Monday, January 9, 2012

#105. The Mile Castle, Westgate Road & Grainger Street, Newcastle

Part of the J. D. Wetherspoons chain, this shiny pub had no less than 10 different cask ales on tap. I chose a Titanic Ale from the Titanic Brewery of Burslem Stoke on Trent. Not bad, but not my cup of tea.

The rest of everything was absurdly cheap. Check out the menu.

At today's exchange rate, that is basically $3.05 for a pint of Guinness or Strongbow. For what it costs to buy a single pint of Guinness at a pub back home in Victoria, you can get an entire six pack here at Tesco. I have recently been hearing a lot of complaints from the publicans about how cheap it is to buy your booze at the grocers, get hammered at home, then go out to the pub and buy maybe one pint at most. The pubs are suffering because Tesco and Sainsbury's are essentially pricing them out of business. Wetherspoons is attempting to compete by selling the big brands at below cost, but all it does is make it more difficult for the free houses to compete with the corporate pubs such as the Mile Castle.

It turns out Wetherspoons is a big advocate of the CAMRA (campaign for real ale) initiative, but their pricing would indicate otherwise. Just having the taps in your pub isn't enough: you have to price them competitively compared to the corporate super-chilled lager.

If I was in charge of the UK, I would set price floors on beer, so that the grocery chains can't sell for less than a pub. I'd also make private schools illegal and insist that everyone attend state schools based on locale. Take that, 1%.

There are 840 breweries in Britain that produce 5,500 different real ales. It would take me 15 years to sample them all at a rate of one beer/day.

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