Posted on Jan 05, 2021
The latest of Boris Johnson's revolving lockdown policies dictates that public houses will no longer be allowed to offer take-away alcohol sales because of the number of people gathering outside to drink.
Although this slim but vital avenue of revenue came nowhere near making up the shortfall, or covering the cost of all the keg beer that had to be poured down the drain, it helped to keep heads above water in what is now a beleaguered sector.
One of the most depressing results of the inevitable closures is that pubs will likely be bought up by large chains.
JD Wetherspoon, Mitchells & Butlers, Greene King and the Stonegate Pub Company, which in 2019 alone took over 4000 pubs, between them already own 25% of the market share. When the pandemic is beaten they will between them feast from the carcasses of many failed businesses.
Already the traditional pub is becoming a rarity as the chains take over, renovate, and turn what was once a centre of the community - if such a thing as "community" still exists in Britain - into the ghastly corporate-themed watering-holes such as one might stumble across in a social housing estate on the outskirts of Newcastle.
The country pub is a thing of the past, many having been turned into carveries, others have simply closed down.
The east end boozer in London is also a thing of the past, rendered largely redundant by white flight and a new demographic that does not drink alcohol.
Since 2001 the nation's capital has lost some 25% of its pubs, and in 2016, for the first time, the number of large pubs overtook that of the small pubs, a change echoed across the UK as a whole. Having survived the rising popularity of lager, London brewers, once considered amongst the best in the country, are also vanishing under the wave of changing demographics, cheap supermarket beers, and COVID.
The old Lamb brewery in Chiswick has been turned into apartments, its neighbour, Fuller Smith & Turner, has been sold to Japanese brewer Asahi. Somewhat ironic for the brewery whose flagship ale is London Pride.
The times they are a changing, but beer lovers will not be finding much to celebrate.
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