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Are pint prices going to skyrocket? Tayside and Fife pub owners speak out on cost of living crisis

The price of a pint at your local could increase as the cost of living crisis continues to affect businesses.
The price of a pint at your local could increase as the cost of living crisis continues to affect businesses.

Ask yourself this. How much would you pay for a pint – £4, £6 or perhaps £8?

Due to the rising cost of living, prices could be set to increase.

Skyrocketing energy bills, frequent ingredient shortages, price hikes, and consumers being unable to afford to support pubs are just some of the factors that may result in you paying a hair-raising amount for a beer at your local.

The news comes as a warning was released by The Society of Independent Brewers and the Campaign for Real Ale stating that the future of the UK beer industry was at risk.

According to Admiral Markets’ research, some places throughout the UK may end up having to charge more than £8 for a pint by 2030 in line with the predicted inflation of 7.25% which it is expected to reach by spring 2022.

Pubs and eateries across Tayside and Fife, are reporting that their energy bills are doubling or nearly trebling, putting their future ability to stay open without increasing their prices at risk.

Robert Lindsay, the founder of beer brewing company Six Degrees North in one of his pubs, Dynamo.

But for many of them, drastically upping the cost of a pint is the last resort.

According to database Numbeo, a pint in Dundee would currently set you back £5, while pints in St Andrews are priced at £3.35 each and £2.80 in Glenrothes – all on average.

These figures are calculated by user-contributed data about cities and countries worldwide.

‘It’s heartbreaking’

Arbroath-based Tutties Neak Inn has experienced a reduced amount of traffic with the cost of living crisis and owner Carol Shand has only seen increases in bills.

“Everything has gone up,” says Carol. “And people don’t have money to spend in the pubs.”

Having increased her beer pint prices by more than 10% from £3.20 to £3.70 and seeing increases between 10-15% in the industry, Carol foresees pubs having to adjust their hours to survive the price hikes.

She said: “If this continues pubs will be closing. And the ones that survive this will be open Thursday to Sunday and closed the rest of the week.”

Carol Shand, of the Tutties Neuk Inn.

The economic struggles and inability to socialise have put a strain on Carol’s own health as well as her customers.

She said: “It’s heartbreaking. I love socialising and it’s not just your customers affected, it affects your own health as well.

“It’s horrible and I don’t know what we are going to do.”

James Cunningham, owner of Station Bar in Leven, also worries for the future of restaurants and pubs.

“The pub trade is going to be hit twice,” says James.

“First, they are going to be facing large energy bill increases.

Inside the Tutties Neuk Inn.

“Secondly, people that spend time at the pubs will reduce and they will struggle to pay for what could be deemed as a luxury thing.”

Currently sitting at £3.50 for a pint of beer and with drinks firms looking to raise their prices again, the 69-year-old is unsure how much higher the price of a pint can go before customers stop paying.

James said: “I don’t really know how high the electric, heating and gas bills will go up.

“If a pint got to a price like £8 I don’t think pubs would be able to sustain themselves. They would have to close.

“People just don’t have that kind of money to spend on a pint of beer.”

Scottish brewers

The brewing industry was amongst the worst hit by the pandemic, relying on pubs that were closed by the Government which resulted in beer sales in pubs being down 55% in 2020 and 36% in 2021.

Scottish craft brewer Six Degrees North owns and operates three bars across Scotland – one in Stonehaven, The Marine Hotel, Aberdeen-based Six Degrees North, and Dynamo in Dundee.

Matt Carrington, marketing manager of Six Degrees North, said: “The rise in energy prices has increased our overheads in our bars significantly.

Six Degrees North founder Robert Lindsay, left, and Matt Carrington.
From left: Robert Lindsay, owner of Six Degrees North and Matt Carrington

“All of our ingredients and materials that we use to make our beers at the brewery have been increased by more than 15%. CO2 surcharges are now also through the roof.

“In addition to that, people now have less disposable income so are going out less and less. It all adds up to paint a very grim picture.

“We’ve experienced very similar issues and rising overheads between our bars in Dundee and Aberdeen.”

Not all pints are created equal

Dynamo, located on Union Street, opened its doors in December 2018.

Despite the fact that electricity, gas, general insurance, materials and fuel have too skyrocketed at the bar over the past year, Matt says its prices have “remained fairly static”.

“Although we may need to review pricing soon to account for the current economic climate and rising overheads,” he added.

“A pint of Six Degrees North Peloton Pilsner is currently £4.90 at Dynamo.

“The price of a pint should really be looked at relative to what is in the glass – e.g., ABV, the cost of making the product, and the time it has taken to make it. Not all pints are created equal, at least in terms of monetary value.”

Gas shortages

While some bars and pubs have been among the Dundee food and drink scene for some time, Bertie Mooney’s opened its doors very recently in February.

The Commercial Street bar, formerly known as Nicolls bar and restaurant, was rebranded by owner Jimmy Marr following a six-figure transformation.

Standing at £4.25 for a pint of Tennent’s Tank Lager at Bertie Mooney’s, the bar’s Gerry Mooney says this price “will have to go up”.

“All utilities have gone up and are set to go up even further,” he added.

“It could be four times the price next month, depending on Government intervention.

Owner Jimmy Marr inside Bertie Mooney's in Dundee.
Owner Jimmy Marr inside Bertie Mooney’s in Dundee.

“Our insurance renewal was up about 25%, materials for the refurb were a lot more than first budgeted for as they kept increasing in price, and all our suppliers’ pricing has been increased at least twice since we opened (by 10-15%).”

The new shortage of gas and their additional surcharges, which is needed for kegs and soft drinks, have added to the business’ list of challenges.

“This means that our CO2 is now nearly three times as much,” Gerry said.

“We can’t realistically pass all these increases on to customers, they would stop coming out at all.

“Prices will have to go up, but how much will be dependent on what support comes from the Government, but if it ever got to the point that it was £8 or £9 a pint, I think people just wouldn’t come out.”