Up to 50 million pints going to waste in pub cellars
By Rob Freeman | 14th April 2020
Brace yourself for some bad news if you fancy a pint down your local - around 50million of them face being thrown away if the coronavirus lockdown continues much longer.
That is how many pints of ale and lager are estimated by the Campaign for Real Ale to be in the cellars of the UK's 39,000 pubs.
And while pasteurised beer, which includes most lagers, has a best before date of three to four months from delivery, that figure shrinks to between six and nine weeks for unpasteurised beer and real ales.
So with the lockdown entering its fourth week and pubs unable to open, much of the stock faces not being drunk.
Camra chief executive Tom Stainer says most pubs have an average of around 15 barrels - ranging from 72 to 88 pints - in their cellar at any one time.
He told the BBC: "It's a very sad waste of all the work and talent that goes into producing great beer.
"People won't get to drink it and all those resources have been used up for nothing.
"It's not the biggest issue that the country is dealing with, but aspects of life like going to the cinema or cafe, or going for a pint, are something we treasure."
Some breweries and distributors have offered to take back barrels at no charge once the lockdown is over.
Iain Crockett, director of Severn Brewery in Wotton-under-Edge, has called for notice before pubs reopen as draymen face the difficult task of lifting full barrels out of cellars with limited storage facilities for small brewers.
He said: "All the little brewers are going to be completely shafted otherwise."
Disposing of beer which has passed its best before date also poses a problem with the British Institute of Innkeeping advising against pouring it down drains.
Treasury rules allows publicans to avoid duty when they dispose get rid of large amounts of spoiled beer with brewery representatives overseeing the process.
But with social distancing measures preventing that, the Government has allowed brewers to appoint publicans to oversee and record the dumping of beer.
One option for the beer is for it to be converted into hand sanitiser with the government allowing priority access to methylated spirits needed for the process.
Alcohol sales at supermarkets increased by more than 20 per cent last month but many pubs, cafes and restaurants face an uncertain future after closing on March 20.
The government has offered £330billion in loans, £20billion in other aid, a business rates holiday and grants for retailers and pubs.
A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. "Pubs are at the heart of our communities and an important part of local economies.
"We've asked them to temporarily close in order to help protect people and reduce the spread of the virus. But we are also delivering support to help businesses, including pubs, through the coronavirus pandemic."
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