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Page last updated at 10:49 GMT, Thursday, 1 October 2009 11:49 UK
Why Berkshire has a pricier pint
By Linda Serck
BBC Berkshire reporter

Man drinks a pint of beer
According to the survey the priciest pint is served in Surrey

According to figures released by the Good Pub Guide the price of a Berkshire pint of beer is around 20 pence dearer than the UK average.

In the county you can expect to pay on average £2.85 for a beer, while across the UK the price is £2.68.

Berkshire publicans say that the dearer price is a knock-on effect from the increased costs charged by the brewers and pub companies.

Reading CAMRA also put the dearer pint down to less free houses in the county.

Phil Gill, the spokesman for the Reading and Mid Berks Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA), says that Berkshire's high amount of company-run pubs has helped up the average.

"A lot of our local pubs are owned by pub companies who are well renowned for putting money before anything else," he says.

There has been a dramatic downturn in trade as a whole in the town centre
Stuart McNaught, Purple Turtle manager

"They'll extract the maximum possible money out of their licensees through contractual arrangements, so the licensees have to pass on those extra costs to their customers."

He adds: "Other parts of the country have a much greater proportion of free houses, where the person who actually owns the pub also runs it, so they don't have those extra costs loaded on to them."

Average pint price in Berkshire 'not realistic'

Stuart McNaught, manager of the Purple Turtle in Reading, says a realistic price for an average pint in town centre bars is actually higher than £2.85.

The average cost of a pint in his bar is £3.30.

He says: "This is the price you'll find in the majority of decent late night bars; £2.85 is not an average price for the town centre.

"Major breweries all have annual increases between January and April that coincides with the Government's increase, so in turn we also need to put up costs.

"We are looking at up to an eight per cent increase in a barrel of beer."

He adds that value chains such as JD Wetherspoons have pushed down the average price of a pint in Reading.

A staff member at The Baron Cadogan, a Wetherspoons pub in Caversham, told BBC Berkshire their cheapest pint costs £1.35. The most expensive, £2.75, is still 10p below the Berkshire average.

Pricier pint curbs nightlife

Mr McNaught says that the pricier Berkshire pint has affected Reading's nightlife.

"There has been a dramatic downturn in trade as a whole in the town centre. There are less people about.

"Drinking habits have also changed - there's now a move towards bulk purchases from supermarkets, and after drinking at home we see them coming out later on at night."

Pint of beer on the bar
According to figures the price of a pint in 2009 is up 10p from 2008

The general manager of the Berkshire Arms in Newbury, Waldo Pacheco, also says the pricier pint is deterring customers from drinking at his pub.

The result is that the Greene King pub is offering real ales for £2.50 a pint, 35p below the Berkshire average.

"People who would normally have an extra pint now don't," he says. "The difficult part is now on a Saturday night we notice the people come out, have their dinner and then go home instead of staying for a couple of extra pints.

"Normally on a Saturday night by 2200 BST we used to still be busy, now everybody is gone. They haven't got the money to spend."

"This is why we've got posters all over now to tell them they can come in and have a nice beer. We've even reduced our soft drinks prices."

Ultimately however the Berkshire price of a pint is dearer because the South has a higher cost of living.

Mr Gill says: "There will be regional differences depending on the strength of demand and how much people are willing to pay for something across the country.

"Generally it's a higher cost of living area than somewhere like Yorkshire or Cumbria might be."




SEE ALSO
Surrey serves UK's dearest pint
01 Oct 09 |  Surrey
Brewery's Nanny State beer swipe
28 Sep 09 |  North East/N Isles


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