To your every day regular beer drinker tomorrow, Saturday 1st October 2011, will be no doubt as any other, it will come and go and Saturday night drinking will be no doubt unremarkable. You will buy your regular pint, grab your normal change and carry on regardless.
But to anyone who likes something a little different, something special, like a Belgian Trappist, an Imperial IPA or Stout, or basically anything “speciality” of higher strength though it’s going to be a bad day at black rock… 😦
All because of government legislation passed late last year, weakly excused as a way to cut down on binge drinking and the Tennants Super or Special Brew street drinking brigade:
Changes to the beer duty regime – The review of alcohol taxation in November 2010 announced measures to encourage the consumption of lower strength beers. The Government will introduce a new additional duty on beers over 7.5 per cent alcohol by volume (abv) in strength at a rate of 25 per cent of general beer duty. This will add 25 pence to the price of a can of “super strength” lager.
A reduced rate of 50 per cent of general beer duty will be introduced for beers of 2.8 per cent abv or below and above 1.2 per cent abv in strength. This will reduce the price of a pint of beer at 2.8 per cent abv by 18 pence. These changes will come into effect from 1 October 2011. (Finance Bill 2011)
There have been a few debates flying around as the day of reckoning approaches, some supporting the change, some dead against as put so very well on Ghost Drinkers blog (to whom I owe homage as to the main influence to put finger to keyboard here) and finally some with complete indifference.
The thing is though regardless of which side of the camp you are on, should we just accept it, let it pass unremarked? After all it’s high strength now, but what’s next???
OK, I concede that generally most folk don’t drink beer of 7.5% regularly or should I say all the time.
When I go to the pub I’ll drink a 3.5% session bitter, mild or pale ale without issue as long as it’s tasty and refreshing. But sometimes at last orders or maybe midweek sitting at home or even when I just fancy something special, it’s usually the opposite. At these moments I want a beer to knock my socks off, not just in terms of alcoholic strength, I want depth and complexity of flavour too, something to savour..
There is an argument that if you are affluent enough to afford such luxuries, then you shouldn’t mind paying an extra 50p here and there for the privilege.
I say “I pay quite enough thank you” and in doing so help the British brewing and beer industries. Even if it’s a foreign import I still do my bit for the economy in terms of trade and duties too.
On the flip side though there is another side to that argument, what if you are not in a position to afford them, or can afford them rarely. Surely this will drive more people away and make them difficult for our beer establishments to stock, just when good beer is suddenly an exciting industry again with brewers trying more and more to tempt our palates with exotic tasty brews.
Tsar pic courtesy of Neil at Eating Isn’t Cheating
So to make my own personal stand I’ve written to my MP to express my discontent and ask a few questions.
I understand that in the grand scheme of things it may be a feeble, pointless exersize. I’m sure too that many of you could have put it a lot more eloquently than I, plus no doubt have included some inside industry insight, but it’s my point and at least it’s said..
I’ve copied a link to it below, it may draw scorn from some quarters (although I hope not), I really hope it drives debate and discussion. But most of all I hope it drives you to do likewise and let the powers that be know you are not happy.
It’s easy to do and can be as short and direct or long winded and detailed as you like, just click HERE, type your postcode and your MP’s contact details will appear with a link allowing you to say your piece..
Whatever you do, find out when your local retailer be it pub, supermarket or specialist beer store is putting up the prices and fill your boots. Lets make this not just a party as Ghost Drinker suggests, make it a full week of indulgence..
Thanks for the linkage dude, nice to see I’m not the only one who’s fuming over this (In fact I’ve read quite a few blogs on it now) I’ve been drinking the strong stuff all week now and went out to smash up bus stops afterwards… after all, if they’re going to lump us all together, why not join in 😉
Zak put it pretty well on my comments section – in the way that the Belgian beer market in this country will probably never look the same again. Tomorrow will be a sad day for beer lovers everywhere. 😦
No problem mate, to be honest I had put it to the back of my mind as most folks have until I read your blog, coincidentally that day I was at Nantwich beer fest where it was mentioned a lot.
My local is already looking at what Belgian beers are now un-stockable..
Bad times.. 😦
Slow to comment on this but I think I’m trying to ignore that it’s happening. Just as I find a passion for beer in general and specifically in some bloody brilliant Imperial Stouts, Double IPA’s, Barley Wines etc and then this happens. Like many others it won’t stop me buying them, but it will limit how many and how often as this becomes more and more a luxury. It’s very sad to think that there is a possibility that many of the beers we can currently buy will disappear from our shelves. Good blog as always.
Thanks David, it is a very sad thing. I too will continue to buy them and as you say it will become more of a luxury over time if it continues.. Bloody politicians!!
Ghosty, Dave, anyone
I am trying to write a series of posts on beers over the threshold to be listed under the #7point5 tag at some point soon, could you be cajoled into writing a guest piece or even a blog of your own on one of your favourite beers. Could be linked or running over a period of days?
Maybe get a few other folks involved, the more the merrier to stir it all up a bit
Of course, happy to contribute in the format the helps, just let me know.