Monday, 23 May 2011

Guest beers and the Guest House

Guest House and rainbow
Following my post on 18 May about Southport Brewery beer being a guest ale in Parliament, our local paper, the Southport Visiter, had an item about local pubs not being allowed to sell it because of the beer tie imposed on pubs by PubCos.  It says, "Just two Southport free houses, the Barons Bar and the Guest House, and the Inn Beer Shop on Lord Street, are able to stock brewer Paul Bardsley's ales."  The mistake in the article, that the Guest House is a free house (it's actually a Scottish and Newcastle tenancy), had me wondering how many licencees had actually asked whether they could stock it.  I'd guess the answer is very few.

Where pubs sell a limited range of beers, are we right to assume that it is the dead hand of the PubCo at work without first checking whether the pubs had made any attempt to broaden their range?  If their customers are content with what they serve, why should they bother to take a chance by stocking different beers?  The beer tie is certainly restrictive and, in my opinion, contrary to the principle of a free market economy, but I'm now less certain that it is the sole cause of restricted choice in pubs, seeing that the Guest House is a tied house with one of the best beer ranges in Southport.  Could others do the same?  Do they actually want to?

2 comments:

  1. The answer is, as you suspect, I suspect, yes.

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  2. It's not as simple as it seems. I know of a brewery that supplies a number of pubs with restrictive ties 'under the radar'. The licensee doesn't court too much publicity but word of mouth increases trade. One publican often tells the brewer that the Pubco "Didn't deliver this week, so I'm ordering from you." Funny how often they don't deliver.

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