08 September 2023

Price of beer in UK pubs: a third goes to the taxman

United Kingdom | BrewDog faced a bit of a backlash on digital media, after it began offering punters an “epic deal” on drinks in August. During happy hour at its 20 or so pubs in London a pint of Pale Ale cost only GBP 5.95 (USD 7.50).

 The Daily Mail newspaper dubbed the deal “Britain’s worst happy hour”. In fact, a pint of lager in a pub now costs an average of GBP 4.47 (USD 5.65), a rise of GBP 0.47 or 12 percent in a year, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

However, the price can vary depending on where you are drinking your beer – London is probably most expensive in this regard - and the type of establishment you are drinking in, too.

Taxes and wages are highest expenses

Figures from the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) show that the average pint costs GBP 4.10 (USD 5.20) in a “wet-led” pub - one that mostly sells drink, not food.

The BBPA also estimates that about a third (33.4 percent) of the price of a pint is spent on taxes. Of that GBP 4.10 pint served in a wet-led pub, VAT is GBP 0.68, alcohol duty GBP 0.46, business rates GBP 0.09 and other taxes GBP 0.14, such as corporation and employment tax. That is a total of GBP 1.37 going to the taxman.

Wages are the second-highest expense, making up 17.8 percent of the price of a pint - or around GBP 0.73 of the typical pint.

Only 7.5 percent of the price of a pint – GBP 0.30 (USD 0.38) - is profit, and that has to be split between the brewer that makes the beer and the pub that sells it.

Per capita consumption of beer now stands at 68 litres per year.

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