The 2009 edition of the Guide was launched this week, and highlights the rude health of the nation’s microbrewers. But pubs have sustained heavy losses in recent times and Camra argues that loss-leading deals in supermarkets are making life increasingly difficult for on-trade rivals.
Since 2002, the Guide says, off-licence beer prices have fallen by 7% while pubs have put their prices up by 24% because of duty and other cost increases.
Editor Roger Protz said: “Publicans who permit bad behaviour such as heavy drinking will lose their licences. Supermarkets face no such restraints. They have no idea what happens to cheap alcohol once it leaves their stores. In too many cases, it’s passed on to under-age drinkers.
“When a pub closes the community’s heart is ripped out and dies. It’s a particular problem in rural areas, where the village pub is the heart of the community. People go to pubs for friendship, conversation, to enjoy an affordable meal, or just quietly read a newspaper.”
The British Beer & Pub Association recently reported that 36 pubs closed every week during the first half of this year, compared to an average of 27 a week last year.
But there are more breweries in Britain than at any time since the war, with more than 70 new breweries being starting up between the 2008 and 2009 editions of the guide. Protz said: “It is great to see that there are now more than 660 real ale breweries in Britain brewing over 2,500 different varieties of real ale.”