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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Should UK Pubs See The Light?

I thought I'd post a couple of beer stories that I tapped today that are like night and day (or light and dark) .

One: Chicago-based MillerCoors is trying to prove that its new brew -- sort of a diet beer -- is no fad, and so far its sales momentum continues to increase. The company's MGD 64, which has just 64 calories, has been one of the biggest success stories in the beer world over the past year.

Not to be outdone (underdone?), Anheuser-Busch has taken notice and launched Select 55 -- a 55-calorie brew that it touts as the world's lowest-calorie beer.

(Yes, I can hear Sir Dayvd and his UK friends laughing, “Mouthwash!”)

While MGD 64 had wracked up $100 million in sales, its Miller Lite sales fell 5.7 percent. Experts think that Lite's problems are manifold. The sour economy has hurt it more than some other beers because it's more reliant on restaurant and bar sales than the retail grocery channel. A price hike last year hit Lite hard, and some beer industry / advertising watchers say Lite's marketing message is muddled and weak at best.

So, what will be the cause and effect of AB’s 55 Select? Anheuser-Busch still has a nearly 50 percent share of the nation's beer market, compared with about 30 percent for MillerCoors. Obviously, that size advantage gives Anheuser-Busch more marketing and distribution heft. Time will tell which brands will go flat.

The second story that whet my curiosity is one that’s been going on for some time (and one that Sir Dayvd will better be able to report):

PUBS are bearing the brunt of "crippling" high beer prices and are struggling to survive, the Federation of Small Business has warned. Recent figures from the Campaign for Real Ale show 39 pubs across the UK are closing each week due to economic pressures.
(Sir Hook pulling an Old Hooky -- recent trip to England)

In an article I read: David Shephard, Devon policy chairman of the FSB, said rural areas. He said: "Tenanted pubs are being cripples by high beer prices.

"Pubs are the centre of community life. Whether you visit them or not, they are the 'speaker's corner' of Britain” (I like that, "speaker's corner").

So, I guess my question is: Would UK pubs be better off selling American 64 or 55 calorie diet beer?

Sir Bowie “don’t shoot the messenger” of Greenbriar


  1. well re the UK pubs closing scenerio... I think we've had several blogs on this subject before, and just i sit and try and list the many many micro reasons that some are closing down.

    There are to many reasons to list and it would take an MA in sociology and History of the English populations to even begin to get to the root of this.

    What i can safely tell my colonial friends is, its not because beer prices are too high...nor indeed because we are in need of Lite Beer.( yetch ) we passed thru that phase in the late 80's and thankfully it shows no sign of coming back. ( its not hot enough in this country for AC or refrigerated Lite Beer and thats a fact.....we eat heavy food and heavy beer because it is cold and we need the calories!!!)

    I actually don't believe that many are shutting down... but the ones locally that are, have a few things in common...

    ie: they were small, or nobody went in them, ( some of them were rubbish with appalling atmospheres. ) merely because the neighbourhood had changed. The paternal drinking family has been replaced by Single Mum's and hardworking Immigrant populations whose religion and culture is not drinking in Pubs.

    add to that, many of the pubs didn't have a carpark, and housing shortages here being what they are, the temptation for the breweries to cull the non-profit pubs and sell them off to be converted into housing , is too strong.

    The drink driving laws here are so harsh that most drinkers tend to get better beers in supermarkets and drink with neighbours at home.

    On saying that.. England has had Hundreds and thousands of pubs.. so losing a few is not that noticeable... and lets face it Bowie... you weren't too short of a few pubs with a couple in nearly every street in the city. lol

    What would I do if i was the UK Czar of Drink? well i would try and bring back more competition into the pubs, make them Free Houses, where I could bring in more variety on the shelves and on the pumps. I'd bring back Mild ( it is the drink for today ) and i would offer more and sweeter Brown Ales.

    I love the currant explosion of Ciders both Pear and Apple.

    and over all I have a very positive feel about the Pubs in England.. and CAMRA would still be moaning if every house in England was like the White Horse in Broad street Oxford.

    All that talk of Drink is making me thirsty...and is now going to have a cup of English Tea ..our national drink.

    Sir Dayvd ( who if I had all the money I'd spent on drink,.....I'd spend it on drink ) of O

  2. 64 and 55 are only numbers that I hope to see in my lifetime. As far as the beer......piss off!

    I agree with Sir D's summary. Pubs are such an English tradition (and who loves tradition more than the English!) that I don't see them vanishing in vast numbers. I think the main problems that Pubs face is similar to the problems Starbucks faced not too long ago, just simply too many in a given area.

    The laws of supply and demand, competition and customer satisfaction will always reward the best and kill the worst. That's my Darwinian law of Capitalism. (And yes, even though England has "socialist" medicine, they are still Capitalist)

    Sir Hook Who Would Love to Pull an Old Hooky Today of Warrick