Beer prices: 28p regional gap in cost of a pint
The cheapest pint of beer is 28p cheaper in pubs in the north of England compared with south-eastern hostelries, a survey suggests.
Some 650 pubs were asked for the cost of their cheapest pint of bitter by researchers for the Good Pub Guide.
They found that this pint cost £3.15 on average in the south-east of England and London, but £2.87 in Yorkshire and the North.
Campaigners say that overheads faced by pubs could explain the difference.
Rates and rents were often higher for London publicans and that could be reflected in the cost of a drink, said Tony Jerome, spokesman for the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra).
The 30th edition of the Good Pub Guide, published on Thursday, found that prices had risen by 7% over the last year - and that the north-south price divide had been in evidence for some time.
However, it suggested that pubs brewing their own ale were often charging less than £2.50 a pint, with scarcely any increase over the last year. A recent Camra survey claimed West Yorkshire had more breweries producing more types of beer than any other county in the UK.
Figures from the British Beer and Pub Association's Statistical Handbook claimed that the price differential for a pint in London and in the North East in 2010 was even greater - at 84p.
Paul Maloney, national officer of the GMB union, said: "Since the Good Pub Guide was first published, the Beer Orders were introduced in 1989. The aim was to foster competition to increase consumer choice and bring down prices.
"The opposite of this aim has been achieved. The average price for a pint of lager in Britain has risen by 80p higher than justified by inflation and changes in taxes in pubs, as property companies replaced brewers as owners."
Brewer Shepherd Neame said on Wednesday that beer prices would continue to rise in the coming months.
The brewer, which produces real ales such as Spitfire and Bishops Finger, said cereals such as barley were up to 30% more expensive than a year ago, while the price of glass has also increased, pushing up the cost of beer bottles and pint jars.
However, changes to the tax system have made some drinks cheaper.
Since 1 October, all beers with an alcohol content of 2.8% abv and below are being taxed less, to the equivalent of around 35p on every pint when compared with a typical 4.2% cent beer.
The Good Pub Guide also suggested that steak-in-ale pie was the most popular pub food.
Editor Fiona Stapley said that many pubs were diversifying, such as offering breakfasts and coffee mornings, to get through tough economic conditions.