Beer drinkers of East Lancs have never had it so good!

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I think it is most appropriate and opportune, as 2013 comes to a close, to highlight some of my significant, beery thoughts and opinions of the year.

I will try and be positive.

However, there is always a gripe and a moan where beer is concerned.

Let’s kick-off with the March Budget, and the scrapping of the beer duty escalator and reducing the present duty by a penny.

It was indeed welcome news to the beleaguered beer industry. But, come on, let’s put things in perspective here. Slapping 2% on the current inflation rate, for beer duty increases, was a totally unjustified move in 2008, by Alistair Darling, in the first place – he was certainly no “darling” after pulling that stunt.

The reduction of a penny in beer duty was also welcomed. But have you really noticed? It certainly wasn’t a time of celebration for the poor, hardworking licensees. They were already being hammered for 20% VAT on their ale and food – and one copper coin of the realm reduction, was never going to have them raising a glass in gratitude .

People seem to forget for every three quid handed over the bar, a third of it goes to Her Majesty’s Treasury!

But let’s cast the negatives aside, and highlight one or two positives, particularly in our locality. There is certainly much to appreciate and celebrate in beery East Lancashire.

For a start, we have a fantastic choice of boozers in our area, offering a great choice of ales and value for money. There’s no argument. Whether you are in a local town or village, you are spoilt for choice.

I have visited quite a few watering holes in 2013 – and almost every one has offered good service, fine ale and value for money. And the area undoubtably has many excellent ale houses, run by hardworking licensees, conducting their businesses in a tough economic climate.

What I have found most noticeable in East Lancashire’s boozers, is how everyone always has a smile behind the bar – well perhaps there’s an odd exception – we all know at least one grumpy landlord. But staff have certainly been polite and friendly in my chosen hostelries. No doubt most of you would echo those sentiments.

You of course hear the negatives. “I don’t like that pub much”. Well don’t go in, there are plenty of good ‘uns. “This beer tastes a bit off”. Then take it back. The landlord is usually more than happy to replace it. Do you really think he or she would want you to sup it. Then go and relay the experience to everyone? I think not.

But before I sign off for 2013, I must redress the negatives of the previous paragraph, with a positive. As I feel duty bound, to mention the noticeable increase in beer choice in our local pubs and clubs as we are certainly blessed with quality brewers in this area – both big and small.

The larger brewers, Moorhouse’s and Thwaites have rolled out some cracking seasonal slurps this year. There’s always a tasty tipple from these two on the bar – as well as their core brands.

That said, I will leave you with a question to ponder, as we say goodbye to 2013. It concerns the smaller brewers in the locality: Is there a better area for top notch microbreweries? I can think of many that consistently produce damn good ales.

Reedley Hallows, Worsthorne, Moonstone, Rossendale, Irwell Works, Three B’s, Snaggletooth, Hopstar, Bowland. Beer choice in East Lancashire is excellent.

Yes, if Harold Macmillan was alive today he would have finished on a positive note too, saying: “Beer drinkers of East Lancashire, you have never had it so good.”

Happy New Year to you all.