Let’s look at a case study. Beer is expensive, mainly because of government taxes. Rural pubs are closing and people are choosing to drink wine at home. Last weekend a pint of beer cost me £1.37 in one country pub near my home and £2.70 in another just a mile or so away. The cheap beer comes from Samuel Smith, a small independent brewer in Tadcaster, Yorkshire – not to be confused with heavily advertised industrial brewer John Smith’s from the same town. Sam Smith’s is proud of its focus on product (all natural ingredients) and the lack of advertising support. I can name beer I prefer from several other small independent breweries, but none competes on price.
With low prices comes little choice: cask or keg. With low prices comes a general lack of investment in real estate, so traditional buildings are still partitioned into small rooms. This lends charm (I like to take my visitors either to the Gardener’s Arms at Bilton or the Harewood Arms at Follifoot, both near Harrogate). But just to show it can invest, Sam Smith’s has completed the renovation of the Dyneley Arms at Pool-in-Wharfedale. It looks great and the food’s good too. (Update: since the budget, the beer here has risen to £1.44 a pint.) Not all reviewers share my favourable opinion, but a company that doesn’t advertise needs all the free PR it can get, and should take the rough with the smooth.
Photo: Wharfe railway viaduct, posted to Flickr