There has been much discussion in the beer blogosphere recently about the price of a nice pint of refreshing beer now being on average over the three pound mark. The January 1st VAT rise to 20% and the increased cost of beer raw materials have been pretty much to blame for the spike in prices. I'm sure, in some cases, there has also been some rounding up by a few less than scrupulous landlords and publicans who have seen this as an opportunity to squeeze a few more pennies from drinkers. Not good news, you would agree, for folk who like a nice pint down the pub every now and again.
On Friday, I headed to the pub to meet some friends for a few end of the week beers to unwind and relax following the strains and stresses of the working week. However, the price I was charged for a pint of Keg BrewDog Punk IPA was enough to make me wince and take a sharp gasp of breath and made £3 for a pint seem like the bargain of the week.
I was asked to pay £3.85 for the pint of Punk and as much as it was a really nice pint, I struggled to come to terms with the price of it. In mitigation, the pub was a Glasgow City Centre pub that is probably paying it's fair share of hefty rents and business rates but being asked to pay nearly £4 for a pint was a bit too rich for my frugal and thrifty Caledonian ways. These are prices that you would expect to pay if you were ordering continental 'premium' beer or in the centre of cities such as Edinburgh and London.
It made me think and ponder a number of things.
Is this a vision of the beer future where some breweries and pubs will start to re-position niche 'real' and 'craft' beer as a premium, top of the range product to their punters and will start to price accordingly?
Is this, also, the start of the process where beers are now becoming generally more expensive in pubs than generic, mass produced multinational cooking lager?
I know that there is always Wetherspoons where I can get a pint for £2 odd, or in some cases less but I don't want to spend the rest of my days supping in 'Spoons dodging the Deuchars and Greene King.
I know I've paid more than that for hard to get and fairly rare beers but when you are out having a pint drinking fairly common and available ale, where is your cut off point for buying beers in a boozer? At what point do you say, "Sorry. I'm not paying that?"
I think mine might have been reached on Friday.