The West Midlands has the cheapest beer in England, according to a new guide.
Drinkers pay an “extraordinarily cheap” £2.45 for an average pint – compared with £3.08 in Surrey, the priciest place in the country.
But the Good Pub Guide 2011 has harsh words about shoddy service and names only one Birmingham pub – The Old Joint Stock – in its prestigious main listings.
The guide claims to operate the longest-running survey of beer prices, covering 1,110 pubs. The price of a pint has increased by four per cent in the past year and now averages £2.80.
The second cheapest region is Staffordshire (£2.54 a pint) and Worcestershire is “very cheap” (£2.61). Warwickshire is in the “average” price category (£2.82).
The guide advises bargain-hunting drinkers to seek out venues that produce their own beer, where the savings are typically 35p a pint.
It said: “You can save money on beer by finding one of the many pubs brewing their own, on the premises. About one in 30 good pubs now does this, often producing delicious beers, usually at great savings for their customers, and often very rewarding in taste.”
The guide highlights Dudley’s The Beacon, at Sedgley, where the “well kept” Sarah Hughes beers, including Dark Ruby, Pale Amber and Surprise Bitter, are brewed in a Victorian tower brewery.
The Black Country has four “fully inspected” entries in the guide.
In addition to The Beacon, there is praise for The Turf (Bloxwich), The Vine (Brierley Hill) and The Old Swan (Netherton). Birmingham’s sole main listing is The Old Joint Stock, near St Philip’s Cathedral.
Guide editor Fiona Stapley insisted two other Birmingham pubs – The Bartons Arms, in Aston, and The Wellington, on Bennetts Hill in the city centre – were “almost” main entries.
She appealed for Brummies to get in contact with positive reports about their favourite locals. ut she also warned pubs had to up their game when it came to service, adding: “The genuinely warm and personal welcome found in so many of the guide’s pubs has become something of a rarity.”