by Morgan Schondelmeier, tax and trade policy manager at the British Beer and Pub Association
The British people don’t need an excuse for a pint down the pub. One of our most famous and beloved pastimes, the pub has been at the centre of our culture and heritage for centuries. Writing in the 17th century Samuel Pepys, the diarist, called it “the heart of England.”
Is there anything more iconically British than a group of walkers camped around a fire, local ale in hand? Or city workers huddled under a pub awning, drinking whatever craft beer is trendy? Whether it’s a Thursday night with colleagues, a Friday night with friends, a Sunday lunch, or a quick one on the way home, the pub acts as a focal point for communities and our social lives. It’s an institution which has shown an extraordinary ability to adapt. Just take a look at the range of gluten free and low- and no-alcohol beers that are coming up on tap.
But nothing brings a pub to life like something to celebrate. It could be a personal celebration - a birthday party in the function room upstairs - or it could be a great national event. That’s where the pub really comes into its own.
There are few greater spectacles than the coronation of a monarch. And British pubs have stepped up to the occasion. Pubs and breweries across the country are hosting special events, brewing limited edition beers and making the most of extended opening hours across the bank holiday weekend.
The economic boost will be significant, for a vital part of our economy. It is expected that 62 million pints being drunk and people tucking in to limited menus across the weekend will help bring in £120 million for pubs.
But despite the treasured place pubs hold in our imagination, the tax and regulatory system are making life hard. High alcohol duty (one of the highest in Europe), strict licensing hours and exorbitant energy costs are all weighing down the industry. The TaxPayers’ Alliance previously outlined that our beer duty is greater than Sweden’s; more than double Italy’s; and more than triple Denmark’s.
Let’s hope the Coronation will provide a timely reminder of how important pubs are to our national identity. Perhaps it will highlight how much this industry has grown, changed, adapted, and how much more it has to give if only given the chance. For now, raise a glass to a great moment of national celebration.