GAVIN AITCHISON calculates the average price of a pint in this city with helps from the York Beer Census
THE calculations have been completed and the results are in: the average pint of ale in York now costs £3.15 Organisers of the York Beer Census, held on June 7, have analysed the returns from nearly 200 bar visits and can now tell more about the variety, type and strength of beer in York's pubs than ever before. So if you enjoy numbers, then you're in for a treat here...
Perhaps the most telling figure is that one of £3.15, which is 13p higher than when the last census was done, in 2012. That’s an above-inflation rise of four per cent in two years, suggesting the freeze on beer duty has been countered by continuing difficulties in the trade. As a comparison, the average keg pint is £3.41.
The census also reveals the true breadth of York's beer scene, with the price of a pint ranging from £1.34 to the best part of £10.
It will surprise nobody that the lowest-priced beers were in pubs owned by Samuel Smith's Brewery, while the most expensive were mostly in specialist craft beer pubs – the rarer, more unusual, higher-strength beers that are routinely sold in halves or thirds rather than pints.
The priciest recorded on the day was Karmeliet Tripel at the House of the Trembling Madness in Stonegate, at £7 a pint. There have been beers more expensive still in the city at times over the past year, though not on that day it seems.
On the day, there were 24 beers at £5 a pint or more, although it should be stressed all bars selling such beers also have many at lower prices.
Ian Loftus, owner of the House of the Trembling Madness, says the bar no longer sells Karmeliet Tripel on draught, as it has become too expensive to source, but the bar continues to specialise in unusual beers from top breweries and Ian says some prices reflect that. Their average price is £3.50 a pint, he says.
What else do the findings tell us? Well, what do you want to know?
Real ale was available in 164 pubs, with 132 different brewers represented. Those figures include 74 ales from 22 'locale' breweries, namely those within 25 miles of York. 83 pubs had at least one local ale.
Census volunteers collected data from 197 pubs or bars. They found 281 different real ales and 146 different keg beers, giving a total of 427 different beers, up from 360 in 2012.
The survey also showed York's beer scene has improved compared to that in Norwich, which pipped York in 2012 for the unofficial "ale capital of Britain" title. Norwich's 2014 survey found 240 real ales, down from 261 two years earlier. As an aside, Leeds beer enthusiasts plan a similar survey of 70 city-centre pubs later this month.
Praise must go to Lucy Buykx from York Camra and York-based academic Ignazio Cabras, who both led the way on this year's census and who will continue scrutinising the data.
Dr Cabras, a Reader in Economics, Business and Management at Newcastle Business School at Northumbria University (and a specialist in the economics of beer and pubs) says the rising variety since 2012 reflects growth in the British brewing industry.
He said: "I am delighted to see pubs supplied by local breweries in Yorkshire as well as from other breweries located elsewhere in the country, as this expands the range of choice for residents and visitors."
Although breweries pay reduced tax on beers below 2.8 per cent ABV, few such beers were sold, suggesting a lack of demand in York, he says. More research could help tell whether increasing the ABV threshold for tax relief would help breweries, he adds.
Lucy says there is growing interest in York in enjoying a wide range of beers and adds: "I was particularly pleased to see an increase in the number of beers on sale from LocAle breweries."
She thanks the census volunteers and York Brewery Club, which provided a base for the organisers and beer and snacks for volunteers.
York’s beer scene at a glance...
Cheapest keg beer: Sam Smith’s Dark Mild of Light Ale – £1.34 a pint at Buckles Inn, Rose & Crown at Askham Bryan, Sea Horses, Six Bells, Tankard, Trafalgar Bay.
Cheapest real ale: Sam Smith’s OBB – £1.80 at Blacksmiths Arms in Skelton, Brigadier Gerard, Brown Cow, Buckles Inn, Crystal Palace, Ebor, Rose & Crown in Askham Richard, Sea Horses, Six Bells, Tankard, Tiger in Haxby, Trafalgar Bay, York Arms.
Most expensive beer: Karmeliet Triple (8.5 per cent) – £7 at House of Trembling Madness in Stonegate Five most frequently available ales: John Smith’s Cask, Black Sheep Bitter, Timothy Taylor’s Landlord, Copper Dragon Golden Pippin and Sharp’s Doom Bar.
Five most frequently available local ales: York Brewery’s Guzzler and Terrier, Sam Smith’s Old Brewery Bitter OBB, Leeds Pale, and Rooster’s Yankee.
Strength ratio: Real ales surveyed ranged in strength from 2.7 per cent to 7.4 per cent, although 95 per cent of ales were within the range of 3.5 to 5.4 per cent.