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Camra’s Great British Beer Festival aims to reacquaint young people with pubs

By Luke Nicholls , 07-Aug-2012

The Great British Beer Festival, organised by the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), opens its doors today at London’s Olympia with the aim of reacquainting young people with their local community pub in the wake of damning new research.

This latest campaign, spearheaded by the Great British Beer Festival, begins as new findings show that percentage of young pub goers (18-24 year olds) visiting the pub regularly – once a week or more – has plummeted from 38 per cent to 16 per cent since the Festival was last held at Olympia in 2005.

During this same period over 8000 pubs have closed across the country.  And, in the last 12 months alone, 39 per cent of all pub goers have visited the pub less than they did a year ago, or haven’t gone at all.

“Hard-working publicans have been hammered by the Government in recent times, and what we’ve seen in the past seven years is that young adults in particular have been priced out of an affordable night down their local pub,” said Mike Benner, Camra’s chief executive.

“The Government have encouraged people to use their pubs as community assets, yet this is a hollow message when punitive increases on the price of a pint have meant that consumers are deterred from visiting their local, causing beer sales figures in this country to fall flat.”

Beer tax e-petition

With research in the same poll showing that more than 1 in 2 regular pub goers prefer to drink at home than the pub because it is cheaper, Camra’s Great British Beer Festival is today also urging pub goers to sign a beer tax e-petition to call for an end to above inflation tax increases on their pint.

The petition has attracted over 72,000 signatures, and requires 100,000 to trigger a high profile debate in Parliament. Since 2008, beer tax has been hiked by 42 per cent, and 55 per cent of all UK adults agree that going to the pub has become an unaffordable activity.

Central to reversing the decline of Britain’s historic pub industry is real ale, with Camra’s Great British Beer Festival also today revealing how ‘Britain’s national drink’ can offer hope to the future of community pubs.

The new findings show:

  • In four years, the percentage of 18-24 year olds having tried real ale has increased by 50 per cent from 30 per cent in 2008, to 46 per cent in the present day.
  • In the same period, the percentage of women trying real ale has doubled - from 16 per cent in 2008, to 32 per cent.
  • The real ale industry has experienced huge growth since the last time Camra held its Great British Beer Festival at London’s Olympia in 2005, with the number of brewers operational across the country having increased from 550 to over 850 in the present day. In addition, over 5,500 different real ales are now brewed nationwide.

Benner added: “The British beer industry is such a vibrant and diverse marketplace at the moment, and it has only been aided by the amount of pioneering new brewers coming into the industry.

“These brewers have given pubs a way of reaching out to local people through stocking local beer, and one of the most exciting aspects of this resurging interest in real ale is how accessible it is now becoming to consumers.

“Our research shows that 38% of young real ale drinking adults agree they go for a pint of Britain’s National Drink because they want to support local businesses. This is a key indicator that the nation’s new generation of real ale drinkers are desiring quality, local products, a vital trend which offers much hope to getting more young people back into pubs and reversing this decline.”

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