Monday 1 June 2009

Cost cutters

I discover a website — — which tracks the price of a pint around the world; whether it’s the devil making work for idle hands or pretty useful for globe-trotting beer-hunters I have no opinion. However, cheapskates who are forever complaining about the price of their ale, might like to get to places like Panama, Bhutan, North Korea and the Congo where the price of a pint, according to this website is between 31-38p (wonder what the happy hour is like). On the other hand, if you’re marching around Bolivia, according to this website, it will cost £8 to refuel your noggin. Is there is an opening for a pub chain selling cheap beer out there? There always seems to be a tension between those who advocate a higher price of good beer, something which gives it a cache and value, and those whose wallets the moths have got at and wouldn’t mind a pint of decent beer without having the send the kids out to work. Brewers like their special beers to have a value, which is fine as long as the beer in the glass tastes pretty good, but the cautionary tale I always look to is that of Artois Bock. I recall it being launched in 2005 and various renowned beer writers congratulating InBev on producing a half-decent beer. It was launched with much fanfare and talk of provenance; the beer was a major sponsor of one of the British Guild of Beer Writers’ awards (though not without controversy). There was a special glass, it was reassuringly expensive. Next thing you know it’s 99p in the supermarket and now it’s been booted out of the Peeterman family (ie Stella, Peeterman and er, can’t remember). It’s like there’s this tension in big companies like InBev between those who treat beer as a commodity and those who want to give it some value. Wonder if they have the same issues in Panama?

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