Thousands of gallons of beer poured down drain ahead of pubs reopening

1 July 2020, 07:56

By Lillie Almond

Pub landlords must pour away thousands of gallons of draft beer and ale - which has been stored in their cellars during the coronavirus lockdown.

Breweries are asking publicans to clear out their cellars and pipelines before they replace stock - and to film and photograph this happening.

Once the breweries receive proof that all the stock is gone, they can replace it with fresh goods while establishments prepare to reopen.

Industry trade body Water UK, alongside the British Beer & Pub Association, are asking landlords to contact their water authority - who will give them a specific time period in which they’re allowed to destroy their stock.

Peter Gillingham is the owner of The Saracen’s Head in Kings Langley, Hertfordshire - and tells us that it’s a shame to get rid of so much product.

He says: “I think a lot of [customers] would be broken-hearted, but look - this was the requirement by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

“It was the only way that we were going to get credited back - and you know, when you’re talking about here alone, at The Saracen’s - somewhere between six and eight thousand pounds...

“It’s a lot of money, which a lot of pubs could do with right now.”

Thousands of gallons of beer have had to be poured away ahead of pubs reopening
Thousands of gallons of beer have had to be poured away ahead of pubs reopening. Picture: LBC

Peter’s water company, like many others - has been working on this with Water UK, who tell us that it’s important that authorities get a sufficient warning period for this type of disposal.

Water UK Policy Advisor, Alice Carrington-Windo says: “Beer is about 100 times stronger than domestic sewage.

“If it reaches the treatment works, it can overwhelm [them], which means the sewage treatment doesn’t operate as well as it should.

“That means that the stronger beer gets into the rivers and then it causes problems with marine life and it kills fish.

“That’s particularly important in the rural areas where sewage treatment works are often smaller and the rivers are more sensitive.”

However, a couple of publicans in Hertfordshire say they’ve been given time-slots for disposal as far back as September - which is well after their opening dates.

They’re worried about where to leave their kegs in the meantime - and the safety of real ale casks, which can explode if left to ferment for too long in the wrong conditions.