I read, with a shudder, the news story from the Morning Advertiser‘s website that a Morrisons supermarket in Guiseley, West Yorkshire, has just installed a bar serving draught cask and craft beers. I have long since said that the only advantage that pubs have over supermarkets is that they sell draught beer and that the only reason that supermarkets don’t is that nobody has yet thought about it. Sadly, this is no longer the case.
Supermarkets have a lot to answer for. They have all but destroyed the high street, closing local independent businesses such as butchers and green grocers and decimating traditional market stalls across the country. They happily sell absurdly cheap alcohol which is then drunk at home, on the street, or by pre-loaders before their visits to the pubs and clubs, but do not have to deal with the consequences when it is abused. It is the pubs that are called on to deal with the problems caused by alcohol with onerous regulations, red tape and unfair license restrictions that seemingly do not apply to the supermarket industry.
The Morning Advertiser article does give fair coverage of this story, with many industry figures opining that it will make little difference to pubs. This may or may not prove to be true. Time will tell. It is though, without doubt, another nail in the already soundly hammered-down coffin lid for the traditional pub.
In my opinion, the pub industry should unite big style and campaign for the government to take alcohol sales away from supermarkets and only license pubs, clubs and proper off-licences, as it used to be. Great pubs serving fantastic beer will of course survive. But for the many thousands that are struggling, I suspect this is very unsettling news. They all need your support now, more than ever.
If you are reading this, it’s a pretty safe bet you’re interested in beer and probably a pub user. Please reply to this post in the comments column and let us know if you would drink beer at a bar in a supermarket environment.
The original MA news item can be read here.