The Government's latest attempt to tackle the twin evils of binge drinking and anti-social behaviour has just been announced and on first inspection it appears to be a misguided and ill judged piece of legislation that will not solve these problems but instead could potentially seriously hinder the growing niche market of innovative craft beers and brewers making quality high abv beer.
The Con-Dem's plans include the raising of duty on beers stronger than 7.5% and a lowering of duty on beers below 2.8%. The actual level of duty for both categories will not be announced until the Spring but a spokesperson for the Prime Minister said that it will be set at a level which will influence drinkers behaviour. This can be taken to read that the level will be high and punitive.
This policy is misguided because it fails to tackle the alcoholic cause of binge drinking and anti social behaviour which is not gangs of young people hanging around swing parks drinking Brewdog's 9.2% Hardcore IPA or Kernel's 7.7% S.C.A.NS IPA. What they are drinking is the usual mass market multinational beer stacked high and sold cheap in supermarkets and bargain booze shops. We all know the ones I mean and this legislation allows these manufacturers and retailers to skip their social responsibility.
It would be interesting to find out how much money has been given by these vested interests in political donations and sponsorships to the coalition partners in the last few years. It is also interesting that the Conservative's election pledge of banning the sale by supermarkets of beer below cost price as a loss leader has been kicked into the long grass for the next few years. It seems the intense lobbying by these vested interests has worked pretty much in their favour.
So, while socially responsible craft beer drinkers and brewers pay the price in the name of public health and peaceful behaviour, hordes of party animals and park dwellers will still be able to overload their trolleys with slabs of horrendously cheap cooking lager and chemical cider and get ridiculously drunk.
It now seems that society's problems are all the fault of some beer geeks that enjoy a quality, well made beverage every now and again.