Monday, 27 October 2008

Price of ale

I keep thinking about putting a post on here about the price of beer. There is already one that is close to what I would like to say on The Woolpack Blog.

The only real addition to this is that most licensees do not make a large amount of money - many struggle to make a profit at all and too many make a loss.

Remember that 5p less on a pint of beer might be ALL the licensees profit GONE.

There are many examples all over the place about the price of beer being too high. For example, the very important discussion about measures on Tandlemans blog is distracted by this very issue.

If beer was too expensive pubs would not be shutting down at the rate of 36 per week. We licensees would be gleefully raking in the profits and fighting to keep open our goldmines!!


Tandleman said...

I think you always have to equate price to the overall offering. You don't just pay for the drink, you pay for the package. Then you have to weigh it up against your own predilections and preferences as well as your pocket. There isn't a straight answer to what the price of ale should be.

I am not too price concious (but always price aware) up to a point. Above £2.50 a pint I expect the experience to be faultless. It isn't just price. It's the offering. Oh I said that already, but it is worth repeating.

I'll give one example. My local was Greater Manchester Food and Drink Pub of the Year 2007, is the current CAMRA Greater Manchester Pub of the Year Runner up, my CAMRA Branch Pub of the Year and Lees Cask Pub of the Year. It is a small two roomed country pub a mile up an unmade road and trade is never passing. Good (and reasonable)home cooked food is available until 8pm from opening time and it sells Lees Bitter at £2.05 a pint. In fact the four Lees Beers sold are all £2.05 a pint except when Moonraker is on and even that is too cheap I'm sure.

It simply isn't expensive enough for what you get when you go there, in terms of quality and experience and the effort put in to the business. But it is in an area that expects cheap beer. Cleft stick!

The Woolpack Inn said...

Thanks Tandleman. Useful comments as ever!

"You don't just pay for the drink, you pay for the package"


"It isn't just the price, it's the offering" - and I repeat it again, because it really is worth repeating.

I think location is a problem. Your example of the remote pub is so true, there are many I know that simply feel that they have to keep the price low otherwise they will have no custom. Unfortunately, increasing numbers of pubs are probably going out of business because they do not charge enough.

This is why I put up objections to the price question. For all the reasons I have mentioned else where, for some pubs to be viable they must charge the £2.50 you mention. I actually think more like £3.00 a pint is where we should be right now for rural and community pubs. But I'll come to that on another post.

You are right. The quality HAS to be right. The problem is setting the level of quality. Some people would prefer drinking in a dive where the beer is less than £2 per pint - that, frankly, is the Wetherspoons model.

The quality and range of beer is important as well. A pub that has an ever changing selection of microbrewed ales, like us, does not benefit from being able to strike a deal with a regional brewer. The beer will be better quality and more expensive. Part of the overall package.

The level of quality scares me. I know I need to charge more for everything I do here because we are 8 miles from any road that has a number. We are at the top of a very long and scenic valley and there are many cost disadvantages to the property and location. But getting the quality right for the customer is difficult - some do want cheap beer and don't care about quality.

Hopefully drinking beer in a most beautiful part of the world, and with a charismatic landlord, should be worth a little bit more for your beer!