Saturday, 1 August 2009

The price of lager

There are many reasons I love the Whitbread Gravity Book. One is that it gives the retail price of the beers listed.

I know from my own youth that Lager was priced outrageously compared to Bitter and Mild. Just as well none of my mates drank it. That would have pissed me right off, having to subsidise someone's shit taste.

You can guess what's coming. It's time to compare the price of bottled Lager and bottled Pale Ale. I don't think the overall result can be in any question. But I'm intrigued by the detail.

These results are based on 195 bottled Pale Ales, 29 British-brewed bottled Lagers and 63 imported bottled Lagers. They were sampled over the years 1948 - 1966. For purposes of comparison, I've calculated the price per litre per gravity point. In old pence.

These are the results.

FG OG ABV Attenuation
Imported Lager 1007.8 1040.8 4.19 80.52% 1.95
British Lager 1008.3 1037.1 3.63 77.94% 1.73
Pale Ale 1008.8 1038.49 3.78 77.03% 1.21

By my calculations that makes British Lager 43% more expensive than British Pale Ale. Imported Lager was a whacking 72% more expensive than British Pale Ale.

I wonder why brewers were so keen on getting their share of the Lager business?


Matt said...

The interesting question is why lager is more expensive in the pub.

In Manchester, the local breweries (Holts, Hydes, Lees and Robinsons) all produce bitter and mild in the £1.80-2.50 a pint range. They're using proper ingredients to supply their estates of tied pubs mainly within ten miles of where they're based.

The lagers you get in pubs however, produced by global brewers (with the economies of scale that implies) and using all kinds of adjuncts, are £2.70 and upwards a pint.

Three possibilities suggest themselves:

1. the global brewers spend a hell of a lot on advertising.

2. lager is marked up to create the illusion it is a 'premium product' compared to the locally-brewed real ale.

3. global brewers are greedy bastards whereas local brewers aren't (or not to the same extent) and are also subject to more pressure from drinkers to keep prices low given the ready availabilty of real ale from their local rivals.

Erlangernick said...

ot that I have a word to say about the historical aspects of this article, but...what did you think of the prices of lagers at the Annafest yesterday? An amazing deal at the Hoffmann Keller: an excellent, juicy Schweinehaxe (if you like that sort of thing) with Sauerkraut and a Kloß for 9,90 €. AND a Maß of the lovely Annafestbier from Br. Krug in Breitenlesau.

I'm tempted to head back for more.

And the Weißenoher Bier was also going for only 6 € / Maß (or 3 € / Seidla/Schnitt). Not bad festival prices; I don't recall if they're up on last year's or not.

Was splendid finally meeting you. Hope you have a good rest of your trip, but don't forget: Krug Lager and Meister Vollbier!

Ron Pattinson said...

Nick, the prices were even cheaper today. A whole afternoon in a bber garden in Hohenschwaerz only cost 16 euros. And that was for two of us.

Nice to met you too. I really liked that hoppy Bock you gave me. Excellent stuff.