Publicans trial low alcohol bitters

A trial has been launched that allows licensees to stock lower alcohol cask ales, which qualify for a 50% reduction in beer duty.

Punch Taverns is trialling the scheme and will re-appraise it after three months, if successful, the scheme will be rolled out to all of Punch’s distribution depots.

Licensees that receive their beers from depots in Croydon, south London and Tingley, near Leeds in West Yorkshire are the first to be targeted.

The Croydon depot is offering Green King’s Tolly English Ale, while the Tingley depot will be trialling Caledonian’s 2.8%.

A third ale, Adnams’ Sole Star, will be available via all depots under Punch’s Finest Cask rotational beer programme, but only the 1,000 pubs signed up to Finest Cask will be eligible.

Sole Star and 2.8% will be supplied in firkins (nine gallons). Tolly English Ale will come in pins (4.5 gallons).

The beers were chosen by staff during a tasting session at Punch’s Burton-on-Trent head office.

Stephen Martin, Punch’s category manager – drinks, said: “At present, the 2.8% ale category is an unknown quantity” and added its success would depend on how pubs promoted the concept.

“Linking a pint with a meal for a set price is a mechanic for promoting cask ale while also helping the pub protect its margins,” he continued.

Research by the Campaign for Real Ale revealed that one in two regular pub-goers would welcome lower alcohol beers.

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