OK, we all know we have no idea what a pint means. I have one system that says 12 ounces is enough, another demands 16 oz and the one Mark Dredge was talking about understands it to mean a full 20. Here in Canada, we call a 12 ounce bottle a "pint" but we get do 20 ounce pints in pubs too so, despite the confusion, I was interested in his view of value and price:
I have a friend who won't pay more than £3 for a pint or £10 for a haircut. While the measures announced yesterday to put a minimum price on alcohol are aimed at curbing binge drinking and shouldn't affect the average beer drinker, last week's news that the average price of a pint in the UK has passed £3 will hit him hard. The news gets worse: after the VAT increase earlier in the month, Britain's largest breweries have warned it's likely there will be a further 5-10p added to the cost of a pint in February thanks to rising raw material prices and increasing brewery overheads. All this makes for joyless reading, but raises the question of how much, in the real world, we are willing to pay for a pint.
If you have picked up anything from me, you will know that every consumer should be aware of what it takes to put together of the price of anything they buy. Beer included. And Mark breaks it down for us well: a new micro - if not nano - brewer in the UK puts 90 pence into every pint that costs the 3 pound average. In Canadian terms that average cost to the consumer is $4.80. Funny thing - I can't remember when I paid so little.
And isn't that the problem? I would love to go anywhere and pay less than five bucks for 20 ounces of great craft beer. Heck, I am quite happy to pay five bucks for 16 ounces of great US craft beer when I slip over the border. So, why should we fret that UK beer lovers are only catching up to the sorts of prices we North Americans pay? Is the issue really taxation of beer? Well, I am sorta of the set that sees this as an issue for grown ups - we need taxes and we should tax the things that are luxuries that people will pay for more than we tax necessities like food, housing and clothes. I'm quite happy to snip at your idea of boozy freedom for my roads and schools and hospitals, thanks very much.
But, I don't think that this is really an issue about tax. I actually think the issue is the idea that somehow beer should be a non-consideration financially for the consumer, that it should be not about our budgets. Not so. You want special, pay special. You want a daily drink, budget accordingly. Do we put up with the rare cigar lovers, fine cheese eaters or gas guzzler tank fillers complaints that such things cost a hell of a lot when you grow up? Do we rally in the street under their banners? No, of course we don't. It's a complex world with complex taxes which are part of a complex financial system. Singling out one thing to complain "Christ, that costs a lot - cost less when I was younger" not so much misses the point as is unaware that there are things called points. Last time I heard the UK was on the point of financial calamity. We Canadians solved that 15 years ago. In part by each pulling our weight. By paying taxes and cutting services... and I am a socialist.
So, with all that, at what point does your mild go bitter? Me, I have paid 7 or 8 bucks for a 20 ounce pint of good beer and I don't think of it. But I don't live in pubs. I have a family. I have a mortgage to pay. I have a blog to write. Do you have some barrier to price that you dare not pass? Do you think that your interest in good beer deserves a tax break?