans and bot­tles in morisons for four for six quid Inc stone ipa. Bad Co wild grav­i­ty. Four packs of North­ern monk eter­nal around 540. I could go on and on. 500ml bot­tles at 1.50 thin­ner on ground but Kirk­stall pale ilk­ley pale, St Peter plum porter are the ones in my kitchen today.

  10. Picked up the tast­ing notes tonight for the upcom­ing Spoons fes­ti­val and not­ed it includes Oakham Atti­la which at 7.5% (and assum­ing it’ll be the usu­al £2ish), rather puts paid to the idea that real ale needs to be north of £4/pint… and a cask ver­sion of GK Her­itage Gold is also on the list.

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