Royston brewer raises concerns over rising pint prices

A BREWER has revealed his concerns at the increasing cost of a pint following last week’s Budget, saying it is getting “harder and harder” to run at a profit.

Steve Banfield is the head brewer at the Royston based Buntingford Brewery, and has given his views on chancellor George Osborne’s Budget announcement.

The Budget will see drinkers stung with an increase of 5-10p from next month on the price of a pint and the 43-year-old believes it may hit the Therfield Road firm.

He said: “Obviously with the duty rise that’s more money that’s effectively going to be passed on to the end drinker.

“If a pint costs �3.80 you can get the equivalent of two to four at the supermarket that you can get to the pub.

“I think 98 or 99 per cent of our sales is through pubs and if it affects everyone going to the pub it’s going to affect us in sales terms.”

With the duty increase the brewery, which moved to the town in 2005, is looking at exporting more beer abroad but Mr Banfield said “it’s easy to get all doom and gloom about it”.

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Despite the rising cost of beer the small company has gone from strength to strength.

“I will quite happily say it is getting harder and harder to run the business from a financial point of view but at the same time we have gone from two people up to five. Taking the turnover, the percentage over four years has been 28 per cent growth,” he said.

The brewery has three main ales with several specials added throughout the year.

Although it may not be affected Mr Banfield is critical of government plans to charge a minimum of 40p per unit, which for example could see a �2.99 bottle of wine with, roughly nine units, increase to �3.76. The move was announced last week in a bid to stem binge drinking alongside a proposal to ban bulk buying in supermarkets.He doubts it will limit drinkers’ excesses.

“If someone is determined to get wasted they will drink anything and cut something else,” he said.

“We also have the aspect where drink will be the same price as illegal drugs and the extra money raised could go to the supermarkets and not where it could be more beneficial.”