Generalisations about beer culture opinion

QUICK POST: One Practical Thing


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 replies on “QUICK POST: One Practical Thing”

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).

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.


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.



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.

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.

Brodies of east London sells its beers at £3.00/pint at the King William IV in Leyton.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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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