I saw these ‘takeaway beer’ promotion posters up on the wall of a pub when I was down I’m the West country recently, prominently displayed behind the bar in full view.
I won’t say where, it’s not germane to the argument, neither is the fact that the posters are from St Austell Brewery. Although you’d think a big outfit like St Austell would have a decent supply of brand specific posters?
What I will say, is the actual pub is a real cracker and I had a couple of pints of Proper Job that had me pressing 4 on the CAMRA scoring system and wanting to stay in the traditional independent boozer all afternoon. The overall impression I got is that this Good Beer Guide listed pub was the epitome of the traditional British pub, in every way.
As soon as I saw the posters I perceived some incongruity with the promote the pub argument, the reasons behind the demise of many pubs and the takeaway beer promotion, hence I took the photograph and later cropped out any identifying features.
Now you could argue that this takeaway offer is just the equivalent of what’s gone on for years. You always used to see the licensees name above the door with, inter alia ‘for consumption on or off the premises’. My Mum sometimes jokes that the old man only bought the pub down the road because he got fed up of walking to and fro with a jug. I remember myself taking home those plastic 4 pint flagons as a student and they’ve now been adopted and renamed as Growlers in craft beer circles. I prefer flagon myself, it’s a nicer word, suggestive of other vessel related words like firkin and barrel.
If you look on the St Austell online shop, there’s more details about these mini kegs. It’s actually bright beer, I guess it would have to be, else you’d have to rack it up somewhere in the kitchen. If you do go online you’ll see the prices are slightly higher than the pub price, but delivery is included so that’s fair enough. The distinction being that it’s made for off sales rather than a jug or other container being filled with real ale from the pubs cellars at point of sale, in so far as it will keep until opened. Something that says it’s equally intended for drinking on another day, rather than taking home after the pub shuts. If it is opened on another day then nine pints will keep at least two people out of the pub for a whole session.
It’s claimed lifestyle choices like staying in and drinking at home are a factor threatening the pub, along with cheap supermarket beer. Although the pub wasn’t undercutting themselves, I worked it out that the mini keg was approximately the same £3.30 a pint the pub was charging for Proper Job, albeit for bright beer.
I’m not sure what it is, but it just seemed slightly odd that a pub was promoting this takeaway deal. Surely the pub trades’ aim should be getting more people into more pubs for longer? I get the argument that this will be part of the pubs turnover and hence will be self promoting, as it is for the brewer. I also recognise that the brewing industry would rather see the off sales stay within the trade than go through a supermarket, although if that’s the case why do so many of them supply the supermarkets and under cut themselves? You can buy four pint bottles of St Austell Tribute in Morrisons for six quid or £1.50 a pint!
I’m not entirely sure whether I’ve gone off on a blind tangent here or whether there really is some real discrepancy between those making and selling beer and those factions trying their hardest to promote and protect public houses?