568ml is Not a Pint

Posted on June 7, 2012


Hold onto your hacky sacks, Boris is holding a big old sports day and we are all invited. You’re as likely to find me line dancing in a chicken suit to a Chaz and Dave medley as you are watching the Olympics but with only 40 odd sleeps to go there’s no bloody avoiding it!

As a result I have learned 2 things….

1. If Louis Smith is anything to go by gymnastics is definitely not just for girls

2. Olympic Beer is set to cost a whopping £7.23 per pint according to The Telegraph’s Political Correspondent, Tim Ross. He says….

A 330ml bottle of Heineken lager at the Games will cost £4.20, making the equivalent price of a pint £7.23. This is more than double the national average price of £3.17 for a pint of beer.

Surely that can’t be right? I always thought the beer and pub industry was a slow moving beast but seemingly in just the few short weeks since I stepped down things have moved on at pace and we’ve now moved to a price per millilitre for beer otherwise this just wouldn’t stack up. A more cynical person than me could suggest that Mr Ross was chasing the big emotive headline number and maybe overlooking some of the…well….facts.

It’s a well known fact that 2 halves of lager cost more than a pint. I’ve had many an argument with disgruntled punters about why that is so, it’s the same amount of beer after all. But consider it from the other side of the bar and it makes perfect sense. It takes longer to serve – stopping as you must mid pour to pick up the other glass – then there’s two glasses to wash, taking up more room in the glasswasher, using more detergent. It all adds up. The overheads in serving two halves are more so it’s right pubs should charge a little more.

Bottled beer is a whole different ball game. In the land of the mainstream drinker bottled and draught drinkers are broadly two different beasts that rarely cross into each other’s territory. Watch the bottle drinker stalking the bar, if their brand of choice isn’t in the fridge they won’t accept the same beer on draught – they’ll move onto the next bottle available because the bottle is more powerful than the brand. They like the speed of serve, the perception of guaranteed quality, the volume control, the status symbol that may (or may not) come from having the brand in their hand and these are all worth paying a premium for.

Which is why a bottle of beer is broadly the same price as a pint. To compare the two in pricing is like comparing apples and pears, they’re liked by different people for different reasons. Only if the Golden Delicious is more expensive than the Gala is there a problem for the drinker (not to mention it makes buying rounds easier).

Back to the Olympics. A bottle of Heineken is £4.20 according to Tim Ross. A quick hop onto Google tells me that bottled bear in a nearby bar is £3.90 (this is London after all) so rather than charging double the Olympics are charging an extra 30p. STOP THE PRESS! 30p!

So why the 30p increase – well it’s the Olympics, for most of us a once in a lifetime experience, so basic economics suggests that they can. Maybe as the Political Correspondent rather than the Economics Correspondent Tim wasn’t allowed to mention that.

And there are ways to beat the (slightly) inflated price. London is home to some of the best bars, pubs and restaurants in the world. Tim could have mentioned a list of places that you could visit pre and post your event to enjoy some great British beers and hospitality at reasonable prices. Maybe though, as the Political Correspondent rather than the Culture Correspondent, he wasn’t allowed to mention that either.

So what’s a Political Correspondent to do? You’ve identified that beer pricing is too high but what can you possibly say about it…….scratches head….hang on!! Maybe as POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT you could mention that one of the reasons that British beer pricing is so high,why Britons are forced to pay over 40% of the EU beer tax bill but consume only 13% of the beer sold in Europe and why Britons pay over a third of the price of a pint in tax is because of an outdated duty system that needs to be overhauled. He could have mentioned that there’s nothing you can do to change the price of beer for the Olympics (even though it’s not actually that high) but you could sign the Save Your Pint e-petition, part of an ongoing campaign to lobby Government for the duty escalator to be abolished and bring about sensible levels of pricing that would help sustain a great British Industry.

But he didn’t bother. Instead he moved on to the price of a tea cake. What’s even more disappointing is that searching through his back catalogue I can’t see that he ever has. If you’re concerned about the price of beer Tim why not cover the things that matter, scrapping the escalator, not whipping up a frenzy around an artificial price for sports day.