Beat inflation and get cheaper beer. But there is a catch...

5 August 2011

beerbubblesAs we reported in June, the price of beer is galloping ahead of inflation, and with raw ingredient costs rising too, there looked to be no light at the end of the beer tunnel. But never fear, Bitterwallet is here with the solution. Cheaper beer.

Now, you are probably thinking there is a catch*, and you would be right. You see, breweries have been fiddling about and inventing new beers ever since March when the Chancellor announced that the tax on beer with a strength of 2.8% ABV or less would be cut by 50%

The reduced tax, coupled with the higher tax on the high-strength beers favoured by desperate Bitterwallet staff, could make weaker beers 50p a pint cheaper than their higher-strength counterparts. And brewers are anticipating an unprecedented surge in popularity from those looking to save a fiver a night.

However, the biggest problem with low-alcohol beer is that it tastes like piss. Apparently.  I have never actually drunk piss. Anyone who says otherwise is lying. "It's certainly a challenge," said John Keeling, head brewer at Fuller’s, who make London Pride. "Alcohol content comes from the malt. The more malt you use, the more alcohol content you have, and malt gives flavour. If you want to brew a weak beer, you can't use lots of malt."

According to Mr Keeling, the growing market for weaker beer is not just because it is cheaper."People want to drink different strength drinks at different times of day. With lunchtime drinking increasingly frowned upon, drinkers want a weaker beer with their lunch than they would after work or at home." Wimps.

But perhaps we are being hasty here, after all, a blind taste survey conducted at the Campaign for Real Ale's Great British Beer Festival in London this week are encouraging. A panel of eight experienced beer tasters, buyers and brewers were asked to rank six beers, ranging in strength from 2 to 3.5 per cent, in order from highest to weakest.

The collated results placed Brodie's Stout as the second strongest when it was actually the weakest, at 2 per cent. Fuller's is holding another tasting trial next week for its 2.8 per cent beer.

Camra's survey also concluded that 52 per cent of drinkers would consume a lower-strength beer if it were available in their local. Among the tasting panel, all said they would drink a low-alcohol beer if it were 50p cheaper.

We never said it was a shining light at the end of the tunnel.

And if you need any further help in working out your beer and fag finances, why not try the vice-o-meter which not only depresses you by telling you how much your vices cost you every year, but then incites hara kiri by then working out how much the government is getting in tax. Not that it’s like a Daily Mail website to incite outrage or anything you understand.

*The clue was in the title.

[The Independent]


  • Dick
    If you want to drink a weak beer, then why not water it down. If the cost of a pint of normal beer is £3.50, then a pint of weak beer with 50p off is £3.00 and so two pints of weak beer is £6.00. But ask for 1 pint of normal beer, 1 glass of tap water and one empty glass to mix it in. That's two pints of weak beer for £3.50, a saving of £1.25 per pint compared to the brewery's weak beer.
  • bob
    The whole point of drinking alcohol is to get pissed. Why do people want to drink weak drinks? If you're drinking the weak stuff you may as well buy a soft drink which tastes nicer.
  • Jimbob
    Watneys used to sell a beer that WAS 2.8%; it DID taste like piss! It was called "Red Barrel" The old joke went; A bloke was pulled over by the fuzz. "Have you been drinking?" "Yes I've had 10 pints of Red Barrel." "On your way then ,son"

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