Beer fans left feeling flat at restaurant options

Published: 7 April 2017 at 09:54

Beer pumps in a restaurant

Research shows diners are being offered limited choice of beer despite craft boom

The craft beer revolution may have transformed Britain’s pubs but restaurant chains are lagging behind in terms of choice and value, according to new research by Anglia Ruskin University’s PubLAB.

The study looked into beer choice in 65 high street branded restaurants across the UK and found that on average, there is a choice of only six beers when compared to 26 wines.

These beer choices were dominated by Peroni Nastro Azzuro, which appeared on 29 menus, Corona (25) and Budweiser (20) with little opportunity given to locally-brewed beers or a range of beer styles. Only 186 different beer brands were on offer across the chains, whilst one chain alone offers more than 200 different wines.

The maximum number of beers on offer in any one chain was 16 in Chiquito, while at the other end of the scale some chains offer only one or two beer brands.

The research also found that beer-drinking diners are paying a premium for their products. The 330ml bottle accounts for almost 70% of available beers at an average price of £4.20, or the equivalent £7.25 per pint.

PubLAB’s Tim Froggett, Senior Lecturer in Marketing at Anglia Ruskin University, said: 

“Despite initiatives and campaign such as ‘There’s a Beer for that’, and the explosion in the number of microbreweries operating in the UK, the chain restaurant scene has been slow in keeping up.

“Chain restaurants like to communicate the uniqueness and ‘provenance’ of their food offer, but when it comes to beer this is not always the case. While there are exceptions such as Gourmet Burger Kitchen, which offers beers such as Oakham Citra and Beavertown’s Holy Cow Bell, choice for diners is often restricted to mass-market beers.

“There are many different types of beer that compliment different types of food, just as with wine, and Britons are becoming increasingly discerning in their choice of beer. Chain restaurants that become complacent to this risk losing custom to the increasing number of pubs and bars that not only offer a wide variety of beers at competitive prices, but also offer quality food.”

PubLAB is a consumer insight research group that specialises in shopper behaviour in a retail environment.