50m pints of beer to be wasted if lockdown continues to late summer

Approximately 50 million pints of beer will go to waste in UK pubs if Covid-19 lockdown measures stay in place until late summer, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has estimated.

Speaking to the BBC, Tom Stainer, the chief executive of CAMRA, made the estimate on the basis that the UK’s 39,000 pubs have an average of 15 beer kegs or casks in their cellars at any one time.

He told the news site: “It’s a very sad waste of all the work and talent that goes into producing great beer. People won’t get to drink it and all those resources have been used up for nothing.”

The extent to which pubs are affected will also depend on the ratio of pasteurised to unpasteurised beer that the premises sells. Pasteurised beer has a longer shelf life (three to four months post delivery) whereas real ales and other unpasteurised beers have a shorter use-by window of between six to nine weeks.

Last week, HMRC confirmed that brewers could claim back excise duty on out-of-date beer. Temporary measures were also put in place to make it possible for breweries to appoint publicans to dispose of this beer without having a company representative present. As long as proof has been obtained (for example in a video), brewers can submit an application.

Some brewers, for example Carlsberg, Guinness, Greene King, Heineken and AB InBev, said they would either credit pubs for unopened kegs or replace the spoiled beer.

Under government guidelines, pubs are permitted to offer take-out services, providing some with a way of disposing of beer. Off-licences and other licensed shops, including those within breweries, are also permitted to remain open.

Many UK breweries are now offering ‘drive-thru’ services, selling their beer in recyclable mini kegs, boxes or refillable containers.

Speaking to the drinks business, Adrian Rothera, co-owner of Pilgrim, a craft brewery in Surrey which supplies local pubs and has its own taproom, said online sales have picked up.

“There was a moment before the government stepped in with help that I thought we would have to close down, ” he said.

“The online and home delivery sales is something that I have wanted to do for a while, so this gave us a push and it is working really well.

“While it’s not quite as good as our normal business, it’s keeping us busy and we are getting through our stock to such an extent that we brewed again last week.”

Those brewers that have closed down their operations are calling on the government to warn them when lockdown measures are to be lifted. This will enable them to resume operations and get enough beer ready for sale before pubs reopen.

While on-trade institutions are suffering, online retailers and the off-trade are performing well. Kantar data showed that sales of alcohol rose 22% in March 2020, slightly ahead of average grocery sales growth for the month (20.6%).

One Response to “50m pints of beer to be wasted if lockdown continues to late summer”

  1. Charles Crawfurd says:

    OK it won’t solve the total problem but our village has a club and to get rid of their remaining stock of draught beer they invited people to bring their own bottles to an outside table and they would fill them up. All very safe and 100% social distancing. Paid £3 for 2 litres! Combined with my daily walk too. I am sure some pubs could do the same rather than just throw it away. Think imaginatively

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