More bad news for beer lovers
the main retailers of alcohol
There are now more supermarkets in Britain than pubs -- a stark fact that underlines the problems affecting the struggling pub trade. Research by IGD, which monitors the grocery business, reports that there are now 55,854 supermarkets. The number of pubs is 54,818, down from 61,000 a decade ago. The number is expected to fall to 52,000 by the end of the decade.
The embattled pub trade, hit by the smoking ban and an 18% increase in beer duty last year, has expressed dismay that the government has rejected a call from the Chief Medical Officer for Health in England and Wales to impose a minimum price of 50pence for a unit of alcohol. Sir Liam Donaldson made the sugegstion in order to tackle the binge drinking, which is caused in the main by young people buying cheap alcohol from supermarkets.
Bob Russell MP, a member of the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, commented: "It is extraordinary that some supermarkets can sell alcohol for less than bottled water. The government needs to decide whether they think pubs are an important part of a sustainable community."
Peace at Marston's
I'm delighted to say that peace has broken out between Stephen Oliver, managing director of Marston's brewing division, and me (see previous blog). On my return from a week-long trip to Australia, I found a letter from Stephen in which he regretted his "intemperate descriptions of some CAMRA members". For my part, I am happy to withdraw the suggestion that he is a prat.
Tesco should sort out the history of beer. It's own-label IPA, brewed by Williams Brothers in Scotland, says on the back label that IPA dates from the 17th century. I don't think there were too many members of the Raj around in India at the time, demanding a pale, refreshing beer.
If Tesco are right then the whole history of British brewing has to be revived. Porters and stouts would date from the 16th century and no doubt King John signed Magna Carter with a flagon of BrewDog Speedball.