Sunday, 31 March 2013


It often frustrates me when I walk into a boozer and I am faced with differing beer prices.

I am talking about similar beers, and ales of pretty much,equal strength(between 3.8 and 4.5%). Not a lager price, as opposed to an ale price. Simply, a beer from one brewer and one from another.

Let me give you an example: Four real ales on the bar in a 'free of the tie' pub. Two ales from a local microbrewery, priced at £2.40 a pint. Another ale is priced at £2.50. Surprise, surprise, the beer from a well known. local family brewer, is £2.90!

OK, I appreciate the smaller brewer will be receiving some tax breaks. But, a 50p a pint mark up?

It's always the same situation with a couple more 'locally,well established brewers'. I don't mind paying a 10 or 20p hike. But surely you must agree, paying a premium of over 20%, is excessive and not justified,.

I once had a difference of opinion with a MD of a large, local family, brewer, who was having 'a pop' at me for highlighting their 'expensive beer' in an article I had done.

He bleated: "You have to appreciate that we use only the finest ingredients. And this is reflected in our pricing."

Gulp! Sharp intake of breath here. Err,"I am led to believe that microbreweries use the finest ingredients too."

 Talk about a patronising, condescending, unjustified and skewed comment!

Another example, is when I ask a pub owner why  certain brews are never available.The answer is always the same. "Their prices are too expensive and my customers would not accept the 'mark up' I would have to apply". Or words to that effect!

I reckon there are only slightly mitigating circumstances here, for the price increase.(I am a fair minded geezer!) And that is, the 'expensive' beers in question are always excellent ales. However, just feel a little mugged, when there are similar quality beers, 50p cheaper!    

Alas, I fear the 'roller coaster ' pricing on some of our bars will continue. Up we go, £2.90 a pint up this end of the bar, descending thankfully, to a £2.40 pint at the mid-point. Crikey! The roller coaster has hit the high point at t'other end. It's over three quid a pint here, boss!       

In conclusion, I do appreciate that there are price fluctuations up and down the country. Prices mentioned, are what I would expect to pay, here up north. 

I am sure you realise, it was the percentage mark up on similar quality beers, that was the subject in question.          



  1. I dont mind variations in price from one brewer to another. They all have different costs and overheads. Ingredients costs do vary a lot too, especially between hop varieties. I do, however, object to regional differences. These are, largely, totally unjustifiable. As an example, Ipswich and Derby are pretty similar in terms of property values, so no real difference in overheads. So why do I pay £2.10 to £2.60 a pint in The Brunswick in Derby for their excellent ales brewed on the premises while a comparable brewpub in Ipswich charges £3.00 to £3.20 a pint? That's the real scandal!

  2. Excellent comment my friend.Although I do think a 20% mark up is excessive. :-)

  3. Overheads Briggsy. Plus they will be buying the microbrewery beer much much cheaper. Come and see me one day and i'll show you in depth how pricing works from different breweries pal. The landlord simply needs his GP% and will price accordingly. If it means £2.90 then thats what it has to be otherwise he aint making enough and would be better off NOT selling it. No publican in the land wants to put prices up. But economics dictate my friend. I will gladly share my knowledge on this subject with you. And five minutes later i'll tell it you all again!!

  4. Actually I find that many specialist beer pubs such as the Crown and Magnet in Stockport tend to price all beers of similar strength the same.

  5. It always baffles me why beer can't have different price points. If it's worth the extra then people will buy it. If you think it's not worth the extra money then you have the choice not to buy.

    Walk into any shop, or restaurant, or nearly any other retail business and you will find various price ranges for what are essentially the same thing, but of different qualities. Whether the consumer believes they are worth the price is an individual choice.

    Generally good beer does cost more to make and more for the landlord to buy.

    Pays your money, takes your choice.

  6. I don't think you can expect all brands to be priced the same nor have a narrow difference. There are wide differences between brands of bread, beans and beer.

    The issue is how so few pubs make prices clear to customers prior to ordering. A small difficult to read piece of A4 at one end of the bar that you have to look for.

    The Spoons have clear pricing and if we had an effective beer drinker consumers union they would win every award going for putting a price on each pumpclip and held up as an example of getting it right.

    1. but by them emphasising the low prices makes it doubly hard for the independent to compete against their massive buying power. Also an A4 sheet of paper at the end of the bar is perfectly legal. Please don't suggest that "Spoons" as you call them are fully transparent about their pricing. Its all marketing. If it wasnt in their interests to publicise cheap prices they wouldnt do it.

    2. We need a chat pal.
      TT is expensive because they use expensive ingredients and the owners will not move on price.
      For example a firkin of TT Landlord would cost to us around £107+vat.
      At 50% Gross Profit Margin the retail price incuding vat would be £3.57
      On the other hand a micro brewery beer may be £60. At the same 50% margin the retail price including vat would be £2.
      Same GP massively different prices. If the cost price is more the retail price is more. Small breweries pay less tax. Weaker beers pay less duty. Different localities pay different rents and rates. Its not a communist state pal. Some things cost more than others.
      The landlord applies his percentage and thats that. If he charged £2 for TTL then he wouldnt make enough to pay the bills and go bust. End of story. Its a business not a charity.,

    3. Cheers Andy for the enlightening response.I feel I understand the pricing fluctuations better now.Although,I am sure you can understand my initial frustration of a 20% increase for a similar quality tasting ale.

  7. It still frustrates me though, when there is a 20% plus mark up for similar beers. Timmy Taylor's beers irrespective of strength or brand are always far dearer. Ask the people who know far more about buying ale than me. The people in the trade. They will confirm it. The likes of Thwaites,Marston's and Thornbridge are other contenters at the head of the 'Expensive Beer Stakes' race!