Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Beer Pricing

I must confess I very rarely notice how much I am paying for my pint when I go to a pub.  Even after a night out with my CAMRA friends, if someone asked me how much I paid for a pint of such-and-such I'd shrug my shoulders and say £3 something.  If I am asked to pay £4 something I'd probably make a mental note that the pub is a little expensive for the area and if I am asked to pay anything less than £3 then I must be in a Wetherspoons (or up north).

This brings me on to my visit to the Kings Arms near Fernhurst last week with my CAMRA colleagues.  The Kings Arms is a lovely country pub that was owned by Gales many years ago and has struggled over the past few years with a couple of closures and with one notable failure being a Marco Pierre White venture.  It reopened last year as a gastropub with rooms and there is an adjacent Indian restaurant in the barn.  As a CAMRA group we failed to visit the pub soon after the reopening which was disappointing but last week we finally got round to paying it a visit.

The pub is located near the Surrey border just outside the village of Fernhurst on the main A286 out from Midhurst.  It is therefore quite a hike from where all of our active members live and of course a couple of poor souls had to drive.  The driver asked for a half so I asked for a pint of Harveys Sussex and a half of Harveys R.  The former is a standard 4.0% ABV beer and the latter is the Harveys attempt at a low ABV beer coming in at just 2.8% ABV.  The barmaid requested the princely sum of £6 which I raised my eyebrows at a little.  That made me look at the price list (something I very rarely do).  Both pints were £3.80 which is on the high side for Harveys in this area.  This did not concern me a great deal but I was very surprised to see the R being priced the same as the Sussex.  That brings me to my second grumble and the mathematicians among you have probably already worked out that the price of a half was £2.20.  This price converts to £4.40 a pint which gives a 60p premium on the price of the full pint.

I now hand this over to you.  Am I moaning unnecessarily?  Should I expect a 2.8% ABV to be priced the same as a 4.0% ABV best bitter as beer duty for this beer is obviously less?  Is a premium of 60p a pint high for buying two halves over a single pint?  From a few tweets and blog posts I have read recently I think it is becoming a common cause for complaint but how widespread is it?  Is it justifiable?  From a personal point of view if I was running a country pub and trying to attract drinkers then I would be offering a reduced abv beer so top marks to the Kings Arms with this one, as I also understand from the guys that tried it that it is a very good beer.  However, I would not be trying to rip off the poor drivers by charging them a premium if they choose a low abv product and/or a half over a pint.  Last week the pub attracted a group of drinkers who are less inclined to pay it a second visit.  That's the bottom line really which is a shame because it is a pleasant pub and the beer was in good condition.    



  1. I'd say both charging extra for halves, and having a flat rate for beers of varying strengths, are poor business practices that needlessly antagonise customers. I commented on the former here.

  2. What Mudgie said. Especially a pub you need to drive to.

  3. I understand why pubs would want to charge more for halves on the basis of glassware wear and tear and cleaning costs, though 60p seems excessive.

    The 2.8% and 7.5% ABV duty thresholds have completely failed the consumer and should be scrapped in my view. The savings at the bottom end are seldom passed on to the customer, and the only notable consequence has been the near total disappearance of beers at strengths like 2.9%, 3.0%, 7.6%, 7.7% etc.

  4. "I understand why pubs would want to charge more for halves on the basis of glassware wear and tear and cleaning costs, though 60p seems excessive."

    But the actual additional costs are utterly trivial and should be built in to your overall pricing model.

  5. Some breweries charge more for a 3.8 than others do for a 6.4 so a one price for all is reasonable. I do not agree with charging a premium for a half.