It’s Friday night, and you’ve been coerced into another pub visit with the people you work with but dislike. Approaching the bar, panic grips you. Frantically, you scan the alcohol selection, searching for a familiar name, but all you see is “sour beer” this and “aged Norfolk IPA” that. Your debit card feels sweaty in the palm of your hand. What’ll it be, mate? the barman asks, his gaze burning into your soul. Time’s up. You choose a lager. That’ll be £6.10. You hand over your card. You have failed.
For most drinking Brits, the cripplingly expensive pub pint is a sad fact of life. Indeed, 56 percent of adults struggle to afford a pint at the pub, according to research released this week by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).
As reported in the Guardian, CAMRA’s research showed that the average price of a pint in London is £5.20, which may explain why pub beer sales dropped in the second quarter of the year, despite a boost from the World Cup. The average cost of a pint in the rest of the UK is £3.50. As a result, many now turn to the supermarket for beer, instead of their local boozer.
CAMRA attributes the high cost of a pint, which has risen steeply in the last few years, to increased taxes such as beer duty, VAT, and business rates.
Even outside of London, things aren’t looking great. Oxford, Edinburgh, and Bristol have the most expensive pints after the capital, where the average price is £4.57, £4.52, and £4.24 respectively. Carlisle in the north of England boasts the cheapest average, with a pint usually costing £2.35. *Googles trains to Carlisle*.
CAMRA’s report is far from the the first indication that the British pub is struggling. In 2016, pubs were closing at a rate of 26 per week after rising rent prices and tax hikes, with most of these being in the South East.
“It’s no surprise that most people are finding pub pints unaffordable, given the tax burden they’re facing,” CAMRA’s chairperson, Jackie Parker, told the Guardian. “Beer drinkers will naturally look to more cost-effective ways to enjoy a drink, such as buying from off-licences and supermarkets for home consumption.”
“The result is incredibly detrimental to our local communities and to our own personal connectivity,” he continued. “The reality is that there are very few places that can replicate the benefit provided by our nation’s pubs, and once they’re gone, they’re gone forever.”
Pour one out for the struggling British pub, an institution that could soon be a thing of the past. Or don’t—that pint’s expensive.