Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Why Pubs dont sell more high ABV beers

Recently i got into an interesting discussion with @HardKnottDave over the pricing of beers in Pubs. It started when he suggested the Recomended Retail price of his Infra Red (6.5%) should be £3.70.

Now in the Grand scheme of things Edinburgh seems to be at the top end of the beer price range of the places ive been in the UK, and I had the impression that i rarely pay over £3.40 a pint. So while i thought expecting £3.70 was being a bit optimistic, and in fact some one had actually just tweeted that they had paid only £2.90.

Now while i dont really want to pay more for my beer, i  got to thinking what is reasonable. What do i actually pay. So lucky for me the Bow Bar had just had a festival and had a good range of different ABV beers.

First off. A quick check of the boards in the Bow Bar  and Cloisters (the two places i drink most) confirmed that mostly i pay between £3 and £3.40 Excellent my gut feeling was right. But then asking in the Bow about prices of the different ABV beer, showed that i do indeed ocassionally pay above £3.40. Its mostly that i rarely see beers above 5.5% and thus rarely pay above £3.40

So in Edinburgh £3.70 doesnt seem far away from what i might expect to pay for 6.5% However im still not convinced in other parts of the Country, where the average Pint is closer to £2.50, that you could sell a 6.5% beer for £3.70 (not that im suggesting that its not worth it)
But heres where i got really interested.
Thinking more on the information i had gathered. The price for a half pint of Green Jack Baltic Trader (10.5%)was £2.50 and the price for Highland Orkney Porter 9% was £2.30 both of which was considerably over the £3.70 a pint (but were higher ABV than the Infra Red)

Quite dear for a pint all told, except it isnt. The Highland Orkney Porter retails for £2.30 for a half pint bottle, So the pub was actually the same price as a shop bottle, and considerably cheaper than the same bottle would cost in the pub.
The Green Jack 750ml bottles retails for over £8 which is more than the same beer costs (for the same volume)  in the pub.
Contrast this with almost any 4-5% beer which mostly retail for £2-2.60 considerably less than the same beer would cost in the pub.

So the question is now why do we pay more for 4-5%  beer in the pub, but pay less in the Pub for 9-10% beers.
Are pubs charging too little for the higher ABV beers. I suspect they must be. But i also suspect that they cant charge more, as the market (at least at the moment) is much smaller for the high ABV beers, and thus if they wish to shift the cask before it goes off, they must price the beer much more competitively.

Unfortunately i think this is the reason more pubs wont regularly sell a higher ABV beer. So next time to see a beer thats a little more expensive than normal, consider that you may actually be getting a better deal.

1 comment:

  1. I always look at the price per unit. How many bangs for your buck. It's true that in my part of the world beer is often very much better value than session beer. My Queboid (8%) was on sale recently at £2.90 a pint in a pub that normally sold session beers at £2.50 a pint. The prices went up to £3.00 and £2.60 respectively when VAT went up.

    It seems daft that a beer that is twice the strength of a session beer is sold at very little more. I know how much we sold it to the pub for and they cannot have made any money on that cask.

    I feel very strongly about this and I do wish that people looked at strength before coming out with the predictable "how much a pint?"