Monday, 24 November 2008

New blow for pubs and beer

Chancellor slaps six pence on the price of a pint

How many pubs does Alistair Darling and the Labour government want to see close?
Today's mini-budget is another body blow for the beleaguered pub trade, putting a further six pence on the price of a pint of beer, following the swingeing increase in the full budget earlier this year.
It's typical tactics by the exchequer -- give with one hand and take away with the other. The decrease in VAT meant some relief for pubs, but that has been wiped out by the increase in duty on alcohol. The rise in duty means that in many parts of the country a pint of beer will now cost more than £3. Already five pubs a day are closing and the number will now accelerate as publicans find it impossible to compete with supermarkets. People on low incomes, faced by rising prices and unemployment, will be driven in to the arms of the supermarkets as they peddle cheap alcohol.
The government says it wants to help small businesses but it always excludes the pub trade from its policies. Labour did help craft brewers through the introduction of Progressive Beer Duty, which means small brewers pay less duty than bigger producers. But the advantages of PBD have been wiped out in recent years by budget rises in duty and the ham-fisted manner in which the smoking ban was brought in: pubs with more than one bar should have been able to set aside a room for smokers. which is the case in mainland Europe.
It seems governments, whatever their stripe, do nothing to help pubs and brewers. The Conservatives caused mayhem in the 1990s with their Beer Orders that created the modern pub companies, with serious restrictions on choice for drinkers, and now Labour seems determined toi tax pubs out of existence.
We need a party that stands up for pubs and beer lovers.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Historic Leeds brewery to close

Carlsberg wields the axe
as global brands decline

Carlsberg has announced the closure of the historic Tetley brewery in Leeds and has already ripped out the famous "Yorkshire Square" fermenters -- action that suggests the cask version of Tetley Bitter could disappear. While Carlsberg blames difficult market conditions, rising costs of raw materials and the swingeing duty increase in this year's Budget, the writing has been on the wall for the Leeds brewery ever since the Danish group renamed itself simply Carlsberg instead of Carlsberg-Tetley.
Tetley had to move from its city centre site in Leeds, which the local council needs for student accommodation. The plans were to move to a greenfield site outside the city but that will not now happen. The keg version of Tetley will move to the Carlsberg lager factory in Northampton. If the cask version survives -- and the brand gets no support from the parent group -- it will have to find a new home, possibly the Burtonwood brewery near Warrington, which makes only contract beers, mainly for Scottish & Newcastle.
The Leeds brewery currently also brews Tetley Mild, Ansells Bitter and Burton Ale. The future of all these beers is now in doubt. The brewery is due to close in 2011, with the loss of 170 jobs. But the fact that the historic fermenters have already been thrown out suggests the site will be run down long before that date.

Monday, 3 November 2008

SIBA sales buck the trend

Cask beer booms for craft brewers

Craft brewers have reported an 8% increase in beer sales -- mainly cask ale -- for the first six months of 2008. Siba -- the Society of Independent Brewers -- says the increase bucks the trend of falling beer sales, especially among global brewers. Coors, for example, reported a shocking collapse of its profits last week.
Siba has 430 members, ranging from tiny micros to such large regionals as Adnams, Fuller's and Shepherd Neame. The organisation says the increase in sales is due to its Direct Delivery Scheme that enables members to deliver beer direct to pubs rather than through wholesalers or into central warehouses. Siba has a DDS arrangement with one of the country's biggest pub companies, Enterprise Inns.
In total Siba brewers now deliver direct to 3,000 pubs while its members own a total of 4,500 pubs of their own.
The increase in beer sales is proof that discerning beer drinkers are moving in large numbers from over-hyped global lager brands to locally-made beers with taste and flavour.