|Two locked down pubs in Churchtown, Southport.|
The Bold (left) and the Hesketh (in the distance)
"It's a very sad waste of all the work and talent that goes into producing great beer," says Tom Stainer, CAMRA's chief executive. "People won't get to drink it and all those resources have been used up for nothing."
The shelf life of beers, ciders and perries depends on how it's produced, stored and served. Keg products, which include most beer sold in British pubs such as lagers, smoothflow beers (including a famous Irish stout) and ciders on fonts, can last for several months. Real ales and ciders, on the other hand, will only last for weeks, with any that have been already opened going off after a few days. All real ales, ciders and perries that had been opened at lockdown will probably have already been disposed of.
One suggestion is converting out-of-date beer into hand sanitiser by extracting the alcohol, which independent brewer Brewdog is already doing, but this is ultimately a very limited solution.
According to the BBC, supermarket alcohol sales increased by more than a fifth last month after pubs, cafes and restaurants closed.
"People are missing these things in their lives," says Tom Stainer. "It's not the biggest issue that the country is dealing with, but aspects of life like going to the cinema or café, or going for a pint, are something we treasure."
Many breweries and distributors have offered to take back barrels at no charge once the lockdown is over, taking some of the financial pressure off licensees. However, more can be done, as Tom Stainer, explains:
“The Government needs to recognise the impact of an extended lockdown on [hospitality] businesses and confirm that the support package in place is extended until all restrictions are lifted. It must also consider a support package for pubs, breweries and cideries after they reopen, in recognition that it will take many months for businesses to recover fully.”
► This is one of a series of articles that I write for the CAMRA column in our local papers, the Southport Visiter and Ormskirk Advertiser.