As Britain surges ahead down the road out of lockdown, the country’s pubs have finally reopened and despite only being allowed to seat customers outdoors, they’ve done a phenomenal trade. So much so, in fact, that there are serious concerns the nation’s breweries could be about to run out of beer, wine and spirits.
Despite industry analysts CGA Strategy commenting that sales in England are at roughly the same level as they were this time in 2019, some pubs across the UK are reporting that they’ve run out of beer and brands like Heineken are reportedly restricting supply of some of their most popular beers, like Birra Moretti and Amstel, to three kegs per pub.
A Heineken spokesperson said in a statement: “Demand for premium pints continues to surpass our most optimistic forecasts. Despite only 40% of pubs being able to open outdoor areas, we are experiencing similar levels of sales as a normal April with all pubs being open. We’ve therefore had to temporarily limit the amount of Birra Moretti and Amstel that pubs can order.”
They added: “We’re working hard on a solution to meet demand—all our breweries are working flat-out brewing beer and we’re connected with our breweries in other parts of Europe to import additional beer to the UK.”
Tayler Connoll, from Deviant & Dandy Brewery, said: “The first week we had a brew of pale ale, and usually that would last us a couple of weeks, and going out to sales as well. Within five days it was all out. We had to get the brewer straight back in again— we don’t want to be a brewery that doesn’t have any beer. Everything’s always full now. It’s a good problem to have. I’d rather run out of stock because we’ve sold it all.”
With the Bank Holiday weather putting a dampener on the revelry, many pubs and breweries are using the bad weather to prepare for May 17 when pubs can officially serve customers indoors—something many expect will bring an even greater surge in demand.
Jack Thomson, accounts manager at Five Points Brewery in Hackney, said: “Pubs are not able to reopen properly until [later in] May, so with any outdoors space we were expecting low demand. But it’s been brilliant that there has been as much demand as there has been. People like the experience, and the moment of being in the pub, more than they like being at home in front of the TV with a beer.”
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “There has been lots of enthusiasm to return to pubs, which is great news for our sector. It does mean that demand has been higher than expected. There is still plenty of beer for everyone—pub-goers can rest assured that they can still visit their local and enjoy a fresh pint.”