I went to a Wetherspoon's in Manchester with one of my mates yesterday.
I had a pint of a 5% cask-conditioned stout brewed by a North West microbrewery. It was priced at £2.30 and cost me £1.80 with a CAMRA voucher; he had a pint of a 5% pale lager brewed by a global brewer at the Royal Brewery in Moss Side, a couple of miles from the pub, which cost £4.10.
The question struck me again: why, even in generally cheap pubs like Wetherspoon's, is lager so expensive compared to other beers?
I can think of a few explanations:
1. it costs a lot more to brew it.
2. it costs a lot more to advertise it.
3. the low-volume microbrewery is so keen for their beers to appear in a chain of pubs that they're willing to sell it at just over cost, and knowing this Wetherspoon's are able to push them down to this price in a way they can't with a global brewer.
4. drinkers see 5% lagers as a premium product and are prepared to pay more for them.
I'd guess it's a bit of all those things, although on the first one, surely if you're a global brewer being able to buy all your raw materials in massive amounts off-sets the cost of running big breweries filled with lots of shiny new kit?