diamond geezer

 Thursday, October 28, 2021

I went out for beers last night. I haven't been out for beers much lately, because you know, indeed this is only my second trip to a pub this year. It's also my first time out drinking with more than one person since 2019, although it was only one person more than one person, i.e. there were three of us.

We found a pub that most of us hadn't been to (on the South Bank almost in sight of the Thames) and found a seat in the quiet bit of the pub. Conversation ensued, and there were also beers.

I would have drunk a bottle of Beck's but it seems London crossed the Beck's horizon some time ago and nowhere* sells it any more. The alcohol-free version still makes an appearance sometimes, usually out of sight on a lower shelf, but no longer the proper stuff. Even my local Tesco superstore has completely stopped selling it. For years a 20 pack was a staple of the beer aisle, ideal for lugging home and having on tap, but sadly it was unstocked earlier this year and has now completely disappeared.

* Wetherspoons still sell Beck's, but Wetherspoons is not often the venue of choice when drinking with a discerning or morally-cognisant audience.

This has required me to find an alternative go-to drink when in a pubgoing situation. I'm aware that you might have lots of suggestions for what that alternative should be, but it's important to remember I am not you so may not have the same taste for Old Scriveners Logdropper or Extra Strong Hoppy Mulch that you have. In particular my new go-to drink needs to be bottled rather than draught otherwise I'd just fill up with gas and hiccup all the way home.

I'm not really in the pub for the alcohol so I'm happy with almost any bottled beer. It can't be that crappy one Americans like because it tastes like acidic squash, and it needn't be the poncey premium one because I'm never going to appreciate the extra quid it cost. Something safe and middle-range will do me fine, and then it can sit in front of me while we chat and I'll down it slowly because that's what you're supposed to do in a pub.

Reassuringly my drinking partners preferred proper drinks, otherwise there'd have been no need to be in the pub at all.

When it was my round I went to the bar to get the requisite three drinks and wondered how much I'd be charged. We were in a central London pub so it wasn't going to be cheap, but equally it wasn't such an uber-touristy pub that they'd be fleecing everyone. I wielded a banknote I thought should cover it, mainly because I enjoy using cash in situations where staff totally aren't expecting it, and waited for the froth to settle.

Oh so three drinks cost £18.65 now do they? That's not just a six pound pint, that's smashed the six pound barrier. It hardly seems any time since hitting five pounds seemed unnecessarily extortionate, so how could we be at six already? I know pubs have overheads and you're essentially paying for somewhere clean and warm to sit plus friendly bar staff, but it was hard to see my industrially produced sub-pint* as being worth six quid of anyone's money.

* Tesco still sell Beck's online where the price is currently £12.99 for a pack of 20, which is 65p a bottle, and it's hard to reconcile the price in a pub being roughly ten times as much.

At least our beers were better value than buying a mineral water or a Coke, because soft drink prices really are taking the piss. And I know I could have improved the situation by ordering something a tad more tasteful or esoteric, even memorable, rather than my uninspiring brew. But six quid* for what's essentially a glass of cleverly-adulterated water did seem steep, especially given we'd be buying several of them.

* Wetherspoons sell bottles of Beck's really cheaply, and will be selling them for £1 throughout November, but if you're not in a Wetherspoons and it's not yet November this information isn't especially helpful.

There was a time when if the Chancellor announced something in the Budget, especially if it was bad, it'd be enacted before the end of the day. Tuppence on petrol, a penny on cider, 10p on spirits... all these price rises would be coming out of your pocket later that evening. This time he announced 3p off a pint instead, subject to certain terms and conditions, but it seems this 'good news' won't be coming into effect until February 2023 and by then inflation will have turbo-charged the underlying price to a far greater extent.

The seven pound pint is coming, or at least it is for Londoners attempting to enjoy a beer in the centre of town. Best enjoy the six pound pint while you can.

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