50m Pints Of Beer Could Go Unused In Britain Due To COVID-19

By Dave Simpson
50m Pints Of Beer Could Go Unused In Britain Due To COVID-19

Approximately 50 million pints of beer are expected to go unused in the UK if pub closures due to the COVID-19 crisis extend into the summer.

The best-before dates of pasteurised beer, including the majority of lagers, are usually three to four months after their delivery dates, while real ales and other unpasteurised beers usually expire within six to nine weeks, according to This means that most pubs' beer stocks could go to waste if closures continue for several months. quotes Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) chief executive Tom Stainer as saying, "It's a very sad waste of all the work and talent that goes into producing great beer. People won't get to drink it and all those resources have been used up for nothing."

Takeaways And Home Deliveries

The only way that publicans can sell their stock at the moment is via takeaways and home deliveries. quotes landlady of UK pubs The Ram Inn, The Old Sergeant, and The Pig and Whistle Keris De Villiers as saying, "We could do takeaways, but that would mean selling beer on the corner of a very small pavement. That wouldn't be socially responsible, with the need for people to keep their distance from one another. The whole situation is heart-breaking.


"Our brewer literally talks to his tanks when he's at work every day. People really care about the beer they're making. It's a craft and people are passionate about it."

Something People "Treasure"

Alcohol sales in UK supermarkets have reportedly increased by over 20% since pubs closed.

Stainer commented, "People are missing these things in their lives. It's not the biggest issue that the country is dealing with, but aspects of life like going to the cinema or cafe, or going for a pint, are something we treasure."

Taking Back Barrels

According to, many breweries and distributors have offered to take back barrels for free when COVID-19-related business restrictions end.

De Villiers commented, "The breweries are helping us and they want us to survive. Everyone's ready to help everyone else."


Severn Brewing director Iain Crockett has called for there to be a least a couple of weeks' noticed before pubs reopen, saying, "All the little brewers are going to be completely shafted otherwise." He added that while big brewers have large storage capacity, smaller ones will be starting more "from scratch".

Dumping Of Beer

The UK government has temporarily permitted brewers to appoint publicans to oversee the dumping of beer as long as they keep a proper record of their actions to prove that the beer has been destroyed.

Hand Sanitiser Option

Another option for out-of-date beer that publicans and brewers suggested to the BBC is converting it into hand sanitiser by extracting the alcohol from it.

"At The Heart" Of Communities quotes a Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spokesperson as saying, "Pubs are at the heart of our communities and an important part of local economies. We've asked them to temporarily close in order to help protect people and reduce the spread of the virus. But we are also delivering support to help businesses, including pubs, through the coronavirus pandemic."

The UK government has offered £330 billion in loans, £20 billion in other aid, a business rates holiday, and grants for pubs and retailers to help limit the economic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis.

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